Defeat reinstatement of selectmen's stipend

Voters approve moving, funding municipal offices

By Beth A. Birmingham | Nov 07, 2018
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham A total of 1,296 ballots were cast in Thomaston Nov. 6, with all but one article passing. The town will now move forward with proposed plans to relocate the municipal offices to the former Lura Libby School building..

Thomaston — Despite some last-minute attempts to derail the project, Thomaston voters approved the renovation of the former Lura Libby School  building to accommodate relocation of the Town Office, police department, recreation department and food pantry by a margin of 821 to 457 at the polls Nov. 6.

Also approved, by a vote of 702 to 563, was a request to borrow not more than $1.1 million to finance the renovations and related costs of the relocation.

Next steps include completing the architectural and engineering plans; drafting and publication of requests for proposals for the renovation project; hiring of a contractor; securing financing; getting a professional appraisal of Watts Hall; then, based on the appraisal and public input, a recommendation to the voters of the best disposition of Watts Hall; and a town vote.

A cost analysis includes roofing, mechanical and electrical systems work, interior wall changes (including windows and doors), furnishings such as cabinets and shelving, finishing touches, site work, contractor markup, contingencies and design fees.

Current annual costs of both facilities are similar: Watts Hall costs $66,680, with operating costs of $38,400 and capital costs of $28,268; while Lura Libby costs $64,392, with operating and capital costs of $29,392 and $35,000, respectively.

Projected increases in the mil rate as a result of the renovation and move range from .48 to .19. The amount of the increase will dpend on what the town decides to do with Watts Hall, as well as if voters decide to use money from a reserve account.

According to Town Manager Valmore Blastow, the town currently sets aside $50,000 in the Municipal Facility Reserve annually that could possibly be used toward any of the expenditures in the proposal, which in turn would offset the base amount by .14, or $14 per $100,000 of valuation in taxes.

That would change the projected mil rate increase range to.34 to .05, potentially.

Although all other articles on the municipal ballot were approved by voters, funding the annual stipends for the Board of Selectmen from the unassigned fund balance in the amount of $11,925.15 was defeated by a 619 to 577 margin.

The approved articles were:

-- Authorizing the town to borrow not more than $280,000 and accept matching grant funds up to $250,000 from the Northern Border Regional Commission to complete the last phase of the Thomaston Business Block Streetscape Project -- passed 720 to 470;

-- Authorizing the completion of the last phase of the Thomaston Business Block Redevelopmet Project initiated in 1997 -- passed 752 to 461;

-- To enact an ordinance or amendment entitled "Proposed Changes to Chapter 7 Land Use & Development Ordinance" -- passed 660 to 493;

-- and seek implementation of amendments to the town's dog ordinances -- passed 848 to 386.

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

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