Chief Stanley “Rusty” Bell of the Clinton Police Department meets with Town Manager Earla Haggerty on Sept. 26, 2019. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file

The Clinton Board of Selectmen is scheduled to hold a public hearing Tuesday evening on the proposed 2021 town warrant.

After the hearing, the board is expected to vote on the warrant, which is to go to voters June 8.

The hearing is to be held during the Board of Selectmen meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m. over Zoom. It is also to be livestreamed on the town’s Facebook page.

Those interested in attending should call the Clinton town clerk, Jessica Harriman, at 207-426-8321 so she can email the link for the meeting.

The town warrant can be found online at clinton-me.us, under the Town Meeting and Elections page.

As proposed, the warrant represents a $75,888 increase — or 2.63% — to the 2020 budget, according to Clinton Town Manager Earla Haggerty. Spending proposals could change when the Board of Selectmen reviews the warrant Tuesday.

The increase is driven mostly by three proposals:

• A $38,730 increase for the Fire and Rescue Department to cover hourly pay adjustments for staff members.

• A $25,000 increase to the road paving plan.

• A $21,232 increase for the transfer station and recycling to cover disposal at no fee for residents.

Also included in the article: The transfer of funds from the undesignated surplus to other specific reserves. These funds come from the surplus and do not affect current or future taxes.

One such transfer that has received attention is a $25,000 shift to the Public Safety Building Reserve Account. Haggerty said the money is for the potential future development of new police and fire stations.

Last year, the board created a committee to begin the process of developing the new stations. The committee has been gathering information and looking into the steps to begin the process, including figuring out the criteria needed for a new location.

While the committee is not doing anything now that requires funding, the money is meant to be a placeholder if it is needed in the next year to, say, hire an architect to develop a floor plan.

Any spending would have to be approved by the board, and moving ahead with construction would require voter approved.

“If we don’t put something in this current budget, then you’re a whole year away from being able to access money for professional services,” Haggerty said. “We had some concern for the timeline, so we wanted to put in a placeholder.”

If the board decides it does not want to build the new buildings, the money would be transferred back to the surplus.

“There’s no guarantee here because you have to take that sort of thing to the voters,” Haggerty said. “Even if we have a completed plan and the board approves it, we’re talking two years from now. There’s going to be plenty of public involvement.”

Police Chief Stanley “Rusty” Bell said the Police Department does not have enough space. Last year, Bell said, the town’s insurance agency inspected the town’s police station and said officers may not bring anyone who is under arrest back to the station because there is no way to separate the person from the public. Instead, officers have been taking people to other police stations to process the paperwork.

“And none of that is marginally convenient,” Bell said, “because our guys are doing their paperwork in someone else’s office.”

It has gotten to the point where the Police Department is storing extra uniforms and other items in a box at the transfer station.

The Fire Department has also outgrown its space, according to Haggerty.

Coleen Bean, a Clinton resident, said she understands the difficulty in sharing information during the COVID-19 pandemic, but she is frustrated with how the town warrant was presented. She said when she got a copy of the document, she was surprised to see the proposed $25,000 transfer only explained as “funding for development of site plan and building design for future public safety and community center building.”

With other items on the budget, Bean said, she would like a more-detailed breakdown of how the money would be used.

Bean said she did not know if voting in favor of the article would mean supporting the new building permanently.

“If you want to spend some money, let us know ahead of time what the reason is that you need the money,” Bean said. “Why do we need a building? It’s the “why” (and) “what for?” What’s the problem that you need it?”


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