News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, March 1, 2018
Internet, liquor sales top Penobscot warrant

by Tevlin Schuetz

Voters will see a municipal budget up about $24,000 from last year’s at Town Meeting March 6, as well as warrant articles for two new proposals: one in support of internet service, and the other regarding in-town sales of spirits and fortified wines.

Excluding county tax, the total budget is in the neighborhood of $588,000, Board of Selectmen Chairman Paul Bowen said, and the increase is mostly due to an additional $20,000-plus to be budgeted for snow removal.

In warrant article 48, selectmen recommend an appropriation of $5,000 for broadband internet service. If approved, the allocation would serve as a means of helping to fund work by a multi-town initiative seeking to bring service to the area, Bowen said.

“That’s where the solution will be,” Bowen said. “[The town alone] can’t bring broadband to everyone.”

Warrant articles 49 and 50 address the sale of “spirits and fortified wine for consumption off the premises” and ask the question: “Shall this municipality authorize the State to permit the operation of agency liquor stores?”

Article 49 pertains to “days other than Sunday,” and article 50 pertains to Sunday.

Northern Bay Market issued a request to be an agency liquor store with Maine, and the warrant articles come directly from the state, Bowen said.

“Penobscot has been a dry town,” Bowen said regarding the sale of spirits, adding that voters can either approve or reject the warrant articles.

In other matters, the town finance committee recommends meeting an increased request from Peninsula Ambulance Corp of $23,908, just over $3,000 above last year’s budgeted allocation, and warrant articles 54 and 55 raise the interest rate the town charges on late taxes from 7 percent to 8 percent (a number set at the state level).

School budget
Proposed school expenditures total $1,879,826 for 2018-19, rising $42,614 or 2.32 percent above those of this school year. The largest area of increase results from projected high school tuitions, which could add up to $430,924, a $62,424 or 16.94 percent increase over last year’s allocation.

Employee raises and additional costs in student health services also contributed to the overall budget increase.

Municipal and school warrant articles will be discussed and voted on at Penobscot’s business meeting on Tuesday, March 6, at 7 p.m. in the school auditorium. Elections will take place Monday, March 5, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. at the Penobscot Community School.