Mercer

About 60 of Mercer’s approximately 300 registered voters attend the annual Town Meeting on Saturday at the Community Center on Beech Hill Road in Mercer. Taylor Abbott/Morning Sentinel

MERCER — Voters gathered outdoors Saturday for the annual Mercer Town Meeting, at which they approved a $723,974 municipal budget.

The meeting, rescheduled to Saturday afternoon due to COVID-19 safety concerns, was held in front of the Mercer Community Center.

The proposed budget was $724,288, but funding in Article 5 came in slightly more than drafted in the warrant, so $2,512 was passed instead of the proposed $2,826.

Big-ticket items included:

• $210,000 for winter road maintenance ($60,000 from taxes and $150,000 from excise taxes).

• $125,000 for summer road maintenance ($80,000 from taxes and $45,000 from the summer roads improvement fund).

• $75,548 for salaries, wages and payroll taxes of town officials.

• $51,000 for public safety.

• $45,000 for the Town Office/Community Center and town expenses.

• $40,000 to finish Pond Road and improve Bacon and Beech Hill roads.

About 60 of the town’s approximately 300 registered attended the meeting, which ran nearly four hours.

Nancy Gove, the town clerk, tax collector and deputy treasurer believed the turnout was in line with previous years, despite this being her first Town Meeting in Mercer.

“I think typically it’s anywhere between 50 and 75 people, from what I’ve gathered,” Gove said. “I would say it’s an average turnout. And during the pandemic, I thought it was a good turnout.”

Under Article 39, the following were selected to serve on the Budget Committee: Geoffrey Nosach, Jason Juskewitch, Joel Hooper, Alan Gove and Muriel Armstrong.

Under Article 40, the Select Board, beginning in 2022, will appoint the positions of town clerk, tax collector and treasurer.

This year’s budget was up $54,049 from last year’s $669,925 spending plan. All but two of the 51 articles on the warrant passed. Voters rejected Article 41, which called for the increase in the length of the terms of the municipal officers from one to three years, to be phased in at the 2022 Town Meeting.

Voters also rejected Article 42, which proposed selling the “Town Forest” on Elm Street, including river frontage.

Last month, elections were held by secret ballot. Ricky J. Parlin was elected as first selectperson, assessor and overseer of the poor was; Gary D. Mosher was elected second selectperson; and Dari D. Hurley was elected third selectperson. Each term is for one year.

Wanda L. Fortin was elected a trustee of the Mercer Shaw Public Library, a five-year term.

Sarah R. Bunker-Geyer was reelected to serve another three-year term on the School Administrative District 54 board of directors.

Christopher P. Dutill and Geoffrey Nosach will serve three-year terms on the Planning Board.

The first referendum question on last month’s ballot dealt with enacting an Adult Use Marijuana Manufacturing and Cultivation Facilities Ordinance. The question passed 92-65.

The ordinance allows for unlimited numbers of 500-square-foot-or-smaller cultivation facilities (Tier 1), 501-to-2,000-square-foot cultivation facilities (Tier 2) and nursery cultivation facilities. When the ordinance begins, only two facilities of up to 7,000 square feet (Tier 3) will be allowed.

Tier 2 license holders can apply to increase their size after the initial cap is met.

Facilities up to 20,000 feet, or Tier 4, will not be allowed, although a Tier 3 licensee may apply for an upgrade to a Tier 4 facility during the license-renewal process.

Residents also voted 114-42 to adopt an ordinance allowing the sale of liquor to be consumed Sundays at licensed establishments Sundays.

In a vote of 140-18, residents also authorized town officials to spend no more than one half the amount from the 2021 budget during the first six months of 2021.

By a vote of 66-91, residents shot down a resolution seeking to have elected officials enact fossil fuel pricing laws to speed the transition to clean energy sources and to levy fees on those who generate pollution by burning fossil fuels.

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