Few people, little discussion at town meeting

By Sarah E. Reynolds | Jun 12, 2014
Photo by: Sarah E. Reynolds Camden Town Meeting moderator Deborah Dodge, left, administers the oath of office to Selectmen Jim Heard, center, and Don White at the Opera House Wednesday, June 11.

Camden — In a little less than an hour, 40 residents dispatched the business of the town meeting Wednesday, June 11.

All articles passed with very little discussion.

When an article authorizing the Select Board to dispose of tax-acquired property in the best interest of the town came up, and including special conditions for the disposition of the Apollo Tannery property, Budget Committee member Anita Brosius-Scott asked for clarification on how the tannery property could be developed. Specifically, she wanted to know whether it could be used for a non-commercial purpose.

Town Attorney William Kelly responded that the development of the tannery property was subject to conditions imposed by an article passed at the town meeting in 2010.

Under the article appropriating $1.9 million from non-property tax revenue to reduce the property tax commitment, Town Manager Patricia Finnigan explained that budget revenues had fallen over the last several years because of the recession, and particularly because of cuts in state revenue-sharing. The town had also lost a Verizon cell-tower lease on land it owns on Route 1, because Verizon decided not to locate a cell tower there.

When the meeting got to the article appropriating money for the town budget for the next fiscal year, each of seven sub-sections was voted on separately. Under general government, Deborah Oliver wanted to know why the amount for planning and development was increasing from $269,594 in the current fiscal year to $287,600 next year.

Finnigan replied that the $18,000 uptick was because staff formerly shared between two departments were now full-time in the Development Office.

Oliver next asked why seven of the 21 members on the Budget Committee had voted against the budget for planning and development.

In answer, Scott got up and said she had voted for the item because she believed too much was being done by volunteers in the area of economic development, and she felt professional staff was needed. “There was no one who could be pro-active in advocating for our town economically,” she said.

Budget Committee member Parker Laite Sr. said he voted against the item because Economic Development Director Brian Hodges had been hired to develop the tannery site, and that had yet to take place. He said he felt town government was growing too much.

There was no other discussion of warrant articles. The meeting also elected a number of people to serve on boards and committees: Elaine Davis was re-elected to the board of trustees of the W.H. Pascal Fund for three years. Seven of eight three-year seats on the Budget Committee were filled with candidates nominated by the Budget Nominating Committee. They were Kate Bates, Jean Freeman-White, Richard Gross, Matt Orne, Cindi Ostrowski, Etienne Perret and Joe Russillo. The Select Board will appoint an eighth committee member.

Also, Alex Kuhn was chosen for a two-year term on the Budget Committee, and Deborah Oliver was elected to a one-year term on the Budget Committee.

Finally, Roger Moody, John Schultz and Dave Nazaroff were elected to one-year terms on the Budget Nominating Committee.

Before the meeting began, newly re-elected members of the Select Board Jim Heard and Don White were sworn in by moderator Deborah Dodge.

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