Vassalboro residents take care of 41 of 45 articles at town meeting

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro voters at the June 3 part of the annual town meeting took care of 41 of the 45 articles in this year’s warrant. The remaining four will be decided by written ballot on Tuesday, June 11, with polls open at the town office from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Of the 41 articles, 39 were approved as written. One was defeated, with David Trask, the voter who made the motion presenting it, urging everyone, “Vote no!” Another was amended, on the recommendation of Town Manager Aaron Miller.

The defeated article, Art. 12, asked voters to eliminate the quorum requirement for a special town meeting, which, since 1991, has said that 125 registered voters must be present to open a special town meeting. Select board members have therefore called very few special meetings; and, Miller said, sometimes an emergency might require one.

Former select board member Lauchlin Titus remembered two special meetings under the quorum ordinance. One was to deal with marijuana growing. The other was to deal with Vassalboro’s topless coffee shop – a reminder that drew chuckles from the audience. Titus agreed that the topic “kinda drew folks in.”

However, former select board member John Melrose said, the 1991 quorum was established by the state legislature, as a private and special law, and he doubted a town meeting could repeal it. Former state representative and state senator Elizabeth Mitchell, who sponsored the law – at the town’s request, she said – agreed with Melrose.

Other voters wondered if eliminating the requirement was a good idea anyway. They pointed out that a small group with an agenda might be able to impose their policy on the whole town.

The amended article was Art. 26, which had two parts: voters were asked to appropriate $110,475 for ambulance service, and to authorize the municipal officers to make agreements for such service. Miller pointed out that $110,475 for ambulance service had already been approved in Art. 5, as part of a 15-item, $2.9 million list of town departments and functions.

Voters approved an amendment to delete the duplicate funding, and then approved the article as amended. The money is intended to pay for Delta Ambulance’s service for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

All other articles were approved as presented, by show of voting cards. Where the select board’s and budget committee’s recommendations differed, the select board’s figure was moved and approved.

As the first few articles dealing with the 2024-25 municipal budget were discussed, former town manager Michael Vashon and others asked for a summary of the effect of decisions on the 2024-25 tax rate, information they said had been available at previous town meetings.

They were not pleased when Miller replied that until the assessment of town property values is complete, he cannot calculate possible tax rates.

Under Art. 2 of the warrant, voters re-elected budget committee members Richard Bradstreet, Nate Gray, Douglas Phillips and Frank Richards and elected Laura Jones to fill a vacant seat.

Holly Weidner asked whether the five nominees thought they need additional help, for example a separate committee, to fulfill their responsibilities. None did, though Gray and Richards agreed they deal with complex issue. Phillips praised select board and school board members for their “due diligence” as they prepare annual budgets.

Spirit of America award winner Melrose was recognized with a certificate from the town, presented by select board member Michael Poulin, and another from the Maine legislature, presented by Rep. Richard Bradstreet.

Chris French, select board chairman, recognized members of Vassalboro’s First Responder Service, to whom the annual town report is dedicated.

Moderator Richard Thompson told voters this would be his last year as a town meeting moderator. He estimated he had been elected to serve at 17 Vassalboro meetings, and thanked voters for their cooperation and help.

About 85 people were in the Vassalboro Community School bleachers, and another 18 residents – budget committee, select board and school board members – sat at the head table. The meeting lasted less than two hours, thanks partly to Trask, who repeatedly made motions to consider multiple articles in a single discussion and vote.

On June 11, voters coming to the polls will act on:

Art. 42, to amend the town’s Solid Waste Ordinance;
Art. 43, to amend the town’s Marijuana Business Ordinance;
Art. 44, to re-approve the 2024-25 school budget that was approved at the June 3 meeting; and
Art. 45, local elections, with two unopposed candidates for re-election, French for the select board and Jolene Gamage for the school board.

Summaries of the proposed ordinance changes are on the opening page of the town website,, titled “A synopsis of proposed changes to two ordinances.”


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