VIENNA — Voters in Vienna are expected to decide Friday on 54 warrant articles and about $605,000 in proposed municipal spending during a secret ballot Town Meeting.

Voting is scheduled for noon to 8 p.m. at the town’s Community Building at 16 Kimball Pond Road.

The town usually holds an in-person Town Meeting, but the coronavirus pandemic has forced officials to conduct it by secret voting.

The town’s proposed budget, according to the annual report, for the next fiscal year is $605,468, a 1.5% increase from the current year’s proposed budget of $596,211. Actual spending in the current fiscal year exceeded that figure, however, totaling $611,516.

Selectwoman Laura Church said damage to the roads during the Christmas Day storm forced overages that needed to be paid with surplus funds.

The town’s municipal revenue is estimated at $180,000, the same figure as proposed last year.

The largest line item changes in the proposed budget are a $14,000 increase in winter roads costs, $10,000 decrease in assessing costs and $5,000 increase in waste management costs.

Chris Smith, chairperson of the Board of Selectmen, said some of the increases in the budget were offset by a $12,500 infusion into the town’s surplus, made possible by getting a better deal on a sand and salt shed.

Church said there are no “controversial” items on the warrant. She said the pandemic has forced the town to hold a secret ballot Town Meeting, and officials did not feel it was the year to bring complicated issues, such as ordinance changes, to voters.

We made the decision that because of the economic impact of the pandemic, this was not the year to do anything different,” she said.

Last week, the town conducted a meeting via the Zoom videoconferencing platform to discuss the warrant. At that meeting, resident Waine Whittier mentioned that some articles, such as electing a moderator, may not be necessary because they are written as if the meeting were taking place traditionally. Smith advised residents to simply push the articles through at the vote.

Whittier also asked if the recommended figures could be changed during voting, like they could be on the Town Meeting floor. Smith said they could not.

Article 54, a citizen’s petition organized by Irene Goff, asks selectmen to send a letter to the town’s elected representatives, Gov. Janet Mills and President Joe Biden urging them to “enact carbon-pricing legislation to protect Maine from the costs and environmental risks of continued climate inaction.”

If approved, that letter would state town residents support a “carbon fee and dividend approach” that would charge fossil fuel producers for their carbon pollution and rebate the money to residents. According to the article, this approach would deliver “rapid reductions in … carbon emissions.”

The town’s property tax rate in 2020 was $19.15 per $1000 of assessed value. Smith said the town’s proposed budget should not increase the tax rate, but the coming budget from the Mt. Blue Regional School District could have an impact on the rate.

Smith said she usually speaks with school board officials in April before setting the property tax rate.


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.