SIDNEY — An item that would cost an average of 30 cents per household caused spirited debate Saturday and a secret ballot vote at the annual Town Meeting.

An article to appropriate $816 to Spectrum Generations caused a dizzying array of motions and discussion, as many residents expressed concern in appropriating town funds for a “charity.” Sidney residents ultimately voted to raise $0.

Spaced out in the James H. Bean School’s gymnasium in blue classroom chairs, 42 Sidney voters parsed through the 38-article warrant in exactly two hours. Residents approved a $2,263,357 budget for 2021, up from $2,156,329 last year.

The first eight articles passed easily, but discussion arose starting with the ninth. The article, which was ultimately passed as written, was to authorize the town’s selectmen to sell any tax-acquired real estate and to execute quit claim deeds for the properties.

Peter Beckerman wanted to add “at fair market value” to the motion. “You don’t just give these properties away,” he said.

Board of Selectmen Chairperson John Whitcomb told Beckerman the town sells tax-acquired property through a bid process.

“We’re not in it to make money off people,” Whitcomb said.

Selectman Andrew McMullen, a licensed real estate agent, stated his stance against changing the wording.

“I think we’ve ought to leave it alone,” resident Will Cole said.

Beckerman’s motion was seconded but did not pass, so the article was passed as written without the addition of “fair market value.”

A handful of other articles raised interest.

Article 21, to raise $100,000 to replace a fire department tanker, passed on the Board of Selectmen’s and Budget Committee’s recommendation. They are using $50,000 from surplus, $20,000 from the fire truck reserve and raising $30,000.

Article 27, to appropriate $150,000 to obtain a revaluation of all taxable and tax-exempt property, passed. The article also authorized the Board of Selectmen to contract with an appraisal company.

Beckerman wanted to add “up to” $150,000. Whitcomb said that price is firm.

“I guess that ends that conversation,” Beckerman said, which drew a collective laugh from the room.

Article 27 passed.

Article 31 was to appropriate $816 to Spectrum Generations, an adult and senior services agency. The Board of Selectmen was split 2-2 in its recommendation, the budget committee voted 3-2 to pass it.

Cole made a motion to raise $0 which was seconded. Cole said he wanted it to be donations and the appropriation “should be kept out of politics” and Spectrum Generations solicit donations by household.

“It’s not that I personally have anything against what they do, they do fine work, that’s not the issue,” resident Tim Russell added. “I am adamantly against voting for tax dollars for nongovernmental organizations.”

An 18-18 vote nullified a motion to change the amendment back to $816. Ultimately, residents voted 21-17 via secret ballot to raise $0.

Municipal elections were held Friday night. Incumbent Board of Selectmen member Andrew McMullen was reelected to a three-year term. Ronda Snyder was elected to a two-year term after taking the vacant seat of James Pinkham, who resigned in July 2020.

Christine Marden was elected to a three-year term on the Regional School Unit 18 School Board. She is currently serving on the board as a replacement for James Isgro, the meeting moderator, who resigned from the school board last year.

At Saturday’s meeting, Floyd Luce, Russell and Roger Bedard were elected to positions on the Sidney Budget Committee. Trevor Hamlin and Tabitha Cole were voted in as alternates.

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