Lincolnville rejects web streaming, approves social services
Lincolnville — About 100 residents attended town meeting June 12 and decided against funding for live web streaming of municipal meetings, but in favor of funding social service agencies.
Residents breezed through many articles on the warrant, but butted heads with selectmen over Article 9, which sought to fund live web streaming and a video archive. Selectmen argued the move would allow more transparency in town government and offer another option for residents to see town officials in action.
"One of the major complaints is the select board has not done enough to advise or educate people," Selectman Jason Trundy said, adding he has been challenged many times by residents. "It's been a very common theme this board has been accused of."
"This is basically another way of getting things out through the media," Selectman Rosey Gerry previously said. " ... so you all know what's going on."
Residents noted several other ways to access information and said few people have made use of those options. Trundy said steps to release and make available more information to the public have already been taken with the establishment of an email notification group as well as talks about using a Google Group and mass mailings.
"There are numerous ways people can get information now," newly-elected Selectman Cathy Hardy said, adding live web streaming would not be used by many people.
Reade Matthews agreed, and said reducing the budget is more important than establishing a service that may not be used by many residents.
"There are other issues that I support that maybe don't get the support of selectmen," he said.
Town Administrator Dave Kinney noted the service would be a one-way street, meaning viewers could watch meetings but not interact with municipal officials. Trundy said the live web streaming is an option selectmen wanted to present to voters.
"To at least give you guys the ability to decide," he said.
Resident Josh Gerritsen asked if the estimated $3,500 cost in the budget would be a one-time or ongoing expense to the town. Kinney said the amount covers initial start-up with the system as well as some money for tech support in case of problems; in subsequent years, there also is a fee, but cost estimates were unavailable.
One resident spoke in favor of streaming municipal meetings. Arlene Leighton said younger residents might be more likely to become involved with web-based meetings available.
"I'm in total support of having more communication and better communication," she said.
Voicing an opposing option, resident Tracy Colby noted there are few cable subscribers in town — 385 — but said the e-notices have been a great step.
"It seems that when there's an item of interest, people show up," she said.
Ultimately, residents overwhelmingly voted in favor of the budget committee recommendation of $0.
Residents also approved funding the contingency fund at the budget committee recommendation of $8,000 rather than the $10,000 recommended by selectmen. Kinney noted just $1,045 had been spent from the 2012-2013 contingency and said the remaining money is returned "to the unassigned fund balance, which then offsets taxes."
Voters next voiced concern about the public works budget, which increased nearly $100,000 from the previous year. Kinney said the increase mostly falls under the paving category, which was drastically slashed last year when word was received the governor planned to greatly reduce revenue sharing. In addition, there are several projects requiring immediate attention, including one on Slab City Road near Spring Brook with an estimated cost of $20,000. Residents again approved the budget committee recommendation of $876,733 for public works, an amount $10,000 less than the selectmen's recommendation.
There was some discussion regarding Article 15, the capital improvement portion of the budget. There were three subsections included in the article: fire truck fund, road improvements and harbor improvements. Questions arose about the road improvement portion as to how it relates to the public works budget. Kinney explained the funding would be set aside for town-maintained gravel roads in a reserve account.
"Personally, I like this option of putting money away a little at a time," Trundy said.
A motion was made to reduce the recommended $50,000 to $10,000 but the amendment failed with a 33-64 vote, and voters approved the article as presented in the warrant.
As is becoming tradition in Lincolnville, residents also approved a higher amount for social service agencies than recommended by selectmen. Several residents spoke in favor of the agencies and providing local funding.
"If we don't support them, we can't expect them to be there," Matthews said." ... I think it's one of the most important things we do as a community."
Budget committee Chairman Tom Wilhem explained the $1 recommendation for Camden Area Nursing and said their original $1,000 request was withdrawn and the $1 allows the agency to remain an existing provider rather than start the application process over again next year.
Trundy said his personal feeling is not to dictate what charitable organizations residents should contribute to with tax money. Several residents questioned his stance and pointed out he is also an overseer of the poor.
"How can you do that without supporting charity?" Arthur Durity asked.
"For me, [making donations is] a personal decision," Trundy said. " ... I don't think it's a place for tax dollars."
Residents approved an amended amount — $8,371 — for social service agencies.
Alexander Kuli spoke on the article addressing Fernald's Neck Road and explained the reasoning behind wanting to relocate the road. He said it runs close to his home and generates a lot of dust in the summer months and can be a hazard to children playing outside. He said two of his neighbors are in favor of the change and he is willing to pay for the construction.
"It wouldn't cost the town anything, and I have the neighbors' support," he said.
Fernald's Neck Road resident Carol Hardy said she supports the road location and her heart goes out to her neighbors.
"It will just take a different path," she said.
Kuli noted there will be a turn-around installed as well to make it easier for plows and emergency vehicles to turn around. A few residents expressed frustration about the state of their roads and questioned why Fernald's Neck would get attention first.
"Are you willing to pay for it? Because Mr. Kuli is," Libby responded.
Voters approved the changes to the road, with the understanding a public meeting will be needed to accept the new portion of road once it has been completed to the town's satisfaction.
All other warrant items were approved as a group before the nearly 2-hour meeting adjourned.
Camden Herald Editor Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 236-8511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Stephanie is editor of The Republican Journal in Belfast. She previously served as editor of Camden Herald following its return in April 2012.
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