STARKS — The future of the Fire Department, repairs to the community center and expenses for road repairs were among topics that drew discussion at Saturday’s Town Meeting.
Residents approved a $522,452 budget, which is about 2 percent less than the current budget of $534,436 approved at last year’s Town Meeting. The amount to be raised from taxes will be $452,122, which is about 6 percent less that the current year’s $481,000.
Forty-two people attended the four-hour meeting at the Starks Community Center.
Among the items residents approved was spending $10,000 to fulfill energy audit recommendations about the community center. Most of that cost would cover re-insulation of the walls, First Selectman Paul Frederic said. The $10,000 is part of a total $30,000 that would go toward operating costs and maintenance of the community center, also approved Saturday.
“It’s appropriate maintenance and energy saving at the same time. It’s good that we’re tackling these things. It’s important to remember that this was built as a school and, if there’s space we’re not using, to take the appropriate steps,” said Carol Coles, a Budget Committee member.
Voters also approved a $23,500 budget for the Fire Department, although there was some debate about the department’s future after resident Gwen Hilton asked whether there would be any discussions about consolidating fire service with other towns.
“The feeling that our Fire Department could be beefed up in terms of manpower and training is something that has come up from time to time. There have been no specific plans put together for voting, however,” Frederic said.
He said the town has looked into the idea of contracting for fire service, possibly through the town of Anson, but it has not been looked at it in great detail. Starks Fire Chief Julie Costigan was not at the meeting. Residents overall seemed to support the idea of maintaining a local department.
“I personally believe we ought to keep the fire station in town. I believe we can do it and have talked to a number of people saying they would commit to serving the Fire Department,” said Bill Pressey.
Another resident, noting he had moved to Starks recently after losing his home in a Farmington fire, said having a local fire department can make the difference in saving someone’s home.
Finally, residents authorized selectmen to borrow $150,000 from the Maine Municipal Bond Bank for road repairs to be made to Sandy River Road. The total cost for the repairs would be $200,000, including $50,000 to be raised from taxation, which was approved Saturday.
Also approved were $82,411 for general administration, $500 for the Planning Board, $500 for the Appeals Board, $9,600 for Anson-Madison-Starks Ambulance Service, $40,000 for summer road maintenance and $67,000 for winter road maintenance.
The town report was dedicated to Jim Murphy, a member of the Appeals Board and chairman of the town agriculture committee, who was killed in a car accident in November.
In elections, Jospeh Hayden was elected to a three-year term on the Board of Selectman with 54 votes. Erin Norton was elected to a three-year term as the town treasurer, with 55 votes.
The following people were also elected to the Budget Committee during the business portion of the meeting: Ernest Hilton, 31 votes; Carol Coles, 30; Dave Johnson, 28; Erin Norton, 27; and Beth Luce, 25.
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