Residents at the Benton annual Town Meeting on Saturday will be asked to consider extending town sewer lines to a busy area of Neck Road as a possible attraction for new businesses.

The meeting and voting on the 72-article town warrant is set for 10 a.m. at the historic 1915 Benton Grange hall.

Town elections are scheduled to run 1-6 p.m. Friday at the Benton Town Office. Selectwoman Robin Cyr is on the ballot unopposed for a second three-year term of office. Leroy “Todd” Littlefield also is on the ballot for another one-year stint as Benton Road commissioner. There are no candidates listed for a seat on the school board, but write-ins are accepted for any town position.

In spending articles on Saturday, Benton Town Treasurer Jim Mayo said that if all articles are passed as written, the municipal budget will drop by just over $5,000 from $679,496 approved last year to $674,536 on the table this year, not including spending for schools and the county tax. The tax rate going into the Town Meeting stands at $14.60 for every $1,000 in property valuation.

The biggest savings this year is a drop in solid waste disposal, Mayo said, which is anticipated to cost $75,000, down from $100,000 last year in the agreement with the town of Clinton.

Benton Selectwoman Melissa Patterson said Monday that the proposed sewer line expansion in the area of Neck Road could be an incentive to new business in town.

“We are trying to get funding to start looking at adding sewer lines to a big part of Benton. I’m thinking that’s going to be a big conversation piece,” Patterson said Monday. “We’re in the preliminary stages of that, but it would be a very big project if it did go because it’s quite an expansion.”

Patterson said the area of Neck Road is considered to be the town’s commercial and industrial area. Town sewer lines currently do not extend out that far from the pump station at the corner of Bridge and Crummett streets.

“That’s where our commercial lots are and something that would draw in commercial business,” Patterson said.

In Article 22 on Saturday, voters will be asked to take $135,000 from the town’s tax increment financing, or TIF, account for the expansion and maintenance of the sewer lines. The town Budget Committee recommends a “Yes” vote, noting in the article that the money was appropriated but left largely unspent at last year’s Town Meeting.

The area of the pump station is being looked at for a possible walking trail and and a public park with picnic tables overlooking the Kennebec River. The Budget Committee recommends taking $25,000 for that project, also from the TIF account.

“The good news is we’re going to continue with the Alewife Festival because we were without a director,” Patterson said. “We did just pick up a new director — Amy Gagnon — so that’s exciting.”

The festival was not held last year, in part due to bad weather, she said. The festival’s dinner also was canceled.

In past years the event always has sold out, but only seven tickets had been sold as of that Thursday before the Saturday event. The town called off what would have been its seventh annual celebration.

Benton voters also will be asked to spend $135,930 for town office salaries and compensation, which is up from last year’s spending of $127,109. They also will be asked to spend $185,000 for fire protection and rescue services and $19,000 for law enforcement dispatch services provided by the Maine Department of Public Safety.

In addition, $180,134, including $35,000 for the sand and salt pile, is being requested for the winter roads account, $55,000 for summer roads and $246,267 for paving town roads in the coming year.

Benton voters also will be asked to approve modifications to the town’s land use ordinance in two parts on Saturday and to update the shoreland zoning ordinance.

 

Doug Harlow — 612-2367
[email protected]
Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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