Each of the five selectmen and Town Manager Theresa Haskell, far right, sit at their own physically distanced tables during the Board of Selectmen meeting April 28 at Windsor Town Hall. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file Buy this Photo

WINDSOR — Residents will gather in person for the annual Town Meeting on Wednesday, July 15, and officials are confident that can happen within state guidelines for public gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.

State guidelines meant to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, currently limit indoor public gatherings to 50 people or less, prompting some Maine municipalities to switch their Town Meetings to secret ballot votes.

Most years, officials said, Town Meeting doesn’t draw more than 50 people, unless something controversial is on the warrant. Town Manager Theresa Haskell said she only recalls one annual meeting which drew more than 50 people in Windsor.

“I don’t think we’ll get to that, we’ve only hit 50 once in 15 years,” she said.

The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 15, in the gymnasium at Windsor Elementary School.

Haskell said chairs would be spaced 6 feet apart from each other and wearing a mask is recommended.

Ray Bates, chairperson of the selectmen, said around 30 people go to the meeting most years. He said selectmen wanted to preserve the tradition of voting in person and allowing people to debate issues with each other, if they wish, before voting.

“We felt we could do this in a fairly safe manner and allow people to meet face-to-face,” Bates said about the in-person meeting decision. “We want to keep the tradition going. In the past we’ve rarely exceeded 50 people, and that’s only been when there is something controversial.”

He and Haskell said if more than 50 people show up to the meeting, nonresidents attending the meeting, such as those speaking on behalf of an organization, will be asked to leave. If there are still more than 50 people, Haskell said the meeting could be postponed.

The budget is primarily made up of spending proposals that, together, make up a $1.76 million proposed town budget, down about $300, or 0.02%, from the current year’s budget.

Town officials, before the coronavirus and its financial impacts spread, had initially proposed a larger budget but met to scale it back out of concern that residents out of work or suffering other consequences related the pandemic could have a hard time paying their taxes.

“We flattened (the budget) out because we were not sure if everyone is going to be able to pay their taxes or not,” Bates said. “We knew the school budget was going to be up, so we kept the town side flat.”

Haskell said they cut back on the proposed major road construction budget, from $410,000 to $387,000, to reduce spending.

And Bates said they reduced the amount of money proposed to be put into some reserve accounts for future purchases, to help flatten the budget.

One major purchase going to voters for approval at the meeting is a new plow truck — at a cost of $175,000 — to replace a 2007 truck. The older truck will be kept by the town and used as a spare backup vehicle. The new truck would be bought with $100,000 from a truck replacement reserve account and $75,000 that would be borrowed in a bond.

The Selectmen and Budget Committee all unanimously recommended every spending item on the warrant.

All local races in the July 14 election are uncontested. The elections will also take place in the school gymnasium, with polls open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Running for office locally are: Ronald Brann and Richard Gray Jr., for two spots on the Board of Selectmen; and Ryan Carver for one seat on the Regional School Unit 12 Budget Committee. There are no candidates for three open positions on the Budget Committee, leaving the spots to be filled by write-ins. The RSU 12 school budget validation is also on the ballot.

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