Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect a corrected vote on Article 7 of the meeting warrant and for the correct number of residents attending the meeting.

DURHAM — A scant 124 residents out of more than 3,299 registered voters turned out for the 227th annual town meeting Saturday, spending more then four hours debating 43 warrant articles, under the direction of veteran moderator Gary Wood.

Town Administrator Ruth Glaeser calculated action Saturday on the municipal budget (excluding schools, which is voted at a later date) will result in a 2.82 percent increase over last year resulting in a mill rate of $17.12 per $1,000 valuation, up from last year’s rate of $16.65. The new rate will result in a $47 tax increase on a home valued at $100,000 dollars, she said.

For the most part, voters followed selectmen and Budget Committee recommendations, making few changes. They voted to increase the allocation for SeniorsPlus from the recommended $500 to $571. The remaining five agencies, Community Concepts, Western Maine Transportation, LACO, Androscoggin Home Health and LifeFlight, were awarded $500 each.

After some debate, selectmen were authorized “to explore other means of voting on the town budget” through a petitioned article, even after the person who submitted it, Donna Church, urged a “no action” vote. Diminishing attendance at the town meeting had been cited as one factor to change the process. Fewer than 200 registered voters turned out for the municipal election Friday.

A request to spend $1,500 for town hall capital improvement projects was accepted by a hand-count vote of 53-43. Residents approved charging 7 percent per annum interest on delinquent tax bills. Interest to be paid on abated taxes was set at 3 percent.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Jeffrey Wakeman presented two awards at the beginning of the session: a $1,000 outstanding senior scholarship award to Joshua Thibeault, and a Spirit of America Award to Pat Provost.


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