West Gardiner residents approved a spending plan on Saturday that’s smaller than last year’s and is expected to cut the tax bill to town residents by about a half-mill.

They accomplished that by shifting the funding source from property tax to excise tax, which also allowed some additional spending on equipment and projects.

“We didn’t hear any arguments about that,” Greg Couture, chairman of the West Gardiner Board of Selectmen said Saturday. “You do what you can to keep people’s taxes down.”

Voters agreed to take the requested $20,000 for the West Gardiner Fire Department and $38,000 for communications from excise tax rather than money that would have to be raised through property tax.

They opted to increase spending on the new town garage from $10,000 to $20,000, with the additional funding coming from excise tax. And they decided to take half of the requested $5,000 to maintain updates at the Auxiliary Hall building from excise tax as well.

Voters approved an increase from $15,000 to $30,000 to the highway equipment request to pay for a backhoe, Couture said.

And they agreed to fund West Gardiner’s share of support for the Gardiner Public Library at the requested $34,404, a 3 percent increase over last year’s funding level. West Gardiner is one of the partner communities that pays for access for its residents to have library cards.

Gardiner Public Library Director Anne Davis was on hand to answer questions. Following the meeting, Davis said she was pleased with the support.

“There’s always questions and concern about the support,” Couture said, noting that 930 town residents — about a quarter of West Gardiner’s population — have library cards that have been active in the last three years. “There’s always the question of why it keeps going up.”

About 150 town residents turned out for annual Town Meeting.

“Sometimes we wish we could get 500,” Couture said.

In West Gardiner, municipal elections are held the morning before Town Meeting.

On Saturday, they elected Randall Macomber to the selectman’s seat in a close race. Macomber earned 159 votes to fellow candidate Christopher McLaughlin’s 131 votes. Macomber will assume the seat that’s being vacated by Earle McCormick, who recently announced he would not seek reelection to the Maine State Senate either.

Both Sue Pierce, West Gardiner’s treasurer and tax collector, and Carrie Boardway, School Administrative District 11 board member, were re-elected with neither seat contested.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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