SOMERVILLE — Spending proposals that make up a $740,000 town budget that would increase taxes by about 9%, and a question asking whether residents want to sue a contractor for what officials allege was a faulty paving job in 2017, go to voters Saturday during the annual Town Meeting.

Spending in the proposed town budget is up by $145,000, a 24% increase over the current year’s budget of $594,236. But increased revenues will help the town offset the blow to taxpayers, with officials projecting property taxes to go up by just under 9%.

The tax hike, which includes Somerville’s share of the Regional School Unit 12 budget and county budget, would add $1.91 to the current $20.20 tax rate, per $1,000 of assessed property value.

Major increases within the proposed budget include an $88,000, or nearly 27%, increase in the town roads budget, bringing it from $329,000 to $417,000. Included in that roads budget is $167,000 for snow and ice removal, a $58,000 increase over the current year. Also included is $126,000 for capital road construction, a $45,000 increase, and $119,000 for road maintenance and repair, a decrease of $15,000.

Chris Johnson, chairman of the Select Board, said the increase in the roads budget accounts for 73% of the town budget increase.

He said the town received only one bid from a contractor to plow roads next winter, and the bid was higher than the previous year’s. However, he said he’s heard other towns in the area have seen even bigger increases in snow and ice removal costs for the upcoming winter.


Johnson said the cost of road construction is up and the road commissioner also wants to do more work this year, including some work which could cost less than it might in the future because it would be combined with work on other roads.

The annual Town Meeting will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday in the Somerville School gymnasium.

Other proposed increases going to voters, according to the budget proposal posted on the town’s website, include: an $8,000 increase in personnel costs, to $103,000; $10,000 more for contracted services such as an auditor, cemetery maintenance and tax mapping, totaling $37,000; $3,534 more for a firefighting equipment reserve account, to $10,000; and $8,000 more for nonprofit organizations providing services to residents, to $79,000.

One article asks residents if the town should sue Hagar Enterprises, a Damariscotta-based company that paved Somerville Road in 2017. After that job was completed, town officials said some of the paving done on the road failed, did not adhere to the road bed and began to show problems the winter after it was completed. Johnson said the road has not been repaired yet and its top paving coat has slid and detached, and the town will need to do some patching this year.

Hagar officials have said the paving company did the job it was paid to do. The road issue prompted a controversy that resulted in the town reconsidering how it chooses its road commissioners.

Now, at this year’s Town Meeting, residents will be asked if the town should sue Hagar Enterprises for an alleged “breach of promise” for not honoring a warranty on Somerville Road. And, if so, how much money the town should appropriate for legal costs to do so.


Selectmen, according to a note attached to the warrant article, recommend against suing over the issue, noting the cost of litigation could easily be $40,000 to $50,000 in an attempt to obtain $100,000 to $200,000, which they may not get, in repairs to the faulty paving job.

“This could be risky, it could cost half as much to pursue as what we may or may not get for the repairs,” Johnson said.

Residents will also decide whether to adopt a canine control ordinance, the town’s first, that would set requirements for residents to control their dogs on public property and set noise standards for barking dogs.

And residents will consider creating, for the first time, a tax club that would allow residents to pay their property taxes in monthly payments.

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