On Saturday, May 21, at 10 a.m. Raymond’s Annual Town Meeting will be held at Jordan Small Middle School.
This year’s warrant contains 62 articles to be voted on by the citizens of Raymond. It includes the 2005-2006 fiscal year municipal budget proposed at an increase of 4.62 percent in property taxes. It also includes an $8.48 million 2005-2006 fiscal year school budget, representing a 4.4 percent increase over last year with a 3.7% increase in the town share.
There are several articles to watch this year. Article 52 is in regard to continuing to publish the Road Runner town newsletter. The amount requested is $10,000. Voters will decide if this newsletter, sent to all Raymond residences, will continue.
Article 53 involves appropriating $58,000 to construct a digital broadcast studio. This item is being brought forward again this year after being tabled at last fall’s special town meeting. If passed, Time Warner Cable would supplement with a $48,000 grant, enabling Raymond to offer live broadcasts of municipal, school, and community meetings.
“I’m not saying it’s something I’m totally against,” said Dana Desjardins, candidate for the Board of Selectmen. “I just feel it’s not a direction we need to go to right now We’re creating another department by doing that.”
Christine McClellan, also a Board of Selectmen candidate, disagrees, “To have a digital broadcasting studio would be a great benefit to the entire community in that they could see every public meeting live.”
McClellan also believes there may be controversy over some of the zoning changes, based on the new Comprehensive Plan. Since the Board has made changes in all three zones, lot size requirements in each has been changed.
Another issue which may see debate during Town Meeting is Article 54, the purchase of an 83-acre parcel of land on Egypt Road. This property was leased by the town to use as its municipal landfill, which was subsequently closed in the 1980’s.
“I think the landfill issue is going to be a hot button,” said Desjardins. “There are a lot of unanswered questions. Exactly what did they find? I’d like to know in more detail. What are their plans? Are they planning on using this site for athletic fields and if they are, why? Is it safe?”
McClellan sees it a different way: “The community as a whole entered into agreement with the owners more than 20 years ago. So it was a dual responsibility and I hope the community as a whole recognizes that and doesn’t see it as controversial because we all have trash and it has to be dumped.”
McClellan went on to recall the problems created in the town of Wells because of a neighborhood the town built on an old dumpsite: “As a result of contamination, the town had to discombobulate the neighborhood and buy it back from the people and we don’t want that to happen.”
To prepare for the Annual Town Meeting tradition in Raymond, people are encouraged to study the issues and come informed. Raymond’s website, www.raymondmaine.org, has a wealth of information about the town, the budgets, and the Warrant.