SURRY — The Surry annual Town Meeting will go on, live and in person, as well as via the videoconferencing platform Zoom.
Normally held in April, the meeting was postponed this year due to the pandemic.
The new date is Saturday, July 18, at 9:30 a.m. at the Surry Elementary School.
Selectman Bill Matlock said the first 50 residents in attendance will be in the gym, the next 50 in a classroom and the next 50 in another classroom. “The classroom will have a large TV with the Zoom meeting on and a mic for questions,” he said.
Because of COVID-19, the state of Maine is still operating under Governor Janet Mills’ emergency order, which prohibits gathering of more than 50 people in one space.
“We are still hammering out details with the moderator and school technician but are confident that we can manage a safe, in-person/in-house presentation and vote to follow the state guidelines,” said Selectman Betsy Armstrong.
Residents who don’t want to attend in person may watch from home via Zoom. However, Armstrong said registered voters must be at the school to vote.
The pandemic and the gathering restriction have put Maine towns, many of which rely on the town meeting form of government, in a difficult situation. Most new fiscal years begin July 1. Mills has issued an order allowing towns to operate on spending levels approved in 2019 warrant articles until townspeople can meet.
The town of Blue Hill has truncated and combined articles from its Town Meeting warrant for residents to vote by ballot during the July 14 primary.
In Surry, the proposed budget for fiscal year 2021 is $2,895,897.96, according to town Treasurer Tom Welgoss. “That represents an increase of $161,824.58, which is about a 6 percent increase.”
The increase is attributed to growing student enrollment at the school.
“The school population is going up, so additional teachers are needed,” Welgoss said.
The treasurer said the school is doing an analysis to find out what’s driving the increase in the school population.