A sign marks the line separating Starks and Anson in Somerset County. Starks residents are set to gather Friday for the annual Town Meeting. Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald file

STARKS — Residents are set to gather Friday at the Starks Community Center for the annual Town Meeting, at which they are to vote on a proposed $564,806 budget and expected to debate a resolution on fossil fuel pricing and pollution.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. at 57 Anson Road, with voters electing a moderator and selecting town officers and budget committee members by Australian ballot. Such ballots include the names of all candidates and are marked secretly.

All municipal officer elections are uncontested.

Residents will be able to vote on the remainder of the warrant by secret ballot between noon and 8 p.m. Friday.

“This is the first time we’ve ever done it this way, and we’ve consolidated our monetary articles,” said First Selectman Paul Frederic, who has lived in Starks for 68 years. “We’ve really changed the format, and it’s awful hard to know how the town will vote.”

Starks residents are also expected to act on referendums, including an option to adopt a new set of Planning Board bylaws and amendments to the site plan review ordinance. The referendum section also includes an article to authorize the town to sell through sealed bids any real estate acquired because of nonpayment of taxes.

If the budget were to pass as proposed, it would represent almost a 5% decrease from current spending. The cost for road maintenance has been held the same, and about $30,000 was left in the summer and winter road accounts, driven in part by less spending on snowplowing, sanding and salting.

“Some of it is Mother Nature helping out,” Frederic said. “It’s a kind of across-the-board, nickel-and-dime thing. I don’t think there’s one item that stood out as a big money saver. It was chipping away at a variety of things.”

Incumbent Ernest Hilton is running for selectman, Cathleen Horner for assessor, Jennifer A. Zweig Herbert for tax collector and Carol Coles for the Regional School Unit 9 board of directors. All positions are for three years.

Starks held a public hearing March 1 about the main referendums: The Planning Board bylaws and amendments to the site plan review ordinance. Fewer than 10 people attended.

“I don’t think there was a question on either of those matters,” Frederic said. “Those are largely housekeeping issues that did not raise much concern among citizenry.”

An article, however, that did raise concern during a public hearing was a resolution that would ask representatives to enact fossil fuel pricing legislation to speed the transition to clean energy sources, and to charge producers of pollution associated with burning fossil fuels, giving the money back to residents.

“These philosophical questions often involved quite a bit of verbal exchange at public hearings and town meetings,” Frederic said. “I suspect it’ll get defeated, based on that exchange at the public hearing, but I don’t have an opinion poll taken throughout the community.”


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