Nobleboro voters approved all 43 articles on the warrant during annual town meeting the morning of Saturday, March 17 at Nobleboro Central School.
Around 60 residents were in attendance, coming together on a chilly morning to discuss the education and municipal budgets.
With no changes at the meeting, the municipal budget totals $847,762, an increase of $34,863 or 4.29 percent from last year’s budget.
As town meeting got underway, Moderator Don Means recognized candidates for public office. Laura Fortman, D-Nobleboro, a candidate for Maine Senate District 13, was in attendance.
The first warrant article to draw a question from the public was Article 8, regarding the raising and appropriation of funds for the town’s regular operating expenses.
Mary Sheldon, a Nobleboro resident, questioned why the portion of the article devoted to general assistance had received no funding.
Selectman Dick Spear said there is money left over from last year’s budget that the town will use for general assistance.
Article 9, to see what the town would raise, appropriate, and transfer from the Local Road Assistance Fund also drew questions from the public.
The board of selectmen and budget committee recommended $105,000, including $33,000 to be transferred from local road assistance and $72,000 to be raised from property taxes.
Sheldon asked what roads are scheduled for work in the upcoming construction season.
Road Commissioner John York said West Neck Road and a portion of East Neck Road would be the focus of this year’s efforts.
Stanley Waltz, a resident and the town’s code enforcement officer, said this portion of the budget needed more funds. He said town roads in Damariscotta Mills need attention.
Selectman Richard Powell said part of the article’s funding would go toward fixing the sidewalks in Damariscotta Mills.
“Included in this is an amount for the sidewalk in the Mills. Both the roads and sidewalks need to be done, but we’ve been waiting for the sidewalks for a while,” Powell said.
Voters passed Article 13, raising and appropriating the sum of $56,843 for Nobleboro’s share of the operating expenses for the Nobleboro-Jefferson Transfer Station.
Prior to the vote on the article, Waltz thanked the board of selectmen; the transfer station’s manager, Barry Howell; and the transfer station’s staff for their work.
“I want to thank the selectmen and Barry for keeping it up so well. We’re getting off very cheap, with a very nice-looking transfer station,” Waltz said.
Article 16, regarding what funds the town would raise and appropriate for the operation of The Minnehata Fire Co., passed at a total of $68,458.
Prior to the vote, Fire Chief Ryan Gallagher went over plans for a future expansion of the fire station on Route 1. Gallagher brought posters illustrating the planned additions.
Articles 17-31 dealt with the town’s education budget. Before voting kicked off, Hilary Petersen, chair of the Nobleboro School Committee, spoke to residents.
Petersen said the school committee had received preliminary numbers on state funding and the initial totals were higher than originally anticipated, boosting the financial outlook for the upcoming budgetary year.
Petersen also spoke on the growing spirit of collaboration present in the community since she joined the school committee.
“Since becoming a school board member, I’ve seen a great deal of collaboration between different parts of the community. I feel really great about it and it deserves recognition,” Petersen said.
Article 19, dealing with career and technical education, drew questions from Sheldon over why no money had been allocated for this program.
Petersen said the reason no money was recommended was because there are no students enrolled in the program.
“If a student does decide to enroll, it would be funded from another category in the budget,” Petersen said.
Petersen said that for the last four years, Nobleboro has not had participation in career and technical education programs.
Article 20, dealing with other instruction, at a level of $41,777.50, drew questions from the public on what exactly was covered by the requested funds.
AOS 93 interim Superintendent Jim Hodgkin said programs outside the regular structure of the school and co-curricular stipends for coaches fall under this category.
Article 30, a secret-ballot vote, to see what sum the town would authorize the school committee to expend for the upcoming fiscal year – $3,428,586.41 was the recommendation of the selectmen, budget committee, and school committee – passed 56-0.
The total education budget approved by voters at town meeting is an increase of $22,786.40 or 0.67 percent from last year’s education budget.
After Article 38 passed, an article authorizing the selectmen to regulate alewife harvesting in the town’s streams, Sheldon asked for an update on the fish ladder in Damariscotta Mills.
Powell said stone work had been finished last summer and some winter damage would need to be repaired during this year’s warmer months.
Powell said Wright-Pierce, a Topsham-based engineering firm, has submitted a plan, approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to repair the area of the fish ladder by the fish house.
“We are trying to raise money and hope to get it done,” Powell said.
Article 39 dealt with the selection of two residents to serve on the Nobleboro Budget Committee.
Incumbent Peter Lawrence was selected to represent the center of Nobleboro and incumbent Stephen Plumb was selected to represent North Nobleboro.
Article 42 passed, to appropriate $300,000 from excise taxes and $325,000 from surplus.
During the discussion on the article, the selectmen were asked about the impact of the budget hikes on the town’s mil rate.
Spear said he estimates the mil rate will go up about three- to four-tenths of a mil, or 30 or 40 cents per $1,000 of property value.
Near the conclusion of town meeting, Spear thanked residents for showing up and for the work they put in prior to the meeting.
Spear urged any residents with question about town governance to contact the selectmen or attend a selectmen’s meeting.
“We are open to any discussion in front of the selectmen. We try to be an open book as far as running this town goes,” Spear said.
Spear also urged residents to volunteer.
“We need numbers. We need people on committees and we need people on the fire department,” Spear said.
In the municipal election Friday, March 16, 47 voters turned out to the polls at the town office, according to Town Clerk Susan Pinnetti-Isabel. There were no contested races.
Spear was re-elected, receiving 46 votes to serve another three-year term.
School committee members Joshua Hatch and Michael Ward received 45 and 43 votes, respectively, to win re-election for three-year terms. Committee member Angela White received 45 votes to win a one-year term.
White was previously appointed to take over for Thomas Wriggins IV after Wriggins stepped down from the board and will now serve out the remainder of Wriggins’ term.
Great Salt Bay Sanitary District Trustee Robert Whear was re-elected to a two-year term with 46 ballots cast in his favor.