Damariscotta voters approve secondary school budget

Workshop on commercial growth planned for June 7
Posted:  Thursday, May 18, 2017 - 5:00pm

At a Damariscotta town meeting May 17 on the secondary and adult education budget for fiscal year 2017-2018, the total appropriated was $1,830,163.84, an increase of 3.22 percent in expenditures. An expected state subsidy of $203,899.13 will decrease the tax burden for secondary education by 12.29 percent.

The local share for adult education, English language and literacy instruction was $8,106. The remainder went to high school education, both regular and special education, staff and student support, transportation and administration. The vote for the total was 15-0 in favor.

The town meeting for the vote on secondary education preceded the regular Board of Selectmen’s meetin, where the board proposed a workshop on June 7 to address issues of potential commercial growth. Selectmen said they were receiving questions about growth on the Route 1B corridor, in particular, the Sherman Williams/Dollar General project at the corner of Biscay Road, and the possible development near the Rod and Gun Club which could bring a larger retail store, a restaurant and a bank to the area. Selectmen said traffic has been a concern, especially in the summer months. The concern has been echoed by planning board hearing attendees.

Selectmen's Chairman Robin Mayer said the site plan ordinance limits what is possible. Mayer suggested the ordinance, which was left for last during the recent review due to its complexity, is due for a rewrite. Selectman James Cosgrove floated the idea of increasing ways to aid in the tax base issue by increasing fees for services to people who use Damariscotta as a service center but pay the town no taxes. Other ideas came up, including asking nonprofits to pay service fees in lieu of taxes to cover fire, police and other protections.

Town Manager Matt Lutkus said there would also be a workshop on economic development on Sept. 22 at Darrow’s Barn, and that a small ASK grant was obtained to pay for the costs of that event.

Selectmen considered a new selection process for board and committee vacancies, and agreed to have one or two selectmen meet with possible candidates and Lutkus to orient them to the board they are considering joining. Cosgrove is planning to leave the select board this year; there have been four applications to join the planning board.

In addition to the ASK grant, the board accepted a $40,000 anonymous donation presented through the Twin Villages Alliance for work on the waterfront, including a public walkway, work toward a public restroom, and resurfacing of the parking lot.  Some of the work at Riverside Park, including adding rickrack to prevent erosion, has already been completed.

The fire department accepted a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant for extrication equipment, or the “Jaws of Life,” to free motor vehicle accident victims. Fire Chief John Roberts won a competitive $38,000 grant which requires a five percent local match. Roberts believed the five percemy could come from funds already approved.