Westport Island voters enjoyed a little humor, honored outgoing Second Selectman Gerald Bodmer, and approved the entirety of the warrant in about 90 minutes at the annual town meeting on Saturday, June 19.
The meeting was conducted under the gavel of moderator Chris Cooper. Following the Maine Municipal Association’s handbook, Cooper moderated with a firm hand with some added humor. The 44 voters present at the meeting approved all articles on the warrant with little to no discussion for a total budget of $2,172,168.98.
Resident E. Davies Allan requested more information on the article to increase the property tax limit of $501,444 established for Westport Island by the state of L.D. 1 that was adopted in 2005.
First Selectman George Richardson Jr. provided Allan a written explanation of the law requiring a ballot vote if the town budget approved resulted in a tax commitment greater than the property tax levy limit set by the state. Richardson referred to the law as “government bureaucracy”.
“George refers to the law as bureaucratic, I call it ‘legislative meddling,’” Cooper said, drawing laughter from the crowd.
A ballot vote was taken with 41 votes in favor of increasing the tax levy in the event the tax commitment is greater that the amount of $501,444.
Before approving the article to pay $24,000 on a 30-year municipal land loan that will be paid off in 2024 instead of 2034.Westport Island resident Ralph Jacobs suggested using the extra funds used to pay the 30-year loan off early putting the funds in repairing some of the town roads.
Richardson said the town will make the third and final payment for the phase one of the town’s long-term paving contract this year. The road committee will start phase two of the road plan next year, if supported by the voters.
According to the road committee report in the town report, phase two work includes ditching, culvert replacement, and paving on Greenleaf Road and a section of East Shore Road from the Main Road to Log Cabin Road.
The article to pay the town of Wiscasset $83,622.54 for Westport Island’s share of the Wiscasset Transfer Station operating cost brought a question from Jacobs about how much Westport Island’s share was last year. Richardson said he believed it was less last year.
“According to the town report the cost last year was $88,698.22,” Jacobs said.
“You could be right,” Richardson said.
“Can I quote you on that?” Jacobs said with a chuckle.
The voters approved $12,265 for the Wiscasset Ambulance Service, which was supported by Fire Chief Stacey Hutchison, who told voters that the service does a great job for Westport Island. Other items relating to Wiscasset included $4,308 for Westport Island residents to use the Wiscasset Community Center and a $4,350 donation to the Wiscasset Library.
The voters approved entering into a contract with Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office for animal control services for a total cost of $1,375. Residents also voted to establish a credit card payment system for the residents. For the convenience of using the service, provided via InforME PayPort Payment Services, customers will be charged a fee of 2.5% for transactions over $40 and a $1 fee for transactions under $40.
The voters approved the article for the Westport Island History Committee to continue the collection, preservation, and organization of Westport Island’s historical records and artifacts. History Committee member Joan Bradford thanked the selectmen for their support and told the voters raffle tickets were available to raise funds for the committee with the prize being a quilt.
“I like a town meeting with a little subterranean gambling going on,” Copper said, drawing laughter from the voters.
The voters approve the Westport Volunteer Fire Department request following a presentation from Hutchison. Hutchison told the voters one of the most serious situations the town faces is the lack of readily accessible water in the event of fire. He said a house fire can use thousands of gallons of water.
The voters authorized the fire department to investigate the feasibility of putting underground fire cisterns on town-owned properties as an option for developing a network of available, accessible water sources.
The selectmen were authorized by the voters to add 0.15 of a mile to Willis Point Road for plowing in the winter as there is now a second year-round resident living on the road beyond the termination point approved at last year’s annual town meeting.
Before the meeting was adjourned, Richardson recognized Bodmer for his 12 years service as the town’s second selectmen and presented him a hat with a lobster on the front and Westport Island written on the back. Bodmer put the hat on and became emotional as residents gave him a standing ovation.
Before Cooper accepted a motion to adjourn the town meeting, he commended the voters for the way they had conducted themselves and thanked them for being good citizens in coming to the meeting to take care of their town business.