Friendship approves increased budget at town meeting

By Beth A. Birmingham | Apr 11, 2018
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham Friendship voters place their written ballots in the box at town meeting April 10 as they vote on increasing the property tax levy established by state law. The article passed 40 to 10.

Friendship — At the their annual town meeting April 10, 51 Friendship voters approved all 23 articles on the warrant, which equaled a budget increase of 22.97 percent, or $97,249, over last year.

The meeting started with a written ballot vote asking residents to increase the property tax levy limit of $341,850 established for the town by state law LD1 in 2005 in the event the municipal budget approved resulted in a property tax commitment higher than the limit.

The vote, approved with 40 in favor and 10 opposed, was necessary because the municipal budget to be raised and appropriated totals $423,258 after applying a combined $400,000 from excise taxes, state revenue-sharing, Homestead exemption, and Undesignated funds to reduce taxes.

"Since I've been here, we've only had to vote on this twice," Town Clerk Joel Fearn said.

Of the eight articles voted on by secret ballot at the polls April 9, in addition to electing town officials, two of three seeking approval of financial backing failed. Those included spending $6,500 for fireworks for Friendship Day, Saturday, July 28, which failed on a vote of 105 to 115, and raising $13,500.56 to change the road commissioner to full-time status and provide health insurance, which was defeated 96 to 122.

Of the 224 residents who participated at the polls, 151 approved raising $15,000 to repair and upgrade the town landings at Crow Point, Timber Point and Hatchet Cove.

Only one of two other articles seeking only voter approval to lock in financing, with payments not beginning until next year, was approved.

Voters authorized selectmen, by a vote of 120 to 100, to appropriate $80,000 from the Vehicle Replacement Fund and borrow a principal amount of $80,000 to purchase a new snowplow truck -- raising and appropriating $27,438 for the first annual payment.

The article seeking authoritzation to borrow $100,000 to purchase property at 23 Main St., plus an additional $25,000 to be used to pay for site work was defeated by a vote of 72 to 148.

Fearn said the increased budget is due, in part, to the town's desire to complete some much-needed road work. Voters gave permission to appropriate $150,000 for paving roads by taking $50,000 from automobile excise tax and $100,000 from the general fund by a vote of 170 to 42..

The other two articles voters faced April 9 included amending the Friendship Shellfish Conservation Ordinance (2001) to comply with DMR shellfish laws and asking to enact an ordinance to allow the town to make electronic audio-video recordings of all town and public meetings.

The shellfish ordinance passed 182 to 36, but voters defeated the recording of meetings by a vote of 106 to 107.

Fearn said the town is currently working on designing a website.

A breakdown of the budget expenditures shows:

— General government at $194,112, up 6.3 percent, or $12,314;

— Protection at $162,484, up 3 percent, or $4,873;

— Roads at $192,393, up 11.42 percent, or $21,979;

— Buildings at $58,863, up 7.49 percent, or $4,410;

— Health, Sanitation and Social Services at $101,816, up 4.17 percent, or $4,246;

— Community Development at $4,490, down 12.76 percent, or $573;

— Debt Service at $100 remains flat after paying off a plow truck two years ago.

Uncontested election results saw the following incubents reelected: Elizabeth Dinsmore for selectman, John Homon for assessor, Errol Silvestri for RSU 40 Board of Directors, Fearn for town clerk, and Stewart Baird for road commissioner. All are three-year terms.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at bbirmingham@villagesoup.com

Resident Esther Henderson asks how tax-acquired property is disposed of at Friendship's town meeting April 10. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Fifty-one residents participate in town meeting April 10 in Friendship. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
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