WASHINGTON — Residents passed 38 articles in under an hour Saturday, raising about $1.15 million in taxes while also giving selectmen the go-ahead to research options for expanding broadband internet.

The in-person  annual Town Meeting was held at Prescott Memorial School. In addition to the new funds raised, voters approved applying more than half a million dollars in other revenues and undesignated funds to lessen the tax burden.

Selectman Tom Johnston clarified for residents that the broadband vote does not authorize any spending, but instead allows the board to start the process of applying for a Community Planning Grant through ConnectMaine Authority.

“It allows us to know the town wants us to investigate,” Johnston said. “It gives us the ability to say, ‘Yes, the town is in favor.'”

Some residents were worried passing the article would require money to be raised, but meeting moderator Michael Mayo explained there would have to be another town vote in order to spend money.

Once the questions were clarified, the article was passed with one silent objection.

All of the budget-related articles passed, and one resident clarified a typo in Article 22 that included the wrong amount of money.

“To see if the town will vote to appropriate the following General Fund revenues to be applied toward the 2021 property tax commitment, thereby decreasing the 2021 tax commitment by $469,275,” Article 22 said. However, the number should be $496,275, which Johnston confirmed after doing the math. An amendment was made to the article to include the correct amount of money and it was passed.

Also passed were articles seeking  approval to raise $339,036 in property taxes to go toward 2021 Knox County, Tri-County Solid Waste Management Organization and Union Ambulance assessments; $54,750 for general government operations; $31,519 for insurance; $205,437 for town salaries and other payroll expenses; $437,774 for town maintenance and roads; and $82,865 for public safety related expenses.

A couple residents asked about Article 36, which sought authorization to spend $40,000 from the “Undesignated Funds Balance” to “crush tailings” into gravel. They wondered where the tailings were coming from, and Johnston explained tailings are a “by-product of the winter sand.” Rocks and other debris left over from making road sand can be turned into surface gravel for the town crew to use on road projects.

The town passed Articles 7 and 8, which set the tax collection date to Oct. 10, and set the town interest rate to be paid on abated taxes to 4%.

Around 50 people gathered for the meeting with residents continuing to file in through the halfway mark.

Each person was provided with a lime green slip of paper to hold up in the voting process and Mayo asked the audience if they had anything to say about the articles after going over each one. Residents only spoke up on Articles 22 and 36.

There was one race on the ballot during the Friday election. Mitchell Garnett defeated incumbent selectman Berkley Linscott, 60-42.

Seven people were nominated for the town Budget Committee: Jesse Casas, Don Grinnell, Kathy Ocean, Dave Martucci, David Williams, Wendy Carr and Deb Bocko, along with two alternatives, Peg Hobbs and Walter Metcalf.


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