BELGRADE — Thomas Fisher, known in Belgrade as Evan Fisher, moved to Belgrade because it’s a place he and his wife would like to raise their family. Fisher is running unopposed for a Belgrade seat on the Regional School Unit 18 school board for a three-year term.

An attorney who moved to Belgrade two years ago, Fisher is not yet a father, but he believes in local government and hopes his experience advising municipalities can support fellow Belgraders.

“Education has unlocked all the doors in my life,” he said.

Fisher, a board member for the Augusta Boys & Girls Club, was one of several candidates speaking at Meet the Candidates Night at the Belgrade Public Library last week moderated by Jay Bradshaw. Two selectboard seats also need to be filled, along with the road commissioner position.

Maurice Childs is running unopposed to be the road commissioner, a seat re-elected annually that he’s filled for a total of 25 years.

Selectmen Melanie Jewell and Richard Damren, who is the board’s chairman, are running for re-election. Also running for selectboard seats are Gary Mahler, who served a three-year term before taking a year off, and Jordan Stolt, who is currently a member of the town’s Board of Appeals.

Jewell became a board member as a write-in candidate in 2005 and was a member until 2014. Her youngest child is a junior in high school, she said, and persuaded her to continue serving on the board. She said the town needs to keep its community gathering points, like the library and community center. She has been a single mother raising children on a single income, a perspective she didn’t think the board always had.

Damren said he’s seeking re-election because he enjoys representing the people. Having lived in Belgrade all his life, he said he’s always been involved with the town, including as the fire chief and an emergency medical technician

“I always do my best to make sure things are done fair for all,” he said. While he hopes to keep taxes low for voters, his priority is also to support the town’s departments.

Mahler hopes to see aging resources grow further. He wants to see more people helping the elderly in homes. While he said he is proactive to keeping the budget from growing, he understands “that there are things that cost money.”

Stolt said she is seeking election because she “(feels) as though it’s time for a newer generation to be a part of the town and be involved in things that go on.”

She hopes to see Belgrade attract younger populations to raise families and maintain a sense of community. Her priorities would be to focus on small businesses and give them better opportunities to keep their doors open; preserving the lakes, which she said are vital to the town’s economy; and infrastructure, using an article on the warrant as an example that asks residents if they approve accepting the donation of a new park at West Road and Route 27.

“We need more town-owned land that can be accessed by the public,” she said.

Born and raised in Belgrade, Stolt is a real estate agent working for Vallee Harwood & Blouin Real Estate in Hallowell.

The town’s election will take place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at the Belgrade Community Center For All Seasons.

 

TOWN MEETING

Residents will be asked at Saturday’s Town Meeting to consider a municipal budget that calls for spending $3,356,980.50, which is $139,078 — or 4.3 percent — more than the current budget’s $3,217,902.50.

Officials are estimating $1,600,646.50 will be raised through taxes. This will require residents to decide if they are in favor of raising the the property tax levy limit, now set at $1,451,084. 

“(The town) tries to be responsive to the limit, but we weren’t able to stay under it this year,” said Town Manager Dennis Keschl.

It’s too early to say yet what the property tax rate will be because the RSU 18 budget has not been approved yet.

Keschl said part of the spending increase is the town would like to put aside around $70,000 into a reserve to address salt contamination. Open salt piles on Cemetery Hill used by the town and the state have polluted water in neighboring wells.

The proposed administrative budget increased in order to build a new website that Keschl thinks will “ultimately allow us to save money.”

Residents will also be asked if they’ll approve spending $1,390,585 for a three-year capital project aimed at road improvement and paving. Residents would be asked to pay $402,600 this year. The town would seek a two-year bond to fund the rest of the project.

Three roads are slated to be be improved and paved as part of that project: 3.1 miles of Dunn Road, 1.64 miles of Bartlett Road and 1.42 miles of Wings Mills Road. The town has an outstanding balance of bonds previously issued in the amount of $511,538.

Voters will also decide if the town should accept the donation of a new park to be called “Belgrade Village Greene,” a 1-acre parcel at the intersection of West Road and Route 27.

If the 47 articles on the warrant are approved, the 2019 spending plan would be $3,356,980.50. Revenues offsetting that amount are $1,409,049, and Keschl expects there will be an additional $347,285 coming from the state through other revenue streams, such as homestead exemptions.

Town Meeting will take place at 1 p.m. at the community center. In the event of poor weather, the meeting will be postponed until 6 p.m. Monday.

 

Abigail Austin — 621-5631
[email protected]
Twitter: @AbigailAustinKJ


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