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Voters approve small tax increase, new emergency management ordinance

By Kendra Caruso | Apr 05, 2021
Photo by: Kendra Caruso Troy selectmen wait for town employees to count votes at the April 3 town meeting at the Fire Station.

Troy — Troy residents approved a modest funding increase in the 2021 budget at the town’s April 3 annual meeting and passed a new emergency management ordinance. Selectmen said they did not know what to expect this year and they did not want to increase residents’ taxes drastically. It is a budget to get the town through this year only, Selectman Rick Montana said.

Fewer than 50 residents, gathered at the fire station, voted to raise $312,854 through taxation this year, which is a 4.3% increase from the $299,969 raised last year. Tax payments made later than Thursday, Dec. 30, at 4 p.m. will be subject to a 6% interest rate.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Troy raised funds last year using the same budget approved in 2019 instead of developing a new budget and holding a town meeting.

The new emergency management ordinance garnered mixed reactions from residents, but was ultimately approved by a vote of 17-5. Some residents were hesitant to give more powers to officials as outlined in the ordinance, while others thought it was a faster way to address emergency situations that might occur in the town.

The ordinance comes before new legislation regarding emergency management is to be implemented at the state level, affecting all towns, selectmen said.

The ordinance allows selectmen to proclaim an emergency whenever a disaster or civil emergency exists or appears imminent, as opposed to waiting for the governor to declare it before being able to act on and seek help for an emergency situation.

The chairman of the Board of Selectmen, members of the board and the emergency management director have the power to issue an emergency proclamation if a board meeting is substantially delayed and it would affect the response to reduce or prevent an emergency or disaster.

The ordinance allows a Town Emergency Operations Center to be activated in the event of an emergency. It would also allow normal procedures for town businesses or ordinances to be suspended if those operations prevent, hinder or delay necessary action in the emergency.

The powers granted to officials during an emergency are to use town resources, temporarily change employee functions, enlist people to assist in emergency efforts, establish evacuation plans, control movement of people within a disaster area, create a provision for availability and use of temporary emergency housing, shut off machines or devices causing or believed to cause the emergency, take necessary action to abate, clean up or mitigate dangers within the affected area, establish and implement plans regarding shortages of energy resources and regulate the use of gas and diesel-powered equipment when faced with a shortage.

The measure was drafted by Waldo County officials, but town officials made slight changes to create the draft approved by voters.

The fire chief, deputy fire chief and emergency management director will have the authority of the board if there is a substantial delay in communication with the board. The proclamation would be in effect for seven days and would have to be renewed on a weekly basis by special town meeting.

It also establishes an Office of Emergency Management, and the board will appoint the emergency management director, a position currently held by Montana. The director will be responsible for performing four phases of emergency management: preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation.

The National Incident Management System is established as the municipal standard for incident management. It is an approach that will provide consistency among federal, state, county and town governments when responding to emergencies.

In other business, residents also voted to expand the tasks volunteer firefighters are eligible to be compensated for during emergency calls. Before, firefighters and volunteers could only be paid for hours worked during calls and not for hours worked cleaning and putting away equipment after calls, which takes a substantial amount of time, according to a Fire Department member. It does not change the rate at which volunteers are reimbursed.

Brian Piper was voted into a three-year term as selectman and Robert Hogg was voted into a three-year term as trustee of the Forest Area. Both candidates ran unopposed.

 

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