RICHMOND — A proposal to accept the donation of two church buildings and commit money to repair and maintain them goes to voters at the annual Town Meeting Tuesday night.

Voters will also decide whether to approve spending proposals that make up a $2.6 million municipal budget, which is down slightly from the current year’s budget, and whether to change the date of the annual Town Meeting back to June.

Earlier this year the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, at the direction of the dwindling congregation of St. Matthias Episcopal Church, offered to give the town its two buildings at 15 Spruce St. The two single-story buildings are the 1,340-square-foot church itself and an 864-square-foot meeting hall, Roberts Hall, built in 2003 on the same half-acre lot on a quiet street.

Heidi Shott, a diocese spokeswoman, said by 2011 the congregation of the church was down to 11 members, and the remaining members decided to offer the building to the town in hopes that it could continue to be used to serve the community.

Town Manager Marian Anderson said no final decisions have been made about what the town would use the building for, if residents vote to accept the donation. But she said possibilities town officials have discussed include making it the home of the food pantry, currently run out of temporary quarters in the basement of the Dresden Richmond United Methodist Church, and moving the senior center, currently operating out of rented space on Front Street, into the Roberts Hall building next to the church.

The same warrant article asking if voters wish to accept the church property also asks to appropriate $5,000 from an undesignated fund balance to repair and maintain the property. The proposed budget estimates water and sewer would cost about $550 a year, heat $1,825 and electricity $1,200, and sets aside $1,425 for unexpected expenses.

Anderson said selectmen made no recommendation on whether to accept the church property.

Voters at the meeting, which is at 6 p.m. in the gymnasium at Richmond High School, will also be asked if they want to move the date of the annual meeting back to the first Tuesday of June. That would reverse a vote of two years ago that moved the meeting from June to its current date on the first Tuesday of April.

The meeting was moved from June to April partly as an effort to boost attendance and to have the meeting when more complete information is available about town costs for the current year. Anderson said some residents have since said they prefer having the meeting when it used to be held in June.

“When the town meeting date was changed, it was for a two-year trial, to see how it went,” Anderson said. “So now the town is asking if people still want it in April or would like it moved back to June. We had hoped to get better attendance in April. We didn’t see evidence of that.”

The proposed municipal budget of $2.6 million is down about $5,000 from the budget approved by voters last year. Anderson said the town budget would likely result in no change in the current tax rate of $17.10 per $1,000 of property value. However, the tax rate won’t be set until Richmond’s share of the Regional School Unit 2 budget is set in a vote which has previously taken place in June.

Changes in the town budget include a $22,000 decrease in the police department budget because the budget only includes funding for four officers, with the salary of the fifth paid for with a federal grant, and a $14,000 increase in the capital outlay account including a proposal to spend $16,850 to purchase a new sanding body for a 2003 Ford public works truck.

One proposal would increase the number of property tax due dates from the current two to four. Anderson said the proposal was added in an effort to make it easier for some residents to pay their taxes in smaller amounts spread over the year.

Anderson said the budget includes about $200,000 in state revenue sharing, despite a proposal in Gov. Paul LePage’s budget — which is still being debated by the Legislature — to eliminate revenue-sharing payments to municipalities.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

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