Voters to also consider town expenses

Future of marijuana shops to be debated at Hope town meeting

By Kim Lincoln | May 19, 2017

Hope — Hope residents will decide whether to prohibit marijuana stores and social clubs and will be asked to approve 12 percent increase in town expenses at its annual town meeting next month.

The annual town meeting is set for Thursday, June 15, at 6 p.m. at Hope Elementary School.

In November, Maine voters approved Question 1, which permits the retail sale of marijuana and marijuana products, and allows individuals over 21 to possess 2.5 ounces of pot. The question was approved by a margin of more than 4,000 votes statewide and passed by 19 votes in Hope, 531 to 512. Hope voters will be asked if they wish to ban stores and social clubs from setting up shop within the town's boundaries.

An $86,000 increase in the roads budget for maintenance and supplies is paving the way for the increased municipal budget. The total municipal budget is proposed at $874,453, which is up $95,697. After considering approximately $544,000 in revenues, taxpayers will be asked to raise $330,153.

After factoring in $238,000 for county taxes and dispatch services and approximately $3 million budget for education, the total budget is proposed at $3.5 million, which is up about $252,800, or 8 percent, overall.

The total budget for roads is proposed at $411,966. A supply line is set to jump by 72 percent, from $38,535 to $66,303 in the coming year and the ongoing road maintenance and repair line is proposed to increase about $27,000 for a total of $94,378. The Budget Committee is recommending a "no" vote on this budget, according to the town meeting warrant.

Selectman Richard Crabtree previously said the town is behind on its paving schedule and the Board of Selectmen would like to see the town move back toward its goal of a 10-year paving schedule, which requires at least 1.6 miles of road paved each year to maintain paving all of the approximately 16 miles of town roads. This year it is being proposed to pave 0.9 miles, including one-third of Alford Lake Road and a portion of Taylor Hill Road.

An initial request of a 3 percent increase for the town clerk and bookkeeper has been reduced to 2 percent. The total administration-salaries budget is down 2 percent, or about $3,000, for a total of $143,277. Town Administrator Samantha Mank, who was hired in October 2015 at a salary of $45,000, is not included in the salary increases. Funds have also been included in the budget to cover increases in pay for election clerks due to the change in the minimum wage law, Mank said.

There is also a proposal to resume paying selectmen a stipend, which has not occurred since 2013. A total of $4,100 for the five select board members has been figured into the budget.

Other budgets are proposed as follows:

General administration — $45,406, up $1,507

Public safety — $98,346, up $2,446

Ambulance services — $10,214, up $2,114

Professional services — $24,580, down $220

Sanitation — $52,215, up $714

No contested races for vacancies on various town boards will face voters at the polls Tuesday, June 13. Selectman Wendy Pelletier is seeking re-election to her three-year term on the board and Sarah Ann Smith is running for a seat, also a three-year term, held by David Bosken. Bosken is not seeking re-election.

John Monroe is seeking re-election as road commissioner for a three-year term. Michael Douglass is looking to fill a three-year term on the Hope School Committee, currently held by Alina Smith, who did not seek re-election.

Jean Ettlinger, Eleanor Goldberg and William Jones are seeking seats on the Budget Committee.

Courier Publications Editor Kim Lincoln can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at klincoln@villagesoup.com.

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