EMBDEN — During a six-hour annual Town Meeting on Saturday, residents agreed to take ownership of the Embden Community Center indefinitely and put $80,000 into an account that could be used for bat removal, dam replacement and community center renovations.

Residents also voted not to change the name of Katie Crotch Road. They will keep the town clerk, town treasurer and tax collector positions as elective ones.

About 65 people attended the meeting at the community center and approved raising about $590,000 in taxes for the 2012 municipal budget. It’s an increase of about 3.5 percent from last year’s taxation amount and a slight decrease from what selectmen originally proposed this year, First Selectman Charles Taylor said.

The total 2012 municipal budget is about $890,000, compared to about $789,500 last year.

In elections, incumbent Wayne McLaughlin won the selectman’s race against Terriann Lamontagne, 98-47. Raymond Young beat incumbent Edwin Thebarge in the bid for a position as assessor, 79-61.

Largely because of a tornado that touched down in Embden in June, the town’s emergency management co-directors recommended this year that residents designate the community center as an emergency shelter, Taylor said.

The town must own the building indefinitely, though, in order to make that official designation and to be able to accept grants to buy a generator to power the building.

As a result, residents’ vote Saturday to make the community center an emergency shelter in effect hands the town ownership of the building, Taylor said.

The vote superseded residents’ decision at last year’s Town Meeting to keep the building for two years before re-evaluating whether to continue to operate it as a community center.

Residents also voted to add about $80,000 from surplus into a capital improvement account that currently holds about $35,000, Taylor said. Even so, residents decided that selectmen must call a special town meeting before they spend any of the money on specific projects.

Selectmen are preparing for three possible projects: getting bats out of the historic Embden Town House, building a new dam on Embden Pond and making improvements at the community center that could include new windows.

Katie Crotch Road will retain its name after residents turned down a proposal to change it to Katie Road. Selectmen had hoped to save money in sign replacement costs, as the road sign has been stolen repeatedly, Taylor said. Last year the town spent about $200, not including labor costs, to replace the single sign.

The town granted a three-year snow-plowing contract to Nitram Excavation & General Contractors, Inc. for $224,000 per year, Taylor said. It’s a decrease from the price paid to the current contractor, Sam White, who is doing the work this winter for $240,400, not including the cost of salt.

Residents voted to continue paying the Anson Fire Department to provide fire protection, even though bids from the Anson, Solon and New Portland fire departments are expected to be opened at the selectmen’s meeting at 7 tonight.

Anson calculates Embden’s payment for fire protection each year. This year the payment increased $6,500 to about $44,500, Taylor said, and selectmen wanted to see if they could find a cheaper service.

The other towns’ sealed bids will be thrown out, though, now that residents have voted to continue using Anson.

“We are bound by the vote of the town to stay with Anson,” Taylor said. “They’re happy with their service that they’ve provided.”

When selectmen open Anson’s bid tonight, if it’s less than what Anson calculated at the beginning of the year, selectmen will accept the lower number, he said.

Residents cut $5,000 from the proposed facilities maintenance budget, $2,000 from the Recreation Department’s proposed budget and $3,500 from the recreation director’s requested salary.

They also voted to postpone decisions on an easement in the area of the community center and the Town Office, in addition to changes to the shoreland zoning ordinance, until a future special town meeting.

Erin Rhoda — 612-2368

[email protected]

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