Residents stood outside the Swanville Town Office or listened in cars as the warrant was discussed at the annual town meeting March 13. Because of the pandemic, no town meeting was held in 2020, and the town operated using the 2019 budget numbers.

Residents had the option of tuning in on their radios to follow along at Saturday’s meeting or gathering around the moderator and voting with colored cards. Technology did not help the blustery wind that kicked up occasionally, making for a chilly and brief meeting that lasted just over an hour.

In town elections, Terry Sawyer was reelected to the Planning Board with 21 votes and Scott Cournoyer will be Swanville’s new third selectman with 19 votes, replacing Jeanna Bonin, who retired this year.

Residents questioned spending $3,976 for a security system at the Town Office along with a $180 monthly charge for monitoring fees. Also debated was the camera footage obtained by the security company, and what happens with it afterward.

First Selectman Cindy Boguen said the estimate is from Seacoast Security, a licensed company, and that the camera footage is kept for seven days, then deleted.  The cameras will not be on during the day, but only during closed hours, she said, and will be located on the exterior of the building.

"We need to have something that we can use, in case we are broken into," she said. "You have to have it secure, so you can turn it over to the police department. We have had vandalism already of equipment down back. We do need some type of security, and this type of system is a secure system, and they are a licensed company."

Also debated was a request to spend up to $22,000 to install four heat pumps throughout the Town Office. "We may not need to spend $22,000," Boguen said, "We're going to look at the best system to fit this building, and then we will vote on the lowest amount that we can spend to take care of it."

Ultimately the article, totaling $122,655, which included the $6,000 selectman's contingency fund, $500 Planning Board expenses, $22,000 for the heat pumps, $90,000 for town administration costs, $3,976 for the security system, and $179.40 for monthly security monitoring, was unanimously approved.

An article dealing with town administration payroll compensation also drew discussion.

Residents felt the registrar of voters, who was slated to receive an additional $200 above the last year's $1,000, should instead receive $2,200 in all.

One resident said the money the town would receive from the heat pump rebates through the state would more than justify this addition to the budget. The amendment to raise the registrar's compensation was approved.

Compensation for selectmen was also questioned by one resident, who said most of the increases to administrative costs were around 3%, while increases for selectmen were closer to 50%.

The two largest payroll increases in the Town Office included a raise of $4,000 for the chairman of the selectmen to $12,000 from $8,000 in 2019 and an increase of $2,500 for the second selectman to $9,000 from $6,500 in 2019.

While acknowledging the work these officials do, the resident said, "I would recommend something a little less." The moderator acknowledged the resident's comment, but the motion to reduce the raises in compensation was not put to a vote. The town payroll article, which totaled $138,775 including the increase to the registrar's pay, was ultimately approved.

Town roads were the biggest item on the warrant this year, coming in at $600,000, which included $250,000 for snow plowing, $230,000 for improvements and $120,000 for maintenance.

Second Selectman Fred Black said this year is a contract year and the amount is $30,000 more than last year's total. The article was approved unanimously.

In discussing town services, one resident questioned the need for a $2,000 glass crusher which, in his opinion, was dangerous to operate. He added that there is no market for crushed glass. Black agreed with the resident, saying since the pandemic began, the town has contracted with a single-sort recycler who accepts glass.

Currently, he said, the town is "getting ready to enter a contract with ecomaine," so there will be no need to have a glass crusher. The line item for $2,000 for a commercial glass crusher was removed.

In explaining the amounts under the salt/sand pile article, Boguen said $10,000 is needed to cap the old salt/sand shed property, while the $133,000 amount, she said, is for purchasing a "coverlet."

"We're not going to purchase a building," she said, and added that other towns are using this product, which has a 40-year warranty.

Residents agreed and voted unanimously to approve $168,000 for the salt/sand article, including the items explained by Boguen and $25,000 to pave the parking lot behind Town Hall and the back access road.

One resident requested to have $10,000 put toward the maintenance of Greenlawn Cemetery, a private burial ground.

This touched off a lengthy discussion of how the town maintains seven other publicly owned cemeteries which all need work as well. "Greenlawn is a private cemetery," one resident added, "and we need to fix our own."

The request to support Greenlawn Cemetery Association with $10,000 was ultimately denied.

The Swan Lake Dam Water Level ordinance was approved with only one person voting against it. Boguen said the town has been working the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to surrender the dam license and noted that working with the federal government "is extremely difficult."

The water level ordinance has been tentatively approved by the state Department of Environmental Protection with flows based on original agreements from 1979.

"The dam is ours," Boguen said. "The locks on the dam have been changed and we now have control."

In all, residents approved spending $1,172,934 on the town municipal budget, which represents a slight decrease from last year.