LIVERMORE FALLS – The vote on the $2.7 million municipal budget that passed Tuesday will stand, said Town Manager Jim Chaousis Wednesday.

Chaousis asked for advice from the Maine Municipal Association after it was brought to town officials’ attention that some of the numbers of the articles on the ballot differed from those on the actual ballot voters used on Tuesday at the polls.

The outcome of the votes did not change, Chaousis said. Even with the change, all articles passed by a wide margin, except for the one that addressed exceeding the tax levy, which was approved by a 104-93 vote. That article was listed as Article 39 in both the report and on the ballot.

The second closest article in the vote count on the ballot was Article 31 and it passed 117-86 to raise $1,000 for Western Maine Paper and Heritage Museum. That article was listed as 30 in the town report.

The number shift came with Article 19.

Article 19 in the town report addressed raising and appropriating $354,055 for public works, while Article 19 on the ballot was to raise and appropriate $1,200 for the health officer.

In the town report, the health officer article was listed as Article 32. The change occurred when different clerks put the ballot and book together.

If residents used the ballot worksheet, a so-called “cheat sheet” in the back of the town report that lists articles only by numbers and yes or no boxes to aid voters at the polls, the numbered articles would have been off by one from Article 19 to Article 32.

The MMA’s legal advice is that as long as the ballot was prepared legally, which it was, Chaousis said, that ballot is the legal document.

The ballot listed the articles out with the proper wording, he said.

The MMA advised that the town report is only an informational document, Chaousis said. He had said the same thing initially during an interview Wednesday, and as a precaution checked with MMA to confirm it.

“The vote stands,” Chaousis said.

The MMA also suggested that future town reports include a disclaimer stating that the report is only informational, he said. It was also recommended that the “cheat sheet” be taken out, he said.

Next year, Chaousis, who became the new town manager on the day of the public hearing for the warrant in April, pledged things will be different, with more information being provided to residents leading up to the hearing and vote.

The town had been without a full-time town manager since last September 2008 after former Town Manager Martin Puckett took another job in Aroostook County.

There is a 45-day time requirement to meet the criteria for a referendum vote and that includes holding a public hearing at least 30 days before the vote so that absentee votes will be available.

“We want to provide as much information as possible,” Chaousis said. “It wasn’t the intention of Livermore Falls to mislead anybody. This is definitely a good learning opportunity for me and we use this for future reference.”


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