FARMINGDALE — Fifty-eight voters breezed through 60 articles in the Hall-Dale High School auditorium on a rainy Thursday night in just under 90 minutes.

Voters approved three ordinance changes and the town’s expense and revenue budget with only one minor change to cemetery funding.

The first ordinance change approved was to the Medical Cannabis Ordinance, which aimed to identify, limit and tax medical marijuana caregivers. The ordinance limits caregivers who have not already received permits from the town’s planning board to one, which selectman said would prevent new caregivers from coming in if existing caregivers moved out.

The town has a moratorium on adult-use marijuana establishments.

Voters also approved updates to the Shoreland Zoning ordinance designed to bring the town into line with state standards and enacted a brand new food sovereignty ordinance that allows food producers in town to sell directly to consumers without state licensing or inspections.

A change that grants easements to the town in exchange for the plowing of property at on Clark Street Extension was also confirmed. 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.

Residents also passed a budget that will likely raise the town’s property tax rate.

As passed, fiscal year 2020’s municipal spending plan totals $1,684,186, about $279,029 — or 19.8% — more than last year’s figure of $1,405,157. Most of the changes are included in a large increase in the public safety budget line — from $568,227 in the current fiscal year to $835,645 in the next. The big changes are an expenditure of $126,760 for an annual bond payment for the town’s new fire station and a one-time $110,000 expenditure that pays for the conversion of the town’s streetlights to more-efficient LED lights.

Resident Jim Owens took issue with a raise in town constable service from $28,800 to $34,200. Chief Constable Ike Peppard said was to raise wages from $12 an hour to $18 an hour. Peppard said some of his constables will likely quit if the wages aren’t raised and numbers are already low, he said there are three constables compared to five in previous years.

When asked what the constables do, Peppard said the constables check on properties for residents, address minor complaints that don’t need State Police attention and assist town staff when needed.

Owens leveled that the constables didn’t have an important function and it should not be the taxpayer’s responsibility to protect other peoples’ property. Peppard said if the force “didn’t serve a function, we wouldn’t be here.”

Motions were made to amend the amount appropriated for the constables to $31,680 and to cut constable funding all together, but both were voted down. The full $34,200 was eventually appropriated.

The only change made to recommendations was to reduce cemetery funding to last year’s appropriated amount of $18,955 from $26,750. The change came when resident and former Cemetery Sexton Angie Ellis made a motion to reduce the amount to $23,750 after saying $3,000 should not be appropriated for cleaning stones and instead be taken from the town’s perpetual care fund. Another resident suggested that the amount should be lowered to last year’s figure and Ellis amended her motion. The motion passed overwhelmingly.

Cemetery Administration JoAnn Choate did not attend the meeting. Selectboard Chairwoman Nancy Frost said the town will “just have to be more conservative” and “pick the most important” jobs in the next fiscal year.

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

The town’s total spending plan, including Regional School Unit 2 figures and county taxes, totals $4,654,215. A form circulated by Town Clerk Rose Webster said $3,654,213 will need to be raised from taxes, but that was before the reduction in cemetery funding Thursday.

The increasing budget will likely raise taxes, according to Town Clerk Rose Webster. Webster circulated a draft tax commitment sheet on May 29 that 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.

Taxes are due Oct. 11, 2019, and April 10, 2020 and interest rates on unpaid taxes were set at 9%.

In Tuesday’s voting, Farmingdale voters elected Andy Vellani to the Selectboard over incumbent Jim Grant. Vellani was sworn in on Wednesday at a regular Selectboard meeting. Voters also helped approve the Regional School Unit 2 budget.


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