Town meetings: For most part, short and sweet

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Legislators present retiring Standish Town Manager Gordy Billington with a flag flown over the State House during the town's annual town meeting on June 17. 

WINDHAM — If annual town meetings were scored on brevity, Standish and Windham would get high marks this year. 

Each town held its annual meeting on Saturday morning, June 17, and both finished in less than 15 minutes after approving their budgets. 

The Standish meeting started at 9 a.m. and was quickly executed after attorney Bill Dale was elected moderator. Dale said afterwards that he usually comes to Standish’s annual town meeting to serve as moderator. 

After a motion by town Public Works Director Roger Mosley, Standish voters agreed to condense all but one of the budget articles into a single vote. That move led to the speedy and overwhelming passage of more than $7.1 million to be raised and appropriated by the town, as well as approval for $500,000 to be drawn from the town’s unassigned fund surplus and the appropriation of $1.6 million in bond proceeds for capital projects. 

The meeting also provided an opportunity for three local legislators to recognize Standish Town Manager Gordy Billington, who has announced his intention to retire later this year. Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, Rep. Jonathan Kinney, R-Limington, and Rep. Lester Ordway, R-Standish, presented Billington with a flag flown over the State House. 

Following the town meeting, the Standish Town Council held its own meeting to swear in newly elected members and choose new officers. Former Chairman Steven Nesbitt, who won re-election, was sworn in with council newcomers Brian Libby and Peter Starostecki. Kim Pomerleau was unanimously elected chairwoman and Greg Sirpis was unanimously elected vice chairman. 

In Windham, 35 voters at the 10 a.m meeting approved the $18.1 million budget with minimal opposition, also with most of the budget articles combined into one vote. It appeared that three people raised their yellow cards to vote against the budget, which Town Manager Tony Plante said would increase local taxes by roughly 1.9 percent. 

Prior to the vote, Town Councilor Donna Chapman said that the council “worked very diligently” to produce the final budget, though she did express concern that budget numbers “keep going up and up and up.” 

The Windham meeting was led by a familiar face: Will Plumley, who said it was his 25th year serving as the town’s moderator. 

Other towns around the Lakes Region also held town meetings recently, where local residents signed off on their respective municipal budgets. 

Raymond residents approved a budget on June 6 that was originally over $4.4 million, but was reduced slightly during town meeting when several warrant articles were amended to lower amounts.

Naples had its annual town meeting on Wednesday, June 7. The recently elected officials – including Selectmen Jim Grattelo, Kevin Rogers and Jim Turpin – were sworn in before residents approved a more than $3.4 million budget including TIF funding, a 2 percent decrease from the previous year. Naples voters did narrowly decline to provide $9,600 in funding towards the Lakes Region Exlplorer bus service by a vote of 26-24.

In Bridgton on June 14, voters approved the raising and appropriation of more than $7.4 million – along with the drawing of $125,000 from the undesignated fund balance to lower the local tax impact, $190,000 from the Community Development Block Grant Capital Reserve, an nearly $46,000 from the Bridgton Trust Fund to support several projects.

The Bridgton meeting also provided an opportunity to recognize Selectman Bernie King, who said he decided not to run again so he could enjoy more time with family and his hobbies.

“I really enjoyed my time as selectman, and tried to do the very best I could for the benefit of the Town of Bridgton. I thank all of those that have supported me for the last six years,” King said before congratulating recently elected Selectmen Bob Murphy and Fred Packard. 

“Now as my last official action, let’s get to the business at hand,” King said before town staff introduced themselves and voting got underway last Wednesday evening. 

Matt Junker can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or mjunker@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @MattJunker.

Legislators present retiring Standish Town Manager Gordy Billington with a flag flown over the State House during the town’s annual town meeting on June 17. 

Windham voters passed the $18.1 million town budget at the annual town meeting on Saturday, June 17. 

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