Vassalboro prepares for annual town meeting, election (2024)

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro’s annual town meeting will be, as usual in recent years, in two sections.

Voters will assemble at 6:30 p.m., Monday, June 3, in the Vassalboro Community School gymnasium to vote on the first 41 articles of the 45-article town meeting warrant. The meeting will then recess until 8 a.m., Tuesday, June 11, when written-ballot voting begins at the town office on Articles 42 through 45 and for state primary elections.

Town Manager Aaron Miller expects veteran moderator Richard Thompson will run the meeting, if elected under Art. 1 of the warrant.

Much of the warrant deals with familiar topics.

Art. 2 asks voters to elect five members of Vassalboro’s Budget Committee for two-year terms. In past years the warrant has listed the budget committee members whose terms end. In 2024 they are not listed; Miller had legal advice against appearing to limit choices.

The annual town report for the year ending June 30, 2023, now available at the town office, says Frank Richards’, Douglas Phillips’, Richard Bradstreet’s and Nate Gray’s terms end this year. There is a vacancy, because Michael Poulin’s seat was not filled after he was elected to the select board last year.

Art. 5 asks voter approval to spend more than $2.9 million for 15 municipal departments or functions. Biggest proposed expenditures include more than $648,000 for the public works department, almost $630,000 for administration; and $570,000 for road paving. The smallest request on the list is $3,000 for general assistance.

As in past years, most of the rest of the warrant deals with other expenditures and with authorizing a variety of select board actions.

New articles this year include:

Art. 12, asking voters to adopt an ordinance called “Ordinance Eliminating Quorum Requirement for Special Town Meetings.”

The article refers to a 1991 town meeting vote. The state Law and Legislative Reference Library’s digital on-line version cites a 1991 private and special law that requires at least 125 registered voters to be present for a Vassalboro special meeting.

This legislative act amended an earlier requirement that at least 10 percent of the number of voters participating in the previous gubernatorial election take part in any special town meeting. The requirement has discouraged select board members from calling special town meetings.

Art. 21, asking voters to approve spending up to $20,000 from surplus to run the Red Cross emergency shelter at Vassalboro Community School, if it is needed.
Art. 23, asking voters to reallocate $5,500 from trailer capital reserve funds to buy a trailer for a new skid steer. The skid steer, a much-discussed topic at select board and budget committee meetings, will be used in winter to plow the expected new North Vassalboro sidewalks, and in other seasons for work on trails and elsewhere.
Art. 25, asking voters to raise and appropriate $10,584 for Conservation Commission and the Courtesy Boat Inspection Program (CBI), directed by the China Region Lakes Alliance. Conservation Commission member Holly Weidner explained to select board and budget committee members that the commission will oversee the CBI, which is intended to keep invasive plants out of town lakes.
Art. 20 again gives select board members an emergency fund, from surplus. Last year, the limit was $15,000; this year, it is proposed at $25,000.

The 2024-25 school budget is in articles 29 through 41.

In Vassalboro’s June 11 primary voting for the state and national legislatures, the only contest is on the Republican ballot for the District One Congressional seat. Andrew Plantidosi, of Cape Elizabeth, and Ronald C. Russell, of Kennebunkport, seek the nomination. The winner will run in November against Democratic incumbent Chellie Pingree, of North Haven, who has no opponent on the Democratic ballot.

In the State Senate primaries for District #15 (Augusta, Belgrade, China, Mount Vernon, Sidney, and Vassalboro), Republican Richard T. Bradstreet, of Vassalboro, and Democrat Raegan French LaRochelle, of Augusta, are unopposed.

In House District 61 (Vassalboro and most of Sidney) Republican Alicia Carol Collins, of Sidney, and Democrat Laura M. Jones, of Vassalboro, are unopposed.

State law says voters enrolled in a party may vote only on that party’s ballot; but unenrolled voters may request any one of the three party ballots.

The budget committee reviewed and made recommendations on financial articles. Its members agreed, often but not always unanimously, with the select board and the school board on all but Art. 8.

Art. 8 asks voters to raise and appropriate $126,936 for capital investments, for reserve funds and to buy the skid steer and trailer. The select board so recommends.

The budget committee recommendation is for $182,936, increasing the public works reserve by $6,000 and adding a $50,000 transfer station reserve.

Sample ballots for the June 11 meeting continuation can be seen on the town website,, under “Elections,” which is under “Departments and Hours.”

The sample ballot headed “Municipal Election” has three questions, Articles 42, 43 and 44 of the town meeting warrant.

Art. 42 asks if voters want to approve an amended Solid Waste Ordinance, renamed the Solid Waste and Recycling Ordinance, with new provisions about recycling; use by commercial haulers and owners and occupants of multi-family buildings; and enforcement.

Art. 43 asks if voters want to approve an amended Marijuana Business Ordinance. It changes the word “marijuana” to the word “cannabis” throughout, and adds regulations for small medical growing operations, which, by state law, must be allowed in town. The new ordinance does not affect provisions of the current one that prohibit new commercial cannabis-growing operations.

Art. 44, the school budget referendum, asks if voters want to confirm the 2024-25 school budget that was approved at the June 3 open meeting.

The ballot for local municipal elections is the final article on the town meeting warrant. The only candidates listed are Christopher J. French for re-election to the select board and Jolene Gamage for re-election to the school board. There is space for a write-in candidate for each position.


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