ROME — Voters at Town Meeting on Saturday will consider appropriating $767,736 for the municipal budget, which is an 11.6 percent increase from last year’s spending, mainly caused by road repair expenses.

The meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Rome Community Center. Elections of town officials will be held from noon to 8 p.m. Friday at the same place.

The first and third selectmen, Richard LaBelle and Malcolm Charles, are running unopposed for re-election. Kelly Archer, the second selectwoman, is running for re-election against the outgoing town clerk, Lois Stratton.

Archer, 48, has been a selectwoman in Rome for nine years, she said. She graduated from Messalonskee High School in 1986.

Archer’s primary job is the work she does with the town, she said.

“I’ve enjoyed doing this job. I love our town. … You’re doing your best for the town, the best for the townspeople,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed the job, or I wouldn’t have run (again).”

Archer thinks the town needs to continue improving its roads, she said, which is a “big job.”

“I really think we’re doing a good job getting the roads ready,” Archer said. “I’d like to see us get our roads done, a little at a time. I’m not big on taking out loans. I think it’s great that we can raise money, do a little, and then move on.”

Archer said she’s also committed to keeping the budget down as much as possible so the town doesn’t have to raise taxes more than is necessary.

Stratton, 69, graduated from Williams High School in 1965 and drove a school bus for the Messalonskee school district for 27 years. Now retired, she still works part time at the Town Office as a town clerk. She’s held the position for two years, but worked in the position years ago as well, she said.

“I’ve lived in Rome all my life,” Stratton said. “I’m running for second selectman because I just see some needs that should be met.”

Stratton said she did not want to elaborate on what those things are, but did say she thinks people should have “more access to the Town Office.”

“I think that, as a selectman, you don’t just come to the meetings every two weeks,” she said. “There are things to take care of between the two-week meetings. There are things to do, things you can accomplish.”

Residents also will vote on two referendum questions on the ballot.

The first asks whether to raise $300,000 for the remaining paving and reconstruction of Watson Pond Road, appropriating all money the town gets from the state’s Local Road Assistance Program for that project.

The second proposes an ordinance that would ban all recreational marijuana establishments, which includes stores, social clubs, testing facilities and more, in Rome. A public hearing on the ordinance drew few comments on the proposal, according to LaBelle, as the minutes of the Jan. 23 meeting also reveal.

The $80,000 increase in the budget is mainly a result of the increase in how much the selectmen are asking to appropriate for road work, LaBelle said.

Other increases come from $2,700 in repairs at Great Pond Dam, a $1,914 increase in the town’s snow removal contract, and a $3,000 increase for the Fire Department.

LaBelle said the selectmen don’t yet know how the increase will affect the tax rate, as the town’s assessment won’t be completed until April 1.

Among the 71 articles in the warrant are proposals to start an account for municipal legal expenses, enact a shoreland zoning ordinance and form a committee that would explore the town’s academic options.

Voters will weigh in on whether the town should form an “academic option exploratory committee” composed of five residents. The committee’s goal would be to determine whether the town should withdraw from Regional School Unit 18, the Oakland-based district in which Rome children now go to school. LaBelle emphasized that this committee would just look at Rome’s options and make a recommendation to the Select Board.

“It’s not a withdrawal committee,” he said.

However, Rome is paying about $14,000 per student in local taxes to the district, as opposed to the other towns’ $11,000 to $12,500, so LaBelle said the town should look into whether staying in the district “is in the best interest of the citizens of Rome.”

The idea to form the committee came about when Rome’s representative on the school board, Andrew Cook, contended that the final vote taken by the cost-sharing committee was not in compliance. The board chairman denies the claim.

“That really, for us, spurred us to think about our options,” LaBelle said. “We want to make sure that our Rome students are getting the best education that they can.”

Residents also will vote on whether to establish a legal expense capital account and appropriate up to $5,000 for it.

While the town raises money annually for legal expenses, that money converts into surplus if it isn’t used. LaBelle said that way of raising money is “relatively short-sighted” and that this fund would help the town if it’s ever again faced with a large legal battle, as it was in 2015.

Rome had to hold special town meetings to accept donations and raise money to fight lawsuits involving two cellphone towers in 2015.

“The town wasn’t prepared for a legal battle for that,” LaBelle said. “We may never be (fully) prepared for that, but we can be better prepared.”

The town also will vote on two ordinances. The proposed shoreland zoning ordinance would amend the town’s current rules that measure structures using floor area. The state Department of Environmental Protection standards now use footprint, which measures a structure from a bird’s eye view from eave to eave. Code Enforcement Officer Andrew Marble said the change would make it easier for camp owners to use their interior space, decrease the use of eaves that increase runoff and make it easier for him to enforce the ordinance.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: