Town office to stay put

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Voters OK putting new structure on site of current building

TURNER – A decision at least five years in the making was finalized at town meeting Saturday when voters said they wanted to build the new Town Office on its current site at the intersection of Rtes. 4 and 117.

The 151 people in attendance also approved spending $2,113,388 for the 2006-07 year, virtually the same as the current year. The county assessment of $387,402 and the SAD 52 school budget to be set in June will be added to the town appropriation before the final tax rate is set for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Jody Goodwin, a member of both Town Office Building Committees established during the five years of discussion, recounted how every town meeting since 2000 has recognized the need for a new office, and since 2001 began building a reserve fund for its construction. Siting it has been contentious because of its proximity to the Nezinscot River, but septage, water, and flood plain concerns were fielded by the Planning Board and members of the committee. The vote was overwhelming to demolish most of the current building, raise the foundation, and build an addition on the current site.

The project is expected around $450,000, with $285,325 already available in the reserve account, and $31,825 added to that account Saturday. Committee members emphasized that $70,000 of in-kind services already have been contributed to the town office building project by local residents.

A lengthy discussion regarding the finances of the newly established Turner Center for the Arts, and its public or private/nonprofit organization, resulted in passage of an article to establish a “Turner Center Arts Board of Directors,” as well as a “Turner Center for the Arts” proprietary fund. The semantic issue of whether the center will pay “rent” or make a “contribution” to the Leavitt Institute Building Committee Board of Directors will be decided in the crafting of by-laws for the center’s operation. The center is now located on the first two floors of the Institute Building.

Dedicated work over four years by town committees developing the Comprehensive Plan, and zoning ordinances and map, was rewarded with passage of articles with no discussion, items that in past years have failed to be resolved and resulted in defeat of ordinance proposals.

Residents voted to hire an Androscoggin County Deputy Sheriff from July 3 to Aug. 26 to serve solely in Turner. He now serves as the SAD 52 Resource Officer, and would not be working during the summer months.

For $8,425 the officer will be available to the town for all police duties, including controlling access to, and behavior at, Turner’s beach on Bryant Pond.

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