WEST GARDINER — Residents will be asked to put some teeth into the barking dog ordinance by specifying how long a dog can bark continuously or intermittently before becoming a nuisance.

That’s one of 55 items to be taken up at the business portion of the annual Town Meeting, which begins at 1:30 p.m. March 24 at the fire station on Spears Corner Road. Voting for town offices at the polls takes place 8 a.m. to noon the same day at the same location.

The only contest on the ballot is for the selectman’s seat occupied by Greg Couture, who is seeking re-election and is being challenged by Victor “Chip” Goodwin Jr.

Last year, Goodwin Jr. challenged Mert Hickey for his seat on the board, and Hickey won 444-85.

Victor Goodwin Sr., chairman of the select board, said the proposed alteration in the dog ordinance resulted from a court case.

The town took a dog owner to court last year to try to stop a barking dog, but lost the case because there was no local limit to how long the animal could bark before it became a nuisance. Another proposed change indicates the complaint has to be notarized.

The changes, if adopted, will make the ordinance more easily enforced, town officials said. Under the proposed change, a violation would occur if a dog barked continuously for 20 minutes, or intermittently for an hour.

Residents will also consider a three-year term for the treasurer/tax collector post currently held by Sue Pierce.

They also will consider combining the posts of excise tax collector and town clerk, both roles held by Heidi Peckham.

Now, those two jobs are open for election each year. Selectmen plan to ask voters next year to make that a three-year elected post as well, Goodwin Sr. said.

“It makes it easier,” he said. “They know they’re going to be here. They do a real good job, and it takes a while to learn these positions.”

Voters also will be asked to spend $5,000 for a new copier-fax machine, as well as $7,000 for a stand-by generator, both for the Town Office.

Some $100,000 is being sought to maintain the town’s transfer station, a reduction of $20,000 from last year’s figure, because $18,000 remains from the current year. Goodwin said the money came from recycling.

And less money is being proposed for paving. Selectmen are asking to spend up to $100,000 to put a skim coat of pavement on 1.7 miles of Spears Corner Road to complete road work there.

Proposed municipal spending totals $982,642, with $537,155 of that coming from excise tax and the remaining $445,487 from property tax.

Goodwin said the town’s property tax rate — $10.60 per $1,000 worth of property valuation — could be maintained if the school budget does not increase.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

 

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