WINDSOR — A total of 25 people gathered to approve the town’s budget and settle other annual Town Meeting business Wednesday.

Residents spread out across the gym at Windsor Elementary School in chairs spaced several feet apart from each other. Voters approved each spending item in the hour-and-a-half long meeting.

Jeffrey Frankel, moderator this year and for the last several years, noted the precautionary steps to try to help prevent the spread of coronavirus made this year a bit different.

“Usually, up here I have a gavel, but this year is a little different — I have wipes,” Frankel said, holding up a bottle of bleach cleaning wipes, which he suggested residents use to wipe off the microphone if they wished to use it.

No one did.

And comments and questions were brief.

One resident asked for examples of what the $25,000 proposed for a general reserve fund might be used for over the coming year.

Town Manager Theresa Haskell said in her 15 years working for the town the fund has never been used, but noted it could cover unforeseen expenses, such as for Plexiglas for the town office during a pandemic. The money could also be used for emergency road repairs, if a road were to wash out, without having to call a special Town Meeting for residents to approve the use of town funds.

“It’s like a family, they know something crazy may happen in their life so they’re going to need a few dollars put away,” said Selectman Ronald Brann. “A few dollars, for a town, is $25,000.”

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

Before the coronavirus and its financial impacts spread, town officials 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, Haskell said. And she warned state revenues, shared with the town, are likely to decrease.

Haskell said they cut back on the proposed road construction budget, from $410,000 to $387,000, to reduce spending. Officials also reduced the amount of money proposed to be put into some reserve accounts for future purchases to help flatten the budget.

One major purchase approved by voters at the meeting was 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 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.

All local races in the July 14 town election were uncontested.

Elected were: Ronald Brann and Richard Gray Jr., to two spots on the Board of Selectmen; and Ryan Carver to the Regional School Unit 12 Budget Committee. There were no candidates on the ballot for three open positions on the town Budget Committee, leaving the spots to be filled by write-ins, all of them incumbents: Robert Holt, Thomas McNaughton and Jeremy St. Onge.

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.

Windsor officials decided to continue on with the town’s traditional, open floor town meeting, which allows residents and officials to debate and explain proposals before they are voted upon, and anticipated, correctly it turned out, that fewer than 50 people would attend.

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