2017-06-23 / Community

Ducharme wins KLP seat; Town budget OK’d

By Wm. Duke Harrington Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — Election Day 2017 in Kennebunk was both a banner victory for the budget and a bloodbath for incumbents.

In the June 13 vote, school board members Jeffrey Cole and Lionel Menard lost out to a pair of challengers for their seats on the RSU 21 Board of Directors, while longtime public official Wayne Berry lost his seat on the Kennebunk Light and Power (KLP) Board of Trustees.

However, while the school board vote was convincing, the KLP contest was a squeaker, with Bradley Scott Ducharme toppling Berry by a mere six votes, 786-780, in what has been described as one of Kennebunk’s closest election battle in at least 20 years.

Town Clerk Merton Brown, who’s has worked polling places locally for 43 years — the last 20 in Kennebunk — said Monday he’s only seen one town race during his tenure that was close enough that a recount was called for. Of course, a do-over is not requesting in every near miss, and Brown said neither candidate had yet ask for one this time around.

“I have not heard anything official from either candidate,” he said. “I’ve had conversations with each of them since the election about recounts, mostly procedural stuff on how a recount would be done, but no official word asking that we do so.”

Brown said either candidate could ask for a recount within five business days of the election, making the deadline to file such a request the close of business on Tuesday, June 20.

Ducharme said Monday he did not intend to ask Brown’s office to double check its tally.

“Merton said there’s no ‘hanging chads’ or anything like that. So, why would I ask for a recount. I trust him and the girls in the office,” he said.

“Thank you so much Kennebunk voters for your vote of confidence and the changing of the guard at KLP,” Ducharme added in a prepared statement. “I will keep my pledge to listen to you and care about what you want for this very proud, very rare, consumer owned electric company. I look forward to working with all of the KLP trustees, General Manager Todd Shea, and Kennebunk’s board of selectmen in moving KLP into the future. I thank all the volunteers who made this a successful campaign to get my message out to the voters. Lastly I would like to thank Wayne Berry for his years of service with KLP and as a town selectman.”

Prior to joining the KLP board in 2012, Berry logged three terms as a selectman.

Attempts to reach Berry were unsuccessful.

Budget

Voters also agreed in overwhelming numbers to both the annual municipal budget and a series of four bond requests.

Kennebunk’s $12.84 million operating budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year will draw $8.27 million from property taxes — an increase of 3.14 percent, most of which (2.48 percent) will come from increases in debt service. That was fine by 82.2 percent of voters, however, as they voted yes to the budget, 1,396-303.

An even greater majority (84.8 percent) agreed to transfer $896,000 from the town’s undesignated fund balance for a variety of purposes, including rental and/or repair of vehicles and equipment; lighting and landscaping projects at town hall, the Central Fire Station, and the police station; sealing of road cracks along with purchase of materials for a host of culvert and water basin projects; and to cover an anticipated $87,000 shortfall in the town’s “pay-as-you-throw” solid waste program, as well as to set reserves aside for the town’s 2020 bicentennial celebration and to reduce future debt service payments. The vote for all of that went was 1,444-259.

In a separate vote, residents also agreed 1,498-192 (88.6 percent in favor) to transfer $150,000 out of fund balance to cover a shortfall in the highway department’s winter roads budget, a deficit caused by the higher than anticipated number of major snowstorms.

Borrowing

Of the four bond questions on the ballot, the closest was a call to borrow $2.69 million to refurbish the town garage, solid waste transfer station, and recycling facility on Sea Road, primarily to segregate residential traffic in and out of the site from heavy equipment used by the road crew. The total bill for the project is expected to come to $3.4 million, given an anticipated 3.5 percent interest rate over 15 years.

Just 60.1 percent of voters backed that bond, with 907 in favor and 585 against.

Kennebunk voters were collectively more keen on three other bonds. One asked them to OK borrowing $770,000 to buy a fire truck and a plow/dump truck. At 3.5 percent interest over 10 years, those vehicles will cost $887,783. The purchase passed with 72.1 percent in favor —1,181-457.

Another bond for $480,000 will be put to work paving and/or making road drainage upgrades to Holland Road, Longview Terrace, Clearbrook Crossing, and Perkins Lane. Also penciled in as a 10 year loan at 3.5 percent interest, the full cost will come to $565.423. That bond passed muster with 72.9 percent of voters in a 1,194-444 decision.

The final bond was the biggest, at $1.38 million, requested for similar road work on Summer Street, Dane Street, and Portland Road. That bond will be for 15 years at an anticipated 3.5 percent interest rate, costing taxpayers $1.7 million. It passed 1,175 (or, 77.9 percent) in favor, and 333 against.

In all, voters authorized issuing bonds that, with interest, will cost them $6.23 million over the next 15 years.

Ordinances

Finally, voters overwhelmingly approved two new ordinances. A new park use ordinance which, among other things, limits the use of aerial drones, passed with 1,366 (82.9 percent) in favor, and 281 opposed.

A new fireworks ordinance will require a permit issued by the fire department on the day of use in order to shoot off consumer explosives. Permits will only be issued for fireworks use two days per year, July 4 and Dec. 31, from 9 a.m. until 12:30 a.m. the following day. However, residents also may take out two additional permits per year, “based on good cause shown” to “commemorate special occasions.”

That limitation was deemed acceptable to 72.1 percent of voters, who adopted the new rules 1,198-464.

Staff Writer Duke Harrington can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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