RICHMOND — Voters at the annual Town Meeting narrowly rejected a proposal to borrow $300,000 to help build a public library.

Residents voted 71 to 66 to dismiss the warrant article, which would have allowed the town to borrow up to $300,000 to build a new Umberhine Public Library on the same site as the previous library building, which was torn down last year.

The motion to dismiss was a non-debatable motion, according to moderator Clifford Goodall.

Voters also rejected spending $90,000 for a new public works truck and learned Fire Chief Andrew Pierce is retiring after 35 years of service.

Firefighters brought a red-faced but smiling Pierce up to the podium at the start of Tuesdasy night’s meeting to a standing ovation. Pierce, who started with the department in 1977, was given a plaque and thanked him for his service, noting he spent many years away from his family as he worked to protect the town and improve the quality of the fire service.

In an article requesting $178,000 for capital purchases, voters turned down a request for $90,000 to buy a small plow truck. The article was moved by a vote of residents from late in the warrant to third.

Selectman Tracy Tuttle, who said she was speaking as a taxpayer and resident, said $90,000 is excessive and urged residents to consider what such a purchase would do to their taxes.

Selectman Clarence Cummins said the new truck would replace one that is old and in need of repairs, including a new transmission. He said the town’s fleet of plow trucks is aging, and trucks need to be replaced over time.

“I hope we’ll never get to the point where we don’t have enough trucks to plow the roads,” Cummins said. “If we continue to put off trucks year after year, we’ll reach that point. We can put it off, but eventually we’re going to have to buy a new truck.”

In the same account, voters lopped $22,000 off a $75,000 paving request.

Residents approved $263,000 for the police department, which was the selectmen’s recommended amount, despite the protests of several residents who said a town Richmond’s size does not need a department with six full-time officers.

Resident Steve Musica said when benefits and other expenses are considered, as well as the town’s share of the Sagadahoc County sheriff’s budget, it’s costing more than a half-million dollars for police protection. That’s a lot for a town of about 3,300 people, he said.

The Budget Committee recommended a police budget of $249,000.

The $14,000 difference is the funding for a sixth police officer position, which for three years, is entirely paid for with $165,000 in a federal grant. To get the grant, the town had to agree to pay for at least the fourth year of the officer’s salary. The selectmen’s recommendation included $14,000 this year to be set aside to pay for the future fourth year of the position. The Budget Committee’s did not.

Residents, after heated debate, went with the $263,000 selectmen’s recommendation.

The annual meeting, which continued past press time, will decide the fate of a proposed $2.8 million municipal budget, up $270,000, or 10.8 percent, from the current budget of $2.5 million.

If everything on the 39-article town meeting warrant were to pass as proposed property taxes would increase by about $90 on a home valued at $100,000, based on early estimates, according to Town Manager Marian Anderson.

That doesn’t include the town’s share of the Regional School Unit 2 budget, which is still being drafted. Last year, the RSU 2 budget went to voters in all the school district’s towns in June.

June is also when Richmond voters will elect, by secret ballot at the June 12 primary elections, residents to town and school government positions.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

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