2018-08-03 / Community

News Briefs

DUCK SQUARE — For one day only, Aug. 11, Kennebunkport’s historic downtown Dock Square is renamed “Duck Square.”

The request for the name change was made by the Kennebunk Portside Rotary Club as a means to promote the duck race portion of its 26th annual River Fest event. Last year’s event raised more than $11,000.

Selectmen voted at their July 12 meeting to allow the official name change.

However, not everyone supported the idea.

“I’m a big supporter of the Rotary Club and I also buy lots of ducks for the duck race,” said David James, president of the Kennebunkport Residents Association, although speaking personally and not on behalf of that group.

“But somehow or other I think it’s kind of demeaning for one day to rename Dock Square ‘Duck Square,’” he said. “And I really don’t see how that is going to increase the amount of revenue that the Rotary Club may generate. It seems a little bit too (much) commercialization of that event at the expense of the reputation of our town and the reputation of Dock Square.”

“I think our reputation can take it,” selectboard Chairman Ed Hutchins said. “We’ve got to show we do have some sense of humor and levity around here.”

TURNOUT GEAR — Kennebunkport selectmen have given the nod to a request from Fire Chief Jay Everett to buy eight sets of turnout gear for town firefighters.

The $18,156 cost is a regular expense, Everett said, as each set of protective pants and coat is only “good for about 10 years.”

The town’s 2018 reserve account for for fire department equipment only had $17,000 in it. However, there was still $9,242 left unspent from reserve accounts set up in 2015 and 2017, Town Manager Laurie Smith said.

In approving the purchase, selectmen had to OK a sole source bid. Kennebunkport has used only Globe brand turnout gear since 2001. However, Bergeron Protective Clothing of Epsom, New Hampshire, is the exclusive vendor for Globe products in Maine, making the ability to secure competing bids impossible without changing brands.

There was an $436 increase in the cost of each coat and pant set this year, Everett said. He was able to mitigate the impact by opting to authorize use of escape belts provided with the pants rather than the Class 2 harness used in the past.

The harness costs $365 for each set and Everett said he considered them to be “cumbersome and more difficult to use.”

DONATIONS — Kennebunkport selectmen recently accepted two sizable donations to the town.

On July 12, they accepted a $2,500 gift from Sandy Pines Campground. The money will be used to pay for increased water testing at and around the Goose Rocks Beach watershed this summer season, as part of the water quality program administered by Maine Healthy Beaches.

The second gift will require a second OK, however.

The Gordon Family Foundation wanted to give $4,000 to the local American Legion Post. Because that Legion does not carry a 501c nonprofit designation, it could not give the money directly. Instead, the foundation proposed giving the money to the town, with the condition that it then be forwarded to the Legion. The catch is that selectmen are not authorized to make such a pass through of funds of their own accord. Instead, a question will appear on the November ballot asking voters to OK

TAX RATE — At their July 26 meeting, Kennebunkport selectmen set the town’s property tax rate for the coming fiscal year.

The new rate of $8.76 per $1,000 of valuation is an increase of 3 cents from the current rate of $8.73.

To support this year’s $19.87 million budget — including $10.2 million for RSU 21, $1.1 million in taxes to York County, and $8.5 million to run the town, less $2.7 million in expected revenue from other sources — the owner of the median single family home in Kennebunkport, assessed at $300,000, will have a property tax bill of $2,628.

That’s an increase of $9, or 0.3 percent.

The new property tax is calculated on a town-wide state valuation for Kennebunkport of $1.95 billion.

It also includes an “overlay” of $76,207 — an amount raise above and beyond normal operating budget needs to pay for any allowed tax abatements during the year.

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

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