ST. ALBANS — Inside a wooded 109-year-old town hall on a frigid Saturday morning, 32 residents adopted a $1.29 million budget during the annual Town Meeting.

Seated in navy blue upholstered chairs spaced 6 feet apart due to the coronavirus pandemic, St. Albans voters approved $1,285,798 in spending for the 2021 fiscal year. The budget is approximately a 0.1% increase over the current year.

Some who attended the meeting, masked and all, expressed their belief in the importance of participating in local government.

“I just feel it’s important because I want a say and want to know what’s going on,” 47-year St. Albans resident Margaret McLeod said. “It’s our right.”

Thanks to the sub-50 person turnout, the town did not have to take a recess and move the meeting to the St. Albans Consolidated School. That was the backup plan to comply with Maine Center for Disease Control protocols.

Mike Wiers, a 71-year St. Albans resident, moderated the meeting. Residents approved the first nine articles without contestation, but denied the 10th. If passed, the ordinance would have allowed the code enforcement officer and other municipal entities to determine a protocol for demolishing structures deemed to be dangerous. Residents expressed a concern about adding more government power.

“If this is indeed about aesthetics, the ordinance should be written as such,” said Mandy Maddocks, who pointed out that St. Albans is a generally conservative town.

“I don’t think it is a good time to expand government and start having the code enforcement officer harass people,” added her father, Harlow Post. “Do we really want to add another layer of government?”

One resident questioned the reasoning behind article 18, which raised the fire department budget by over $20,000. David Crocker, the assistant fire chief/fire warden, explained the department is growing and responds to more calls. The article passed easily.

Article 20 included a nearly $60,000 increase for public works/highway department operations. One resident questioned why, and Town Manager Rick Fisher explained “the major reason” was for the cost of repairs for department vehicles.

The next two articles, 21 and 22, approved the second year of a five-year plan for the replacement of aging vehicles “and/or acquisition” of new or used equipment and approved an $85,000 transfer request to complete the purchase of a single axle and a one-ton pickup truck.

Articles 23-43 passed with ease, with the exception of taking no action on Article 42 because it was rendered null by the approval of previous articles.

Elections

On Friday, incumbent Hiram Weymouth defeated Robert Worster 53-26 to return to the Board of Selectmen.

Kathy Neill was elected to the Regional School Unit 19 board.

Neill and Robin Steinward were elected to the town’s budget committee.

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