Bremen voters adopted a new shellfish conservation ordinance and approved a transfer of funds to cover a shortage in the secondary education budget during two special town meetings Thursday, Feb. 23.
The vote to adopt a new shellfish conservation ordinance followed a discussion about changes to the town’s previous ordinance.
Selectman Wendy Pieh said the new ordinance was drafted in response to the concerns of the Maine Department of Marine Resources about portions of the previous ordinance.
Pieh said Selectman Boe Marsh drafted an ordinance drawing on ordinances from other coastal communities. The town’s shellfish committee, made up of Marsh, Pieh, and Shellfish Warden Rand Maker, of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, worked with the DMR through multiple meetings to iron out an effective ordinance.
Pieh said one of the changes requires shellfish harvesters to live in Bremen for 180 days before receiving a license.
“If you move to Bremen today, you can vote tomorrow, but a harvester must reside in town 180 days before receiving a license,” Pieh said.
Pieh said another change to the ordinance requires new applicants to collect their licenses in person, while those with licenses can have someone else come in and pick up their license.
She said another change requires harvesters to pay their license fees in full on the date of issuance, but the issuance date was moved to July 1 (or the next business day) in an effort to collect the fees at a time of year when shellfish harvesters have more funds available.
Pieh said unissued licenses will be made available to residents and non-residents via a lottery, whereas in the past surplus licenses had been issued on a first-come, first-serve basis.
She said anyone who wants a recreational license in Bremen cannot have a valid state shellfish license.
Pieh said the intent of the rule is to prevent non-resident commercial harvesters from acquiring recreational licenses in Bremen.
By approving the town’s new ordinance, the town repealed the shellfish ordinance last revised and enacted in 2013.
Selectman Hank Nevins thanked the shellfish committee for its work to improve the ordinance.
Marsh said he was pleased the new ordinance was adopted.
“There’s a lot of satisfaction that the town passed this. We put a lot of work in,” Marsh said.
Funds transfer and fiscal year
According to Pieh, a transfer of $35,000 from the town’s surplus funds to the secondary education budget was approved during the day’s second town meeting.
Speaking at a meeting of the Bremen School Committee on Thursday, Jan. 26, AOS 93 Superintendent Steve Bailey said 25 high school-age students were budgeted for in the last fiscal year. As of January, Bremen has 30 students in grades nine through 12. The unanticipated increase in enrollment caused a budget shortage, remedied by the transfer of funds.
The vote on the budget transfer was followed by an informational session on a potential change to the town’s fiscal year.
Bremen currently operates on a calendar year. The change would switch the town to a fiscal year starting July 1 and ending June 30, which would align the town with the state’s budgeting practices and time frames.
The matter will go to voters at the annual town meeting April 1.
Pieh described the informational meeting as quite positive and said residents asked good questions about the process involved with changing a town’s fiscal year.
Pieh said that if the switch receives approval at town meeting, the transition to a fiscal year would be implemented July 1, 2018.