WASHINGTON — Voters are expected to take up more than $1.2 million in municipal spending at next month’s Town Meeting, which is to happen almost four months later than originally planned.

The open Town Meeting is scheduled to begin 10 a.m. Saturday, July 18, at the Washington Fire Department.

Voting for a moderator for the meeting and for town officers, including a contested race for Tom Johnston’s seat on the Board of Selectmen, is set for 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 14, at Gibbs Library.

The Town Meeting was originally planned for March 28, but the coronavirus pandemic got in the way.

According to the warrant, the town will ask residents to raise and appropriate $1,234,613 for municipal expenditures, a 10.8% increase from last year’s $1,114,601.

Officials said the town is feeling greater effects from cost increases outside its control. The town’s contract with Union Ambulance, for example, is to increase 53.1%, from $38,000 to $58,174.

Johnston said in March that Union Ambulance is planning to add a night crew and give employees a raise in an effort to improve response times. He said other ambulance services would be too far away to adequately service the town.

The town’s county tax assessment is also increasing from $160,726 to $174,381, about 8.5%.

The town’s share of the upcoming school budget was not available Friday because Karen Pike, the business manager in Maine School Administrative District 40, was not available to answer questions. Last year, the town’s share was $1.7 million.

The proposed budget for road maintenance is also jumping to $413,484, up 10.5% from last year’s $374,284.

Voters are also being asked to spend $4,200 to fix dugouts at the town’s Little League baseball field.

According to the warrant, the town is anticipating $469,175 in municipal revenue, about a 7% increase from last year’s anticipated $438,124, but a 7.3% decrease from last year’s actual revenue, which totaled $506,315, including $15,000 in unanticipated excise taxes and a $26,000 increase in revenue sharing.

An unanticipated rise in revenue sharing is unlikely in the upcoming budget year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Johnston said Friday anticipated revenue sharing could “drop like a hot potato” and excise tax could be more than the town anticipates because more cars were purchased this year than normal. He said the anticipated revenue figures would likely even themselves out.

An additional $264,000 would be applied to road projects, $64,000 from the Local Roads Assistance Program and $200,000 from a road maintenance reserve account.

Two warrant articles will decide if the town will replace the broken chassis of a fire tanker and buy a new plow truck. Voters could authorize $110,000 in borrowing on each article, with an extra $30,000 from a fire truck replacement fund being used for the chassis, and $60,000 from the road maintenance truck fund for the plow.

Another article could authorize a refinance of the mortgage on the town garage, and authorize the Board of Selectmen to borrow $100,000 for more repairs.

 

ELECTIONS

The only contested race on the ballot is between incumbent Johnston and political newcomer ShaRon Kelly.

Johnston, a former town fire chief, has been on the board for five years and pointed to work on the town’s garage as a project he would like to tackle, if reelected.

Kelly, who has worked in construction and as a truck driver, said in March he was keeping his stances on issues quiet until he was elected later, but expressed concerns with a perceived lack of planning for a potential tsunami caused by an asteroid striking the Eastern seaboard, as well as “alien deception” and “so-called aliens and their terraforming.”

Two positions on the Regional School Unit 40 board of directors are on the ballot this year. Guy Bourrie will run unopposed for his seat, and no one has announced his or her candidacy for the seat currently occupied by Richard Bissett.

 

ADULT-USE MARIJUANA ORDINANCE

Voters will also decide an ordinance that deals with the zoning and licensing of marijuana businesses, including marijuana cultivation facilities, retail stores, testing facilities and manufacturing facilities.

If passed, cultivation facilities would be permitted in the rural commercial, rural, and farm and forest district. Retail stores, testing facilities and marijuana manufacturing facilities are permitted in the rural commercial district, but not in the rural district and farm and forest district.

Applicants must be Maine residents who are older than 21.

A Marijuana Cultivation Facilities license will cost 50 cents per square foot, with a minimum fee of $600. Marijuana products manufacturing facilities will also cost 50 cents per square foot, with a minimum fee of $300.

Marijuana retail stores have a $1,400 initial fee, but will be renewed for $700. Marijuana testing facilities do not require a license.

Johnston said in March he expected the adult-use marijuana licensing ordinance to pass, despite Washington residents voting 410-524 against Question 1, An Act to Legalize Marijuana, in 2016.

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