ST. ALBANS — Residents voted Saturday to approve a $1.13 million municipal budget, an $82,148 increase from last year’s spending plan.

In a speedy Town Meeting that lasted less than two hours, about 50 attendees approved the Budget Committee’s proposed spending plan with only one amendment, which specifies that $2,000 of the total of $5,000 to be given to the Hartland Library be drawn from the town’s budget surplus.

The new budget includes $270,342 for the Public Works and Highway Department, a decrease of more than $21,000 from last year’s budget; $173,002 for administration; and $98,265 for the Mid Maine Solid Waste and Recycling Contract.

Residents also approved $5,800 to have Acheron, a Newport-based engineering company, complete a survey of the town’s three dams. Town Manager Rhonda Stark said she discovered a leak in the town’s Upper Dam last fall and already had sent a dive team there for an initial assessment.

Stark said the Upper Dam would take priority for repairs that should start this fall. The town does not have money set aside for the repairs and would need to convene a special town meeting to approve those costs once Acheron delivers its estimates. Its report is expected in July.

The town also took steps toward building a new fire station after accepting a land donation for the station and approving $50,000 for the fire station capital reserve account. Estimates for the new station may reach as much as $1 million, Selectman Hiram Weymouth said. The town has $128,244 in reserve for the building, as well as an additional $58,000 from an earlier gift. The goal, Weymouth said, is to pull together about $250,000 and apply for grants to cover the remaining costs.

The town’s current fire station was built in 1956, Chief Jason Emery said. The department has expanded the small building two or three times but still has trouble accommodating its 25 firefighters. The upstairs of the building is “pretty much condemned,” Emery said. The department has preliminary plans for the new building that would range from 7,000 to 10,000 square feet.

“It’s big. It’s beautiful. It has a firetruck,” said Weymouth, alluding to the new E-1 firetruck the town acquired on a lease-purchase deal that will cost about $287,000 over 10 years.

Residents debated the $50,000 contribution to the fire station reserve fund, arguing that the money might be needed for dam repairs and that at the current savings rate, the town could still be several years away from affording a new station. After the discussion and clarification of potential supplemental grants, residents approved the funding.

Voters also approved the 2016 comprehensive plan for the town and applauded members of the comprehensive plan committee, who had worked three years to develop the plan.

The meeting opened with the announcement of election results.

Todd Brown was voted in as selectman to replace Jason Gould, who is stepping down as chairman after six years with the board. Steve Emery was voted in as road commissioner after receiving 107 votes. Joyce Weymouth, Michael Wiers and James Thorne will join the Budget Committee. Wiers and Thorne were write-in candidates who received 15 and 10 votes, respectively. Jason Scholten was elected to the Regional School Unit 19 school board as a write-in candidate.

Voters also declined to change the road commissioner and town clerk positions from elective to appointive in close votes. They approved an ordinance prohibiting retail marijuana establishments or social clubs by a vote of 125-51. A total of 179 votes were cast in the municipal election.

Sen. Paul Davis made an appearance to honor longtime Road Commissioner Ronnie Finson, who is retiring after 32 years on the job. Davis said he submitted a legislative sentiment in Finson’s honor. The sentiments “recognize a person, group or other entity for a significant achievement or civic accomplishment,” according to the Legislators’ Handbook.

“I put this in for you, and Governor (Paul) LePage did veto it,” Davis quipped.

Stark teared up as she thanked Finson and Gould for their years of service. Finson received the town’s 2017 Spirit of America award for his volunteering and service. Also, the Public Works garage was named in his honor.

Kate McCormick — 861-9218

[email protected]

Twitter: @KateRMcCormick

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