Woolwich budget talks begin

Fri, 02/19/2021 - 8:45am

    Woolwich selectmen started work on the 2021-22 budget Wednesday evening, Feb. 17 at the town office. One line of this year’s budget they’re keeping an eye on is the town’s solid waste and recycling account.

    “Because of the pandemic people are doing a great deal more of their shopping online and it’s generating additional cardboard and trash,” said Chairman David King Sr.

    If the account becomes overdrafted before the end of the current fiscal year, the board can take up to $25,000 from the town’s undesignated fund balance to cover the shortfall. King noted the select board has never needed to do this but said this year might be different.

    This past year voters raised $202,193 for curbside trash and recycling pickup – a $1,703 increase from 2019. The town contracts the service from Riverside Disposal of Chelsea and the Portland-based EcoMaine. “We’re going to take a hard look at what we’ll need to raise for the coming year,” added King.

    Selectmen reviewed a number of budget lines trimming some, carrying forward monies in others. They agreed to increase the amount spent for mowing and grounds maintenance from $2,880 to $3,024 but cut the amount budgeted for furnace maintenance from $1,200 to $1,000. Next year’s budget will include $2,000 for the municipal building’s security system, the same amount as last year.

    The board plans to meet with officials from Patten Free Library to review its request at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24; last year’s appropriation was $56,832. The same evening they’ll meet with Road Commissioner Jack Shaw to review his budget. Absentee ballots for the March 17 referendum to consider planning ordinance changes related to cultivation of recreational marijuana are available from the town clerk. Voting on the day of the referendum will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the town office and in person at 6 p.m. at the town office.

    The select board will run legal ads in the newspaper advertising the referendum and post information about it on the town’s Facebook page and website. As stated on the referendum ballot: “This amendment is proposed to address an ambiguity in the current Planning Ordinance. The intent of the proposed amendment is to clarify that Adult Use Marijuana Cultivation Facilities are not limited to Home Occupations. Note that failure to pass this question will not have the effect of restricting Adult Use Marijuana Cultivation Facilities to Home Occupations.”

    Town Administrator Kim Dalton noted residents Gayla and Tim Teague had made a recent monetary donation to  the town’s home heating assistance fund, and a donation to the EMS/fire department.

    In other business, the board agreed to a request from resident Andrew Follett to consider a possible warrant article at the annual town meeting addressing the Maine Food Sovereignty Act. The ordinance would permit small family farms to sell or donate surplus goods excluding meat and poultry.