Warrant articles moved to Dover-Foxcroft town meeting
DOVER-FOXCROFT — The date and method of conducting the annual town meeting amidst the COVID-19 pandemic is still to be determined, but a warrant featuring seven articles was approved as written by both the selectmen and budget advisory committee during the annual public hearing — conducted via Zoom — on June 3.
“We’re working out some different scenarios where we could have the town meeting within the guidelines,” Town Manager Jack Clukey said. He said he could not say too much more because there are numerous moving parts to the decision, but more of a plan should be set in time for the next selectmen’s meeting on Monday, June 8.
Gatherings of up to 50 people are now permitted, as long as social distancing guidelines are adhered to.
“We have a two-part process, part one the plan is to put in place a town meeting this month and part two would be the July referendum,” Clukey said.
“We should have the town meeting sometime before the end of June and then there will be time to vote absentee,” he said with the 2020-21 budget approved at the annual meeting being moved to a referendum vote on Tuesday, July 14 in conjunction with the state primary. The plan is to hold the referendum in the gymnasium at the Morton Avenue Municipal Building as has been done for previous elections over the last decade-plus since the facility opened as the town office after previously being an elementary school.
During a selectmen’s meeting last month Clukey said there is still not clarity for the town meeting process in June should more than 50 citizens attend and/or if a vote could be held virtually. The Maine Municipal Association has made a request to Gov. Janet Mills to bring additional clarification to this issue given the limits on gathering in effect.
“So we have made some adjustments from what we started with,” Clukey said. “So this is a budget much more reflective of the changes on the revenue side.”
With COVID-19 impacting all facets of the nation’s economy, including government coffers at the state and municipal level, Dover-Foxcroft officials anticipated a shortfall between state revenue sharing and excise tax for the 2020-21 town budget. Clukey said about $180,000 in cuts were made in the expenditure side to account for the shortfall, and alternatives are being looked at for public works capital equipment purchases.
Article No. 3 asks if the town shall raise and appropriate $4,651,635 for town operations, nearly $149,000 less than the 2019-20 fiscal year total of $4,760,475. Revenue and surplus funds to be raised to fund the article total $2,279,508 for a net amount of $2,372,127 to be raised.
“I want to thank the budget advisory committee for persevering through this awkward process,” Gail D’Agostino of the select board said.
“I want to say that also, this has been a very unique experience,” Clukey said. “I promised it would end in March and I wasn’t able to keep that promise.”
The committee started meeting in early March but the schedule came to an halt with the pandemic before sessions resumed via Zoom in May.
The town meeting warrant and detailed budget information can be found on the town website at dover-foxcroft.org.