Bridgton residents have choices to make

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Bridgton residents will make decisions on the town budget, ordinances and municipal officials next week with an election on Tuesday and the annual town meeting on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, voting for municipal officials and on six referendums will take place at the town hall from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

On Wednesday, residents will discuss and vote on 47 warrant items ranging from a bond for more than $567,000 for the purchase of a new fire truck to $102,000 for single sort recycling equipment. At the annual town meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall, selectmen will present a $5.57 million municipal budget, which is up .26 percent from the current fiscal year. With county and school shares factored in, the total budget shows a 6.04 percent increase.

At the same time as they vote for town positions, residents will consider six referendum questions. The first referendum question, Article 3, would ratify amendments to the site plan review ordinance. Town Manager Mitchell Berkowitz said the economic development committee worked with the Planning Board to design the ordinance, which for the most part focuses on setting aesthetic guidelines for developments. The guidelines cover landscaping, setbacks from the road, parking locations and types of siding.

“Every community goes through it,” Berkowitz said, adding that Bridgton looked to surrounding towns’ plans to create their own.

Two shoreland zoning ordinances follow, which Berkowitz said were requested from the state.

Residents will vote in Article 8 on a mooring regulations harbor master safety ordinance, which would “create some standards and then have a harbor master enforce those standards,” Berkowitz said. The standards would center on specifications and placement of moorings, as well as on how long residents could keep them in the water.

Some of the largest items on the proposed town budget for fiscal year 2008-2009, which begins on July 1, are the police department, public works and the transfer station. The administrative budget is down 8.21 percent, while the budgets for public safety and public works are both up by 6.75 percent and 5.92 percent, respectively.

Berkowitz said he expects two items to bring the most discussion at town meeting – a proposal to spend $102,000 on equipment to turn the transfer station to a single-sort facility and the elimination of paid lifeguards at town beaches, which would be substituted by a beach attendant and increased police presence at the beaches.

Changing to single-sort recycling and shipping the town’s recyclables to the ecomaine recycling facility could save the town money by raising recycling rates, Berkowitz said. Placing all recyclables in one bin would be easier for residents than separating them by type.

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