ALBION — This weekend could see Albion making strides for local farmers and town roads.

Residents will vote on a food sovereignty ordinance and budget increases for street maintenance at the annual Town Meeting on Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Besse Building. Elections will take place on Friday 2-7 p.m. also at the Besse Building.

The overall proposed budget figure for next year is $647,885, which includes $514,385 from taxes and $133,500 from surplus. This would entail a tax increase of about 15 percent, said selectman Beverly Bradstreet.

The new Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance proposes that Albion promote small-scale farming in the area by exempting local food producers from certain state laws when they sell a product directly to a customer. Over 40 municipalities in the state have adopted a similar food sovereignty ordinance since the Legislature passed the Maine Food Sovereignty Act in June 2017.

“We, the People of the Town have the right to produce, process, sell, purchase, and consume local foods thus promoting self-reliance, the preservation of family farms, and local food traditions,” the proposed Albion ordinance reads. “We recognize that family farms; sustainable agricultural practices; and food processing by individuals, families, and non-corporate entities offer stability to our rural way of life by enhancing the economic, environmental, and social wealth of our community. We recognize the authority to protect that right as belonging to the Town.”

Albion resident George Stone brought the issue to the two-person select board’s attention.

“(He) just came in and gave me a copy of (the food sovereignty ordinance) and asked if we would put it in the Town Meeting,” Bradstreet said.

She did not have a contact number for Stone, and the number listed under his name in a public directory was not in service.

Bradstreet noted that the biggest proposed budget increases for voters to decide on are related to road maintenance.

“They are in rough shape,” she said. “Every year, it’s just spending more on them.”

The Budget Committee has recommended allocating a total of $250,000 to town highways and bridges —  $75,000 from taxation, $50,000 from the general fund, $75,000 from excise tax receipts and $50,000 from the Local Road Assistance Program. Overall, this is about $25,000 more than what voters approved last year, according to Bradstreet.

“We’re trying to keep our taxes down, but we just really have to do more this year,” she said.

The town will also ask voters to approve setting aside $45,000 of general fund money to start saving up for a new grader.

“The grader that we have is (from) 1977, and it just needs repair over time,” said Bradstreet. “We have so many dirt roads that need to be graded every year, so we do need to think about starting a fund to get a new one.”

The contracts for snow removal and sanding as well as for solid waste disposal have both increased from last year, the former by about $16,000 and the latter by about $10,000. Albion is a member of the Municipal Review Committee and will begin sending waste and recycling to the Fiberight plant in Hampden by June, as opposed to contracting with Thorndike-based Sullivan’s Waste.

There is a proposed $1,400 increase in salaries for town office employees. Voters will also see slight increases in proposed spending on the fire department, streetlights and cemeteries.

As far as public policy “housekeeping” goes, according to Bradstreet, Albion residents will consider changes to the town’s Fire and Rescue Department Ordinance and Land Use Ordinance on Saturday morning.

The town has proposed adding a “Cost Recovery” section to the Fire and Rescue Department Ordinance that states that “any entity who is provided fire department services shall pay to the Town of Albion a fee for services,” and that the money collected will go to the department’s capital improvement account.

“Up to twenty percent of revenue earned in a fiscal year may be used for emergency medical equipment and supplies as determined by the Fire Chief,” according to the ordinance.

The types of incidents that Albion would be authorized to bill for under this revised ordinance include burning permit violations, motor vehicle accidents, hazardous materials incidents, standby for utility lines in the roadway, motor vehicle or equipment fires and “fire incidents as determined by the Fire Chief not listed above.”

Updates to the land use ordinance include a new policy requiring authorization of permits before a public utility can install service on a Land Use District lot in the town, including water or sanitary districts. It also includes a new section on changing the use of existing conforming structures, which allows a building change if the Planning Board determines that “no greater adverse impact” will occur in the process.

 

ELECTIONS

The position of town clerk, treasurer, tax collector and registrar of voters — yes, one position — is open, with Amanda Dow running uncontested for re-election.

Jeanie Doore is running for a three-year seat on the select board, which was vacated by Michael Getchell last May. The board is currently composed of Bradstreet and her son, Kevin Bradstreet.

There is also an open position on the board of Maine School Administrative District 49. Kara Kugelmeyer, who holds the seat, did not gather enough signatures to run, though voters can still write-in her name on their ballots. The position is for three years.

 

Meg Robbins — 861-9239
[email protected]
Twitter: @megrobbins

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