STRONG  — Voters will consider a roughly 7 percent increase to the town budget March 2 at the annual Town Meeting.

The warrant articles proposed would increase the budget by $37,647 to $575,954.

Last year voters decided to decrease the budget by 4 percent, passing a $538,307 budget.

One reason for the increase is a proposal to raise $8,500 to improve the Municipal Building’s kitchen so it conforms with the fire code, Selectman Milton Baston said.

The kitchen is part of the Forster Memorial Building, which houses a rental hall and dining room. The building is also home to the public library, meeting rooms and the Town Office.

Baston said stove has had limited use in the last year. The State Fire Marshal’s Office said the stove can be used only to reheat food but not cook until the town installs a fire suppression system — a stainless steel hood with a built-in extinguisher.

He said the selectmen want to bring the kitchen up to code so it can be rented for weddings or other events that require a fully functioning stove. He said he expects debate by voters about whether the town can afford the kitchen update, but not about anything else.

“Some years we have a hot-button issue, but everything is regular business this year,” Baston said.

The meeting is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. March 2 at the Forster Memorial Building.

There is also a contested race for the Board of Selectmen. Incumbent Milton Baston, Gerald Pond and incumbent Rupert Pratt are running for two available seats, each for a three-year term. 

In uncontested races, Langdon Adams, Loretta Deming and incumbent Susan Pratt are running for three Budget Committee seats, and Fire Chief Dwayne Boyd is up for re-election.

Election voting is scheduled for 1-6 p.m. Friday at the Forster Memorial Building.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252
kschroeder@mainetoday.com