Sidney residents will vote on a $1.4 million budget that’s just a tick higher last year’s spending plan at the annual Town Meeting Saturday.
The $1,424,055 budget is up less than 1 percent from the year before, said Administrative Assistant Sheila Thorne. The annual Town Meeting will be 9 a.m. Saturday at the J.H. Bean School. Voting will be Friday 12:30 to 8 p.m. at the Town Office.
Voters won’t know how the budget will affect the property tax rate until after county and school taxes are passed. Last year property taxes decreased from $10.65 per $1,000 of valuation to $9.97 per $1,000. For a house valued at $100,000, taxes decreased by $68.
Selectman Doug Eugley said the municipal portion of the property tax, if the budget passes as written, would decrease by $8.80 on an $100,000 house. However, he said the majority of the total property tax rate is used to fund the Regional School Unit 18 budget, which is expected to increase and hike the overall tax rate.
“We try to keep a pretty tight budget, but 80 percent of the property tax goes to the schools,” he said.
The $11,000 increase in the proposed town budget is partially due to a request for a generator. Eugley said the generator would be for the Town Office and the Grange, which is attached to the office. He said the selectmen are asking for a generator because the office is designated as a town emergency shelter and the Grange is designated as a shelter for the school in case they ever needed somewhere to shelter the students.
There are two people running for one school board seat, which is the only contested election. Eunice Spooner and Robert Colby are running for the RSU 18 seat now held by Laura Downing.
Voters will also be asked to increase funding for eradicating milfoil. The invasive weed has been quickly spreading in the greater Belgrade lakes region and Sidney is one of several area towns being asked to chip in on the costly eradication effort.
Last year, Sidney approved $1,100 for the Youth Conservation Corps and $1,000 for milfoil removal. This year, the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance has requested an additional $1,000 for milfoil removal. The $3,100 has been recommended for approval by town officials.
Thorne said the town will also be switching from its contact with Sandy River Recycling Association to Central Maine Recycling LLC. The association plans to dissolve by June 30 and all member towns need to sign with new contractors or cease recycling after that date. Thorne said the town should be making the switch in April.
Residents are also encouraged to participate in fundraising opportunities at the Town Meeting, Thorne said. Prior to the meeting, there will be an 8 a.m. benefit breakfast for the Sidney Athletic Association. The town will also be collecting non-perishable food for the Sidney Food Cupboard.
Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252 firstname.lastname@example.org