CANAAN — Residents on Saturday morning approved an annual budget of just under $1.3 million at the annual Town Meeting, representing an increase of more than $103,000.

During the meeting, which lasted over two hours, nearly 100 residents turned out at the elementary school on Main Street, where they approved all 33 warrant items. The Town Meeting precedes municipal elections, which are scheduled for 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday from at the Town Hall. Six people are running for three seats on the Board of Selectmen, including incumbents Daniel Harriman, Jeffrey Clarke and Garrett Buzzell. The three challengers are Michael Gilbert, Stephen Hale and Raymond Charkey. The term of office for each seat is one year. Also on the ballot is the road commissioner’s post. Michael Robinson is running unopposed for another one-year term.

One of the lengthier discussion points during the Town Meeting involved the town’s involvement in FirstPark, a business park in Oakland near Interstate 95. When making a motion on deciding the town’s expenses, one resident asked for the town’s $10,616.93 contribution to FirstPark to be taken out. There was some discussion on what value the town was getting out of its contributions, since it and 23 other municipalities agreed to invest in the park by paying down the park’s initial debt to the Kennebec Regional Development Authority. However, most in the crowd wanted to remain faithful to the contract and remain with FirstPark, and there was also a question of whether pulling out of the pact would be legal. One resident also said the town probably has received value in additional property taxes from Canaan residents who work at FirstPark.

Another larger discussion topic in town expenses involved slashing the town’s community sports program from $6,300 to $4,410. The selectmen said the reduced figure was the result of a conversation with the sports director, who is stepping down. They said the director said the position should be funded, so part of the cut to the sports budget would allow some funding for such a position while not raising taxes. They also said this included other cuts, such as getting rid of hats and shirts for coaches, switching from trophies to certificates and getting rid of some equipment. However, the sports director was at the meeting, and she said she had proposed keeping the $6,300 budget. The selectmen said they made the cuts they thought were necessary.

One resident called the decision to cut the sports budget “unfortunate.” That resident noted the town was asking for over $7,000 to make repairs to the Town Office while cutting the sports budget.

By law, the most that residents could vote for was what the selectmen had recommended. They could lower it, but not increase it.

In the end, residents approved all the items of the $332,000 town expenses.

Other major budget items in the warrant include $160,700 for winter road maintenance; nearly $94,000 for summer road maintenance; $68,500 for the Fire Department; nearly $49,000 for the library, including increasing the library director’s pay to $20,608, up from $19,200; $115,600 for solid waste reduction; and $125,000 for road improvements. The selectmen initially had requested $175,000 for that item, but residents reduced it to $125,000.

Residents also reduced the price tag of putting money into a reserve account for adding to the existing town garage. Selectmen had asked for $50,000 to be put into the reserve account, but a resident amendment of $25,000 was passed instead. Residents also chose the lowest choice of what to raise for municipal health insurance for full-time employees. The town had recommended appropriating over $25,000, which would have been 100 percent. However, residents instead chose to appropriate 70 percent — just over $17,500.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis

 

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