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Tax hike, wharf repairs await Chebeague Island Town Meeting

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Tax hike, wharf repairs await Chebeague Island Town Meeting

CHEBEAGUE ISLAND — Voters will decide on a proposed budget of $2.9 million Saturday at Town Meeting, including whether to set aside an additional $50,000 for repairs to Stone Wharf.

The proposed fiscal 2014 budget represents a 0.5 percent increase over this year's spending, but will have a higher tax impact, if approved, due to falling revenues, Town Administrator Eric Dyer said.

The net increase to taxpayers is about $78,000, or a 2.7 percent increase. The mil rate would increase 55 cents, from $20.20 to $20.75 per $1,000 of assessed value, which translates to an additional $96 per year for a typical Chebeague Island home valued at $175,000.

Dyer said proposed increases in town services are moderate.

"It's a $14,000 increase in expenses," Dyer said of the budget. "The rest of (the increase) is changes in revenue."

Those revenue changes are due in part to reductions at the state level, along with less revenue being applied from the town's undesignated fund, Dyer said.

Capital improvement allocations proposed for FY 2014, include $50,000 for the Stone Wharf, the town's main point of entry by ferry. The recommended amount, if approved, would be added to an existing reserve fund, bringing the total to $129,000.

The wharf – a 2-century-old stone structure – needs an estimated $460,000 in repairs in three separate projects, according to a report from South Portland engineering consultants TEC Associates.

The most expensive repair – a $408,000 project to shore up the wharf's eastern wall – isn't particularly urgent and can be done in stages, TEC owner Wayne Duffett said.

The proposed $50,000 allocation was recommended by the Board of Selectmen before TEC's $460,000 estimate was submitted to the town on June 2.

Near the start of the meeting, voters will decide whether to create a new shellfish conservation ordinance that sets a one-peck limit on the amount of clams that can be harvested during a single tide. The proposed ordinance would also increase the senior citizen age from 62 to 65 and would allow a single license holder to bring multiple guests clamming on the same license, but restricts groups to sharing a single clam hoe.

Another proposed ordinance will formalize the town's cemetery committee and enable governing rules to be established.

Town Meeting will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at Chebeague Island Hall Community  Center, 247 South Road. There are 58 articles on the warrant.

Ben McCanna can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or bmccanna@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @BenMcCanna.