Originally published in Castine Patriot, June 7, 2018
Rental ordinance headlines town meeting
Town Clerk Sue Macomber and Finance Officer Karen Motyka count the votes after a written ballot at town meeting on June 2.
by Monique Labbe
A full house of Castine voters approved 57 warrant articles in swift fashion during the annual town meeting on June 2.
The warrant item that brought the most discussion was a proposed rental housing ordinance. The ordinance has been the subject of several conversations at meetings over the last few months, and the latest version, voted on at town meeting, brought about comments both for and against.
The most vocal voice against the ordinance was Par Kettis, who said that the penalties for not following the safety guidelines were “too stiff,” and that while he felt that the ordinance was “far less demanding” than the original document, it was still too much for him to support.
Kettis was referring to a section of the ordinance stating that penalties can be enforced for rental properties not adhering to general safety laws.
Selectman Gus Basile explained that those penalties, which could amount to up to $250 a day for more egregious actions, are penalties that come down from the state level.
“These are not penalties that the town has come up with,” said Basile. “These are laws already in place by the state.”
The only penalty enforced by the town is a late fee of $25 for landlords who do not provide the form with renter and property manager contact information by August 15.
“Our biggest priority is safety,” said Selectman Peter Vogel, who is also a member of the Castine Fire Department. “We want to have that information so that when there is a fire, the fire department knows who to contact to get into the residence. It’s that simple.”
Fire chief Randy Stearns echoed Vogel’s sentiments of safety.
“This all started to keep our town safe. We just want to keep our homes safe,” he said.
After a bit more discussion, the question was called to a vote, and the voters passed the ordinance by majority, with only two “nays” from the audience.
Voters also approved all the spending articles in the municipal portion of the warrant, totaling $2,165,924.
After a brief break, a smaller portion of the audience came back to vote on the school warrant items, totaling $1,459,436 for the 2018-19 school year. That budget was down just under $10,000 from last year’s budget.
A brief discussion about the use of school buses busing students to George Stevens Academy, Bucksport High School and Blue Hill Harbor School was had, mostly to address how many students use the bus.
“Not every student uses the bus that we are budgeted for, but we still need buses to those schools,” said school board chairman Kathy MacArthur, adding that it is not just high school students on those buses.
Castine currently has 12 students attending George Stevens Academy, two at Bucksport and two at Blue Hill Harbor School.
The voters approved transporting those students to their schools.
After passing the last school warrant article, moderator Robin Mass called for a motion to adjourn, and with a motion and a second, the voters unanimously voted to close the 2018 town meeting with a resounding “yay” after two hours and 15 minutes.