SIDNEY — Residents voted overwhelmingly to approve a $2 million bond that will allow the town to complete construction projects and buy emergency equipment at Town Meeting, which was held Saturday morning at James H. Bean School.

The issue garnered a great deal of input, both positive and negative, and was off to a rocky start when resident Peter Beckerman proposed passing over the article to vote instead on the items as they were listed individually in later articles first, before accepting the whole bond.

However, Chairman of the Board of Selectmen John Whitcomb said if the article for the bond passed, the other articles could be passed over.

If the article about financing all the projects through a single bond didn’t pass, however, he said the individual items would have to be funded differently with loans, which would have higher interest rates.

Ultimately, the motion to pass over the article failed, and Whitcomb explained the seven projects that are being proposed for the $2 million bond, saying the town probably would save a total of $80,000 to $100,000 with the package deal. They include:

• Construction of a new salt and sand shed that is 80 by 133 feet for $455,000. The current shed is too small and rotting.

• Purchase of a new plow truck for $200,000 to replace a truck that will not pass inspection by the Department of Transportation.

• Purchase of a new fire engine for $350,000 to be placed at the station on Shepherd Road to help cut down on response time.

• Replacement of a culvert on Town Farm Road that is “rotting from the bottom out” for $250,000. The culvert will be 6 feet by 120 feet.

• Reclaiming, resurfacing and replacing 1,200 feet of Shepherd Road for $350,000.

• Purchase of a fire brush truck to help the Fire Department gain access to unpaved camp roads for $80,000.

• Some money — $320,000 — also will be used to pay off existing town debt, because interest savings was $18,000.

Beckerman took issue with the purchase of a new fire engine, saying he was “displeased” with how the previous truck was purchased.

“What we got was a huge over-expenditure for a four-person truck,” he said, adding that “it’s a big-city truck.”

However, Chris Giroux, the rescue captain, said this truck would be standard and not four-person, and that the larger truck had been used to capacity many times. The new truck also will be able to carry water, he said.

Alan Tibbetts, a Budget Committee member and previous candidate for the Maine House of Representatives in District 77, asked whether using bond money to pay off debt was a smart decision.

He said one of the town debts ended in 2017, and this would extend it for another seven years.

Whitcomb said that aspect of the bond would save $18,000 because of the lower interest rate.

He also noted that the municipal budget was not going to affect the tax rate, even as the town tackled the projects.

Articles 3 through 49 all passed except for one. An article to accept a 600-foot road as a town way, known as Joseph Drive, was rejected. Jim Pepin, who proposed the vote for his subdivision, did not receive confirmation from the Department of Environmental Protection in time for Town Meeting, Whitcomb said, so the town was unable to accept the road. Pepin can resubmit the proposal next year.

At the end of the meeting Saturday, residents voted on a proposal to ban recreational marijuana establishments by secret ballot. The proposal passed, 57-10.

A proposal to enforce mooring regulations on Messalonskee Lake in Safe Harbor also passed, with no discussion.

Residents also voted on a proposal to allow catering businesses to apply for state permits to sell liquor for onsite consumption. The proposed ordinance was approved in a secret ballot Friday, 71-24.

The incumbents in three uncontested races also were re-elected to their positions Friday. Whitcomb and Tim Russell were both re-elected as selectmen, with votes of 73 and 80, respectively. Karen Hatch-Gagne was re-elected as the town’s representative on the school board with 83 votes.

On Saturday, residents also re-elected Doug Eugley and John George to two voting positions on the Budget Committee. Tabitha Cole and Nick Dutil were elected as alternates.

The selectmen handed out Spirit of America awards to Donna Farnham and Lawrence Tibbetts for their community service efforts.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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