Alna eyes town meeting, solar options; selectman apologizes

Fri, 04/24/2020 - 7:00am

    According to selectmen, with a pandemic on, Alna’s July tax commitment puts the town in a tougher spot than some are for getting in a town meeting. The meeting could be held as late as the end of June and still get taxes committed in July, First Selectman Melissa Spinney said in the board’s Zoom meeting April 22.

    Some towns commit taxes in September, Spinney said. Alna’s fiscal year starts Feb. 1. An abbreviated town meeting was held March 21 with social distancing in the fire station’s bay, to keep the town running at last year’s funding levels; voters put off other articles, including what share the town would pay for work on the private Sand Building Road. The town could decide the articles via referendum instead of an open town meeting, Second Selectman Doug Baston said.

    Third Selectman Greg Shute said the Sand Building Road article should get an open discourse. He suggested waiting to see what other orders Gov. Janet Mills might make in connection with the pandemic. And Baston said he would check with Maine Municipal Association “for any creative solutions that they might have come up with.”

    At the meeting’s start, Baston apologized for part of his comments in the board’s April 8 meeting, about write-in votes in the March 20 election. He said he made an over “intemperate analogy” out of exasperation after trying for two years to get the town to move on from the school choice issue. “(The comment) was over the top (and) reflected poorly on me and my judgment. So I want to apologize to my fellow selectmen and to everybody else.”

    He then invited anyone who feels they made a bad choice as a voter to “drop us a note ... I’ll meet people halfway if they’re willing to meet us halfway.”

    Also April 22, selectmen said they will request qualifications and use a $2,000 county grant to hire someone to evaluate the town’s solar power options, including a possible deal with Sheepscot Valley Regional School Unit or one with resident Al Monaco.

    Selectmen will ask Westport Island, Edgecomb, Dresden and Somerville how they are handling town office staffing during the pandemic. Spinney said Alna’s has been closed to walk-ins and is having one staff member in at a time to avoid “being exposed to anything.”

    Selectmen kept Toby Stockford for this year’s mowing, for $4,000; agreed to use a $10,500 historic preservation grant and tap the town’s historical building funds for about $5,000 to have White Chapel Joinery of Edgecomb restore Puddledock School’s windows and Hunter & Associates Builders of Wiscasset work on the building’s exterior.