North Yarmouth Town Meeting to vote on $2.7M budget, tighter dog rules

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NORTH YARMOUTH — A $2.7 million fiscal 2013 budget goes before Town Meeting voters on Saturday, June 16.

If approved, the gross municipal budget will increase 4.7 percent next year. Taking municipal, county and school budgets taken into account, residents could see a tax rate increase of 96 cents from the current $13.12 per $1,000 of property valuation, to $14.08.

For a home valued at $300,000, the increase would add $288 to the annual tax bill.

If the school assessment on North Yarmouth remains flat next year, the tax rate would only increase to $13.13, Administrative Assistant Marnie Diffin said. She had not projected any growth in valuation when determining the tax rate.

Amendments to the town’s impact fees ordinance go before voters again this year. Proposed amendments that were rejected last year included an unpopular fee for roadways built with a new house, Diffin said; this year’s amendments do not include that fee.

This year’s amendments exempt town projects from the impact fee ordinance and stipulate that the code enforcement officer – or the administrative assistant in the officer’s absence – is responsible for tracking fees collected annually.

Proposed amendments to the town’s dog ordinance are meant to give the animal control officer more teeth. Diffin said the ordinance has lacked a quantification of what level of barking triggers an offense, making it difficult for the officer to charge offending dog owners.

The amendment states that an owner or responsible party cannot “allow any dog to bark, howl or make other sounds common to its species if such sounds recur in steady, rapid succession for 20 minutes or more or recur intermittently for one hour or more.”

The law would not apply if the dog has a “legitimate cause for provocation,” nor would it apply to “farm animals kept on a property” in town.

Included in next year’s proposed spending plan is about $575,000 – including contingency funds – for the reconstruction of Mill Road. Voters rejected a proposal last June to borrow $900,000 for the resurfacing and partial reconstruction of the road.

If voters support the project this year, sections of Mill Road would be reclaimed and repaved. Reclaiming, which includes recycling and strengthening existing pavement instead of reconstruction, provides the cost reduction from last year’s proposal.

Dirt Road to Route 231 would be reclaimed and repaved, while Dirt Road to Route 115 would just be repaved.

The proposed budget also includes spending $170,000 from capital reserves to purchase a Public Works truck, as well as an increase from about $253,000 in the current fiscal year to about $276,000 in fiscal 2013 in the Fire-Rescue budget. More money would be spent on the public safety assistant position, created last year when voters approved an official Fire Department for North Yarmouth.

The extra funds would go toward expanding Public Safety Assistant Ricky Plummer’s hours from 20 to 30 a week. They also include an increase in the fire chief stipend from $4,000 to $8,000 to better account for the time the chief puts into the job. The additional money would also go toward recruiting and retaining new firefighters/emergency medical technicians.

Plummer will serve as both public safety assistant and fire chief starting July 1.

Town Meeting at Wescustogo Hall, 475 Walnut Hill Road, begins Saturday at 9 a.m.

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

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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.