SEARSPORT — Forty-nine voters turned out March 5 and approved a new ordinance governing lighting at their town meeting. The measure, inspired by Dark Sky Maine, a nonprofit advocating for the reduction of light pollution, passed in a secret ballot, 40-4.

The ordinance allows appropriate lighting levels to preserve safety, security and enjoyment of the property. Ordinance requirements can be waived by the code enforcement officer and/or Planning Board. The text of the ordinance is available on the town website and at Town Hall.

Members of the Searsport Select Board at town meeting March 5. From left are Sandra Otis-Anderson, Mark Bradstreet, Linda Payson and Doug Norman. Not pictured is Steven Tanguay. Photo by Lin Calista

An article sponsored by the Historic Preservation Commission to ban changeable electronic signs in the historic district and on properties on the National Register of Historic Places did not fare as well. It was defeated in a secret ballot vote 21 -18.

Town Manager James Gillway explains something at Searsport’s town meeting March 5. Photo by Lin Calista

There was some controversy over another article under which the title “selectman” would become “Select Board member” to align with state changes. Searsport has two female board members. The town passed the motion, but the Select Board was not unanimous, voting 4-1 in favor of the change, with Mark Bradstreet opposed.

There was also some discussion regarding the Police Department. Town Manager James Gillway explained that police, fire and ambulance personnel are being cross-trained to compensate for several vacancies in the ranks and to conserve funds. Currently there are four patrolling officers, including the chief, and one at the school. The department had been down to one officer and the chief earlier this year.  The police budget was increased from $366,124 to $421,695, an increase of $55,571, or 13 %. The ambulance budget dropped from $339,167 in 2021 to $286,289 for 2022, a decrease of $52,878, or 15.6%.

All warrant articles passed with the spending recommendations of the Select Board and the Budget Advisory Committee.

Faith Garrold holds the bouquet she received March 5 for her 25 years as moderator of Searsport’s town meeting. Photo by Lin Calista

Twelve nonprofit social service agencies were awarded nominal amounts totaling $26,879, a decrease of $944, or 3.4%, from last year’s appropriation of $27,823. The 2020 town meeting capped the amount that could be appropriated at 1% of the total operating budget of the previous year.

Total appropriations declined by $43,573, or 1.4%, from $3,037481 in 2021 to $2,993,908 for 2022. The amount to be raised from taxes for 2022 is $2,351,903.

The meeting began with messages from state Sen. Chip Curry, D -Waldo, and Waldo County Chief Deputy Janson Trundy, who is running for sheriff.

Election results were announced: Mark Bradstreet, running unopposed, was reelected to the Select Board with 72 votes and 10 write-ins. Wendi Hamel was returned to the RSU School Board with 73 votes and five write-ins. Dorothy Alling, Megan Crochere, Wendi Hamel, Celine Kelley, George Kerper, Keith Otis, Daniel Rich, Jennifer Rich and Norris Staples were all elected to the Budget Advisory Committee. A total of 86 voters participated in the election.

At the end of the meeting, a bouquet of flowers was presented to moderator, Faith Garrold, who had served in that capacity for 25 years.

A video of the meeting can be viewed on the town website. The meeting was adjourned at 12:17 p.m.  after a delicious fish chowder lunch from Anglers Restaurant.

filed under: