Burnham faces a funding shortfall because of an office error that resulted in selectmen's approving nearly $100,000 less in funding than was authorized at the 2020 town meeting. Residents also passed funding for upgrades in erosion control at Town Beach and approved an update to the Shoreland Ordinance.

Nearly every article garnered discussion from the 15 or so residents who attended the three-hour meeting March 20. The auditor’s report was not prepared in time for the meeting because of coronavirus complications.

One resident said the funding shortfall resulted in a one-mill decrease in tax commitments, so she moved to reschedule the meeting until after the auditor's report is submitted. The motion was rejected.

“We’ve had major changes in this town,” another resident said. “… There has been a lot of confusion and a lot of change and the thing is that when the commitment was changed last year, when looking at the report and the numbers, they don’t add up.”

Selectmen said funding was short by $99,653.96 because of the clerical error, but they did not know how much money went toward each article at last year’s meeting. Still, they felt comfortable moving forward with the meeting.

Selectman Kristy Hapworth said the selectmen take responsibility for not finding the error before tax bills went out. One option to cover the funding gap could be to use money from last year's undesignated fund, but at Saturday's meeting residents voted to pay for several of this year's line items, amounting to at least $32,000, from that fund. The town could also issue a supplementary tax bill to cover the shortfall.

The auditor’s report should be submitted by June 30, Hapworth said. The clerk who made the error is no longer employed by the town.

Residents approved an update to the Shoreland Ordinance that would affect several properties on Lake Winnecook, Sebasticook River and several other wetlands and streams in town. The provisions affected are Resource Protection District, Limited Residential District, Limited Commercial District and Stream Protection District under the Establishment of Districts provision in the ordinance, according to Planning Board Chairman Brian Croft.

President of the Friends of Lake Winnecook and Burnham resident Brian Levesque spoke at the meeting, seeking $10,000 again this year to complete an erosion control project at Town Beach along the South Horseback Road. It is considered a nonpoint pollution source.

Residents approved funding for the project last year, but it was not completed because of complications posed by the coronavirus, he said. The funds could not be carried over this year because residents did not approve them to be carried over at last year's meeting.

There is an engineering plan and Levesque is hoping to issue a request for proposals to have the work done soon, he said. Residents approved the funding.

Because so much money was carried over from last year’s boat inspection and water monitoring budget, he did not seek the usual $1,600 in funding from boat registration excise taxes for the inspection and monitoring. Instead, he asked that those funds go toward a U.S. EPA 9-Element Unity Pond Watershed Based Plan that Friends of Lake Winnecook is developing with Waldo County Soil and Water Conservation District.

A watershed plan consists of all the waterways running into a lake, and Winnecook has over 100 miles of brooks and streams that run through the area, according to the Friends of Lake Winnecook website. The plan will make the organization eligible for state and federal grants. It determines sources of pollutants and establishes water quality targets, costs, schedules and a monitoring plan. The funds were approved.

Levesque will seek matching funds for the plan from Unity at its town meeting March 27, and will ask for the same amount in funds from Troy at a later date, he said.

Ricky Basford was elected to a three-year term as selectman, Cay Jones was elected to a one-year term as treasurer, Robert Charles King was elected for a one-year term as highway commissioner and Franz Spiegel was elected to a three-year term as sexton.