Selectmen resume budget work

Woolwich reopens town office, with precautions

Tue, 05/19/2020 - 8:30am

    The Woolwich Select Board reopened the town office to the public and resumed work on the 2020-2021 budget Monday afternoon. If COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings are lifted, the annual town meeting could be held this summer, possibly in July or August. The town has cancelled its annual Memorial Day service.

    “We hope that people will find a special way to remember the day and all it stands for,” Debbie Locke of the Special Events Committee wrote the board

    The town office is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. People must enter through the front entrance and exit the building through the side door where the handicap ramp is. Disabled residents needing accommodation should please call ahead. To meet with the code enforcement officer, call and schedule an appointment. Only two people at a time are permitted in the lobby. The building’s restrooms are closed to the general public.

    “We’ll try it, see how it works. If it proves to be too much we’ll change it,” commented Chairman David King Sr.

    Regional School Unit 1 is scheduled to finalize its proposed 2020-2021 school budget this week. King felt the select board was close to wrapping up its own budget. Still to be determined is when and where to hold the annual town meeting and also a public hearing on a proposed ordinance related to the sale of recreational marijuana. Selectman Jason Shaw suggested July for the marijuana public hearing and August for the town meeting. The board has not ruled out holding the town meeting outdoors under a tent. 

    Selectman Allen Green said he took part in an April 28 Maine Municipal Association remote program, “Budgeting in Uncertain Times.” Greene said according to MMA, town governments could face many challenges following the pandemic including shrinking revenue sharing dollars and an increase in requests for general assistance. MMA recommended town officials hold off setting their 2020-2021 tax commitments as long as possible, said Greene.

    In a written report, Fire Chief Mike Demers stated since the select board last met the fire department had responded to 20 calls, including a brush fire and two motor vehicle accidents. The department is hosting a Red Cross blood drive this week with social distancing. For details, see the department’s Facebook page.

    In his report, EMS Director Brian Carlton said from April 20 to May 18 the ambulance departmentanswered 30 calls providing 17 transports. One member has become licensed at the Advance level. “Since July 1, 2019 (when Woolwich became the town’s ambulance provider) we have responded to 251 calls, which is 1,188 hours of call time, and 31,000 hours of availability,” wrote Carlton. “The crew has stepped up to the challenge and the increase in calls. Recently there were four calls within a span of two hours. All of them were covered by us.”   

    Following Candace Conrad’s completion of her probationary period, selectmen unanimously appointed her as tax collector. Juanita Wilson Hennessy was rehired as assessing agent. By a 4-1 vote with Selectman Dale Chadbourne dissenting, the board awarded the town’s maintenance contract to Corey Wallace.

    The meeting at the town office was closed to the general public but was streamed live on YouTube and residents could email questions to the board. The board meets next on June 8.