The Owls Head Budget Committee is recommending that the 2020-2021 budget to be presented to voters at the annual town meeting should offer cuts of 10%.

Selectmen briefly discussed the issue during its May 4 meeting,

An email was sent to selectmen April 30 from Owls Head Budget Committee Chair Bob Hirsch. He asked if the email could be forwarded to department heads in town.

"Maine Municipal Association has provided new information to help guide towns assembling budgets for fiscal 2020-2021. Maine income tax receipts, sales tax revenues, and gasoline taxes are dropping sharply while unemployment costs are increasing dramatically," Hirsch stated in the email.

"This means that State Revenue Sharing, State Road Assistance, and Homestead Reimbursement funds will all be cut. We do not know the extent of these cuts yet. Owls Head may also see property tax revenues lag in the near term. Because of these events we are requesting that you try to reduce your budget requests as much as possible. A 10% reduction would be a major help to deal with this situation."

Hirsch also said the town may need to take some difficult measures going forward, such as forgoing cost-of-living increases, delaying capital projects, delaying maintenance, delaying paving and cutting certain high expense areas of the budget like the fire department.

"We’ll have to look carefully at expenses for conservation, cemeteries, library, office equipment, etc. We may need to increase our allocation for welfare," Hirsch stated in an email.

Owls Head Selectmen Board Chair Tom Von Malder said town officials would begin working on the budget in June. Von Malder said the town already sent a request to Rockland to forego an increase in the cost of emergency medical services for the upcoming year.

Selectman Gordon Page said the town needs to be cautious on spending because the impact could go on for months.

Selectman Linda Post said she hopes the school district and county will flat fund their budgets.

The annual town meeting is generally held in August.

Selectmen discussed postponing the annual town meeting until September but no decision was made. The state prohibition on gatherings of more than 50 people is currently scheduled to remain in place through August.

The Selectmen voted May 4 to extend the closure of the town office to the public through the end of May because of the COVID-19 outbreak. The plan is to reopen the municipal building Monday, June 1. The office had been scheduled to reopen mid-May.

Von Malder also brought up the issue of voting in the July primary. He said residents should be encouraged to vote absentee for the state primary and school budget vote scheduled for Tuesday, July 14.

Von Malder said in-person voting may not be allowed in July.

Town registrar of voters Eleanor Stone said the Secretary of State is developing guidelines for the July 14 voting. The primary was postponed from June 9 to July 14 because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Selectmen Page and Post said the town can set rules to keep people 6-feet apart and erect plexiglass shields for the election. Post said the town could require face masks to be worn. Post said she does not expect there would be more than 50 people at a time voting in July.

Fire Chief Frank Ross said if in-person voting is allowed, election officials would need to clean each booth after each person voted.

Selectmen also discussed concerns from residents of Crescent Beach about parking at the end of the street near the beach.

Overnight parking is not allowed. One resident said there were three cars parked for an entire weekend, saying it appeared the vehicle owners went off to an island for the weekend.

Ross said if vehicles are blocking the road, he can be called and have them towed.

Former selectmen Richard Carver noted selectmen gave approval years ago to give Ross the authority to tow vehicles if they violate town parking regulations.

Page said he did not want the town to tow cars "willy nilly," particularly if they are not parking on the pavement.

No action was taken on that issue.