WEST GARDINER — Longtime Selectman Victor Goodwin Sr. was ousted in his bid for re-election Saturday by former legislator Earle McCormick.

In unofficial results, McCormick received 218 votes; and Goodwin, 203. A recount later Saturday gave McCormick 215 votes and Goodwin stayed at 203.

Goodwin had been a selectman for 44 years, interrupted only by two years in the 1970s.

The annual Town Meeting followed in the afternoon, but Goodwin was absent.

From his home later, he said he had nothing to say.

McCormick, who sat with the residents, was sworn in as selectman following the Town Meeting.

McCormick had spent two terms in the Maine House and three in the state Senate before opting against running again for state office.

Selectman Gregory Couture acted as moderator for the Town Meeting, and Selectman Merton Hickey sat at the head table with Town Clerk Heidi Peckham as about 180 people weighed in on articles supporting the proposed $973,000 municipal budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Voters refused to spend money on a generator to power the Town Office, but they opted to make the job of excise tax collector/town clerk a three-year post.

Peckham holds those positions now, and they have been filled by election annually.

People who fill the municipal posts of selectmen, tax collector/treasurer and road commissioner are all elected to three-year terms.

Residents voted by a narrow margin to repay a $5,000 loan from the Maine Municipal Association for the deductible amount of a settlement in a discrimination case. In that case, Vicki Dill had claimed gender discrimination when selectmen ignored a 2009 vote of the West Gardiner Firemen’s Association naming her chief and instead appointed someone else.

Last month Dill signed an settlement with the town for an undisclosed amount of money. Earlier she had won support from the Maine Human Rights Commission. The town was represented in the case by attorney Jonathan Brogan through the Maine Municipal Association.

On Feb. 21, Dill, who has been with the department for 17 years, mostly as training officer and as captain, was sworn in as West Gardiner’s fire chief. She said Saturday the department has 19 active firefighters.

In other business, voters agreed to spend $7,500 for firetruck repairs and $4,000 for two sets of turn-out gear for firefighters.

Dill said the department is replacing several sets each year because they get worn out and are no longer rated for use.

In other proposals, resident Jean Jessen suggested a discount for early payment of property taxes. “If people are incentivized to pay early rather than wait, they may pay them earlier, the town has the money in hand. You then would have the opportunity to pay expenditures. I don’t know if it would negate potential borrowing.”

After extensive discussion, townspeople rejected the discount idea.

Peckham said the town borrowed $550,000 last year through a tax-anticipation note at 1.99 percent interest.

Betty Adams — 621-5631
[email protected]

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