NEW GLOUCESTER — More than 100 voters Monday night approved every municipal spending request and several zoning changes or amendments at the annual town meeting.

Residents hold up their blue cards during a vote at Monday’s annual town meeting in New Gloucester. More than 100 people attended.

Residents tried to lower municipal spending, expected to increase 25.3 percent, by eliminating membership in the Maine Municipal Association to save $6,000, cutting $500 from the cemetery account and not funding a truck for the Highway Department, but none of the attempts passed.

Steven Libby, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said the municipal portion of the increase is expected to rise from $3.42 to $4.28, an increase of 25.3%, although the town’s portion of the total tax is a smaller percentage of the overall budget that includes SAD 15 school budget and Cumberland County tax payment for 2020.

The proposed increase to fund the town, schools and county government is estimated to increase overall to $10.2 million in 2020. The mill rate is expected to increase from $15.80 per $1,000 of assessed value to $17.41.

Resident Carl Wilcox questioned the necessity of paying for membership to the MMA, saying the town already pays for legal service to the town attorneys Bernstein Shur of Portland, budgeted at $22,000. The town attorney represents the town for legal work at an hourly rate of $275.

Town Manager Carrie Castonguay said membership to MMA covers insurance, free legal opinions and workshop training, which is a covered service through membership.

Resident Steve Hathorne said the town has gotten poor information from MMA, noting a term limit ordinance passed by voters was referred by the town to MMA rather than the town attorney who said it was illegal because New Gloucester did not have a town charter.

Voters approved the Parks and Recreation budget of $139,000, up from $79,696, which brings the part-time director to full time. Revenue from recreation programs are estimated to total $97,000 to offset the budget.

“More activities are needed for senior citizens, “ Laura Sturgis said. “If you don’t keep us seniors busy, you’ll be in trouble.”

The Public Safety budget was approved at $643,112, which combines fire and rescue, provides 24/7 emergency coverage and pays hourly fire and rescue personnel.

Voters also approved administration, $323,000; assessing, $39,750; cemeteries, $20,000; public safety dispatch, $40,757; public safety, $643,112; and buildings and grounds, $66,624.

Funding for the library was approved at $106,000; public works, $762,500; solid waste, $247,000; code enforcement, $65,600; and planning, $69,500.

Residents also agreed to fund the townwide revaluation that will begin in 2020, and to spend $39,450 for public safety turnout gear.


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