NORTHPORT — In a town meeting that lasted less than an hour, Northport voters listened to election pitches from five political candidates, accepted changes to three ordinances, whizzed through 26 additional Warrant articles that increased the town’s budget by a net of roughly $71,000, approved a school budget that rose $143,500, and honored their eight-member Broadband Internet Committee with a Spirit of America Foundation Tribute.

Moderator Lee Woodward counts votes during Northport’s town meeting June 6. Photo by Carolyn Zachary

Close to 50 voters attended the annual town meeting June 6, which officially began two days earlier with the reelection of Jeanine Tucker to the Select Board, Debora Riley to the School Committee, both for three-year terms, and attorney Lee Woodward as town meeting moderator.

Woodward called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m. outdoors on the Edna Drinkwater School basketball court and invited the candidates to speak. Attendees heard from Jason Trundy, Democratic candidate for sheriff; Owen Smith, who sought the Democratic nomination for District 1 county commissioner; incumbent Democratic Rep. Jan Dodge, hoping to win in new District 39 in November, and her opponent, Republican Stephen Hemenway of Northport; and incumbent Democratic state Sen. Chip Curry, who hopes to retain his seat representing Waldo County.

Shelly Patten, speaking for the all-female Northport Select Board, which she chairs, read a resolution commending the town’s Broadband Internet Committee for its community service. Formed in February 2021, the all-volunteer board met almost weekly to study needs, learn about broadband, apply for grants, hire a vendor, hold almost 80 hours of public meetings, convince townspeople to allocate their ARPA funds to broadband expansion, and move the project rapidly toward fruition.

In fact, Northport’s partner, GWI, is installing fiber now to wire the town for high-speed internet service for all residents.

Northport Broadband Internet Committee members Ann Frenning Kossuth, Avery Kreamer, Karl Beiser, Julian Sheffield, Bill Frysinger, Brady Brim-DeForest, Katie Foster and Jamie Ritter each received a copy of the 2022 Spirit of America Tribute for “exemplary citizenship and outstanding achievements.”

Woodward then moved rapidly through the evening’s business as townspeople approved every article. They accepted a revised Animal Control Ordinance, which repeals and replaces the town’s outdated ordinance, and approved amended Building Permit and Shoreland Zoning ordinances. All three had been posted publicly and discussed at previous meetings.

Deputy Clerk Robin Coombs, Town Clerk Amy Eldridge and resident Paul Sheridan count written ballots during Northport’s town meeting June 6. Photo by Carolyn Zachary

The rest of the session went quickly in part because the Town Warrant specified that the moderator could accept motions to consider certain groups of articles at the same time, voting on them together but discussing them individually as townspeople wished. Voters took every opportunity to address the articles as grouped in the Warrant.

Voters agreed to fund infrastructure maintenance and repairs in Bayside (Northport Village Corp.) with $7,000 from taxes, $6,000 from the town’s Roads and Bridges account and $12,000 from the Marine Special Reserve Fund.

Municipal budget

In the approved budget, the largest year-over-year increases were for snow removal and sanding (up $60,000, to $260,000 from $200,000) and the transfer station (up $22,000, to $92,000 from $70,000).

With costs rising for refuse disposal, the transfer station appropriation includes that $92,000 from taxes, $60,000 carried forward, and $55,000 in revenue from trash stickers and disposal fees, for a total projected expenditure of $207,000. The price of a trash sticker is rising to $3 July 1, after which no $2 stickers will be honored — but residents can exchange their old $2 stickers for the new ones by paying the $1 difference.

Townspeople voted to appropriate a total of $933,128 for roads and bridges, the town’s largest expense, in the coming fiscal year — $200,000 to be raised from taxes (no change from the prior year), $400,000 carried forward, $300,000 in revenue from auto excise taxes and $33,128 from the state’s Local Road Assistance Program.

With smaller offsets on several line items, the overall approved municipal operating budget is up $70,990.84, or 6.48%, to $1,167,159.08 for FY2023 from $1,096,168.24 adopted for the last fiscal year, which ends June 30.

The county tax increase is projected to be up $44,125.15 to $760,861.47 for FY2023 from $716,736.32 adopted for the last fiscal year.

Voters agreed to use $200,000 from the town’s Undesignated Fund Balance to reduce the 2022/23 tax commitment.

School budget

The approved school budget is increasing 3.9%, or $143,500.87. The total local share will increase $103,753.13, or 3.32%, over the 2021-22 budget.

According to the School Committee’s report, the Northport School Department is receiving $11,248.26 less in state subsidy for the coming year, and is required to contribute $46,311.54 more in local assessments to get the state subsidy.

The report noted that the most significant increases are related to higher high school tuition, health insurance rates, electricity and fuel costs, the addition of a part-time band teacher, and shifting staff members into and out of various grants.

Woodward adjourned the meeting at 7:25 p.m.