JAY — Voters have one contested selectperson race to consider when they head to the polls on Tuesday, April 28.

Selectperson Pearl Cook is being challenged by former Selectperson Terry Bergeron for a three-year term.

The election will be held from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Community Building.

Selectperson Steve McCourt is uncontested for a three-year term.

Regional School Unit 73 Director Michael Morrell is also unchallenged in his bid for another three-year term. No one took out papers for a second opening on the board.

The Sun Journal asked Cook and Bergeron if the town needs to cut back on spending in light of the reduced valuation of Verso Paper Corp.’s Androscoggin Mill and associated property. Selectpersons granted the company an $829,258 tax abatement for the 2013 tax year in January, and lowered the value of the property from $815 million to $591.9 million for that year, factoring in tax exemptions. The issue remains under legal review.

Town officials cut more than $500,000 from a budget proposal last year, mostly by eliminating money for reserve accounts, when Verso filed the tax abatement application. Town officials are seeking to add back nearly $93,000 in a proposed $5.63 million budget for the 2015-16 that goes to voters on April 28.

“The (town) departments have made changes to reduce and/or keep the budgets as they are,” Cook said. “If the people want all the services they have, then I don’t feel there is any potential for a tax cut.”

“The town of Jay and most Maine towns have been trying to decrease budgets or at least keep them at the previous year’s level,” Bergeron said. “I feel the best way to accomplish this is to have more involvement in the budget process. When a cut is proposed, it is important to involve the people that will be most affected with the cut and this will ensure the public has a clear picture of the ramifications or benefits of passing the articles.”

Both candidates said the skills and experience they have will benefit the select board and the town. Both have been involved in the town government by serving on different committees, including the Budget Committee.

Bergeron, who has worked in management positions throughout his career, said he has learned to listen to all sides before making a decision and getting employee input when doing a budget, he said.

Cook has been a selectperson for 2½ years and previously worked as a secretary for a school superintendent, a bank and an insurance company prior to retiring.

She believes the experience she has will benefit her decision-making, she said.

Bergeron said he believes his experience in submitting and being responsible for budgets, coupled by his ability to work well with others makes him a viable candidate for selectperson.

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