Gouldsboro battles the clock to finish municipal budget

GOULDSBORO — The town’s Budget Committee has reconvened to determine if a 2020-21 municipal budget can be drawn up in time for voters’ consideration at this year’s annual Town Meeting.

The date for the meeting will be determined by the Board of Selectmen at its next meeting July 9.

Meeting at the Prospect Harbor Women’s Club last Thursday night, with their deliberations live-streamed via the online platform Zoom, selectmen approved the treasurer’s last warrant for the 2019-20 fiscal year and voted 5-0 to continue running the town using last year’s budget (numbers) until Town Meeting is held and voters ratify a new budget.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gouldsboro’s Budget Committee has not met recently, but its chairman, Dwight Rodgers, told selectmen that members would find a safe way to convene to assess where the town stands financially as of the 2019-20 fiscal year’s close on June 30. Rodgers said the committee will determine whether it’s feasible to resume hearing and reviewing funding requests from Public Safety, services and committees and other departments and draft a 2020-21 fiscal budget in time for Town Meeting.

Rodgers also noted some Budget Committee members’ terms were due to expire at the end of June, but selectmen said those members don’t actually vacate their seats until Town Meeting and could work to draft a 2020-21 fiscal budget in the interim. Rodgers said he would report back at the July 9 meeting.

After meeting in executive session, selectmen voted unanimously to hire Andrea Sirois as town manager. Completing a transitional phase, Sirois succeeds Eve Wilkinson, who has served as interim town manager since last August. Wilkinson’s contract expired June 30. Sirois, who has a one-year contract and a six-month probation period, has an annual salary of $52,000 including benefits. Dental and vision were added to the health care package. She is being equipped with a cell phone for conducting town-related business.

In addition, selectmen voted 5-0 to purchase and install a small air conditioner in the Police Department office after hearing a related report from Infrastructure Superintendent Jim McLean. The board had asked McLean to research the pros and cons of installing heat pumps to cool and heat the town office. McLean outlined the costs involved and potential manufacturer’s and Efficiency Maine rebates. Heat pumps, he said, work best in open-floor plan spaces and are not suited for the town office’s layout.

“It’s not really an efficient way to heat the whole town office because of the way it is cut up into small cubicles,” he said.

Selectmen also voted 5-0 to fully open the town’s Jones Pond Recreational Area in keeping with any related COVID-19 pandemic-related state rules. The board earlier this year had closed the playground to protect the public amid the pandemic.

McLean informed selectmen that he had furnished a wheelbarrow and woodchips to the Jones Pond Recreational Area’s caretaker, Ben Holmes, who has been cleaning up the walking trail and the grounds.

In a related matter, McLean said a Maine Department of Transportation crew has pledged to fill a washed-out section of Recreation Road.

In other business, selectmen voted 5-0 to award a $4,500 contract to J.E. Tracey & Son to do ditching on the Clinic Road. A.R. Whitten & Son Inc. was the only other bidder, quoting $5,000 to do the work.

Letitia Baldwin

Arts Editor at The Ellsworth American
In addition to editing the Arts & Leisure section, Letitia edits special sections including Out & About, Overview, Health Quarterly, Your Maine Home, House & Garden and Get Ready for Winter. She comes from Chicago, Ill, but has deep family ties to the Cranberry Isles. [email protected]

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