News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, February 21, 2019
Internet, software changes fuel budget increase in Penobscot

by Monique Labbe

The 2019-20 municipal budget for the town of Penobscot comes in at $586,681, up about $36,680 from last year’s budget that was approved during the 2018 town meeting.

Last year’s budget was approved at $550,000.

The two biggest differences, according to Penobscot Board of Selectmen chairman Paul Bowen, are the warrant articles asking voters to approve $10,000 for the internet broadband account, as well as $10,500 for the software account.

Last year, voters approved $5,000 for internet broadband, which was increased this year to be able to put more money away as the process of bringing better internet service to town continues.

“That is essentially going to be put into a reserve account, in the event the town is able to secure any grant money, the money in the reserve account will be a step in that direction,” said Bowen.

The increase in the software account is due to the possible investment in additional software programming at the town hall, which, over time, would allow Penobscot residents to register their vehicles online from their homes. The software is part of the TRIO program, which the staff at town hall currently uses for its daily operations.

The additional funds for the account include the $4,000 one-time purchase of the software program, as well as training for town hall staff.

“Other than that, there aren’t really any major differences in the budget [this year],” said Bowen.

Voters will also see a warrant article asking to repeal the municipal control of Timber Harvesting in the 2009 Penobscot Shoreland Zoning Ordiance and cede to the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry oversight of Timber Harvesting in the Shoreland Zone. The planning board approved amendments to the ordinance in December to better comply with state regulations.

Municipal budget

Increase: $36,680

Warrant articles: 58

Voting: 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Monday, March 4, Penobscot Fire Department

Town Meeting: 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 5, Penobscot Community School