Among the issues residents will be asked to decide is work on the Town Hall.

NEW GLOUCESTER – Voters at the annual town meeting will be asked to approve 19 warrant articles to fund the municipality for 2003-04, and to take action on several issues, including work on the Town Hall.

The New Gloucester annual town meeting begins at 7 p.m. Monday, May 5, at Memorial School on Route 231.

The net budget for 2003-04 raised by taxes to fund the municipality totals $1,031,220, an increase of $23,000 over last year’s request.

The entire gross budget, however, totals $3,319,720, offset by revenues of $1,872,500 and a general fund balance of $416,000 that reduce the amount taxpayers must raise.

In the 2003-04 year the town’s valuation is up roughly $7 million, to $222,500,000.

A capital improvement funding plan in place for more than a decade pays for costly items that this year include spending $839,000 for improvements. These include a plow truck at $115,000; meeting house roof, $15,000; fire department pickup truck, $24,000; fire department pumper tanker at $260,000; water holes, $12,000; electrical work at the Town Hall at $20,000; Town Hall outside work at $100,000; recreation at $28,000; and fairgrounds fence at $18,000.

To date the town has spent $280,000 on the Town Hall, a century old building in Lower Gloucester that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A new roof, front porch, new windows, water drainage, new electrical system including an air exchanger, new furnace and a new furnace room have been completed. The request of $100,000 would complete outside work on the building that has over 6,000 square feet of space. The upstairs of the building is not handicapped-accessible, nor is it certain if the second floor could accommodate public functions.

Selectmen say it would cost up to $1 million to build a new town hall.

Capital improvements

Capital reserves for 2003-04 will ask voters to appropriate $392,320 for highway equipment, fire equipment, transfer station, water holes, fire/public safety building, future land purchase, meeting house outside work, fire radio system, building emergencies and future building needs, and office equipment.

Article 2 asks voters to appropriate $342,010. That includes funding the selectmen at $18,700; administration at $196,800; tax assessment at $57,600; code enforcement at $44,060; and legal work at $22,000. Article 3 asks voters to raise and/or appropriate $38,580 to fund general assistance at $6,000, health officer at $1,400, animal control at $11,400, cemeteries at $8,000, area social service agencies at $11,080, and machine upkeep at $700.

Article 4 seeks approval to fund the fire department at $108,400; civil emergency preparedness at $650; streetlights at $4,400 and public safety at $22,000.

The highway department is seeking approval to spend $475,300 for winter and summer road costs. Additionally, $214,000 is requested for paving, $13,000 for road construction and $158,000 for solid waste.

The library is requesting $59,400, municipal buildings’ operations and upkeep are budgeted at $35,400 and recreation at $7,100.

Voters will be asked to reduce appropriations by $1,901,500 from excise tax, interest, tree growth, boat excise, building fees, registration fees, capital reserve income, additional revenue sharing and rent from portable classrooms leased to SAD 15.

Foreclosed properties

Voters will be asked to authorize the town to sell nine foreclosed properties.

Finally, voters are being asked to approve several technical changes to the town’s zoning ordinance. One deals with nonconforming structures and nonconforming lots under acts of eminent domain.

Article 17 seeks approval for the town to “discontinue and extinguish” the public easement of the Valley Farm Road, a request initiated by the October Corp., which owns Pineland Center. Two property owners have agreed to a private easement arrangement with no damage costs. A gate would be installed to keep the public from driving through the Pineland Farms property, diverting traffic to an alternative entrance on the Morse Road instead.

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