Topsham selectmen send $8.5M budget to Town Meeting

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TOPSHAM — A proposed $8.54 million budget, a decrease of nearly $32,000 from the current fiscal year, goes to a Town Meeting vote May 14.

The Board of Selectmen on April 10 unanimously approved the proposal and several warrant articles, which voters will consider by line item next month.

Factoring in assessments to School Administrative District 75 (up 9.16 percent, as currently proposed) and Sagadahoc County (up 3.14 percent), and with revenues and reimbursements subtracted, Topsham’s total tax commitment could increase about $840,000, to $16.2 million.

That would result in a tax-rate hike of 4.45 percent, to $17.39 per $1,000 of property valuation.

Of the tax commitment, 53 percent would go toward school expenses, 38 percent to the town and 9 percent to the county, according to information provided by the town.

Along with voting on several budget articles, residents will also consider three items authorizing the town to apply for Community Development Block Grants on behalf of three businesses.

The Maine Harvest Co. seeks $240,000 in funding, while Wicked Joe Coffee Roasting Co. wants $270,000 and Frosty’s Donuts would like $210,000.

Wicked Joe is in the process of fitting out its section of the former Navy Annex Commissary, while the other two businesses are eyeing the remainder. If both are able to move forward, there is capacity at the site for construction of a new building, so all three businesses would have room, Roedner said.

“The state is actually giving us the money; we then give it to the company, and the company is obligated to create a certain number of jobs based on how much money they’re receiving,” Town Manager Rich Roedner said last week.

If the businesses fail to reach those goals, the town must repay the money, Roedner explained. The town’s agreement with each of businesses, made prior to accepting the grant money, would assure the money is repaid if the businesses fail to comply with the terms, the manager said.

Voters will also decide on an ordinance regulating mobile food services, and vote on the Route 196 plan.

That plan, an amendment to Topsham’s Comprehensive Plan, is the result of a study by the Route 196 Corridor Committee. The study included land uses, infrastructure, visual impacts of current and anticipated growth, and transportation.

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

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.