Fireworks, paramedics, docks on deck for Harpswell Town Meeting

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HARPSWELL — From hiring a paramedic to regulating fireworks, this year’s annual Town Meeting is expected to result in big policy changes, but not a big tax increase.

Although the budget is up 7.4 percent over last year, taxes will likely not increase, according to Deputy Town Administrator Terri Sawyer.

The most expensive item on the warrant for the March 10 meeting at Harpswell Community School is $127,000 to pay a paramedic from Mid Coast Hospital to respond to emergency calls between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays through the end of the  year.

The town will also have to construct a garage to house the paramedic and a response vehicle – an estimated cost of $74,000.

Selectmen are also hoping voters will approve spending $35,000 on a new marine patrol boat, which could also be used for rescues.

Other new expenses include the addition of a second float at the town dock at Pott’s Point, which will increase spending on docks by $8,500 over last year, and $20,000 to the Harpswell Heating Assistance Fund, up from $5,000 in 2011.

Selectmen are also asking for $70,000 to maintain the West Harpswell School building and $82,500 for new equipment for Harpswell Community Television.

In addition to approving the budget, this year’s Town Meeting will gauge opinion on what residents would like to do with West Harpswell School.

A non-binding poll on the secret ballot will ask voters to rank their top choices: keeping the school and land for town activities, developing it as a business center, turning it into housing for seniors or working families, or selling the school and land with restrictions to protect the neighborhood.

Voters will also decide whether to limit the sale and use of fireworks.

As of Jan. 1, both are legal in Maine, but many towns have enacted restrictions. The proposed local ordinance would ban the sale and limit use to five days a year – July 3-5, Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 – and the weekends before and after Independence Day and New Year’s Day.

Another proposed ordinance change would prevent additional homes from being built on Eagle Island.

Three offices are also up for election, all with three-year terms: road commissioner, School Board member and selectman.

Incumbent Selectman Elinor Multer is challenged by C. Matthew Rich, incumbent Joanne Rogers is unopposed for re-election to the SAD 75 board, and Paul Standridge and Ronald Ponziani are running for road commissioner.

The polls will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the Town Meeting begins at 10 a.m.

Emily Guerin can be reached at 781-3661 ext.123 or eguerin@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @guerinemily.

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