Dover-Foxcroft select board signs June 11 warrant

DOVER-FOXCROFT – On Tuesday, June 11 Dover-Foxcroft residents will head to the polls to vote on the municipal budget, a question pertaining to the future of the Mayo Mill Dam, several items on land use ordinance amendments, and the RSU 68 budget (which will also be voted on that day by the fellow district communities of Charleston, Monsoon, and Sebec). The June warrant was formally approved by the Dover-Foxcroft Select Board during a meeting on Monday, April 29.

A public hearing on the warrant will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, May 20, just over three weeks before election day.

Town Manager Jack Clukey said the hearing is typically held as part of the board’s second regular meeting in May. “But given the length of the ballot it’s worthy of giving it its own time,” he said.

To avoid a Memorial Day conflict, the second meeting in May will instead be Tuesday, May 28. 

Two days before the April 29 select meeting, a proposed budget totaling $8,302,205 for the 2024-25 fiscal year was approved at the annual town meeting. There is also $845,370 proposed for wastewater operations and capital but this would be equaled by the same amount of wastewater revenues and offsets.

The $8.3 million-plus figure will be offset by $4,728,035 in nontax revenues for a net amount of $3,574,170 to be raised through property taxes.

The total appropriation is up by $1,442,430 (21.03 percent) from the current fiscal year’s near $6.86 million figure. Revenues are $852,608 more than the current fiscal year or 22 percent. The $3,574,170 to be raised is an increase of $589,822 (19.76 percent) from 2023-24.

The ballot will include a question concerning the recommendation from the Mayo Mill Dam steering committee that removing the downtown Piscataquis River dam and connecting facilities and building a riverfront park is in the town’s best interests moving forward.

Reducing flooding dangers, improving the area’s ecology, including fish passage, and the availability of funding for dam removal were among the main reasons for the committee’s conclusion. The board voted in February to place a question on the June ballot pertaining to the project concerning the acceptance of grant funds as a way to gauge if residents favor the plan or not.

A 4-page, approximately 1,600-word resolution explaining in detail the issues of the dam, with historical context of the recent process and reiterating the Feb. 26 vote was approved by the select board on March 25. The June referendum question, explaining what yes and no votes mean, was also approved at the meeting following an executive session. 

The June 11 ballot will include five questions on land use ordinance amendments, pertaining to a state housing density bill, subdivisions, self-storage facilities, changeable electronic copy signs, and wind energy systems.

“All are pretty straightforward,” Select Chair Tom Lizotte said, as the full text of each proposed ordinance amendment will be available at the May 20 hearing.

In other business, the board appointed Assistant Town Clerk Julie Trotter as interim town clerk and Deputy Registrar of Voters Sonya Squires as interim registrar of voters. Due to Town Clerk Lisa Ronco being out on medical leave without a definitive timeframe for return, the State Elections Office recommends the interim appointments until Ronco can resume her duties.

The select board heard from Alex Robinson of the Dover Rovers ATV Club about the 2024 Municipal Grant in Aide to Municipalities for ATV Trails and Facilities program  and the club’s plans for trail work this year.

Robinson said the club is seeking the maximum $73,850. He said projects planned include a trail behind the Katahdin Valley Health Center on Summer Street and an ATV travelway running north and south by the Parsons Landing Road.

“The trails haven’t been worked on in a while so there’s maintenance to be done,” Robinson said. He said if awarded, other grant funds would go toward regular trail maintenance elsewhere in town, and the Dover Rovers ATV Club is looking at establishing a new trail behind the fairgrounds.

“For any contract that works with us they need to be certified and for the club there’s a best practices handbook,” he said in response about being environmentally-compliant for trail work. Robinson said most of the travelways are overseen by the state, so the work is inspected.

In his report, Clukey said an application has been sent to the offices of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine and U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine for Congressionally Directed Spending for the rehabilitation of the Penquis Higher Education Center building on Mayo Street. 

Clukey said a $2 million project, which would be funded 75 percent with federal monies, would be in support of a collaboration between the town, Eastern Maine Community College, Piscataquis Valley Adult Education Cooperative, and Foxcroft Academy to increase capacity for vocational and technical training at the site to be geared specially to grades 9-14 (the post grade 12 levels being students out of high school).

The building was once an elementary school before being offered to EMCC. “It will be offered back to town as we offered it to them,” Clukey said.

“It’s a long process between submittal and the actual awarding of a project,” he said. The town manager said the CDS funding is very competitive and the town may know early on if the application is not going to be awarded funding.

“It’s got a lot going for it,” Lizotte said. “It’s regional, it’s collaborative, and it addresses vocational education.”

More than two decades ago EMCC acquired what is today the Penquis Higher Education Center from the town. In addition to being utilized by EMCC and the PVAEC, it also currently houses the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council and Eastern Maine Development Corporation. These organizations would be able to remain in the building after an ownership transition.

Get the Rest of the Story

Thank you for reading your 4 free articles this month. To continue reading, and support local, rural journalism, please subscribe.