China select board members spent most of their March 13 meeting on plans for the June 13 annual town business meeting.
Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood gave them a first draft of the town meeting warrant articles, which will be decided by written ballot. Most articles are the familiar ones: appropriations for the 2023-24 fiscal year that begins July 1, including from the TIF (Tax Increment Financing) and ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds; authorization for the select board to take listed actions on behalf of the town; and setting the fall 2023 and spring 2024 tax due dates, for example.
Hapgood pointed out a new article asking voters to authorize municipal officers to close town roads to winter maintenance. If approved, she said, the authority would be available to stop plowing a lightly-populated town road if plow drivers encountered unusual difficulties, like residents’ vehicles consistently in their way.
The March 13 draft warrant included a request for voter action on one proposed ordinance, the Solid Waste Ordinance intended to update and merge two existing ordinances. The manager intends to add an article asking action on the Board of Appeals Ordinance (Chapter 11 of the Land Development Code).
Select board talks about lack of volunteers
At their March 13 meeting, China select board members briefly discussed an on-going problem: how to get volunteers to serve on town boards and committees, elected or appointed.
Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood said there are vacancies on the elected planning board (District 4, the southwestern quarter of town) and several appointed boards, including the board of appeals, the Thurston Park committee and the recreation committee.
Amber French is the first volunteer for the comprehensive plan implementation committee that select board members created last summer, Hapgood said.
The town website, china.govoffice.org, has an application for committee membership under the heading “Town Officials, Boards and Committees,” on the first page. Committees and their current members are listed.
The 2023-24 school budget, which also requires voter action, is a separate document that is not included in the municipal warrant.
Hapgood expects select board members to approve a near-final warrant at their March 27 meeting, so it can be forwarded to the budget committee for their recommendations on spending articles.
She proposed a public hearing on the warrant on Monday, May 8. That way, she said, voters can get information before absentee ballots are available starting Monday, May 15.
On Tuesday, June 13, voters in the portable building behind the town office will elect a town meeting moderator at 6:55 a.m. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Select board member Janet Preston wants one more meeting added to the town schedule. Preston plans to apply for a Kennebec Valley Council of Governments program called Community Resiliency; an early step, she said, is a community meeting to get residents’ input on town needs and priorities.
Preston and the KVCOG website indicate that resiliency includes a variety of contemporary issues, like dealing with climate change impacts, environmental hazards, emergency preparations, renewable energy, green infrastructure and transportation.
Preston recommended holding the meeting in March, because the application is due in March. The board took no action.
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