2017-08-18 / Community

News Briefs

TAXES SET — Kennebunk selectmen have set the tax rate for the current fiscal year at $16.55 per $1,000 of property valuation. That’s up 65 cents (or 4.1 percent) from last year’s mil rate of $15.90.

The new rate means that the median single-family home in town, assessed at $250,000, can expect a tax bill this year of $4,138 — an increase of $163.

The new rate was adopted at the Aug. 8 selectboard meeting in a close 4-3 decision, with selectmen Blake Baldwin, Christopher Cluff, and William Ward opposed. Baldwin and Cluff did not give a reason for their no votes, but Ward said he preferred a mil rate of $16.60, which would have given the board an overlay of $453,967 — roughly 1.3 percent of committed taxes. The lower mil rate means a 1 percent overlay of $352,545.

An overlay is an amount raised above the funding needed to cover the town’s operating budget and other costs. Generally, it is set aside to cover new tax abatements and exemptions allowed during the year, as well as taxes left unpaid.

However, in Kennebunk, it also gets used as a contingency account. According to Cluff, last year’s overlay was used to “float” an over expenditure in the public works road plowing account until town meeting, when voters okayed an appropriation from the town’s undesignated fund balance to replace the shortfall.

The board also set the due date for taxes, with the first half of property tax bills due October 6, and the remainder due by April 6. The interest rate on late payments was set at 7 percent, as it has been since 2009.

NEW FOOD — At their Aug. 8 meeting, Kennebunk selectmen approved a new victualer’s license for Rebecca Gagnon of Pownal to do business as Kennebunk Frozen Custard Treats.

Located in the mini-mall at 2 Morning Walk Lane, the shop is a second location for Mainely Custard and Classic Cookout of Freeport, which Gagnon purchased in 2015 with her parents Jim and Lisa Gagnon, after eight years of working there under the previous owners.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Gagnon is a 2012 graduate of the University of Southern Maine, with a second 2015 degree in accounting from the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio.

VIP DONATION — The Kennebunk Police Department has been given an anonymous donation of $500 to go toward its Volunteers in Police Services. Although the department does not know who submitted the gift, they do know it was given in honor of Barbara Yates, who, as an octogenarian, became a graduate of the town’s first Citizens Police Academy in January 2015.

The donation was made, selectboard chairman Dick Morin said, “for the way [Yates] embodies the honesty, caring, and integrity that represents a good citizen.” Selectmen formally accepted the donation at their Aug. 8 meeting.

NEW OFFICER — The Kennebunk Police Department has hired Meghan Nealey as its newest full-time police officer.

A graduate of the 14th Basic Law Enforcement Training Program through the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, Nealey started her career in Kennebunkport as a summer reserve officer in 2007.

She then worked two years as an officer for the Gorham Police Department. After time out of country, Nealey returned to the U.S. in 2016 and elected to return to her law enforcement career. Nealey holds a bachelors degree in criminal justice from the University of Maryland.

CROSS TALK — Kennebunk Selectmen have approved the installation of a second crosswalk on Beach Avenue, voting unanimously to install a walk at Crescent Avenue.

At their July 11 meeting, selectmen agreed to a resident request for a crosswalk on Beach Avenue as Surf Lane, but passed on the walk at Crescent Avenue on the belief that, becasue it is a private road, the town would not have sufficient space to build a so-called “safe landing area.”

Since then, Town Engineer Chris Osterrieder performed additional research and found that in 1980 a perpetual right-of-way and easement was created as part of the planning board’s approval of the Gooch’s Beach House condominium complex.

“At this point there is sufficient evidence to indicate that there are adequate rights for public passage between Bayberry and Beach avenues,” Town Manager Mike Pardue wrote in his agenda memo to selectmen. “Given the activity in the area and the clarification of the legal access, staff is recommending that the crosswalk at Crescent and Beach avenues be implemented.”

Osterrieder has said previously that the installation of each crosswalk on Beach Avenue will cost about $3,000. That includes the price of paint as well as modifications to the sidewalk on the shore side of Beach Avenue to create a ramp in the curb, making it wheelchair accessible at the new crosswalk, and to create a raised island “landing area” on the side of the street farthest from the beach, where there is no sidewalk.

Because cars will not be allowed to park within 20 feet of the new crosswalks, Beach Avenue will lose three parking spaces in the area of each new crosswalk.

NEW ROAD — Kennebunk may soon have a new road to maintain. Located off Alfred Road, just east of the Kennebunk Light and Power District substation, Mabry Lane was approved by the planning board in June 2014 as part of the nine-lot, 60.2-acre Sterling Woods subdivision.

According to Town Engineer Chris Osterrieder, the developer was granted a waiver from having to build a sidewalk for the road, which ends in a roundabout and is up to town standards.

The right-of-way is wide enough that the town can add a sidewalk at a later date, if it chooses to do so.

Selectmen voted unanimously to send the road issue to a public hearing at their Aug. 22 meeting, with an eye to sending the question of acceptance to voters in November.

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

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