PITTSTON — The Select Board entertained residents’ questions Saturday afternoon during a virtual public informational hearing.

Attendance for the 1 p.m. Zoom hearing was slim, with around eight resident accounts logged in. Residents were able to ask questions using the chat function or by raising their hand on the interface.

Pittston’s Select Board decided to have residents vote on the upcoming town budget using a secret ballot process. Select Woman Mary Jean Ambrose said the decision is in line with social distancing guidelines and the fact that the town wouldn’t be able to hold the meeting at any school building because of coronavirus safety measures.

Saturday’s hearing was to ensure residents were informed about the different process and for the board to address any questions.

Resident Jim Lothridge requested the Select Board go over the town’s 13 articles one-by-one.

Ambrose took attendants through each article and explained any increases or changes to the budget.

Article one requested the town have a moderator for the election. Tom Freeman was nominated.

“It’s sort of silly since we aren’t having a meeting,” Ambrose said. “But by law, we have to have a moderator.”

Article two allows the town to have a budget to fall back on in case the 2021 budget gets voted down. Should some measures be voted down, it would allow the town to operate based on the previous year’s budget. The town operates on a calendar year budget instead of a fiscal year budget like some other towns do.

Pittston resident Mary Lawrence asked about article three and what the increase in budget for office technology would look like.

“Every year, we look at upgrading the computers in the town,” Selectman Fred Kimball said. “Some of them don’t have sound. We would look at upgrading the CEO’s computer. Nothing is definite yet. Some of the things on the list of potentials are upgrading Microsoft Office. The version we have is eight years old.”

Kimball said a potential update of the town website could be in the works if the article passes. He mentioned that the website became increasingly popular in January and an upgrade could make it more user-friendly.

Article six involves improving the Pittston River Walk. Lothridge invited town members to a meeting on Monday at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the planning process.

Seven involves the Gardiner Public Library, which Ambrose explained is very beneficial for the town. All Maine School Administrative District 11 students receive a library pass.

Tom Farkas told the Zoom attendants the library will reopen on Monday on a phased three-week long opening process.

Article nine, Ambrose said, will allow the town to start planning the process of a town reevaluation. She said the last revaluation was done in 2008.

The attendants did not have any other questions, but Ambrose made sure to explain the articles in depth regardless.

Residents are scheduled to vote March 20 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Pittston Town Office.

Folks that would rather vote absentee may request a ballot until March 17. They must be returned no later than 5 p.m. on March 20.

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