Town Meeting

Swanville elections draw multiple candidates; budget approved

By Carolyn Zachary | Mar 13, 2018
Photo by: Carolyn Zachary Townspeople listen as Helen Christianson reports election results during the Swanville town meeting March 9.

Swanville — In just an hour and five minutes, Swanville residents efficiently worked their way through a 31-article warrant March 9 — with minimal discussion and general unanimity — at their annual town meeting. About 33 voters, including the town's three selectmen, attended.

Before the meeting was called to order just after 9 a.m., residents heard briefly from Democratic Rep. Erin Herbig of Belfast and Swanville resident JoAn Petersen, speaking on behalf of Republican Jayne Crosby Giles. Giles and Herbig are vying to succeed term-limited Sen. Michael Thibodeau, R-Waldo, as the county's next senator.

Helen Christianson, who wears many hats in the town's government (clerk, treasurer, deputy tax collector, excise tax collector, Planning Board member), then announced results of the write-in election March 8.

Jeanna Bonin was re-elected selectman with 15 votes to 7 for Fred Black, 4 for Robert Bernosky, 2 each for Brian Thompson and Peter Petersen, and 1 each for David Winslow, Dan Horton and Tim Perry.

Christianson was re-elected to the Planning Board with 8 votes. Other write-ins were Jerry Ireland, with 4 votes; Jeffrey Smith, 2; and Brandon Wood, Glen Vaughn, David Winslow, Terry Sawyer, Win Hood, Fred Black, Cindy Bowen and Benjamin Pratt with 1 vote each; 11 blanks and 2 invalid.

Following Christianson's presentation, attorney William Kelly of Belfast was unanimously elected moderator. "I have never heard of a race in Waldo County where there have been eight people running for one seat," he said to laughter all around. "Wow! Democracy is alive and well in Waldo County!"

Kelly worked his way through the articles, and voters approved the majority according to amounts recommended by selectmen and the budget committee with little discussion.

Taxes will be due Sept. 30, with interest to be charged thereafter at the rate of 6 percent.

Biggest-ticket items included raising and/or allocating $216,618.44 as the town's portion of the Waldo County assessment and an as-yet-unspecified amount for the town's portion of the Regional School Unit 71 assessment that this year to date is just over $1.4 million.

Other major expenses residents approved include:

- Raising $85,000 for town administrative costs;

- Paying compensation of $84,670 to municipal officers (unchanged year-over-year);

- Allocating $220,000 from excise taxes for snowplowing, sanding and sand stockpile;

- Raising $150,000 and re-appropriating $150,000, plus $188,943.88 carryover for capital road improvement work to be done, specifically on Harriman and Veazie roads; and

- Using $114,885.97 carryover for patching, ditching, mowing and general maintenance of town roads.

As he read Article 9, "To see what sum of money the town will vote to raise and/or allocate and appropriate for legal services," the moderator quipped that it "seems a conflict of interests." After chuckling, voters approved $15,000 in re-appropriated funds.

Article 23 called on townspeople to approve monies for mowing and general maintenance of town cemeteries, with a recommended amount of $3,500. Selectman Bonin said, "We're going to try to do some work on the cemeteries," describing a number of needed repairs to fencing and stone walls.

"We want to address that this year," she said, "and we're going to get going on those projects, but we won't do it all in one year." The expenditure passed.

During discussion of road maintenance and improvements, one resident asked, "What would it take to reduce speed limits on Oak Hill Road? Oak Hill Road has become a race track." Others expressed agreement, but the issue was not addressed further.

For social services and nonprofit organizations, voters approved $15,534, up from $12,324.50 last year. The total included an increase to $7,810 from $6,023 last year for Waldo Community Action partners, a decrease in the request for American Red Cross to $150 from $227.50 last year, and two additions: $1,000 for Jackson Food Pantry, which often serves Swanville residents in need with emergency boxes of food, and $500 for Waldo County Woodshed.

Voters designated that $1,200 for Swan Lake Association is to come from boat excise taxes, and the balance for social services is to be raised.

Article 29 asked what sum of money the town would raise and/or allocate and appropriate for a 200-year anniversary celebration this year. First Selectman Cindy Boguen explained that voters approved $2,000 for this last year, and the town had a committee to plan it, but the person who was to chair it stepped down "and the $2,000 is just sitting there."

She said the Swan Lake Association, which stages a boat parade every year on the Fourth of July, has agreed to take on the bicentennial celebration in conjunction with its July 4 festivities.

The meeting adjourned at 11:07 a.m.

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