Town meeting by written ballot
At their April 12 meeting, China selectmen spent the most time on two topics: the upcoming April 26 public hearings on June 8 town meeting decisions, and mask-wearing at the transfer station.
The June 8 town meeting will be by written ballot, so voters will not be able to get questions answered as they vote. The April 26 hearings, one on the proposed changes to the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) agreement that are presented as Art. 16 and one on the rest of the warrant, will be the only chance for group discussion.
The town website, china.govoffice.com, has a wealth of information about the hearings. Under the Elections tab on the left side of the screen, voters can find:
- The Zoom link to participate in the hearings.
- The warrant articles, in two forms: “Public Hearing Warrant Articles 2021” reproduces the four-page document mailed to residents, with brief explanations, and includes the Zoom link; and “Approved Warrant for ATBM June 8, 2021” is the warrant as it will appear in the 2019-20 town report, due out before the meeting.
- The revised TIF document, titled “Second Amendment TIF,” with the changes marked; and a related document titled “Findings.”
- A budget workbook that shows the items included in each warrant article and a comparison between the 2021-22 appropriations requests and prior years’ budgets and expenditures.
Some of the information, including instructions on participating in the hearing, is duplicated in a full-page notice in the April 8 issue of The Town Line (and again on page 8 in this issue) and in the four-page mailing to residents earlier this month.
Residents are invited to submit questions about the warrant to the town office by mail, email, telephone or hand delivery up to 4 p.m. on April 26. Participants in the hearing will be able to comment live at the time.
The TIF hearing is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. When TIF questions have been answered, the hearing on warrant articles 1 through 26 will begin. The hearings will be followed by a selectmen’s meeting that will start at 6:30 p.m. or after the second hearing, whichever is earlier.
On past showings, selectmen expect a low turnout for the hearing. But, they said cheerfully, on April 26 they might get 50 people – or 500.
The mask issue came up during the April 12 town department reports, delivered by Town Manager Becky Hapgood. Selectboard Chairman Ronald Breton claimed the mask mandate that applies to all town properties has not been obeyed at the transfer station.
Hapgood replied that signs are posted and staff are masked. She does not want to ask staff to risk confrontations by telling people to put on masks.
During the discussion that followed, Breton queried town liability if someone claimed to have contracted Covid-19 at the China transfer station. Selectman Blane Casey thought there was no problem, because someone who consistently refused to wear a mask and got sick would be unable to prove a source of infection.
In other business April 12, Hapgood reported for Public Works Director Shawn Reed that the Welcome to China sign on Route 3 is repaired and back up; the directional sign in South China listing other Maine towns named for foreign countries and cities (“the Postcard Sign”) is down for repairs; the docks at the public landing at the head of China Lake’s east basin are in; and weight-limit road-posting signs have been removed for the year.
The state has extended two deadlines, Hapgood said. Town Clerk Angela Nelson reported that the late fee for 2021 dog licenses will not be charged until June 1. Assistant to the assessor’s agent Kelly Grotton said applications for tax exemptions – homestead, tree growth and others allowed in Maine – can be submitted until 30 days after the state-wide emergency declaration ends or until China’s tax commitment day, whichever comes first.
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