China selectmen do semi-final review of warrant articles prior to April 4 town meeting

by Mary Grow

China selectmen spent almost two hours Feb. 10 doing a semi-final review of the warrant articles for the April 4 town business meeting. Their work was to be submitted to the budget committee on Feb. 12 for its members’ final review and recommendations.

The selectmen intend to sign the warrant at their Tuesday, Feb. 18, meeting (moved from the usual Monday because of the Presidents’ Day holiday).

At the Feb. 10 meeting, selectmen again discussed pay increases for Town Clerk Rebecca Hapgood, Transfer Station Manager Tim Grotton and Public Works Manager Shawn Reed, the three town employees Town Manager Dennis Heath has designated as managers. Selectmen agreed on different levels of increase for each, based on amount of responsibility and length of service with the town.

Looking at the annual article setting tax due dates and authorizing interest charges on late payments, they unanimously recommended reducing the interest rate from the state maximum of 9 percent to 4.5 percent.

Two public hearings scheduled

Two public hearings on budget requests in the April 3 town meeting warrant are scheduled for Sunday, March 22, at 2 p.m. at the Albert Church Brown Memorial Library in China Village, and Wednesday, March 25, at 7 p.m. at the town office on Lakeview Drive.

The warrant includes two articles that deal with Heath’s proposal to hire a full-time town policeman.

One asks if voters want to establish the position and fund it at over $113,000 for 2020-21. The new officer would work in addition to the present part-time people, and China would continue to run its own vehicle.

If voters defeat that article, they then decide whether they want to contract with the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office for police services. In that case, Heath said about $81,000 of the current police budget could be applied to the estimated $114,000 first-year cost, because China would no longer need part-time patrolmen or a vehicle.

Selectman Wayne Chadwick voted against recommending either proposal. He was surprised to find them presented as definite plans with price tags, since in his opinion much more discussion is needed.

The warrant Heath read aloud and selectmen approved has several articles that are capped, that is, written so that voters cannot legally increase the amount to be appropriated. Among them are fund requests for:

  • China’s fire and rescue departments;
  • Social services (out-of-town agencies like the Red Cross, Senior Spectrum and public radio);
  • Community support organizations (in-town groups like the libraries, China Lake water quality groups and historic buildings, and this year including appropriations for fire and rescue that replaces the much-debated stipends); and
  • Recommended spending from China’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) fund.

There were no capped articles in the warrant for the 2019 town business meeting.

The Feb. 18 selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the town office meeting room.


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