Feb. 23—POLAND — The municipal budget recommended by local officials is nearly $5.1 million, which represents a 3.3% increase over last year's fiscal budget, according to Town Manager Matthew Garside.
The effect, if any, that increase would have on the town's tax rate won't be known until a school budget is passed. A referendum on the school budget will be scheduled for June.
For the second consecutive year, local residents will be expected to cast ballots by referendum instead of gathering indoors for an annual town meeting. That decision was prompted by Gov. Janet's Mills' emergency order that places restrictions on the size of groups that can safely congregate indoors due to COVID-19 infection concerns.
As they did last year, townspeople will vote on the annual budget and other warrant items by either absentee ballot or in person at Town Hall on April 2, between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., Garside said.
At its March 2 meeting, the Board of Selectpersons is scheduled to conduct an information session on the upcoming town meeting referendum. Residents are urged to email questions to or participate in the March 2 Zoom videoconference or both, Garside said.
"So, the thought was that at the town meeting, when you do it in person, you have the chance to better inform voters at that time because you can answer questions and talk about things because everybody's there," he said. "But, since it's going to be done by a ballot, they thought they would have information that night that would allow people to ask questions" before they're asked to vote.
Voters in April will be asked to approve a contribution of $837,581 to the town's Capital Improvement Plan, an amount higher than normal because the town didn't contribute to the fund in its last fiscal budget.
Also proposed in the referendum is an increase in law enforcement coverage from 16 hours a day to 24 hours daily by the Androscoggin County Sheriff's Office for in increased cost of $156,562 a year. And adding two full-time firefighters to the Fire and Rescue Department would cost $165,225, Garside said.
Voters also will be asked to approve the sale of roughly 10 acres of town land known as the Sadie Jackson lot off Estes Way. The proceeds would go to the Conservation Commission, Garside said.
Because the ballot is fairly long, he said officials are hoping voters might opt for absentee ballots in order to spend some time poring over the warrant articles.
A newsletter containing all of the ballot questions as well as login information for the upcoming Zoom information session is expected to be mailed shortly to townspeople, Garside said.