Increased cost to run new town office generates discussion at Frankfort town meeting
More than 60 residents of Frankfort attended their annual town meeting and moved quickly through a 46-article warrant Friday, March 28.
Article 43, which sought to fund the new Town Office by raising $58,900 from property taxes and appropriating $3,100 from surplus, garnered the most discussion.
The new Town Office is located at the former Frankfort Elementary School, which was officially closed as a school building in the fall of 2013 when Frankfort left Regional School Unit 20 and joined Regional School Unit 22. The town moved its office to the former school building, which is a larger space than their previous office.
Selectman Evelyn Adams explained that the cost to run the new office was around $20,000 more than the old office cost. Adams said the increased expense is coming from increased heating and electrical costs.
Resident Michael Manner said the town should not be raising more funding for the new office, as the tax payers are already over burdened. Manner suggested the town should find another way to make up for the additional costs like renting out space in the building.
Adams said the town had rented the gym space a few times and it was looking for other ways the building could generate revenue.
"We voted to try this," Adams said. "We should see it through for a year."
Another audience member said the amount the town saved by leaving RSU 20 — around $200,000 — more than made up for the increased cost to run the building.
Several other residents made suggestions for how to go about generating revenue from the building. Those suggestions included forming a committee to look at better utilizing the building and hiring someone to manage the property.
Newly elected selectman Steve Imondi said he had spoken with people in town who were all concerned with finding a use for the former school building, and promised to do his best to do that.
"I will go the extra mile to get this building to pay for itself," Imondi said.
Manner made a motion to raise $35,000 and appropriate $3,100 from surplus — more than $20,000 less than the recommended amount. That motion failed and voters agreed to fund the office at the requested amount.
Voters also agreed to spend up to $15,000 from surplus to move the backstop, turn the base path and reset the flag pole at the Little League field. None of the voters objected to the work being done on the field, but several expressed displeasure at the parking at the fields, describing it as inadequate and potentially dangerous.
Residents also voter to provide money to Waldo Community Action Partners, Broadreach Family and Community Services, Central Maine Area Agency of Aging and New Hope for Women above the level the selectmen recommended. The selectmen recommended raising $1,816 — 25-percent of the total amount requested. The voters agreed to provide $5,448 — 75-percent of the total amount requested.
The voters approved the remaining articles with little discussion, and approved $502,422 to the town's various departments and wages, including the fire department, solid waste disposal and road work.
The meeting lasted around 2 hours and adorned just after 9 p.m. March 28.
Steve Imondi — Selectman
Jeff Anderson — EMA Director
Earl Anderson — Road Commissioner
Norris Staples — Planning Board