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Originally published in The Weekly Packet, February 20, 2014
Brooklin selectmen work on town meeting warrant, budget

by Rich Hewitt

The board of selectmen still needs to nail down a few unfinished items before the members can wrap up the 2014 municipal budget.

One of the items still left to decide is whether to budget salary increases for town office staff. The board members put off that decision until all the other budget figures are in place.

“I think we should wait until we see what we have [for a budget]; put it in with the salaries the same, and then make that decision,” said Deborah Brewster.

Mike Roy noted that all the requests for charitable donations are in, and the total will be about $800 less than last year. One of the reasons, according to Town Clerk Gigi Hardy, is that the Tree of Life in Blue Hill has not requested any funds this year, although the organization has sent a letter of thanks to the town for past contributions.

The selectmen met with the school superintendent and Mike Sealander, the chairman of the school committee, earlier on Tuesday, February 4, before their meeting to discuss the school budget.

Selectman Albie Smith said the board urged them to put together a budget based on last year’s state aid figures rather than wait until the department releases preliminary figures. Smith noted that the total state aid to the town for education last year amounted to just over $35,000.

“We get very little from the state,” he said. “I don’t think we need to hold up the budget process waiting for them to act.”

Mike Roy noted that, in addition to the school funding from the state, the town also receives state revenue sharing funds, but it can expect to receive less this year. Last year, the town received a little more than $21,000, he said. For 2014, the amount will be about $12,400.

Smith quipped that the town is not depending on the state to stay in business, and Roy agreed.

“If they monkey around with it, they can’t hurt us any more than they already have,” he said.

There will be some new items on the warrant for town meeting this year. The selectmen continue to work on a draft ordinance that would require residents to notify the town if they plan construction projects that increase the value of their property. Smith noted that they have reviewed similar ordinances from other towns and added that he liked the way the town of Brooksville had worded the purpose section of their proposed ordinance. That section reads: “Because it is important to treat taxpayers fairly and because assessment equity requires that the (town) assessors be aware of changes to individual properties, the purpose of this ordinance is to require owners of property in Brooksville to inform the town of changes in their estates.”

He suggested that the board include that statement of purpose in the Brooklin draft ordinance. Although the others suggested some minor changes in the wording, they agreed to continue to work on the draft.

The town meeting warrant also will include a request to establish a reserve account for future road projects and, in a separate article will ask voters to fund an environmental study at Naskeag Point.

The board has planned to widen the road near the parking area at the end of Naskeag Point Road. But because of its location near the water, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection requires a Tier 1 environmental study before the project can be done.

The estimated cost of the study is $3,500.

The board has another meeting scheduled with the budget advisory committee—at noon on February 12 at the town office. The school committee is meeting the day before that, at which time, the members may be ready to adopt a budget. The board members have set Feburary 14 as the deadline for all town report materials, including budgets, to be submitted so they can be included in the annual report.

In other action, the board authorized Paul Gallo to do electrical work to install a delay switch on the outside lights at the town office building. Once installed, Smith said, there will be a 10-minute delay after the light switch is turned off. That will allow people there after dark time to get to their cars before the lights go out.

The cost of the work is $303.

Smith also noted that dog licenses are now overdue and the animal control officer will soon be contacting residents who may have unregistered dogs. There will be a sort of grace period in which residents can still register their dogs before the town will issue a summons.

Roy and Brewster balked at the mention of a summons, and Roy asked if there wasn’t a step in between before the summons was issued. Smith said that was why the animal control officer would be contacting people.