China voters approved the entire warrant for the 2020 annual town meeting at the polls July 14, including the 2020-21 municipal budget and related items. This year’s voting was by written ballot because the town’s quorum requirement of 118 registered voters is incompatible with coronavirus-mandated limits on the number of people assembled in one place at the same time.
Town Clerk Becky Hapgood said the most popular item was funding for China’s three volunteer fire departments and China Rescue, approved by 876 voters with 76 opposed. Only one other question got more than 800 supporting votes: the question authorizing the town manager and selectmen to apply for grants and to use Tax Increment Finance funds for matching money when required got 809 votes, with 132 voters opposed.
Least popular was the annual appropriation for FirstPark, the Oakland-based regional business park that China joined when it was first created. It was authorized by 525 voters, with 459 voting no.
Voting was conducted in the former portable classroom behind the town office, with a large white tent outside to protect those waiting in line. Hapgood said the tent did not collapse during the heavy rain in the late afternoon and early evening.
China voters, along with voters in Belgrade, Oakland, Rome and Sidney, were asked to confirm or reject the Regional School Unit 18 budget for 2020-21 approved at a June open meeting, and to authorize the RSU to issue bonds for school renovations. Hapgood did not have the local count on that ballot as of almost midnight; an hour later, the town’s website showed each question was approved by a margin of more than 500 votes.
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