A voter casts his ballot during the Castine Annual Town Meeting last Saturday. The 37 voters gathered there voted unanimously in favor of every single item on the town and school budget. PHOTO BY DAVID ROZA

Castine voters pass entire budget unanimously

CASTINE — Town staff were struck by how little debate there was between voters at Castine’s Annual Town Meeting last Saturday morning.

In a span of an hour and a half, all 37 voters gathered at the meeting voted to pass every single item on the town’s 2017-2018 municipal and school budget.

“This is my third town meeting as manager and this was the least eventful,” said Town Manager Jimmy Goodson III.

The municipal budget weighed in at $2,113,478, a .4 percent increase over last year’s budget. At $522,294, the public safety budget is down a little under $20,000 from last year. The public safety budget encompasses a wide swath of municipal services, including the Fire Department, the transfer station, the harbor and the dock Wi-Fi.

The town voted to raise an additional $10,000 for its reserves account, specifically for Castine’s fire rescue building. That brought the total reserves account to $52,500, up 23 percent from last year.

The town also voted to raise and appropriate $460,419 for debt service. Of that total, $361,881 will be used for roads and infrastructure, $68,086 for underground utilities and $30,452 for Emerson Hall.

Voters decided it wasn’t necessary for the moderator to read out items 24 through 32. Instead, they voted for all nine items as a single block.

“I think this was the first time in my tenure as moderator that every item was voted unanimously,” said Robin Mass, who started moderating the school budget in 2006 and took up the municipal budget in 2009.

Goodson said he and town staff expect the property tax to increase 2.5 or 2.6 percent, depending on how the town’s valuation shakes out later this summer.

At $1,469,109, the school budget had an increase of $23,679, which is 1.6 percent higher than last year’s budget. The town also voted to raise and appropriate an additional $15,000 for the repair and maintenance of kitchen areas and another $15,000 for the special education reserve account.

There was a $14,750 increase in the part of the regular instructional services budget that pays for tuition to private schools. Overall, the regular instructional services budget decreased by about $16,800.

Town staff said there are about 1,100 registered voters in Castine, of which about 3.3 percent were present at the Town Meeting.

David Roza

David Roza

David grew up in Washington County, Maryland, has reported in Washington County, Oregon, and now covers news in Hancock County and Washington County, Maine for The American and Out & About.