Voters at town meeting on Monday approved taking up to $221,400 from surplus toward construction of a new fire station.
Town officials say the towns of Mapleton, Castle Hill and Chapman have outgrown the fire station that serves them.
Town meetings in Castle Hill and Chapman this week will decide how much those towns will contribute toward the project that has been in the works for at least a decade.
“People are excited about the new fire station,” John Edgecomb, town manager for all three towns, said after the town meeting. “Planning was very well done; it won’t be flashy. I think the subcommittee and selectmen had a very good handle on what type of building the people wanted to see.”
The anticipated $369,000 project, to be located adjacent to the present fire station on Pulcifer Road, will be a four-bay building to accommodate equipment that can’t be taken into the present two-bay station.
Planners want to renovate the old facility into town offices and a public meeting room.
Town meeting voters also gave necessary approval for the town to submit an application in the next phase of a Community Development Block Grant to build a $3.9 million sewage treatment facility.
The 60-plus voters who turned out for the town meeting approved the 29-article warrant in 40 minutes. They adopted a municipal budget in the amount of $681,565, up about $38,700 from last year.
Those figures include about $10,000 more in wages that reflect cost of living and step raises in an effort to pay town staff competitive salaries.
Insurance, benefits and other operational costs were up about $8,000.
While extra expenditures in the town, education and county tax could increase the tax rate of $16.7 per $1,000 in property valuation another tenth of a mill, Edgecomb anticipated that about $30,000 would be raised in additional revenues, including greater valuation with new construction, to hold the rate at the same level as last year.
The total cost for town expenses, education and county tax was estimated at $844,215, up $19,177 from 2000.
Voters re-elected incumbents Wayne Kierstead, with 125 votes, and Richard Hoffses, with 85 votes, to three-year terms on the Board of Selectmen. They defeated challengers Andrea Bard Smith, who had 76 votes, and Mark McKenna at 69 votes.
Scott Smith was re-elected unopposed to a three-year term as assessor and sewer district trustee.
A “smooth” town meeting run on Monday night by moderator John Barker was over in 45 minutes without opposition to any of the proposed 31 articles presented to voters.
A total of 38 residents turned out to approve a budget to run their local government at $1,055 over last year. Town accounts reflected slight increases in some categories due to general inflation.
Town Clerk Donna Kingsbury didn’t anticipate any changes to the $16 per $1,000 tax rate in local expenditures. However, the tax rate could be changed if bills from education and county tax are significantly increased, she said.
At the polls, incumbent Steven Bradstreet was returned to a three-year term as selectman, unopposed. Incumbent Wendy Bradstreet and Kari Stetson also were unopposed for seats on the Bridgewater School Committee.
At the largest turnout at the polls in many years, voters on Monday authorized the town to purchase a new plow truck and associated equipment at a cost of about $103,000 and to borrow the money to do it.
The vote was 288 to 67.
Voters also elected several officials in closely contested races.
“The last time so many turned out to vote was when we had the liquor question,” recalled Town Manager Ray Mersereau.
The new truck will replace the 1981 model the town owns.
“We can’t afford to have a truck down during major plowing season,” said Mersereau. “It is still working and we will use it, but how many people drive 20-year old cars?”
The purchase plan will extend the capital equipment financing program that is paying off a front-end loader this year.
“We have been planning this capital equipment for three years, and not a lot more money will be raised over and above what we have been doing for the last five years,” said Mersereau.
Town officials who will solicit bank bid proposals for the truck payment plan were pleased with the overwhelming support by the community for the purchase.
“It tells me they are concerned and feel the council is doing the right thing,” said Mersereau. “I look at it as a vote of confidence.”
Voters also re-elected incumbent Ward McLaughlin with 217 votes and Alton McQuade with 177 votes to three-year seats on the Town Council. McQuade replaced former Councilor Brian Cummings, who had to sit out the race because of term limits after serving three three-year terms. The two new councilors defeated challengers Evan Todd Grass, who had 161 votes, and Scott M. Caron, 80 votes.
In the contest for the two three-year seats on the Utility District board of directors, Darroll S. Wilson received the most votes with 216 ballots. Incumbent Timothy S. Brewer was re-elected with 196 votes. Challengers were Jeffrey J. Saucier, who garnered 154 votes, and Emmett C. Porter, 76 votes.
With 116 votes cast in his favor, Troy L. Grass defeated Wayne C. Lunn by 5 votes and Patricia Brewer by 11 votes to claim the three-year seat on the SAD 42 board of directors.
Incumbent Hope Field was re-elected, unopposed, as library trustee.
Voters answered a citizen-initiated petition to discontinue the Nowland Road for public use by denying the request in a vote of 170 to 93.
Councilor Ronald Rushinal, who brought the petition to the voters, objected to the town’s claim that the road, which bisects his property and leads to abutting properties including wood lots and camps, is a public road or right-of-way.
As a result, the town will continue to maintain the road.
Rushinal chose not to make a public statement after the Monday vote was taken.
Also at the polls, incumbents Lawrence Michaud and Ernest Weaver were re-elected to three-year seats on the Town Council.
Robert Sawyer IV had 65 write-in votes along with nine other write-in candidates with a few votes for those positions.
Incumbent Cheryl Duperry was uncontested for re-election as library trustee. Incumbent Michael Millett was unopposed for re-election as a director on the water and sewer district.
By a vote of 26 to 10, voters have approved the recommendation of selectmen to sell the former elementary school to a local agricultural group.
The building, which will house the Southern Aroostook Agricultural Museum, was bought from the town for a negotiated price of $50,000. The group is seeking a grant for the purchase.
At the 45-minute annual town meeting on Monday, residents approved a 33-article warrant, which included a proposed $280,542 spending plan to operate local government for the community’s 1,000 residents.
After other revenues are assembled, property taxpayers will raise $91,500 of that sum.
The $1,600 set aside to update tax maps added to $1,900 extra in the solid waste account, plus another $1,193 in the higher fees for ambulance service and the hike in health insurance rates caused the municipal budget to rise $7,226 above last year’s budget.
Jennifer Gogan, town manager, said the tax rate of $16.34 per $1,000 in property valuation may increase more than a mill, depending on totals in education and county assessment bills expected by the town later this spring.
During daytime polls, incumbents Gerald Miller and Gordon Hagerman were returned, unopposed, to three-year terms on the Board of Selectmen.
– Compiled by Gloria Flannery