SULLIVAN — Wearing masks is recommended and seats will be spaced at least 6 feet apart at Sullivan’s annual Town Meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 30, in the Sorrento-Sullivan Recreational Center on Route 1.
Attendance indoors will be limited to 50, but the proceedings will be live-streamed in the parking lot so more voters can comment and cast their votes on the proposed $3.139 million municipal budget. That figure reflects a 1.9 percent rise over the $3.081 million budgeted last year.
Selectman Roger Wakefield said the town’s Budget Committee met three times and scrutinized and discussed repeatedly every expenditure. Committee members include Wakefield, Gary Edwards, Helen Gordon, Jack and Myra Hornberger, Gerald Gordon, Russell Gordon, John Guyton, Ray Daley Jr. and Harvey Kelley.
“We really looked at expenses and revenues, too, and discounted the expected state contributions,” Wakefield said late last week. “The goal is to keep the tax rate the same as last year.”
Achieving that goal, Wakefield said, is helped by the 0.61 percent drop in Sullivan’s assessment for Regional School Unit 24’s $17.353 million budget for the 2020-21 school year. The assessment is based on the number of students enrolled and property valuation.
Wakefield said the Budget Committee is recommending approval of Sullivan Fire/Rescue’s request to pay two of its emergency personnel — a firefighter and emergency medical technician — each $4.03 per hour to be on call during an eight-hour, nightly shift seven days a week, year-round. The intent is to make greater use of the town’s own personnel for local and mutual aid emergency calls and complement the ambulance service contracted from Northern Light Medical Transport. Having two available means one can run a hose or other apparatus while the other is managing the emergency scene.
“It’s nice to have an extra person, another set of eyes,” Sullivan Fire/Rescue’s information officer Jeremy Ogden told selectmen earlier this year. He is both a firefighter and EMT.
Wakefield said the projected cost is $25,000, but most of those funds would be paid out of a fire reserve account. He and Town Manager Stacey Tozier held many sessions with Sullivan Fire/Rescue personnel to finalize the on-call plan.
“Why would you even question supporting them [Sullivan Fire/Rescue]?” he asked, adding that he and Tozier asked the department to put together a long-term capital expenditure plan.
On funding requests from various nonprofit groups, Wakefield says funds were prioritized for organizations and programs that directly benefit local residents. Those include the Frenchman Bay Library and the Food Backpack program that supplies food for the weekend for needy families whose children attend Mountain View, Ella Lewis and Peninsula schools.
Funding has been reduced, but not eliminated for certain entities farther away such as the Ellsworth Public Library and the Down East Family YMCA.
Wakefield expected Peter Drinkwater to be nominated as moderator for the 2020 Town Meeting. He said a Zoom link will be posted enabling any attending voters exceeding the 50-person limit to be able to “watch and talk” from outside the Rec Center.