STARKS — Residents at Saturday’s Town Meeting opted to raise just $45,000 toward repairing the roof on the Starks Community Center, which represents a little more than half of the cost of one of the year’s biggest projects for the town.

Selectmen and the Budget Committee originally recommended that the town spend $70,000 on the project, but news that the town might qualify for a Stephen & Tabitha King Foundation grant to help cover the cost of the roof caused many residents to change their minds about allotting that much money at the meeting.

“There are some grant funds available,” said resident Gwen Hilton, a member of a committee that has been looking into grant funding. “It’s not assured, but I think it looks pretty good.”

The grant application is due in June, but the town wouldn’t find out whether it is able to get the money until September, which would mean that a special town meeting would be needed to raise the additional money if the town doesn’t get the grant. The foundation, created by author Stephen King and his wife, supports community projects and nonprofit organizations and has a strong interest in literacy projects. The fact that the Starks Public Library also is in the community center means that the town has a good chance of getting funding, according to Hilton and other town officials.

Some residents expressed concern about the project’s timing and whether the grant, if received, would allow the town enough time to finish the roof before next winter.

“I’m concerned about waiting this long,” resident Carol Coles said. “I think we can make a strong case that our town is not a rich community, but it’s still not a sure thing.”

“The roof is a compelling need,” said Selectman Ernie Hilton, adding that at least five leaks are affecting insulation and the rest of the building. “It’s starting to affect the library. There are many issues. We need to do something about it this year.”

About 30 residents gathered for the three-hour meeting at the community center and approved raising a total of $487,861 from taxes. Among the other items approved were $90,120 for administration costs, $9,000 for selectmen’s salaries, $50,000 for summer road maintenance, $60,000 for winter roads and $28,000 for the Fire Department.

They also approved a total of $37,000 in state grant money for road repairs on Mayhew and Pressey roads.

In elections, Maryanne Gowlinski, Dave Johnson, Carol Coles, Ken Lust and Jared Norton were elected to the Budget Committee. Ernie Hilton was elected to the Board of Selectmen. Cathleen Horner was elected town assessor, and Jennifer Hebert was elected as tax collector and to the board of Regional School Unit 9.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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