2013 Town Meetings

February 24, 2013

Public works garage addition, ordinance changes before Norridgewock voters March 4

By Rachel Ohm rohm@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

NORRIDGEWOCK — Voters will consider an addition to the public works garage and three changes to the town ordinance among other issues at the annual Town Meeting on Monday, March 4.

NORRIDGEWOCK

Meeting: 7:30 p.m., Monday, March 4, Mill Stream Elementary School gymnasium

Issues of note: Addition to the public works garage, how to use host benefit fees, higher stipends for elected officials and ordinance changes.

Registered voters currently: 2,383

Voters at 2012 Town Meeting: 430

current property tax rate: $20.50 per $1,000 of assessed value

Selectmen have proposed a budget of $1.76 million, which is $9,452 more than the current one, said Town Manager Michelle Flewelling. The increase is less than one percent.

“There aren’t any major changes, and the increases come mostly from fuel and heating costs, changes in workers compensation, things we don’t necessarily have control over,” Flewelling said.

She also said that the town shouldn’t be too severely affected by Gov. Paul LePage’s proposed revenue sharing cuts this year.

“We haven’t had any serious conversations about it yet. If we need to, my recommendation would be to draw on the town’s undesignated fund balance to keep the mill rate the same this year,” she said. The current property tax rate is $20.50 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Any changes that would affect services would probably not happen until 2014, she said. 

The budget committee would like to complete the public works garage addition in 2013, a project that has been in discussion for at least the last six or seven years, said Flewelling. Construction plans were drafted in 2011 and the estimated cost at that time was about $360,000 for the project, which would add three new bays, an upgrade to the heating system and a washing area to ensure that road equipment is properly cleaned, she said.

The budget committee is proposing using money from the town’s highway garage reserve account, which has a current balance of $278,993 to complete the project. In addition, they are requesting an additional $100,000 for the project to come from the host benefit fees collected from Waste Management, money the town receives from the landfill owner for accepting waste from other communities.

The total, in addition to about $20,000 raised through taxes, should be enough to complete the project this year, said Flewelling. 

Selectmen, however, are suggesting that the town put the project off for a later date and instead put the host benefit fees toward road improvements.

Flewelling said the town should have enough money to fund the road projects planned for this year and build the garage.

Selectmen would also like to increase the annual pay of the town clerk and treasurer. Selectmen propose to increase the town clerk pay from $1,320 to $3,000, and town treasurer pay from $1,000 to $2,500.

The town is also proposing revisions to two existing town ordinances and adopting another new ordinance, all of which will be considered at the Town Meeting.

Voters will decide if a board of appeals ordinance should be amended to require that the board hold a hearing within 40 days of when an appeal is submitted. The current ordinance requires the board to meet within 30 days to schedule a hearing, said chairwoman of the board of appeals Brenda Obert.

The planning board is also suggesting that the town change its current site plan review ordinance, which was last updated in 1987, said planning board chairwoman Charlotte Curtis.

She said the fee structure was not compliant with state law and should be changed. If approved, applicants would pay $250 for projects up to 2,500 square feet and $500 for projects more than 2,500 square feet. 

The current ordinance stated that construction projects were subject to application fees based on the value of the project, with projects costing less than $500,000 charged a 1 percent fee and projects of more than $500,000 being charged at a 2.5 percent rate. 

The updated ordinance would also prohibit the town from collecting revenue from site plan fees, said Curtis. Under the current ordinance, the town was generating revenue from site plan fees, which is illegal according to state law, she said.

The planning board is also presenting a new floodplain management ordinance to regulate construction projects near bodies of water. The current ordinance also dated to 1987 and was not in compliance with state laws, said Curtis.

The meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 4, at Mill Stream Elementary School.

Rachel Ohm —  612-2368
rohm@mainetoday.com

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