Increased budget doesn't slow Belmont down

By Stephanie Grinnell | Mar 20, 2019
Photo by: Stephanie Grinnell Sen. Erin Herbig, D-Waldo County, speaks March 18 during Belmont's annual meeting. Behind her, from left, are Selectmen Ann-Marie Stultz, Robert Currier and Sharon Reed-Hall, as well as moderator Lee Woodward.

Belmont — Despite a nearly 15-percent increase in the municipal budget, Belmont residents breezed through the annual town meeting March 18 in less than 45 minutes with little discussion.

All three selectmen — Sharon Reed-Hall, Robert Currier and Ann-Marie Stultz — as well as Fire Chief Ron Harford II were re-elected by nominations from the floor. Each position is elected every year.

According to a handout at the meeting, the municipal budget increased 14.8 percent to $374,991.72 for 2019. Several areas of the budget increased, while others dropped. Public Safety jumped by about $4,400, which Harford attributed to increasing costs of firefighting gear and aging vehicles that require more maintenance. But, he said, members of the department also annually raise between $8,000 to $10,000 to help keep local tax contributions to the department as low as possible.

Public Works also increased, with more than $200,000 carried forward in the capital improvement line from 2018. The total budget for Public Works approved for 2019 is $618,895.10, up from $465,395.10 the prior year. It was approved by a majority of the 30 or so people in attendance without discussion.

As the meeting continued to progress quickly, Moderator Lee Woodward quipped, “Hey! I get paid by the hour!”

As residents prepared to adjourn the meeting, a woman asked about letters sent to business owners in town about personal property taxes — taxes paid by businesses on equipment like machinery, computers, office furniture and other business assets. She said she didn’t think it was fair that not all businesses received the letter and wondered how the businesses were chosen.

Selectmen said the letters were sent by the town’s contracted Assessor Amber Poulin when it was discovered the town hadn’t been handling personal property tax for businesses correctly.

The business list was generated based on those registered with the town, meaning businesses that did not register with the town did not get a letter. Town officials encouraged communication with Poulin, who can better answer questions about the tax, as well as to help update the town’s records of businesses.

From left, Belmont Selectmen Ann-Marie Stultz, Robert Currier and Sharon Reed-Hall. (Photo by: Stephanie Grinnell)
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