ATHENS — A retired Massachusetts state trooper is challenging incumbent Second Selectman Charles Rotondi in annual Town Meeting voting Friday.
Proposed municipal spending is nearly the same as the current year and will be considered Saturday.
Rotondi, 44, served as third selectman for a couple of years before winning the second selectman seat in 1999 and has held it since.
Steve Strang Sr., Rotondi’s opponent, served 26 years as a Massachusetts state trooper and bought property in Athens six years ago. He moved to town full time six months ago.
Rotondi is a Class II boiler engineer, wood cutter and beef cattleman.
“I think I’ve done a good job keeping our town taxes down without having to sacrifice services,” he said. “Our spending for the town has been flat for a decade. The only time they go up is for the schools or the county.”
Strang, 61, said town government needs change, especially when it comes to maintaining and repairing roads.
He said the response he got from selectmen last spring concerning muddy conditions on North Road, near his home, did not satisfy him. He said he was told that it was mud season and to get used to it.
“I pay taxes,” Strang said. “It’s the 21st century, there’s got to be a better way to take care of the roads.”
First Selectman Bruce Clavette said he sympathizes with Strang during mud season, but last year was particularly bad on North Road. He said there had been a logging operation in the area and line work by Central Maine Power Co. Clavette said conditions were never so bad that four-wheel-drive or rescue vehicles could not get through.
“I said we had a perfect storm — 80 degrees in March,” Clavette said. “They are dirt roads; sometimes you have sections that go and we promised him we’d have it fixed and we did.”
The position is for a two-year term. Polls are open from 4-8 p.m. at the Somerset Academy.
Former longtime Road Commissioner John Barron is running unopposed, but incumbent Road Commissioner Timothy Small said he would accept the job as a write-in candidate, with the understanding that he would be only part time during the summer months. Small has held the post for three years, after defeating Barron.
Barron was road commissioner on and off for 13 years and was first elected in the late 1990s.
All other races are unopposed.
Spending on the annual Town Meeting warrant Saturday will come in at about $444,000 if all of the articles are passed as written, First Selectman Bruce Clavette said.
“It’s virtually unchanged from last year,” he said.
The current tax rate of $16.50 for every $1,000 in property valuation is not expected to change, he said.
Clavette said the town is holding its breath and not budgeting for possible cuts in state revenue sharing suggested by Gov. Paul LePage.
He said Athens voters will be asked to come up with $25,000 for road paving and $1,900 to expand the town office, located inside Somerset Academy.
Residents also will be asked to raise $91,260 for general town government, $30,000 for the Athens Volunteer Fire Department and $165,000 total for road maintenance, including summer roads, winter roads and sand and salt.
Doug Harlow — 612-2367