Damariscotta and Newcastle will share the services of a town planner after both towns’ select boards approved an agreement in the past week.
The towns will split the cost of Isabelle Oechslie’s salary, as well as insurance and training costs for the remainder of the fiscal year, Damariscotta Town Manager Andy Dorr said in his notes to the Damariscotta Select Board.
Damariscotta has only budgeted for 50% of the costs associated with the town planner, as it had previously shared services with Boothbay Harbor. After an hour-long executive session on Sept. 12, the Boothbay Harbor Select Board terminated the shared agreement.
In Damariscotta’s 2022-23 fiscal year budget, $31,250 is allocated for the town planner’s salary.
“I think this is actually an improvement over the previous because of the logistics,” Damariscotta Select Board member Tom Anderson said during the board’s Wednesday, Sept. 21 meeting. “I think the relations of between the two towns can improve, so I think this is helpful.”
Oechslie will start in Newcastle as early as Oct. 1, Newcastle Town Manager Sarah Macy said after the town’s select board approved the agreement on Monday, Sept. 26.
“The opportunities to collaborate with our neighbors is something that is critical and I’m looking forward to it,” Newcastle Select Board member Rob Nelson said.
Under the agreement, each town would also provide an office space for the town planner, Dorr said. The town planner would be available to work 1,040 hours for each town. Oechslie will attend all of Damariscotta’s and Newcastle’s planning board meetings.
Newcastle has $55,000 budgeted for the remainder of the fiscal year in the planning budget, but some will go towards an existing contract with the Midcoast Council of Governments to help the town amend its comprehensive plan before it is approved by the state, Macy said in an email. The rest of the budgeted amount will go to the shared town planner services.