Author Archives: joanne cole

Municipal Budget and More at May 1 NG Town Meeting

A 30,000 gallon cistern for fire protection near Route 100 and Morse Road, firefighter breathing apparatus, and plenty of paving are among the budget items New Gloucester residents will be asked to consider at Town Meeting on Monday May 1 at 7 pm at Memorial School. Traditionally an opportunity for neighbors to reconnect after a long winter, this year’s gathering will offer the chance to impose a ban on retail marijuana establishments, to establish term limits for selectmen, and to enact zoning ordinance changes, as well as set the municipal budget. The warrant for the meeting, detailing the budget articles and other initiatives, can be viewed here.

For the municipal budget, some $4.32 million in expenditures is proposed, about a 6 percent increase over current spending. Departmental operating expenses are up across the board; employee merit pay and new per diem stipends for emergency rescue staff on call overnight, seen as a first step in closing the pay gap with neighboring towns’ EMTs, are included as well. Continue reading

MSAD 15 Board Meetings Add Detail to School Budget Picture

The MSAD 15 Board and district staff continued to refine the proposed 2017-18 school budget at a series of April workshops. Tasked by the Board with further reducing a draft budget that reflected a 5 percent increase, district administrators sharpened their pencils. On April 12, they returned with a revised $25.5 million budget that limits the overall increase to 3.94 percent, down from an initial 8.8 percent increase at the outset of the budget development process.

The latest budget draft will be discussed at a board meeting on Wednesday, April 26, at 6:30 pm at the high school. After that, information will be mailed to residents in early May and a school budget town meeting held on May 25. The budget goes to the voters on June 13. Continue reading

MSAD 15 2017-18 Budget News

In a March 27 newsletter to the community, MSAD 15 Superintendent Craig King has shared an overview of the district’s draft 2017-18 budget. The budget anticipates an overall increase of approximately 5 percent as a result of reductions in state aid to education, a shifting of pension obligations from the state to the community, and increased expenditures by the District on bonds for school renovations and for insurance, among other factors, according to King. The newsletter outlines proposed reductions in staffing and programs, a moratorium on non-essential spending, and a hold on vacant positions, among other measures to limit the budget increase. Continue reading

State Representatives Ellie Espling and Jessica Fay Meet with Area Residents

Modeling bipartisan spirit by co-hosting, State Representatives Ellie Espling (R-New Gloucester-Poland) and Jessica Fay (D-Casco-Raymond-Poland) held community office hours on Monday evening, March 6, in Poland. They shared an inside look at the legislative process from the perspective of a member of leadership (Espling) and a first-termer (Fay), and provided constituents an opportunity express concerns. Some two dozen area residents took up the offer and engaged in a lively, wide-ranging exchange about pending bills, the status of last fall’s referenda, and how citizens can make their voices heard in Augusta. The two-hour session took place at Poland’s Ricker Library. Continue reading

Rep. Espling to Hold Community Hours Mon. March 6 from 5-7 pm at Poland’s Ricker Library

New Gloucester’s State Representative Ellie Espling (New Gloucester-Poland) will hold community office hours with Representative Jessica Fay (Poland-Casco-Raymond) on Monday March 6 from 5 to 7 pm at Poland’s Ricker Library. Stop by to hear what’s happening in Augusta and share your thoughts.

Bills sponsored by Rep. Espling with public hearings coming right up include LD 180, which would establish a single unified board overseeing the UMaine System, the Community College System, and Maine Maritime (Wed. March 8 at 9 am) Continue reading

New Gloucester Town Budget: Public Hearing Wed. March 1 at 7 p.m.

While the rest of us were shoveling, eleven dedicated citizen-volunteers were working on New Gloucester’s Fiscal Year ’18 budget with the help of Town staff. The result of the Budget Committee’s efforts will be open to public comment and questions on Wed. March 1 at 7 p.m. at the Meeting House. You can study up ahead of time: the proposed FY18 budget in line-item detail—from postage to plowing—is available for download here. The 119-page document sets out the Budget Committee’s FY18 recommendations alongside those of the Board of Selectmen, with prior years’ data included for comparison. Following the March 1 public hearing, the Committee and the Selectmen will finalize their respective budget recommendations for voters’ consideration at Town Meeting on Monday, May 1.

The municipal budget is only part of a larger tax picture that includes the county and schools. Indeed, if New Gloucester residents’ total tax expenditures were a pie, the town’s slice can resemble what your weight-conscious cousin takes at Thanksgiving so as not to offend Aunt Rose. Last year, for example, more than three-quarters of the tax-dollar pie went to the SAD 15 school budget and Cumberland County. Even considered on its own, though, this year’s proposed $3.9 million municipal-only budget is “particularly challenging,” according to Town Manager Paul First. Continue reading

Selectmen invite public input into New Gloucester Town Manager search

With Town Manager Paul First due to step down on April 4, the search for his successor is under way. The Board of Selectmen has retained the Maine Municipal Association to coordinate the search, and the ad is now posted on the MMA’s job board as well as on the town website.

The Selectmen have invited residents to suggest what criteria the Board should use to choose among applicants and what questions to ask in interviews. Interested citizens may offer that input in person at the Board’s Monday February 6 meeting at 7 pm or in writing by submitting this form to the town office by 4 pm on Thursday February 9. The Board asks that written comments be kept anonymous and submitted in an envelope marked “Confidential – Town Manager Search.”

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Sen. Eric Brakey and Rep. Ellie Espling roll out wide-ranging bills in new session

Hedgehogs had the headlines, but concealed handguns, tinted windshields, public assistance, voter photo IDs, child care, political signs, union dues, and citizen ballot initiatives are among the subjects of other bills sponsored by New Gloucester’s representatives in Augusta. Here’s a look at some of those bills.

Last fall’s election included ballot referenda on the minimum wage, recreational marijuana, and gun background checks, among other topics. This session Rep. Espling has proposed legislation to change how such citizen initiatives get on the ballot. Current Maine law specifies only the number of signatures required, not the residence of the signers. Under Rep. Espling’s bill, signatures would have to come from both of Maine’s Congressional districts (LD 31). To qualify, a measure would need signatures from the First District equaling 10 percent of the last gubernatorial vote there and signatures from the Second District equaling 10 percent of its gubernatorial vote. The proposed law requires an amendment to the Maine Constitution. Continue reading