North Yarmouth Town Meeting ratifies $2.7M budget

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NORTH YARMOUTH — In a Saturday morning Town Meeting that took only 2 1/2 hours, 99 registered voters approved all 35 warrant articles, including the components of a $2.7 million municipal budget for the next fiscal year.

The spending plan reflects about 20 percent of North Yarmouth’s total $10.4 million appropriation, Budget Committee member Bill Whitten said during the North Yarmouth Memorial School gathering. The town will also be assessed nearly $337,000 from Cumberland County, and $7.3 million from School Administrative District 51.

Subtracting $1.5 in revenues, along with $100,000 from the town’s undesignated fund balance, the net amount to be raised from North Yarmouth taxpayers will be $8.8 million, if local voters and those in Cumberland approve the SAD 51.

They will do that twice: at a district budget meeting May 17, and a budget validation referendum June 12.

North Yarmouth voters on June 12 will also decide whether to borrow $3.43 million to rebuild Wescustogo Hall at the former NYMS site, demolish two wings of NYMS, and renovate the existing gym, stage, kitchen and hallway as a community center connected to the new Wescustogo.

The town’s total appropriation would add $1.71 per $1,000 of property valuation to the $16.27 tax rate, increasing it to $17.98. A $350,000 home would see an annual tax bill increase from $5,694 to $6,293.

North Yarmouth’s public works budget is down $244,000, dropping to nearly $448,000, due largely to about $175,000 in road maintenance expenses being moved to the capital reserves category.

Capital reserves will increase to nearly $539,000, an almost $306,000 hike. Included in that line is $165,000 toward municipal facilities and grounds improvements, a master plan that debuted in the current fiscal year and plans for needs through the next decade.

Although $156,000 is to be spent next year, $165,000 is budgeted for fiscal year 2019 and could be in subsequent years as well, to gradually and regularly build up a savings balance for anticipated larger capital needs.

A cash balance of about $802,000 is expected if the program is maintained at $165,000 a year.

The facilities fund includes $61,800 for improvements at the Town Office, such as $35,000 for an air conditioning system, $9,250 for a carpet replacement, $7,500 for a front office service counter, $5,000 for an air make-up and quality control system, $3,450 for an automatic generator switch, and $1,600 for interior lighting.

Issues at the 10 Village Square Road building – built in 1993 as a four-story home, and housing town offices since 2001 – include a lack of compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act standards, which requires an elevator to be installed; air quality and mold concerns due to air and water leaks in the building; and flooding in the basement, where public meetings are held, Roy has said.

Town officials have budgeted $200,000 toward the building entrance, stairs and an elevator for fiscal year 2023.

Next year’s facilities funds also include nearly $58,000 in public works site improvements that include $10,000 for an exhaust fan and shuttered louver, $9,800 for foundation engineering at the sand and salt shed, and $8,100 for metal roof repairs at the garage. Another $21,500 will go toward town grounds, and $15,300 for the fire-rescue building.

Nearly $39,000 in capital reserves is to be spent on a software upgrade for the town’s financial system, which includes transactions like motor vehicle registrations. The software dates from the early 2000s.

Voters on April 28 also approved an approximately $58,000 increase in municipal administration, bringing that line item to about $497,000, due to cost-of-living increases and a roughly $24,000 North Yarmouth Memorial School caretaker position being moved into that category from public works.

Unlike in prior years, legislative articles on Saturday preceded budget items on the Town Meeting warrant. Those included amending the Town Charter to change the status of three committees – Economic Development and Sustainability Committee, the North Yarmouth School Fund, and the Wescustogo Hall Committee – from “ad hoc” to “standing.”

An amendment that adds teeth to North Yarmouth’s animal noise ordinance also got a green light. The rule has required the animal control officer to first issue a warning and then submit a written report to the Select Board before being allowed to issue a summons.

In the amended language, the officer can issue a second warning, then submit a report to the town manager, avoiding the need to wait for authorization at a Select Board meeting to proceed with the summons.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Nearly 100 people gathered at North Yarmouth’s annual Town Meeting April 28.North Yarmouth Town Manager Rosemary Rosemary Roy, at left, honored Donna and Steve Palmer, Rod Duckworth, Priscilla Brobst, Al Ahlers and Ginny Van Dyke for their service with the town’s Living Well in North Yarmouth program at Town Meeting April 28.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.