2017-09-22 / Community

News Briefs

TAX RATE — The Arundel Board of Selectmen has set the town’s tax rate for the current fiscal year, voting at a Sept. 5 special meeting for $15.50 per $1,000 of assessed value.

That’s up 38 cents (or 2.51 percent) from the previous mil rate of $15.12. As a result, the owner of the median single-family home in town, valued at $200,000, can expect a property tax increase this year of $76, up from a total tax bill of $3,024 to $3,100.

In the September issue of The Arrow, a town hall newsletter mailed to local residents, Town Manager Keith Trefethen, wrote that “several factors come into play to provide a modest adjustment in the tax rate.” Those factors keeping the tax rate in check included an anticipated “small increase” in revenue as well as a larger $14.72 million spike in total property values, up 3.5 percent in the eyes of state assessors, to $436.3 million.

One of the largest factors driving the increase was the $136,240 cost to hire a second dedicated patrol deputy and squad car from the York County Sheriff ’s Office, an outlay approved at the annual town meeting in June.

At that time, Trefethen said the cost of a second deputy would add 33 cents to the mill rate all by itself. However, he was predicting a new mil rate of $15.77 — so, the damage has come down 21 cents since the annual budget was set, based on the updated valuation and revenue figures, as well as a windfall in increased education funding from the state.

Chris Woodcock Chris Woodcock NEW COP — Following approval of a second dedicated patrol deputy at Arundel’s annual town meeting this past June, that second set of eyes is now on the road.

The York County Sheriff’s Office has assigned Arundel native Chris Woodcock to join Deputy Greg Sevigny as a full-time patrol officer contracted exclusively to Arundel.

An alum of Thornton Academy and a 2007 graduate of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, Woodcock, began his law enforcement career in Cumberland, spending nine years there before moving on to one year on the Biddeford Police Department, from which he was poached by the Sheriff’s Office this past November.

“I grew up in this town and things have changed for sure, but I’m very familiar with the area and it’s very nice to be back,” Woodcock told selectmen when introducing himself at an Aug. 14 meeting.

Woodcock began patrolling Arundel the first week of September.

HARD CIDER — Just in time for the season, shoppers can now buy hard cider at the Kennebunk Farmers Market, open Saturdays from 8 am. to 1 p.m. at 1 Garden Street.

At its Sept. 12 meeting, the board of selectmen unanimously approved a vinous liquor license for the product, considered a wine by the state. Although the license is nominal for the market, Town Clerk Merton Brown said it will enable sales by a single vendor, Acton-based Kelly Orchards, which is licensed by the state to make and retail hard cider.

Still, Brown said, the license would apply to any other state-approved vendors the market may wish to admit during the life of the permit.

ROAD VOTE — Voters at the polls in Kennebunk Nov. 7 will be asked to adopt a new road as a town way, subject to public maintenance.

Approved by the town planning board in June 2014, Mabry Lane serves a nine-lot subdivision built by Mine Exteriors LLC at 467 Alfred Road.

“The Mabry Estates subdivision improvements are complete and the necessary reviews and approvals per the town ordinances are in order,” Town Manager Mike Pardue wrote in a memo to selectmen. “The developer is asking to have this roadway placed on the next town meeting for possible road acceptance.”

Selectmen voted unanimously at their Sept. 12 meeting to but the question before voters.

PARK VOTE — Just days after Kennebunk voters approved a new parks ordinance at the annual town meeting this past June, selectmen were informed there would need to be a do-over thanks to oversights in the new rules for public use of the town’s 19 parks and three public beaches.

At their Sept. 12 meeting, selectmen voted unanimously to send the required changes to a new town vote Nov. 7, and to recommend passage.

As adopted back in June, the new ordinance says all parks and beaches “shall be closed from dusk until dawn.”

However, the beaches, as well as Ethelyn Stuart Marthia Park, Tibbetts Plaza and Waterhouse Center, have not historically required visitors to leave at sundown. If approved, the inadvertent curfew would be lifted at those locations.

The ordinance also says, “No person or organization shall bring, carry, or use in any way knives, or other weapons of any kind, or any fireworks or other explosive substance of any kind.” If approved by voters, that sentence would be appended with the disclaimer, “unless otherwise permitted by law.”

State law allows possession of a knife with a blade smaller than four inches. But, technically, even a pocketknife is banned under Kennebunk’s new parks ordinance.

According to Town Manager Mike Pardue, appending the simple “unless otherwise permitted by law” tagline not only fixes that discrepancy, it also insures the town against any future changes to state or federal law, so that the local ordinance would not need to be updated with any change in state or federal law.

The only question asked at the Sept. 12 meeting came from Selectman William Ward, and did not actually involve either of the two proposed amendments. Ward noted that medical marijuana is among the smoking materials banned from use in town parks and on public beaches.

“Was that intentional?” he asked.

“That was the advice of counsel,” Pardue said.

DONATION — At its Sept. 12 meeting, the Kennebunk Board of Selectmen accepted a $150 donation to the police department, given by the Parsons Beach Association.

The gift was given, board chairman Dick Morin said, “for their appreciation of the department’s efforts to Parsons Beach parking enforcement efforts for the 2017 summer season.”

The beach is privately owned by descendants of the original Parsons settlers, but they keep it open to free public use, even fighting the town a couple of years ago over its plans to install metered parking. Because parking is extremely limited on the one road leading to the beach, the site is patrolled by summer reserve officers.

MERIT AWARD — Kennebunk selectmen took time at their Sept. 12 meeting to give a congratulatory nod to town code enforcement officer Paul Demers, who doubles as president of the Maine Building Officials and Inspectors Association (MBOIA).

“While under Paul’s leadership, this association was recently selected to receive an International Code Council (ICC) Merit Award, which is the award given to the runner up to the winner of the ICC Chapter of the Year recipient,” board chairman Dick Morin said. “Receiving the ICC Merit Award is particularly prestigious as the ICC is comprised of 375-plus chapters from around the world.”

Demers has been invited to the ICC’s annual business and educational conference in Columbus, Ohio, to accept the award on behalf of the Maine chapter, a trip to be paid for by the MBOIA and ICC, Morin noted, “at no cost to the town.”

“What I want to know is why he didn’t come in first,” Selectman Ed Karytko joked.

“There’s always next year, just like the Yankees,” Town Manager Mike Pardue quipped

CAREER CAPPER — Also at their Sept. 12 meeting, Kennebunk selectmen paid homage to longtime recreation department volunteer Greg Searle, for 28 years of dedicated service to the town.

“Greg began as an alternate member of the parks and recreation committee in 1989, was elected chairman in 1996, and served 19 years as chairman until this past June,” board chairman Dick Morin said. “We’d like to acknowledge Greg’s outstanding dedication to the parks and recreation committee and thank him for his many years volunteering with the department.”

On Sept. 6, Searle also was feted by the parks and recreation committee, along with several current and past recreation department employees. Morin apologized for not being able to attend that celebration, due to a work conflict.

“I came,” Selectmen Blake Baldwin told Morin. “And the thing that made him most happy is that he got to sit in your chair and put his feet up on the desk right where you’re sitting.”

POLLING HOURS — Kennebunk selectmen have decided to open polls for voting on Nov. 7 from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. As usual, voting will take place in the Edward C. Winston Auditorium in town hall.

In addition to regular business hours, the town clerk’s office will be open for voter registration and in-person absentee voting from 9 to 11 a.m on Saturday, Oct. 28 and Sunday, Oct. 29, as well as from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 2, which is also the last day voters can request an absentee ballot.

Absentee voting will be accepted starting Oct. 10.

There are not candidates on this year’s ballot. There will however, be two local issues — to approve proposed amendments to the Kennebunk Parks Ordinance and to accept a private subdivision road as a town way — as well as four statewide referendum questions.

Question 1 is a citizen’s petition to allow slot machines or a casino in York County. Question 2 is to expand Medicaid coverage for qualified adults younger than 65 if their household income is at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. That equates to $16,643 per year for a single person and $22,412 for a family of two.

Question 3 $105 million bond issue for roads, bridges, and “multimodal facilities,” with some left over to be sent to towns to pay for new culverts. That borrowing is estimated to cost taxpayers $137 million counting interest over the life of the bonds.

Finally, Question 4 claims it will “reduce volatility” in state pension funding by increasing the length of time over which market losses from bad state investments can be amortized, from 10 years to 20 years.

The question is in the form of a resolution from voters, which could then lead to the necessary constitutional amendment initiated by the legislature needed to make the change.

FAMILY APPOINTMENT — At their Sept. 12 meeting, Kennebunk selectmen appointed Rachel Drive resident Margaret Bartenhagen, a retiree with a background in mediation services, to a one-year position through June 2018 on the town’s energy efficiency advisory committee.

The request to join the group created a brief, minor kerfuffle because Bartenhagen’s husband Nicholas already sits on the committee.

Committee chairman Sharon Staz said her group supported the appointment by unanimous acclamation. However, while the town does not have a policy that prohibits spouses or family members from serving on the same volunteer committee, selectmen last year declined to appoint relatives, including a grandmother and grandson, to the town’s ad hoc skate park committee.

“I think that was simply because there were more applicants than there were positions for that, so we tried to diversify,” Selectman Shiloh Schulte said.

According to Town Manager Mike Pardue, Kennebunk currently has a husband and wife serving on the community garden committee, and a mother and daughter on the parks and recreation committee, as well as a brother and sister assigned to the bicentennial committee.

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

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