FARMINGDALE — Town officials say next fiscal year’s budget could bump the property tax rate up by a full dollar ahead of this month’s Town Meeting.

Secret-ballot voting to elect municipal officials and decide on school budget ratification is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. June 11 in the Hall-Dale Middle School gymnasium. The open Town Meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. June 13 in the Hall-Dale High School auditorium. Voters will decide on the town budget and a proposed medical marijuana ordinance that could limit medical marijuana facilities in town.

This year’s municipal spending plan totals $1,691,981, about $286,824 — or 20% — more than last year’s figure of $1,405,157. This is spurred by a $126,760 bond payment for the town’s new fire station and a $110,000 expenditure for streetlights that pays for conversion to more-efficient LED lights. Both of those items are under the public safety budget line, which increases from last year’s $568,227 to $835,645.

The town’s total spending plan, including Regional School Unit 2 figures and county taxes, totals $4,662,010. A form circulated by Town Clerk Rose Webster said $3,654,213 will need to be raised from taxes.

The town’s revenue also is increasing, from $923,257 to 1,007,797 — about 9%. The increase comes from an increase in state revenue sharing and increased use of surplus funds. The town plans to using $256,389 in surplus funding, about $70,000 more than last year, to offset higher expenditure line items.

The rising budget might have adverse effects on the town’s property tax rate for residents. Town Clerk Rose Webster said on May 29 the estimated property tax rate would be $17.30 per $1,000 of property value for fiscal year 2020, up a full dollar — or 6.13% — from this year’s rate of $16.30.

Other increased expenditure lines include a 41% increase in cemetery funding — from $18,955 to $26,750 — and a 6% increase in highway department funding — from $619,320 to $656,915.

Jim Grant

The incumbent chairman of the Board of Selectmen, Jim Grant, is running for re-election against Andy Vellani. Grant said he has served on the board for the last six years and his greatest achievements were seeing through the construction of the new fire station and changing town contracting procedures to reduce favoritism.

“Every contractor is given the same information to bid off of,” he said. “In my opinion, there was favoritism (with contractors) before, and that’s why I ran, to make a fair and equal process for all interested contractors.”

Grant said the current board — he, Wayne Kilgore and Nancy Frost — works well together despite having differing views occasionally. He said he was running “on his record” and if people like the direction the town is taking, they will vote for him.

“I think we’ve made a lot of progress in the last six years,” he said. “I’d hate to see us go back to our old ways.”

Grant said town officials are going to have to get creative to keep costs down in the future, but he said building a town salt and sand shed could reduce costs for plowing contractors. Currently, contractors must bring their own salt and shed and charge for transportation and material cost.

Vellani, retired from the state Department of Administrative and Financial Services, said he is running based solely on his interest in local government and not because he thinks the current board is doing a poor job.

Andrew Vellani

“I’ve always been interested in local politics and seeing how our money is spent,” he said. “I’m not running against my opponent; I’m not accusing anyone of malfeasance.”

Vellani, who said he volunteered with Sen. Shenna Bellows’s campaign, said Farmingdale residents have expressed to him that property taxes are the biggest burden for them. He also said the town’s turmoil with contractors in the past should be ironed out to preserve relationships between the two parties.

“There have been issues with contracts for a long time in Farmingdale,” he said. “You want to make sure the contractors you’re dealing with … are going to want to do business with the town.”

Vellani said the next issue facing town probably will be renovation of the Town Office, which will have a large vacant space left by the Fire Department when the department’s new station is complete. He said ongoing concerns with construction and other last-minute problems will also will need to be addressed, and his experience would help deal with them.

Linda Leet is running unopposed for a for a three-year term on the Regional School Unit 2 board of directors.

Voters will decide on proposed changes to the town’s Medical Cannabis Ordinance. In February, the Planning Board and the Board of Selectmen discussed the ordinance, which aims to identify, limit and tax medical marijuana caregivers.

The biggest change in the draft ordinance is limiting the number of all marijuana facilities in town to one, but the town would grandfather caregivers who received a Planning Board license before this month. According to the ordinance, no more than four caregivers would be allowed in one facility and all facilities must check for safety and other requirements.

Selectmen said this would prevent new caregivers from coming in if existing caregivers move out. While some caregivers at a January Planning Board meeting expressed interest in transitioning to recreational sales, that would not be possible because the town passed a moratorium on adult-use marijuana establishments in June 2017.

Article 7 would authorize the town to accept an easement for snow removal on Clark Street Extension. The Kennebec Journal reported in February that landowners were upset that plowing would stop on Clark Street Extension in the next fiscal year after the town discovered it owned only half of the 200-foot road. The town had been plowing it regularly for 22 years despite not owning part of it.

Voters also will consider a change to the Shoreland Zoning Ordinance to bring their local ordinance into compliance with statewide standards.

A proposed food sovereignty ordinance, which would allow food producers in town to sell directly to consumer without state licensing or inspections, also will be up for a vote.

 

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