NORTHPORT — A few dozen residents came to a special town meeting Feb. 26, took care of business in less than 15 minutes, and went about their weekend. When it was over, the town had committed $200,000 to expanding broadband access.

The first order of business was to elect and swear in moderator Lee Woodward.

Moderator Lee Woodward conducts a special town meeting in Northport Feb. 26 at Northport Community Church. Photo by Sarah E. Reynolds

The main purpose of the meeting was to ask voters to approve committing the entire $187,174 the town expects to receive from the American Rescue Plan Act “to support grant applications by the town or a third party working in collaboration with the town” to wire the whole town for high-speed internet, according to the warrant. The town is working with GWI, which plans to submit a grant application to ConnectMaine Authority for the project. Town Administrator James Kossuth previously told The Republican Journal that ConnectME requires municipalities to contribute a portion of the cost when it awards grants.

In the event the whole expected amount of ARPA funds is not received, voters authorized the Select Board to draw the balance from the Undesignated Fund Balance, which is around just under $1 million, Kossuth told the meeting.

When the article committing the ARPA money to broadband was unanimously approved, applause broke out in the sanctuary of Northport Community Church, where the townspeople were gathered.

The final article asked for approval to use the net proceeds of the sale of the tax-acquired property at 17 Oak Drive to the broadband project as well. Kossuth said the town had accepted an offer for $16,200 for the 1.7-acre parcel, and he expected the town to clear about $13,000. This article, too, was unanimously approved.

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