PITTSTON — Four months after they were originally set to vote, Pittston residents will have their say on the town’s proposed spending plan on Saturday.

As it was originally proposed, the $1.43 million budget reflected some increased costs to the town, including health insurance for employees, the added expense of removal of solid waste and increased spending on hot topping the town’s roads.

At that time, the proposed budget was about $85,000 more than the budget approved in March 2019.

Jean Ambrose, chairwoman of the Pittston Board of Selectmen, said Tuesday that the board had reviewed the budget proposal in the weeks since the March Town Meeting was postponed, and only a couple of minor changes are now needed.

The City of Gardiner has reduced what it is seeking from its partner communities to use the Gardiner Public Library, and fees charged to the town for communications and dispatching services have changed.

“We’ll handle those with amendments,” Ambrose said.

Of that $1.43 million of the town’s proposed budget, about $670,000 — less than half  — is slated to come from taxpayers. The balance will come from excise tax and surplus funds.

Currently, Pittston’s property tax rate is $14.70 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. As it now stands, a resident with a property valued for taxation at  $170,000 without any exemptions, would pay $2,499 in property tax annually.

The new property tax rate won’t be known until after Saturday’s Town Meeting vote on the municipal portion of the tax bill and until after Tuesday’s vote on the Gardiner-area school district budget, which is scheduled to take place at the same time as the statewide primary.

Pittston selectmen have also added a warrant article seeking to allow selectmen to release funds from designated savings accounts without having to go to a special Town Meeting for authorization.

Pittston was among the towns whose annual budget votes were thrown into doubt in the days after the global coronavirus pandemic was declared in March. Executive orders and public health directives imposed progressively more restrictive bans on public gatherings, allowing no more than 10 people to assemble in a room.

At the same time, no provision existed in state law at that time to postpone an annual Town Meeting. But in the last days of its truncated session, the Maine State Legislature enacted emergency legislation giving towns flexibility to continue operating in the absence of an annual budget vote.

Restrictions on gatherings are now being relaxed. Starting July 1, the gathering limit was raised to 50.

In an open Town Meeting format, it’s often not clear how many residents will attend. Some towns regularly draw more than 100; others attract about 30. Pittston’s meeting routinely draw between 70 and 100.

Controversy can also drive Town Meeting attendance.

This year, the Board of Selectmen will host the meeting in the Pulling Ring at the Pittston Fair fairgrounds on East Pittston Road. The recommended 6-foot spacing will be marked out in the ring.

Ambrose said people are asked to bring along their Town Reports and their own chairs. Town officials are recommending that people wear masks. Some masks and hand sanitizer will be available along with Town Reports, although some copies of the warrant and amendments will be available.

Two microphones will be set up, one for the moderator and one for the audience. Ambrose said limited parking around the edge of the ring will be available for people who don’t want to or can’t get out of their vehicles.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.