At Gouldsboro’s annual Town Meeting, Select Board Chairman Dana Rice and West Bay Road resident Becky O’Keefe show Hugo Diaz’s oil portrait of the late West Bay farmer Bill Thayer driving his draft horses. The artwork was presented to Thayer’s wife. Thayer served for 20 years on the Select Board. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY LETITIA BALDWIN

Gouldsboro’s $6.45 million budget breezes through



GOULDSBORO — The town’s $6.145 million 2022-23 budget, fueled by the $3,534,280 school appropriation, sailed through at the annual Town Meeting June 15, where no one challenged escalating municipal costs but did ask some questions.

Most of the 100 residents in attendance in the Peninsula School gym seemed either resigned or confident in town officials who spent over 200 hours since early this year trying to rein in the total budget, which represents an 18.6 percent hike.

Newly elected Select Board member Jackie Weaver was sworn in for a three-year term by moderator Tim Pease. The other newly elected selectman, Peter McKenzie, was unable to attend and will be sworn in for a three-year term at a later date. In their bids for the two expired seats, in elections held on June 14, Weaver and McKenzie captured 285 and 185 votes, respectively, while the three other candidates incumbent Wally Moore, Paul Shoemaker and Chris Uruqhart received 123, 158 and 140 votes, respectively, according to Gouldsboro Registrar of Voters Anne Laine.

Incumbent Ernie West, who had served as selectman for seven years, chose not to run again this year. Former Selectman Roger Bowen stood up and thanked West for his service, calling him a fair “straight shooter.”

Besides West, the late, long-serving selectman and West Bay farmer Bill Thayer was honored for his service spanning nearly 20 years. Thayer died in 2019. His wife, Cynthia Thayer, was presented by Select Board Chairman Dana Rice and West Bay Road resident Becky O’Keefe with an oil portrait by Sullivan artist Hugo Diaz of her husband driving Darthia Farm’s two Haflinger draft horses, Archie and Andy. The image may be how the gentle-mannered farmer, selectman and musician perhaps is best remembered.

“He took this job so seriously when he represented the community,” Rice said. “He always listened.”

In addition, former Gouldsboro Fire Chief Alden Tracy Jr. was recognized for continued support of the Fire Department over six decades. Tracy served as fire chief for 22 years and began volunteering at age 16. Nowadays, he keeps track of the department’s 12 vehicles scattered between three stations. The department’s Station No. 1 in Prospect Harbor is named after him. Tracy, who was presented with a gift certificate as well as a certificate recognizing his 60 years of service by interim Fire Chief Adam Brackett, received a standing ovation.

In their consideration of the 36-article Town Meeting warrant, just a few voters asked questions about Gouldsboro’s $6,145,596 budget for 2022-23, which includes the town’s $3,534,280 share of Regional School Unit 24’s budget of $21,711,625 for the 2022-23 school year. Gouldsboro’s portion represents a $481,277 rise — 16 percent — over its $3,053,003 appropriation for the 2021-22 school year. RSU 24 administrators say most of the increase represents debt service for the new Charles M. Sumner Learning Campus combining 6th through 12th grade. Approved at the May 26 annual district budget meeting, RSU 24’s $21.711 million spending plan was passed by Gouldsboro voters in a 341-144 referendum vote June 14. In a second referendum vote, they also approved the current budget validation process for another three years by a count of 348-128. The moderator recommended that voters make “your voices known through the school board process.”

“We need to have much more input with the school budget than we have in the past,” Rice told voters. “As a community, we are going to pay a lot of attention to the school budget going forward.”

Gouldsboro’s $6.145 million budget, driven up by the town’s $3.534 million share of the 2022-23 Regional School Unit 24 budget, breezed through at the annual Town Meeting June 15. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY LETITIA BALDWIN

Voters passed an article authorizing the Select Board to lease a vehicle for up to five years, and raise and spend $10,000 for that purpose, for Shellfish Warden Mike Pinkham. Pinkham uses his own vehicle to patrol the town’s many flats and for his work in Gouldsboro’s Shellfish Resilience Laboratory in Bunkers Cove and the town’s multi-year Gouldsboro Shore project focusing on reviving and safeguarding shellfish and clam flats, shorefront access and shore infrastructure.

Bowen questioned the cost of leasing of an additional vehicle for municipal operations when the town is trying to rein in costs and lessen the impact on taxpayers. He asked whether Pinkham could, perhaps, share a town truck.

Police Chief Pat McNulty noted Pinkham is a law enforcement officer and his job often involves “all hours of the day and night.” He added Pinkham’s initiatives have put the town on the coastal Maine map for shellfish conservation. “The best way right now to have a vehicle in your fleet is to lease it,” he said.

In a 49-34 vote, differing from the Select Board and Budget Committee, voters raised $2,500 to become a member town of the Down East Family YMCA. Gouldsboro Recreation Committee member Ellysea Bryant made a persuasive case for the Ellsworth YMCA as a year-round recreational resource for all ages.

In addition, voters approved a noise ordinance banning the practice of firing devices, which explode on impact, in town. Those devices include, but are not limited to brands such as Tannerite, Star and Sure-shot. The ban, to be enforced by police, was drafted in response to repeated complaints of excessive noise stemming from the use of detonating targets in Corea village.

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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