SKOWHEGAN — Marijuana prohibition, a property maintenance ordinance and a 6 percent increase in overall spending are among proposals that will greet voters Monday night at Town Meeting.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday in the Opera House, upstairs from town offices on Water Street. The election of town officials and school board members by secret ballot is scheduled for 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Municipal Building Council Room at the town offices.

Town Manager Christine Almand said the proposed $10.8 million budget for the coming year is up about $605,000, much of which will be seen in increases to several capital reserve accounts — about a $260,000 increase — for a new firetruck, road improvements, repairs to the municipal building and engineering costs associated with a possible new public safety building for the Fire Department and the Police Department.

Almand said $90,000 also has been included in the proposed budget for increases in wages and benefits, as negotiated with the town’s four labor unions.

Other big-ticket items to be voted on Monday include:

• $1,380,715 proposed for the Police Department.

• $872,457 for the Fire Department.

• $577,494 for waste water and pollution control.

• $437,915 for summer roads maintenance.

• $613,450 for winter roads.

• $232,000 for public works vehicle maintenance.

• $463,425 for Parks and Recreation.

• $1,667,944 for capital expenditures and debt retirement.

Almand said the selectmen and the Budget Committee recommend adopting a proposal to use up to $750,000 from surplus in several areas, including tax relief, and Almand’s budget draft includes using that amount. The three sides disagree about how to spend it, however. Proposed uses of the surplus money include funds for the public works roads and sidewalks reserve account, the proposed public safety building reserve account and the Parks and Recreation reserve account for the ballfield compound.

“We’re providing different options this year. It’s an alternative approach to how we’ve dealt with surplus previously,” she said.

The Police Department remains in the basement of the Town Office building and the town fire station is among the oldest active fire stations in Maine.

Voters at Town Meeting last year agreed to take $750,000 from surplus accounts to offset taxes this year. The vote in June 2016 disregarded recommendations by the Board of Selectmen to take $350,000 from surplus and by the Budget Committee to take $250,000.

There will be an overall motion Monday night to decide how to use the surplus funds, and voters will decide which configuration to take.

The current tax rate in Skowhegan is $19.04 for every $1,000 in property valuation. Almand said state revenue sharing is up about $35,000 this year, and residential taxpayers now are eligible for an increase in the homestead exemption.

Other questions facing voters Monday night will include a proposed local ordinance that would ban the retail sale of marijuana. Selectmen agreed in January to move forward with a local ordinance that would prohibit all types of retail marijuana establishments and social clubs under the state’s municipal home rule authority. The ordinance covers every aspect of possible marijuana sales within the town. It would ban any retail marijuana cultivation facility, retail marijuana stores, product manufacturing and testing and clubs where marijuana is consumed.

All would be “expressly prohibited” in Skowhegan, but the ordinance would not prohibit the lawful use of pot as prescribed by Maine law or conduct related to medical marijuana and would not ban “recreational” or adult use.

There also is a second article on the Town Meeting warrant that asks voters to decide, if the retail ban is defeated by voters, whether to impose a moratorium on sales and social clubs so town officials will have time to get the language of the guidelines in place.

Skowhegan residents voted 2,152-1,879 against Question 1, which made recreational marijuana sales and consumption legal under state law, on the statewide referendum ballot Nov. 8.

Voters Monday night also will be asked to release a “reverter agreement” with the nonprofit Skills Inc. regarding the potential sale of a set of buildings at the corner of Greenwood Avenue and Jewett Street. The buildings once were owned by the town. If the property is sold to a for-profit company, the town would get 20 percent of the sale price.

Residents also will be asked to approve an interlocal agreement with the town of Canaan regarding Lake George Regional Park and to adopt a four-page property maintenance ordinance that would set minimum standards to prevent unsafe, unsanitary or nuisance properties within the town of Skowhegan.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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