Vassalboro officials are going ahead with a Monday evening open town meeting and Tuesday written-ballot voting as in past years – but with adaptations.
The 2020 town meeting warrant calls voters to assemble at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 22, at Vassalboro Community School. The written ballot questions will not be decided the next day, however, but three weeks later, on Tuesday, July 14.
On June 22, voters will find the auditorium and the cafeteria arranged with chairs six feet apart and other social distancing accommodations. Masks will be required. Entrances and exits will be monitored to avoid crowding. No more than 50 people will be allowed in either room. Those in the cafeteria with be able to listen via a loudspeaker; plans are being made to let them notify the moderator when they want to speak.
If more than 100 people show up, as of the June 11 selectmen’s meeting there was no policy. Town Manager Mary Sabins and retiring Selectman Lauchlin Titus consider only the request to buy a fire truck controversial, so they hope for a low voter turnout – another unusual feature.
After those present act on 56 warrant articles, the meeting will adjourn until 8 a.m. Tuesday, July 14, when polls will open for written-ballot voting, again at Vassalboro Community School, not at the town office as usual. Sabins said masks will be required at the polls. There are two articles for July 14: approval or rejection of the 2020-21 school budget approved June 22, and election of local officers.
On July 14, voters will elect one selectman to succeed Titus; Barbara Redmond is the only candidate on the ballot. For the school board, Susan Tuthill’s term ends this year and she is not a candidate for re-election. Erin Loiko is running for another term; Zachary Smith is the only other person on the ballot.
Budget committee members will be elected, as usual, during the June 22 open meeting (Art. 2, immediately after election of a moderator; Sabins said Richard Thompson has agreed to serve again, if elected under Art. 1).
Budget committee members whose two-year terms end this year are K. Peter Allen, Rick Denico, Jr., Douglas Phillips, Barbara Redmond and Joe Suga. Redmond will not seek re-election, Sabins said. Vassalboro residents interested in being nominated to serve on the committee are advised to make their interest known to current committee members.
Except for the fire truck, the warrant articles should be familiar. As in past years, they deal with the municipal and school budgets for the fiscal year that will begin July 1 and related issues, like tax due dates, authority to apply for grants and the alewife fishery and authority to spend alewife revenues.
The fire truck is in Art. 22, which asks voters to authorize spending up to $334,000 for a five-year lease-purchase agreement, with estimated interest bringing the total cost to over $360,000. Firefighters would act on the authorization only if the department does not receive a FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Act) grant for a vehicle. Estimated annual payments would be slightly more than $72,000; the payment due in July 2022 would come from the town’s fire truck reserve fund, the remaining four payments (July 2023 through July 2026) from taxation.
Selectmen and budget committee members recommend voters approve all requested expenditures, except the fire truck purchase. Neither board recommends buying a new truck this year.
If voters approve all fund requests, as of June 15 Sabins expects the tax rate will remain the same or go down slightly. A decision on the fire truck purchase will not affect 2021 taxes.
Town warrant has been posted
The warrant for Vassalboro’s June 22 and July 14 annual town meeting is posted in public places in town, as in past years. It is also at the end of the town report for 2019, on pages 51 through 55.
Printed copies of the report were expected at the town office by Monday, June 15, and will be available at the June 22 town meeting. Because of Covid-19 precautions about printed materials, Town Manager Mary Sabins does not know where else in town they will be distributed.
The complete town report is on the Vassalboro website. Go to www.vassalboro.net; click on “Town of Vassalboro” to get to the home page; scroll down the page until you find and click on “Town Report” on the Navigation bar on the left side; click on the red fire truck and begin reading (or click here!).
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