MADISON — Residents will have the chance to voice their opinions on the $2,584,410 municipal budget at Monday night’s Town Meeting. The total reflects a decrease of nearly $62,000 from the current municipal budget, which equates to a 2.3 percent reduction.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Madison Junior High School auditorium.

A half-hour before Town Meeting, an informational session on possible regulations for retail marijuana establishments will be held. In 2016, Maine voters approved Question 1, which legalized recreational marijuana. Since then, many towns have sought ways to delay implementation with many adopting moratoriums. In Madison 51 percent of voters voted against Question 1.

In a video posted to the town’s website, Town Manager Tim Curtis said a committee formed to help educate residents about the issue put out a survey to see what kind of business regulations people wanted. He said 28 percent responded that they didn’t want regulation beyond what was already required for business development. Twenty-seven percent said they wanted regulations that limit where a retail marijuana business can be located. And 45 percent said they wanted to prohibit all retail marijuana establishments in Madison.

Curtis said that on Tuesday there will be a follow up survey asking what types of marijuana businesses should be prohibited, including cultivation operations with more than six plants; manufacturers of marijuana related products; businesses that test marijuana products; retail stores for marijuana products; and social clubs for recreational use of marijuana products; as well as whether all recreational marijuana businesses should be prohibited or no marijuana business should be prohibited.

In the video, Curtis said one major point likely to come up during the meeting would be how the closure of Madison Paper Mill would affect tax rates. The town continues to lose valuation on the mill, since it is no longer producing paper. In 2016, the mill was still operational and thus taxable. To make up for “upwards of $30 million worth of value” that won’t be captured in 2017, Curtis said the tax rate would have to go up.

The mill closed in May 2016 and was sold to what was described as a joint venture of New Mill Capital Holdings, of New York; Perry Videx, of Hainesport, New Jersey; and Infinity Asset Solutions, of Toronto. In April, the hydro power facilities were sold to Eagle Creek Renewable Energy, LLC, a hydroelectric power producer based in Morristown, New Jersey.

Curtis said in 2016, the mill paid $1.5 million in taxes to the town, but later filed an abatement asking for $1 million back from the town. The town’s board of assessors denied the request, though the mill representatives have appealed to the state board of property tax review. Curtis said they are now waiting to hear from the state. He said the uncertainty of what will come out of this “casts a shadow over the town’s finances” for the next six months to a year.

Curtis said the contracted price for ambulance services went up $19,000. He also said the water district raised its rates. To offset these and other increases, Curtis said they “had to make some tough decisions.”

One area in which the town was able to save money was policing. Two years ago, Madison entered into a contract with the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office to have them serve as the town’s police agency. With that, the town would have had five deputies serving the town and 24-hour coverage. However, Curtis explained that the coverage has been difficult to get, and in only a few months over the last two years has the town had the five deputies.

The county reimbursed the town $50,000 which hasn’t been spent. Curtis said that in an effort to save $35,000, the budget calls for staying with just four deputies and having only on-call police coverage between the hours of 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. The reserve account would be kept as is, in case the town decided to try the five-deputy model again.

Another area for saving involved the sanitary district. Curtis said the district usually budgeted $65,000 for stormwater drain fees, but that number dropped to $30,000 once the mill closed. There was also a project on the books for reconstruction on Heald Street with funding approved at the 2014 Town Meeting. Curtis said the sanitary department is not in a position to tackle the project right now, so the Board of Selectmen has recommended voters take the money for that project and appropriate it for other, smaller, paving projects.

Residents will also have to vote on updating and amending three ordinances. One involves the sporadically used appeals board. Another is for building construction, which Curtis said involves costs for building without a permit. The third ordinance involves site plan review, which governs businesses looking to expand.

The last article on the warrant would authorize selectmen to extend a line of credit with Bangor Savings Bank for another year. The $2.5 million line of credit ends on Dec. 31, and it hasn’t been used to date. Curtis said extending the credit line gives the town a way to pay in case the mill wins its abatement case.

On Tuesday, residents will also have the chance to vote for the municipal elections. While most local races are uncontested, there are four candidates running for two seats on the Board of Selectmen. Incumbents John Ducharme, vice chairman of the selectmen, and Michael Edgerly are both seeking re-election. The other candidates are George Elias and David Savage.

The only other contested race is for a seat on Madison Electric Works board of directors. Incumbent Charles Worster faces challenger Brett Hagopian.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis

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