Rome residents this weekend will vote on a quarter-million-dollar road construction plan, debate a roughly $688,000 municipal budget, decide whether to approve three town ordinances and elect municipal officers.

Municipal elections will be held noon to 8 p.m. Friday at the Town Office. Town Meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at the Town Office.

Voters will be asked whether they favor raising $225,000 from taxes to rebuild about 2 miles of Watson Pond Road, starting from the intersection with Route 27.

The proposal is being supported by the selectmen and the Budget Committee. If approved, the project cost would be offset with $21,323 from the state’s local road assistance project.

Selectman Richard LaBelle said Tuesday the Watson Pond Road project could restart a regular road maintenance program for the town.

“We understand the resistance and desire to see other town roads improved, but we must realize that this is a rather high-traveled through way in dire need of repair,” LaBelle said.

Voters also will be asked whether to authorize selectmen to contract with a credit card company so residents can make payments at the Town Office, and whether to authorize the town sexton to post cemetery cleanups at town-owned cemeteries May 1 to Oct. 15 every year.

The only contested election is between incumbent Malcolm Charles and Larry DiPietro Jr. for a one-year seat as second selectman on the three-person board. Charles has served on the Board of Selectmen for many years, including a six-year tenure as second selectmen that ended in 2008. He did not immediately return a phone call Tuesday.

DiPietro, a former road commissioner and construction company owner who has been awarded contracts from the town, ran unsuccessfully for road commissioner in 2015. He was also not immediately available for an interview Tuesday.

Candidates running unopposed include LaBelle, for first selectman, Kelly Archer, for second selectman, Tammy Lyons for treasurer and tax collector, Carroll Bubar for road commissioner and Lois Stratton for town clerk.

At Town Meeting on Saturday, voters will decide whether to adopt a municipal budget and three proposed ordinances.

The $687,633 proposed municipal budget is down 5 percent from the spending plan approved by voters last year, according to LaBelle. It includes spending increases on snow removal and salt and sand purchases and a roughly $19,000 salary increases for municipal officials. The $95,423 salary budget includes raises of $1,500, $1,000 and $500 for the third, second and first selectmen, respectively.

If approved, selectmen’s salaries would rise to $6,000 a year for first selectman, $5,500 for second and $5,500 for third.

Budget Committee Chairman Peter Serrada said Tuesday the committee recommended the raises. Rome doesn’t have a town manager, so those management responsibilities fall to selectmen, who haven’t had a recent pay increase, Serrada said.

“We thought it was reasonable that they wanted to raise an increase in each of their salaries,” he said.

Also proposed are changes to the salaries of the town clerk and the excise tax collector. Until this year, the clerk and the tax collector were paid a lump sum annually, $5,500 and $3,600, respectively, and collected fees for processing taxes. But after the town installed TRIO, a kind of municipal budget software, last year, the two positions will be changed to a $14 hourly wage capped at $11,648 annually, Serrada said.

Residents also are expected to discuss the town’s obligatory payment to the Kennebec Regional Development Authority, the agency that oversees the FirstPark business park in Oakland. The agency is made up of 24 member communities in Kennebec and Somerset counties that make annual payments for its operations. Most of the money goes to pay down debt incurred by when KRDA partially developed building sites in the park.

Member communities are supposed to get back revenue generated from park tenants, but since it was created about 15 years ago, towns have lost money on the venture and taxpayers have been frustrated about the loss of tax dollars. Supporters of FirstPark argue the project has brought jobs and investment to the region, especially the T-Mobile call center that opened in the park in 2013.

Rome is set to send about $29,000 to KRDA this year, but the Budget Committee voted to recommend residents not appropriate the money, in an protest against the agency, according to Serrada.

Last year, Rome officials pushed KRDA to come up with cost-benefit analysis and other financial projections for the park’s future, a request denied by the agency’s executive board.

Andy Cook, who represents Rome in the KRDA General Assembly, in a report to residents, recommends exiting the KRDA agreement at the first possibility and opposing any new borrowing by the agency.

Although the town can vote not to appropriate money, a contract obligates Rome to send payments to KRDA until 2021. According to LaBelle, the selectmen have final say on the issue, but refusing to make the payment could have credit implications for the town.

Voters also will decide on a proposed Planning Board ordinance and a proposed Board of Appeals ordinance and a moratorium on wind power projects.

LaBelle said Tuesday that the Planning and Appeals board rules would be procedural ordinances to outline the roles and duties of each board. Residents passed a 180-day moratorium on wind energy projects last year, but the Planning Board is asking for another moratorium to give it time to come up with an ordinance to regulate them, LaBelle said.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire


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