Cedar Beach legal costs continue to mount for Harpswell

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HARPSWELL — The town is close to being on budget this calendar year, although several expenditures have exceeded or will soon exceed this year’s targets.

The largest over-spending has been in the legal budget, according to Town Treasurer Margerite Kelly – about $3,000 over the $35,000 that was budgeted. Several non-recurring legal issues contributed to the increase this year, Kelly said.

But most of it went into research about an easement to allow public access to Cedar Beach, Assistant Town Administrator Terri Sawyer said.

Access to Cedar Beach, on Bailey Island, is across private property owned by the Abrahamson family, Sawyer said. Another aspect being researched is the value of the easement, Kelly said.

According to previously published reports, the town is seeking to establish a prescription easement to the beach – an easement established by sustained public use over a period of time. According to previous reports, Cedar Beach has been accessed by private property for as long as 80 years.

The legal issue will most likely continue into next year’s budget, Kelly said.

Marine Patrol has exceeded its $2,000 budget, too, Kelly said. Boat repairs, a radio and vandalism to town landings forced the department to dip into the town’s contingency fund for less than $200, she said. Sawyer said law requires the money to come from the contingency.

That $200 was the only money accessed from the contingency fund, Kelly said.

Kelly said the road maintenance budget has not yet exceeded its allotted $50,000 in spite of several severe wind and rain storms in recent months. She said it is likely the budget will go over before the end of the budget cycle because it is close already.

Harpswell is already collecting information for the next budget, which will be voted on at Town Meeting in March.

Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or sgrinnell@theforecaster.net.

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