Nobleboro voters approved each of the 46 warrant articles during the annual town meeting at Nobleboro Central School on Saturday, March 18.
Both the education budget, at $3,405,800.01, an increase of $265,854.50 or 8.47 percent; and the municipal budget, at $812,899, a decrease of $55,078 or 6.35 percent; passed with clear majorities. The Nobleboro Board of Selectmen and the Nobleboro Budget Committee had recommended the passage of both budgets.
A secret-ballot to authorize the town to raise and appropriate an additional $933,718.71 in local funds beyond the state’s essential programs and services allocation model passed by a margin of 48-5.
Before voting on the education budget commenced, Nobleboro School Committee Chair Hilary Peterson and AOS 93 Superintendent Steve Bailey explained the reasons for the increase in the budget.
Peterson said an increase in students is the primary factor leading to a larger budget with higher costs for special education.
“With an increased population comes increased expenses. That is a common theme in the increase of the budget this year,” Peterson said.
Bailey echoed Peterson’s statements and said the regular instruction portion of the budget has also gone up.
He said from 2011 to the present, the student population at Nobleboro Central School has risen from 127 students to 156 students.
The superintendent said the school hired an additional ed tech to accommodate the increased number of students requiring additional services.
“Regular instruction and special education see the lion’s share of the overall increase in this year’s proposed budget,” Bailey said.
Thomas Wriggins IV, a member of the school committee, said costs for the education budget aren’t just related to Nobleboro Central School, but to secondary education costs as well.
“A lot of costs are tied with attending high school and we are told what those costs have to be,” Wriggins said.
Regarding special education costs, resident Bobby Whear asked if special education services could be shared with other schools in the area as a potential way to save money.
Bailey said the district already has regional programs to meet specific needs of special education students in grades K-8, avoiding the need to send pupils outside the district and the added costs associated with this approach.
AOS 93 shared programs include a behavioral support program at Bristol Consolidated School, a life skills program at Jefferson Village School, and the Center for Alternative Learning at NCS for grade levels accommodated at these schools.
Bailey said the district is in the initial process of working with schools in Boothbay Harbor and Wiscasset, as well as the Sheepscot Valley Regional School Unit, on the possibility of implementing a special education program for students in grades nine through 12.
“If we are able to create a regional program for secondary education students, we think we can create additional savings,” Bailey said.
In addition to the budgetary matters on the warrant, residents voted to pass two special articles pertaining to the Nobleboro Fire Department.
The articles in question covered $14,000 for the purchase and installation of egress signal lights near the fire station on Route 1 and $32,275 for the purchase and installation of a new water pump for the department’s tanker.
For the water pump, $17,000 will come from the town’s surplus funds, $10,275 from fire department capital funds, and $5,000 from a Minnehata Fire Co. donation.
Prior to the vote on the articles, Nobleboro Fire Chief Ryan Gallagher explained their importance.
He said the egress lighting would be similar to those used to mark the beginning and end of school zones, featuring flashing yellow lights when emergency vehicles are entering Route 1.
“This is $14,000 to help us be safe getting out on Route 1 to get to you guys in emergencies. I think it’s worth it,” Gallagher said.
Several municipal articles sparked discussion during the course of the annual meeting, starting with the funds allotted for highway paving.
Resident and Code Enforcement Officer Stan Waltz said he believed the $90,000 recommended for the purpose of highway paving was not enough to cover the town’s paving needs.
Selectman Dick Spear said in addition to the $90,000 in article 10, which was subsequently approved by a wide margin, there was $18,000 in carryover from last year’s budget that would be applied to the paving portion of this year’s budget.
On the subject of the Nobleboro-Jefferson Transfer Station, William Hill, an alternate member of the planning board, asked whether the transfer station had plans to cap or use the facility’s surplus.
Spear, who is the transfer station agent, said the Jefferson and Nobleboro selectmen have built up the surplus to prepare for an increase of roughly $30,000-$40,000 in tipping fees levied on municipal solid waste from the transfer station.
Spear said the transfer station will enter into a new contract in 2018, with Waste Management’s landfill in Norridgewock, after the expiration of the site’s current contract with the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co., of Orrington.
“We have maintained a good surplus so we don’t have to increase what the town is raising and don’t see a big increase in the next couple of years,” Spear said.
Before the meeting adjourned, Spear took time to recognize groups and individuals in the community.
Spear said he had unintentionally omitted a reference to Camp Kieve in the annual selectmen’s report and expressed appreciation for their $15,000 donation in lieu of taxes to the town.
The selectman also recognized Al Lewis, a selectman who passed away in 2016, for all he did for Nobleboro.
Spear thanked retired Town Clerk Mary Ellen Anderson for her 33 years spent working for the town.
At the end of town meeting, four residents were elected from the floor to the Nobleboro Budget Committee. Timothy Andrews and Joan Hallowell were selected to represent Damariscotta Mills, Kellie Peters to represent Nobleboro Center, and Buddy Brown from North Nobleboro.