VASSALBORO — Residents approved all warrant articles Monday night at Town Meeting, including spending for a $1.96 million municipal budget that’s slightly smaller than last year’s total and a proposal to join a planned waste-to-energy plant for the town’s garbage disposal.

About 100 residents attended the meeting, which was held at Vassalboro Community School and lasted just over two hours.

Voters approved all municipal spending items, which amount to a $1,958,341 municipal budget, which is a 0.67 percent decrease from last year’s, largely driven by proposed funding decreases of 4.25 percent for public works, 7.02 percent for public safety and 34.48 percent for miscellaneous items.

Combined with school spending — $7.37 million, a 3.25 percent increase from last year — the budgets will result in a tax rate for residents that increases from $13.70 per $1,000 of property valuation to $14.04 per $1,000. The school budget goes to referendum June 14.

Residents also debated — and ultimately approved — an article to have the town continue as a member of the Municipal Review Committee, which represents Maine communities that take their trash to the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. incinerator in Orrington. Those contracts expire in 2018, and the MRC recently has chosen Fiberight to handle solid waste disposal at a proposed plant in Hampden, a plan that Vassalboro residents also voted in favor of Monday night.

Fiberight, a Maryland-based company, is building a first-of-its-kind disposal plant that would convert trash into industrial sugars and bio-fuels. Vassalboro joins Oakland and dozens of other Maine communities who plan to use Fiberight for solid waste disposal. The tipping fee, or amount charged to towns for their waste, would be about $70 per ton when using Fiberight, those organizing the project have said.

Others communities, though, are looking for alternatives solutions, such as using a landfill. The Waterville City Council last month voted to accept the city’s solid waste committee recommendation not to send its trash to Fiberight and instead to explore all options.

Vassalboro resident Larisa Batchelder, who voted against the Fiberight article, spoke at the Town Meeting and was among several residents who questioned the contract and asked whether other options were considered. Batchelder said Tuesday she worried that Fiberight is unproven and that the 15-year agreement was too long.

Greg Lounder, executive director of the MRC, pitched the Fiberight proposal to Vassalboro residents at Monday’s meeting. After discussion, the item was approved as written on the warrant.

Town Clerk Cathy Coyne said residents ultimately approved all Town Meeting articles, though some went to a ballot vote on the floor of the meeting instead of a simple voice vote.

A written ballot was held for electing five Budget Committee members to serve two-year terms: John Melrose, Rick Denico Jr., Richard Phippen, Dough Phillips and Elizabeth Reuthe.

Residents also approved an article without discussion that allows the town to apply for a $1 million Community Development Block Grant for the Vassalboro Sanitary District. The quasi-municipal agency, which is not a town department, wasn’t able to apply for the grant last year because its funding package wasn’t complete.

In addition, residents approved an article authorizing $5,000 to be taken from the Alewife Reserve Fund for the China Region Lakes Alliance. That amount was recommended by selectmen, while the Budget Committee had recommended $10,000.

Coyne said $4,925 requested by the Family Violence Project was moved for approval at that amount, but the motion failed, 27-41, by a hand count. Another motion to approve $2,250 instead — an amount recommended by both selectmen and the Budget Committee — was passed, according to Coyne.


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