Starks residents on Friday approved a proposed $564,806 budget, reelected several town officials and supported the idea of charging a fee to companies that extract fossil fuels and returning that money to residents as a way to speed the transition to clean energy.

The budget represents a 4.97% decrease from the budget voters approved last year.

Instead of having a traditional annual Town Meeting this year, officials opted to hold elections and have residents vote on warrant articles by secret ballot at Starks Community Center due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Town Clerk Jennifer Zweig Herbert.

“Everything passed pretty strongly,” Hebert said Saturday.

Incumbent Selectman Ernest Hilton was reelected, as was Assessor Cathleen Horner. Herbert was reelected tax collector and Carol Coles was reelected to the Regional School Unit 9 board of directors. All positions are for three years. Carol Coles, David Gray, Ashley Hayden, Ken Lust and John Newsom were reelected to the budget committee.

As part of the 13 referendum articles, residents voted to adopt a new set of Planning Board bylaws in a 39-11 vote; they also voted to approve amendments to the site plan review ordinance, 39-11.

Voters approved $222,179 for administration, $62,040 for public safety, $216,800 for public works, $9,787 for debt service and $14,000 for social services and contingency.

The article asking that town officials send elected representatives a notice that Starks supports enacting fossil fuel pricing legislation to speed the transition to clean energy sources was approved, 32-15.

Residents also voted to appropriate $51,805 from undesignated funds to help lower the tax commitment.

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