Belmont residents tackle ordinance changes, community room rental fee
Belmont — Belmont voters weighed in on a variety of articles that ranged from ordinance updates to lowering the fee for using the Community Room during the annual town meeting.
After holding elections from the floor and choosing Don Berry to moderate the meeting, residents tackled the issue of how much compensation town officials should receive for the year. During discussion, residents asked if all of the officials are required to submit a report to be included in the town report, noting some positions, such as the animal control officer, did not submit a report.
First Selectman Barbara Bubar said the town could ask that a report be submitted, but that it was not required.
Another resident then raised a concern that some of the town officials received a significant amount of compensation for their work. Bubar replied that many of the town officials' salaries have remained the same for a number of years.
“We're not the lowest, but we're certainly not the highest,” Bubar said in reference to the amount of money town officials are paid.
Residents then approved the article as read.
During the meeting, residents also approved changes to the town's land use ordinance. One of the changes added the Tilden Pond Watershed Overlay and also established standards for the overlay district.
The second change reformatted the land-use ordinance adopted in 1997 regarding the lot size for commercial uses. A lot size of one acre was established for the Commercial District, two acres for the Rural Residential District and three acres for the Rural District.
Finally, the definition for Manufactured Housing was updated to comply with Maine Revised Statutes.
The changes to the land use ordinance were approved as read.
When discussion was opened on Article 14, which addressed the public works accounts, residents asked why the budget had increased over last year. Officials recommended a budget of $301,655.85 for 2014, which was increased from the 2013 budget of $247,214.85.
Officials explained the increase in the budget was primarily due to the amount of salt and sand the town had to use this winter. Bubar also explained that officials want to look at constructing a salt and sand shed, for which the town has been putting aside money for over the years, because the salt and sand pile is located on private property. She said it would also be beneficial to get the salt and sand out of the elements because some of the material is so frozen that it can't be used.
The article was passed as read.
One of the final articles tackled by residents was not listed in the town warrant but asked voters to lower the current rental fee for the Belmont Community Room from $100 to $50 after a petition was filed with the town. Ron Harford II suggested amending the article to lower the rental fee to $50 for residents, but keep the $100 rental fee for non-residents.
Bubar noted that the town donates the Community Room for a number of charitable events during the year and said she would like to keep the fee at $100 to help offset some of the heating and electricity costs for when building is being used.
A question was asked if there were any personnel costs associated with opening the building for events when it is being rented, which Bubar said there are none. Stephen Hopkins then asked if the other selectmen supported lowering the fee or keeping it at $100. Selectmen Sharon Reed-Hall and Glenda “Lyn” Suite replied that they supported maintaining the $100 rental fee.
Harford stated the Community Room was a great space for people to use and suggested lowering the fee may allow more people to rent out the space for events such as birthday parties. He then amended the article to lower the rental fee for residents to $50 while retaining the $100 fee for non-residents.
Before a vote on Harford's motion, Hopkins clarified with town officials that if the article didn't pass, the $100 rental fee would remain in place.
The amended article passed by a vote of 22 in favor to 9 against.
The meeting adjourned at about 9 p.m.
First Selectman — Barbara Bubar
Second Selectman — Sharon A. Reed-Hall
Third Selectman — Glenda “Lyn” Suit
Fire Chief/Warden — Ron Harford II
Ben Holbrook is a reporter for The Republican Journal covering general news.
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