The annual town meeting in Oakland was held June 9 at the new fire station, which is large enough to hold six fire trucks or up to 50 people — to allow for social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Above, Fire Chief David Coughlin’s children were photographed playing with a basketball in February. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file Buy this Photo

OAKLAND — The coronavirus pandemic has forced many communities to modify how they will run their annual town meetings.

In Oakland, the meeting June 9 had a limit of 50 people and was held at the town’s new fire station, which allowed space for social distancing.

Voters at the meeting approved a $5,246,857 budget, with only one amendment made — to Article 3 — to reduce from 9% to 8% the maximum fee charged on late tax payments.

“It was a very cut-and-dry meeting,” said Kelly Pinney-Michaud, the town’s finance and human resources director.

To abide by health and safety protocols issued by the state, attendees were spaced 6 feet apart at the recently opened, 12,000-square-foot fire station.

The $2.6 million station, completed Feb. 25, was designed to include space where the town could hold its annual town meeting. Oakland used to hold the meeting at Messalonskee High School.

Voters last week approved several large expenses, including:

• $1,059,838 for the Police Department, with $813,633 to be raised through taxes.

• $721,736 for general government, with $693,086 to be raised through taxes.

• $447,709 for the transfer station and recycling services, with $402,509 to be raised through taxes.

• $161,359 for recreation, with $156,859 to be raised through taxes.

• $335,634 for The Fire & Rescue Department.

• $188,000 for capitol improvements.

Voters also gave town officials permission to apply for a Community Development Block Grant. The Community Development Block Grant Program is run by the Maine Office of Community Development, and works closely with municipalities, regional partnerships and nonprofits to help meet economic and community development needs.

Oakland officials said they are seeking funding for a community development program, details of which have yet to be decided.

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