Originally published in Castine Patriot, May 16, 2019
Castine voters spend $3.68 million at town meeting
Town Manager Jimmy Goodson presents Castine Fire and Rescue volunteer Lisa Burton with a certificate from Hancock County Emergency Management Agency. Burton is now a certified Assistant Director of Emergency Management for the county.
by Anne Berleant
Nearly 60 citizens raised their hands to approve funding school and municipal budgets for 2019-20 at town meeting Saturday, May 11.
Although held mid-afternoon on a sunshine-filled weekend day, nearly all seats were filled upstairs in Emerson Hall as Robin Mass was sworn in as moderator. Downstairs, the Adams School Calvineers hosted a baked goods fundraiser for their trip to Barcelona, Spain, next year to present on endangered right whales, the mission of the school club.
“I thought the whole town meeting went quite smoothly,” Town Manager Jimmy Goodson said. Retiring this summer, Goodson attended his last town meeting in an official role, as the search for a new town manager approaches its conclusion.
Before voting was under way, Goodson presented Castine Fire & Rescue volunteer firefighter Lisa Burton with a certificate for completing a Fire Safety Management course. Burton is now an Assistant Director of Emergency Management for Hancock County.
“She’s likely the most qualified woman in the state, from a training standpoint,” Goodson said.
School articles totaling $1,427,961 handily passed, with the one written ballot vote to appropriate funds requested beyond the state’s calculation—just under $500,000—approved 55-2.
The overall 2019-20 school budget reflects a decrease of $31,475 or 2.16 percent, unusual in an economic climate that sees nearly all school budgets increase each year.
“This is a maintenance budget,” Hurvitt said, although the school will get a new greenhouse and new doors this year.
The decrease comes from fewer students, projected at 50 for Adams School, including about nine out-of-district tuition students, Superintendent Mark Hurvitt said. The lower enrollment led the school board to eliminate an ed. tech. position, resulting in the savings.
The municipal budget of $2,260,121 came in just under $100,000 higher than the current fiscal year, but Goodson said he didn’t anticipate a rise in the mill rate.
A request for $300,000 for a new tanker truck for Castine Fire & Rescue found approval with the understanding that a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant may fund 95 percent of the cost. A previous article approved applying for the FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant, and Goodson said Assistant Fire Chief Tom Gutow “made a compelling case for the grant award.” The town will know by mid-September whether it will need the $300,000 approved from surplus or not.
Also approved was $45,000 for LED lights in the town streetlights, after assurances that the lights will be Dark Skies compliant, a standard that keeps light pollution down, and $15,000 for a fire station feasibility study, with questions from voters on both articles but no dissent.
Maine Maritime Academy is contributing $40,000 towards the annual $458,640 debt service repayment for a major infrastructure upgrade to village sewer and water lines completed in 2017.
Jarleth McEntee asked how the amount was calculated. “We sat down and went through the scope of [the] phase 2 infrastructure [project] and that’s how we arrived at $40,000,” Goodson said. “It is a volunteer contribution as they are a state institution.”
MMA also contributed $119,900 towards the $540,851 approved for Public Safety, which covers the fire department, transfer station, harbor and miscellaneous costs such as $185,000 for hydrant rental and $22,443 for Peninsula Ambulance Corps.
While MMA is exempt from local taxation, its contribution helps offset its use of town infrastructure and services.
“Everything we get from them is really a voluntary gift,” Town Financial Officer Karen Motycka said.