Newry Town Meeting expected to be postponed to Monday

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NEWRY — A special town meeting scheduled for Thursday was expected to be rescheduled for Monday, Jan. 8 at 6:30 p.m. because of the snowstorm.

Selectmen said Thursday that procedurally they had to briefly convene the meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday with a few town officials, and then have a motion to formally postpone it to Monday.

The purpose of the meeting is to vote on additional funds for the Newry Withdrawal Committee. The warrant article asks if the town will appropriate $24,500 from undesignated surplus to finance the activities of the Withdrawal Committee for the remainder of FY 17-18.

The committee has run out of money in its effort to negotiate a withdrawal agreement with SAD 44 for Newry voters to consider. Negotiations with the district have been in a stalemate, with the committee saying the SAD 44 negotiating committee will not negotiate. The SAD 44 committee claims a significant financial impact on the remaining towns if Newry voters approved an agreement and withdrew.

Selectmen have said they would consider legal action if the district continues to decline to negotiate.

Separately, the Withdrawal Committee was also expected to ask the School Board to re-initiate a process to hold a districtwide referendum on amending the local school budget cost-sharing formula, under the same terms that district voters narrowly defeated in November. In the event the formula is approved on the same terms in a new referendum, the Withdrawal Committee said it would recommend to selectmen and Newry voters to terminate the withdrawal process.

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The formula change proposal defeated in November would have shifted some of the school tax burden from Newry to the other district towns gradually over eight years.

The special town meeting was scheduled to take place at the Bear River Grange Hall. For updates, residents may check the town website at newrymaine.org or the Facebook page.

In other business at Thursday’s selectmen meeting, Town Administrator Amy Bernard said Selectman Jim Largess and resident Gary Drown have returned nomination papers for a seat on the board, which is up for a vote in March.

Selectmen also decided to install several warning signs this spring along the Sunday River Road noting a “narrow shoulder,” in response to reports of many vehicles falling into the deep ditches in the winter. Because the ditches are filled with snow, the drop-off is not apparent. The ditches were made deeper when a section of the road was rebuilt two years ago.

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