Originally published in Castine Patriot, January 23, 2014
Penobscot budget under construction; fishway for Wight’s Pond is not
by Anne Berleant
Selectmen finessed a working version of the 2014-15 municipal budget at their January 14 meeting, one week after the budget committee gave its recommendations.
“It’s looking very good right now,” said Selectman Stanley Shorey.
The projected budget will be “a little under” from this year, said Chairman Paul Bowen.
The approved municipal budget for the current year was $488,251, which included funding requests that won’t be repeated, such as $2,000 toward the septic reserve account, a $1,175 request from the Tree of Life food pantry in Blue Hill and $8,000 toward construction of a fishway ladder at the Wight’s Pond dam.
The Department of Marine Resources was to provide a plan and equipment for the fishway ladder and the town was to install it.
“[They] dropped the ball,” Bowen said. “They were all set to go…and then we never heard from them.”
The goal was to create a permanent fishway for the alewives run in Wight’s Pond after the 2012 theft of a fish ladder that alewives use to swim over a dam.
“We got the plan, but that’s all,” Bowen said.
Funding requests for 2014-15 include $10,000 for the capital improvement fund, “primarily for paving,” Bowen said, and $5,000 for the snow removal account. Selectmen also added a $1,000 request for Penobscot Days.
The Finance Committee recommended granting $1,000 to the Blue Hill Library, the amount voters agreed upon last year.
“[The library’s] request was a little more than that,” said Bowen.
Last year, the library requested $3,600, the Finance Committee recommended $2,500, and voters, after heated discussion and amendments to the article, approved $1,000.
Bowen also suggested increasing the projected revenue from excise tax, budgeted at $174,500 last year. “We probably could approach more than that,” he said.
“A lot of people [are] driving around in new trucks,” observed Town Clerk Mary Ellen Gross.
Town meeting is set for Tuesday, March 4. Voting will take place on Monday, March 3.
In other business, Shellfish Warden Bailey Bowden said that per new state regulations, municipalities no longer nominate their shellfish wardens. Instead, individuals “nominate themselves” and receive certification through state channels.
“There’s no mechanism for the municipality to be informed [of prospective wardens] under the new law,” he said.
With long-time Shellfish Warden David Wardwell set to retire, the new process “puts everybody in a bad position,” he said.
Selectmen also declined a citizen request to write the DMR asking that an aquaculture public outreach meeting tentatively scheduled for February in Brooksville be held in Penobscot at a time when interested residents are not on vacation.
“If they’re concerned, they should stay,” Selectman Harold Hatch said.
Selectmen had already written the DMR on December 10, outlining the concerns of a group of citizens on the increase in the number of aquaculture leases granted by the DMR in the Bagaduce River.