PERU — Residents will decide June 12 whether to appropriate $7,000 to maintain the Community Center or demolish it.
An informational meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 15, to discuss both questions and the June 12 annual town meeting warrant.
In 2011, voters approved of selectpersons leasing the former school, which closed in 2009, to Friends of the Peru Elementary School with the intent of creating a community center. The article stated the move would not involve taxpayer funding.
In 2015, residents voted to have the town in charge of the building and to spend $10,000 to help the Friends group maintain it. The group would manage the center, which provides services and activities such as a food pantry, fitness programs and support groups.
Resident Edward Patenaude initiated a petition asking for the school to be demolished. Town Clerk Vera Parent verified it had 102 valid signatures and selectpersons approved the petition at their Monday evening meeting.
The Friends group also submitted a petition to get a funding request on the ballot.
Also at Monday’s meeting, it was decided that Chairperson Raquel Welch will draft an email to the Maine Municipal Association asking for guidance on how to cover a $26,753 budget deficit from winter storms by June 30. The town also owes $3,500 in accrued vacation time to Parent.
Selectperson Carol Roach said the board can’t sell a municipal asset because there isn’t time to get voter approval; taxes can’t be raised because they’ve been committed for the year; unused money from approved items can’t be transferred because there’s not enough in any single account to cover the overdraft; there is no designated reserve fund; and residents voted May 1 not to use money from surplus.
Roach said officials are “looking to see whether we have an option of getting funds from two or more town accounts, transferring from categories already approved, once again put forward an article to cover the overdrafts from surplus, or borrowing money from anticipated taxes or a bank.”