By Dominik Lobkowicz
Bremen voters kept annual town meeting short March 29, passing an $830,589 municipal budget and a $471,039 secondary education budget in just over an hour.
Most of the warrant articles passed as recommended and without discussion, including a more than 60 percent increase to the Bremen Fire Department budget.
The department’s budget was approved at $61,800, up $23,800 over last year, and included $16,000 more in wages aimed at attracting new members to the department.
Bremen Selectman Hank Nevins speaks about service to the town at town meeting March 29. (D. Lobkowicz photo)
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The selectmen included a letter in the annual report asking for more people to join the fire department, and Selectman Hank Nevins and the department’s Lt. John Briggs both spoke briefly during the meeting about service to the town.
Nevins, a member of Bremen First Responders, said his organization only has two people available to respond to emergencies during the daytime and only four people at night.
“We really need people,” he said.
The town cannot afford to have a paid first responders unit, but will pay for the training of its members, Nevins said.
Briggs said the fire department has had interest from three new potential members since the selectmen’s letter was released, but the department is still looking for people of all walks of life and of all different talents.
“You’ve got to help your neighbors in this town,” Nevins said.
Briggs and Nevins were applauded by the roughly 45 people in attendance at the meeting.
Bremen residents vote in favor of funding the operating accounts article in the municipal budget. (D. Lobkowicz photo)
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Overall, the municipal budget is down $94,768 or just over 10 percent, largely because road repair funding approved at $265,000 last year was only requested at $145,000 this year.
The most contentious article was over a $3,000 request from the Bremen Conservation Commission to continue building their land use reserve fund.
The Bremen Budget Committee recommended no money be raised and appropriated for the fund this year.
The article was passed with the $0 recommendation, and though it was brought back for further consideration, a motion to pass the $3,000 request failed 15-20.
Budget committee chair Lisa Wilson said money has been set aside for the fund for several years to show support for the conservation commission when it applies for grants, and the close to $20,000 in the account is enough to show that support.
The account had a balance of $18,233.52 as of Jan. 1, according to the town report.
Briggs, who is also a budget committee member, said of the commission, “If you needed credibility, you’ve got it.”
In discussion, it was pointed out the commission’s fund was not utilized in the town’s purchase of the Hay property on Broad Cove for conservation and other purposes, but commission member Bennett Collins said the fund was offered up to be used in the purchase.
The town was able to get an interest rate around a 2.25 or 2.5 annual percentage rate, and so chose to take out a loan in the full amount instead of using the reserve fund, according to Nevins.
The only other article not to pass as recommended was among charitable contribution requests.
The Eldercare Network made a request of $2000 from Bremen, but the budget committee recommended funding only $1000.
Wilson said the organization provides lower-cost elder care but only served one person from Bremen, and the request was larger than the other charitable requests made of the town.
Resident Peter Goth moved to increase the amount to at least $1500, saying he expects Bremen will see more use of the network’s services as time goes on.
Voters approved the contribution at $1500.
The secondary education budget passed as recommended, up $88,895 or 23.3 percent from last year.
According to AOS 93 Superintendent Steve Bailey, the budget is up largely from increased secondary enrollment, increased tuition rates, and an increased rate of special education needs for incoming ninth-graders as compared to outgoing seniors, among other factors.
In municipal elections, Bremen voters re-elected incumbents Selectman Wendy Pieh and Bremen School Committee member Judith Mohr.
Elected to the other open positions by write-in votes were, for the planning board, Francena Bennett, 13 votes, and John Mohr, 3 votes. Bruce Poland received four votes for a seat on the harbor committee.
According to the meeting moderator, Don Means, 41 Bremen voters participated in the election.