TREMONT—Selectmen and school officials were on a Zoom screen Monday waiting to answer any questions from the public about this year’s warrant articles, which are all being voted on by secret ballot, but no one showed.
Board of Selectmen Chairman Jamie Thurlow expressed concern, saying he had hoped to see more people tune in for the public hearing. Officials from both the town and the school discussed ways to provide as much information to the residents of the town as possible prior to the ballot vote.
The Town Meeting is taking place on Tuesday, July 14, at the polls in the Harvey Kelley Meeting Room in conjunction with the state’s primary election. Polls open at 8 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Absentee ballots can be requested at the town office up to and on July 14.
Already there have been more than 200 absentee ballots requested, according to Town Clerk Katie Dandurand, with more requests coming in each day. While members of the board were impressed by that number, Town Manager Chris Saunders pointed out that only a small percentage had been returned. Voters have until 8 p.m. on July 14 to return the completed ballots.
Information is provided on the town’s website to help guide voters about what is on the ballot. There are 56 warrant articles, including one to elect a moderator, all in a yes/no format. A copy of the warrant is available to view on the website, as are copies of the proposed law enforcement contract with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, first right of refusal for Pacific Hall and changes to eight of the town’s ordinances.
When asked in a special town meeting last year whether to continue with law enforcement coverage from the sheriff’s office or change to Southwest Harbor’s police department, residents opted to stay the course. Voters are now being asked to accept the proposed contract for the sheriff’s office that is set to run through Dec. 2023.
In June, Selectmen approved a $2,828,691 school budget to go before voters. By removing the startup costs for the prekindergarten program and a few other large expense items, that budget is $174,749 less than what was proposed by the school before the pandemic.
Those changes will mean the mil rate for fiscal year 2021 is $10.68, a three percent increase over last year’s rate of $10.37. Voters will be asked to approve a municipal budget of $2,079,947 with $1,306,871 to be raised by taxes.
Morgan Churchman, who owns the building at 737 Tremont Road, has asked the town if they would like to take over ownership of it. Known as Pacific Hall, the building was most recently the temporary home to the Bass Harbor Library during an expansion project. If voters choose to accept the building, they also are being asked to create a reserve account for the building and an initial installation of $12,587 in two subsequent warrant articles.
Approval of proposed changes to eight of the town’s ordinances are also on the ballot. Those changes can be viewed on the website within each ordinance.
Changes to the Floodplain Management Ordinance and the Road Ordinance are mainly to the format of the text. Changes in the 911 Ordinance change the authorizing party to the 911 Addressing Officer from the Board of Selectmen or road commissioner, and changes a listed fine amount to a general violation of the ordinance.
In the Fireworks Ordinance, changes include removing the requirement for a permit to set off fireworks throughout the year, which essentially limits the use of fireworks to July 4th and New Years and days surrounding those holidays.
A section outlining the town’s regulations on limited purpose aquaculture has been added to the Harbor Management Ordinance for approval. It requires that applications for aquaculture go to the harbor master, who then presents them to the Harbor Committee. That committee will then make a recommendation to the Board of Selectmen who can authorize the town manager and harbor master to accept or reject the application.
In the Ordinance to Establish the Planning Board, proposed changes include reducing the number of members from seven to five and the length of terms of service from five years to three. It also gives that board the authority to excuse members when they are absent from meetings.
Selectmen are given the authority to set permit fees annually in the fees and permits section of the proposed changes to the Wharf and Facilities Ordinance. Until now, those fees have been listed in the ordinance, which requires a town vote to change.
There are several changes to the town’s Land Use Ordinance, which is an 89–page document. Language has been added to the ordinance addressing required setbacks from wetland and shoreland areas, which includes the addition of a Stream Protection Zone. There is also a new table to show allowable land uses in the shoreland zone.
Other additions to the LUO include a section about Temporary Sales of Food or Merchandise, which requires liability insurance, state licensing, permission of property owner, approval by the code enforcement officer and a limit of 30 days, among other provisions. Another substantial addition to the ordinance is an appendix highlighting the EPA’s requirements for revegetation.
Employees of the town are available to answer questions regarding any aspect of the warrant during regular office hours.