Loan payment increases Winter Harbor budget

WINTER HARBOR — The town’s first payment on the Winter Harbor Utilities District upgrade is among the factors driving up the proposed $957,216 municipal budget to be considered at the annual Town Meeting.

The meeting will convene at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 29, in the Winter Harbor gym.

The 2020-21 budget represents a 13.9 percent rise over this past year’s expenditures totaling $840,757.

Winter Harbor Town Manager Cathy Carruthers says the Winter Harbor Utilities District, which processes wastewater for 244 households as well as over two dozen commercial and government customers, last fall finished a major project upgrading the wastewater system’s plant and pump stations, replacing obsolete equipment  and updating other aged infrastructure. She says the town’s $72,000 portion of the Utilities District’s first loan payment is due.

Carruthers said Police Chief Danny Mitchell Jr.’s position is being made full-time. She said his annual salary will increase from $24,137 to $50,050. She said the police chief’s job involves considerable administrative work as well as mandated professional training for himself, Sgt. Phillip Sargent and Officers Eli Brown and Ken Schuurman and many other tasks and duties.

“We are a very small town, but we are a very busy small town,” Carruthers noted Tuesday.

Carruthers, too, is the beneficiary of a raise in her annual salary from $47,068 to $54,600 The town manager does not get health insurance coverage from the town. She added that a 2 percent cost-of-living raise is being budgeted for town employees.

“It does feel good to have the Board of Selectmen recognize the value of my hard work,” she said.

Winter Harbor’s education expenses are projected to drop. For its share of Regional School Unit 24’s 2020-21 budget, totaling $17.35 million, the town will see an 8.73 percent decline in its assessment of $984,913 compared to $1.079 million last year due to a decrease in Winter Harbor students.

Also on the 31-article warrant is Winter Harbor’s share of the Hancock County tax — $88,273 — compared to $82,545 last year.

The Hancock-based nonprofit Coastal Recycling closed earlier this year and ceased accepting waste after April 27. Winter Harbor is among the five member towns that are being reimbursed funds. The town recently received $13,140 and the money will be used to offset solid waste collection costs, according to the town manager.

At the Town Meeting, Carruthers said masks will be available and seating will be spaced out in the gym, in accordance with Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. She said the main door will serve as the sole entrance and a side door will be used to exit the building.

Letitia Baldwin

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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