Voters raise their hands during the Chesterville Town Meeting at the fire station Monday, with chairs set 6 feet apart to maintain social distancing. Moderator and Selectboard Chairman Edward Hastings IV stands at the front of the room. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

CHESTERVILLE — Despite an effort to stop a vote on the budget Monday night at the Town Meeting, the spending plan was approved for nearly $2.4 million.

Several town officials and residents had been concerned that the meeting would violate the governor’s order on gatherings, and that some residents might choose not to attend. A few others were concerned about the budget itself.

A motion to recess the meeting failed with 14 in favor and 19 opposed.

Selectperson Tiffany Estabrook said she wasn’t comfortable voting with the number of people present.

Selectperson John Archer noted there were 44 voting residents at the meeting, held in the fire station to allow for social distancing.

“There were 48 last year,” he said.

“The world is run by those who show up. There are people here who usually aren’t,” ballot clerk Linda Grippe said.

Resident Kathy Gregory said she thought the proposed budget was obsolete, with some departments perhaps needing more money and others less.

“The financial situation is very different now. Neighbors are struggling,” she said.

Voters approved the municipal budget of almost $1.12 million, up $70,000 from 2019, with $1.09 million for Regional School Unit 9 and $128,220 for county taxes bringing the total budget to almost $2.4 million.

One of the biggest increases was for capital roads projects. The selectpersons and Budget Committee recommended $262,300 with $200,000 from taxation, $41,956 from Local Roads Assistance Project funds and $20,344 carried forward. The Road Committee recommended $400,000 with an additional $137,961 from taxation.

The Road Committee said it would cost that much to rebuild some roads, while selectpersons tried to stay in line with what had been done in the past, Archer said.

“Asphalt prices have increased. Less work will be done with the amount budgeted,” resident Tim LeSiege said.

Treasurer Erin Norton noted if the larger amount passed, the town would be $192,000 over the state’s tax levy limit.

“It’s a big increase,” she said.

A motion on the $262,300 amount was amended to $300,000.

Voters approved raising $100,000 from taxation last year, $25,000 more than proposed.

One resident noted the bridge-like culverts on the Sandy River Road will fail in one to three years.

“If we don’t fix them now, the town would have to pay significantly more,” he said.

The amendment passed, 13 for and 12 against. The amended motion passed, 12 to seven.

Voters approved $155,000 to purchase a used fire truck and $18,432 to make the first payment this year. Deferring payment to next year would have added $630 to each payment.

Voters chose not to raise $23,450 for fire station roof repairs after Archer said the roof could wait a year.

“If we wait, will the prices go up?” LeSiege asked.

There was much debate on ordinance and bylaw articles for which public hearings had been held previously. The regular land use ordinance passed 21 to 17. The bylaws of the Board of Selectmen failed, 15 to 19.

In the municipal elections held Friday, May 29, candidates ran unopposed to fill four selectperson seats. Guy Iverson was voted in for a three year term, John Archer for two years remaining on a three year term, Linda Bauer for one year remaining on a three year term and Scott Gray for a one year position.

Archer and Bauer were sworn in prior to the close of the meeting. Iverson did not attend and Gray left partway through the meeting.


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