WINTHROP — The Town Council voted Monday night to approve a $7.46 million municipal spending plan, which is up 7 percent from this year and will provide about $350,000 in additional funding for road repaving next year.

But in a public hearing before that vote, a couple residents expressed frustration that the town plans to make those repairs on multiple roads, rather than focus exclusively on Memorial Drive.

After councilors passed the municipal budget in a 6-0 vote during the meeting at the Town Office, they also considered a roughly $11.76 million spending proposal for the Winthrop School Department; that amount was up 6 percent from this year and included additional funding for the hiring of two new health workers.

But after more than an hour of back-and-forth, the council ended up voting 4-2 to approve slightly more funding, $11.78 million, for the Winthrop School Department next year. They raised an extra $20,000 with the hope that it might be used to bolster the Winthrop-Monmouth adult education program.

In previous meetings, staff of the adult education program have said it would be gutted under the original proposal.

That proposed amount, $11.78 million, also will need to be approved by Winthrop voters during a referendum election on June 12 before it can take effect.

The council approved that amount after Linda Caprara, the group’s vice chairwoman, made a competing proposal to reduce the school budget by about $229,000. That proposal failed to earn enough support from the council.

The councilors who ended up voting for the $11.78 million proposal were Priscilla Jenkins, Rita Moran, Scott Eldridge, and Chairwoman Sara Fuller. Caprara and Councilor Andy Wess voted against it.

About 50 residents attended the meeting on Monday night. One councilor, Barbara Buck, was not present.

The town budget approved on Monday night included few increases besides the funds for road repaving.

On Monday, Town Manager Ryan Frost said that public works staff plan to use the approved funds to repave about a third of Memorial Drive, which follows a long section of Maranacook Lake. They’ll also use the funds to repave a couple smaller roads that have deteriorated over the years, including Hathaway Road, Partridge Run Drive, Belz Road, Nottingham Road and Sherwood Forest Drive, according to Frost.

The town, which maintains about 50 miles of road, has raised little-to-no money for repaving in recent years.

“It was always one of those things that when you need to reduce the budget, the paving budget got cut,” Fuller said last weekend. “As a result, roads deteriorate and become more expensive to fix. Now we are starting to do a little catch-up and maintenance.”

But during a public hearing before the vote on Monday night, some residents expressed frustration that the town is not planning to devote more attention to Memorial Drive in the next fiscal year.

“I live on Memorial Drive,” said one resident, Pam Taylor. “It seems to me what’s happened is, you’ve put it off and put it off until now, and it’s a complete disaster. My car is knocked all out of whack, and I’m sure everyone else’s is. Why do we have to do all these other littler roads? Why can’t we do the major road first? People travel (on Memorial Drive) from Winthrop to Readfield all the time.”

This year, the town is paying for an engineering study of Memorial Drive, and a bond may have to be taken out to pay for any future repairs of the road, according to Fuller. Matthew Burnham, the town’s public works foreman, said Monday night that the whole project could cost more than $500,000.

The town budget passed on Monday night also included about $80,000 for the replacement of a trailer at the transfer station that town employees have been patching up for several years.

Given the proposed changes in town, school and county spending, Winthrop taxpayers could expect their property tax rate to rise by an estimated 7.93 percent next year, according to a public notice that was printed ahead of Monday night’s meeting. That means the owner of a $100,000 property would have to pay $1,850 in property taxes, up $137 from last year.

But that figure could change based on the $20,000 in extra funding that was raised for the Winthrop School Department and the outcome of the June 12 vote on the school budget.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker


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