The town of Embden once again is asking residents to change the name of Katie Crotch Road because it costs several hundred dollars a year to replace the constantly stolen road signs.
The referendum question on whether to change the name to Cadie Road is one of several on Friday’s town ballot. Town Meeting is scheduled for Saturday.
Voters also will consider enacting a recall ordinance and changing the positions of town clerk, treasurer and tax collector to appointive jobs after “problems in neighboring towns” raised concerns about accountability, according to Charles Taylor, chairman of the Board of Selectman.
Elections are scheduled for Friday, with polls open at the Town Office from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The business portion of the meeting will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Embden Community Center.
Katie Crotch Road’s name has been the subject of debate for several years in Embden and New Portland, which also has a section of the road. Embden typically pays several hundred dollars each year to replace stolen signs.
The move to change the name failed at the 2012 Town Meeting. That year the proposal was to change the name to Katie Road.
“You put it up and in a week’s time it’s down again,” Taylor said. “Somebody takes it. You would think every dorm room in the state of Maine should have one by now.”
Taylor said the proposal to change the road name to Cadie Road came from the town’s 911 director, whose budget includes sign replacement.
The recall ordinance, the road name question and a proposal to merge the community center and the Town Office all will be voted on in a referendum Friday, while the issue of elected and appointed officials will be looked at Saturday.
On Saturday, residents will be asked to consider appropriating a municipal budget of $1,190,390, including $614,500 to come from taxation. The total budget is down about 3 percent from last year’s approved budget of $1,221,978, which included $597,700 from taxation.
The proposed recall ordinance, which would put in place a process for recalling elected officials, was brought forward because of “some of our neighboring towns and their actions,” Taylor said. A similar question was rejected at the 2012 Town Meeting.
Taylor would not comment about whether recent criminal charges against Claudia Viles, the former Anson tax collector, charged with stealing $438,000 in excise taxes in that neighboring town, were what prompted the proposed ordinance in Embden.
Anson also filed a civil lawsuit against Viles in August alleging that she misappropriated money, but without a recall ordinance the town couldn’t take any action against her, such as putting her on leave while police investigated the case, because she was an elected official. Voters in Anson approved a recall ordinance and agreed to change the job of tax collector to an appointive one in November.
“If folks don’t want an elected official to continue, they should have that option,” Taylor said, adding that there have been no recent questions about recalling any Embden officials, but that having an ordinance is a good idea. “If a problem ever arises with an elected official, we want that option there.”
Embden residents also are being asked whether they want to appoint rather than elect people to the jobs of tax collector/treasurer and town clerk.
“There are pros and cons for it,” Taylor said. “It would provide for a larger pool of applicants with more qualifications, though we are very satisfied with the girls that work in the office now.”
The change, if approved, would take effect in 2017 and would allow for a two-year appointment, rather than the current one-year terms for each of those positions, Taylor said. “Some folks argue, ‘Why should we as taxpayers put a decision in the hands of just three people? We want to elect them.’ I can see both sides, and that’s why it’s on the warrant, so the voters can decide,” he said. Taylor said he does not expect a cost change if the positions become appointive.
Residents also will vote on whether the town should look into consolidating the community center and the Town Office. If the question passes, town officials would study the issue and bring it back to voters next year, said Selectman Scott LeHay, who said residents approached him about the issue.
“If people aren’t interested, there’s no sense in going any further,” LeHay said. “If people are interested in exploring whether there’s money to be saved, then we’ll go ahead and put together an ad hoc committee, do some studies and see if we could save some money.”
LeHay said he did not have an accurate number for how much it costs to run the buildings separately and said that if a study of consolidating the office and community center is done, one thing that would be explored is whether there would be any significant cost savings. LeHay said he believes there would be at least some money to be saved.
“Both buildings are being used, but the community center is not being used to its full capacity; and I think a lot of townspeople feel that way, so we’re going to put it out to a vote. If people aren’t interested, then we’ll just move on,” he said.
In elections, Taylor is running unopposed for a three-year term on the Board of Selectmen. Bonnie Baker is running uncontested for a one-year term as town clerk and treasurer. Ruth Blake is running uncontested for a one-year term as tax collector. Michael Witham and Frank Nile are competing for a one-year term as road commissioner. Wayne McLaughlin is running for a one-year term on the board of assessors and Kevin Sousa is running for a three-year term on the board of School Administrative District 74.
Rachel Ohm — 612-2368