Eustis selectmen, from left, Steve St. Jean, Brandi Farnsworth, Jeff Lecander, Amanda Brochu and Jed Whiting prepare for the annual Town Meeting on Saturday morning. Voters moved smoothly through the review of the annual budget, with increases that reflected “the costs of doing business,” said St. Jean. Valerie Tucker photo

EUSTIS — Voters came to the Stratton-Eustis Community Building on Saturday and approved a $1.22 million municipal budget for the 2021 fiscal year during the annual Town Meeting.

The $10,770 increase over the $1.21 million budget approved in 2020 maintains the town’s annual property tax rate of $13.10 per $1,000 of property value, as it has been for the past several years, according to Selectman Steve St. Jean.

Taxpayers also decided narrowly against a proposal to pay $125,000 as the town’s 20% share of costs to build a sidewalk to the Stratton School, voting 10-9 against the project.

St. Jean explained that the Maine Department of Transportation has grant funding to extend an existing sidewalk from 24 School St. to the school. Before selectmen can apply for the funding, he said, they are required to get voter approval to commit $125,000 of the town’s money before construction could start in 2025.

Selectmen proposed paying $25,000 annually into a reserve fund for the next five years, starting this fiscal year. That amount could be raised from taxes or appropriated from other revenues or a combination of both.


“I love the idea of better sidewalks and more sidewalks,” said resident Patty Simpson. “But the sidewalks in town now are crumbling and eroding and not level now, so I think the money would be better spent improving what we have.”

Resident Jodie Caldwell said she was concerned about the safety of children and other pedestrians walking along that narrow section of street. The school’s students made the initial request of selectmen to consider extending the existing sidewalk, she said.

“I think it’s a lot of money, but I think it’s a good idea,” she said.

Future sidewalk costs concerned several voters. The Public Works Department would be required to keep the new sidewalk cleared each winter, adding to the department’s salary and equipment expenses. More parents have been driving children to school, and voters can’t be guaranteed of the 2025 construction schedule, they noted.

In other matters, voters approved $5,000 for the Fire Department to cover budget expenses associated with the per-diem firefighters’ salary approved in 2020.

On Friday, voters also reelected three incumbent town officers, all for three-year terms: St. Jean to the Board of Selectmen, Lori Lemont to the School Board and Sue Fotter to the Planning Board. Dave Richard was also elected to fill a vacant School Board seat.

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