WHITEFIELD — Voters in Whitefield will consider a 13.1 percent spending plan increase at Town Meeting on Saturday.

Residents will also elect two new selectboard members, as part of the two-day Town Meeting.

Polls will be open 3:45 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Whitefield Central Fire Station, and voters will also decide on a moderator, three Planning Board positions and three Regional School Unit 12 School Board positions.

The open Town Meeting will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at Whitefield Elementary School when voters will consider the budget and ordinance changes.

Selectboard and budget committee spending plan recommendations are separated by $820, based on differing sums in donations to area agencies. According to the town meeting warrant, the Selectboard recommends spending totaling $1,372,950, while the Budget Committee recommends $1,373,770. Non-property tax revenue is estimated at $752,419, down from $756,600 last year, leaving $620,531 to be raised by property taxes.

Both recommendations are an increase of about 13.2 percent from the current budget.

A budget summary from Selectboard Chairman Tony Marple said the spending hike is driven by an increased road budget and more funding for administrative staff salaries due to added staff hours at the town office. Additionally, the town is setting aside reserve funds to pay for culvert projects near Leonard’s Bridge and Sennott Road. The town also plans to allocate $12,600 to repair the roof of Coopers Mills Volunteer Fire Department and $8,910 to go to the eventual $26,730 buyout of the town’s solar system in 2022.

Selectmen Frank Ober, who served for nine years, and Marple, who served for six, are not running for re-election. Ober said it was “time for somebody else to do some of the work.”

“You’ve got three decent candidates,” he said. “They’ll find out it’s a lot more complicated than they think; it took me a year to figure out what I was doing.”

Marple said he would be putting more time into a statewide task force on “aging in place” and combating the effects of climate change.

Three candidates are vying for Ober and Marple’s seats: Lise Hanners, Christine LaPado-Breglia and Keith Sanborn.

Lise Hanners Photo courtesy of Lise Hanners

Hanners, who is recently retired from a position at The Nature Conservancy, was a member of the town’s budget committee that issues recommendations on funding for some lines of the budget. She said that municipal experience and other experience in management could help residents of Whitefield.

“I always thought it would be a good thing to help out with the management of the town,” she said. “I’m an organized person. I’ve had all kinds of management experience in my life.”

Hanners, who is listed as vice chair of the town’s Democratic party on the party’s website, said town government in Whitefield is not “broken,” but she would suggest a couple of changes that she said were in line with the Gov. Janet Mills administration, like transportation for the elderly and increasing broadband and cell phone service areas.

“I know that’s a big priority in the Mill administration,” she said. “There might be an opportunity to improve.”

Christine Lapado-Breglia Photo courtesy of David Breglia

LaPado-Breglia, who is an editor at the Lincoln County News, said people in town suggested she run for a selectboard position. She said she moved to Maine three years ago, settling in Whitefield a year later.

“I love the community, and I feel like I can be useful,” she said. “I’ve also covered the selectboard and (Regional School Unit 12) before.”

LaPado-Breglia said she would focus on school-related issues and on becoming a liaison to the Amish community in Whitefield.

“I’d like to just be a person who’s open to all facets of the community,” she said, adding that she would like to see more small business development.

When asked if her relationship with Lincoln County News and the town of Whitefield could be a conflict of interest, she said she would not be editing articles from the reporter that covers Whitefield, so no conflict would exist.

Keith Sanborn Photo courtesy of Keith Sanborn

Sanborn, like LaPado-Breglia, said friends suggested he run for selectboard. He said he has volunteered at the town’s food pantry for more than seven years, and working on the selectboard would be another way to give back. He said he would be “wide open” to the ideas of his constituents if elected.

“I don’t really have an agenda,” he said. “I’m not going to change how the town is managed; I’ve never been a selectman, so I’m kind of wide open to ideas.”

Sanborn said he would like to see LED streetlights in town and to cultivate a better relationship with local schools.

“The selectman don’t have too much to do with the school,” he said, “but I’d like to see them work a little closer with the school to improve things there.”

Residents will also vote to “re-establish” the town’s Planning Board and confirm three members that already are serving. Planning Board Chair James Torbert said the town’s initial ordinance establishing the Planning Board was lost, since it was crafted in the 1970s. This ordinance gives official recognition to the board and establishes rules for their practice, as well as staggers terms of members.

“The foundation is lost in the obscurity of bad records,” Torbert said.

Torbert and Jacob Matthews will not need to be re-elected to the board, but current members Marianne Marple, Steve Sheehy and Glenn Angell will need to be confirmed by voters. They are running unopposed.

Voters will consider a food sovereignty ordinance. Three candidates will also be elected to the RSU 12 School Board, but no candidates are officially registered.

 

Sam Shepherd — 621-5666
[email protected]
Twitter: @SamShepME


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