Residents approve plan to create Belgrade water district

BELGRADE — Voters at Saturday’s annual municipal assembly approved the continuation of a plan to create a Belgrade water district and passed most of the proposed $3.6 million budget.

Instead of attending a live meeting, residents voted on the city’s mandate at the polls at the Belgrade Community Center for all seasons at 1 Center Drive (Route 27).

The budget represents an increase of about $300,000 over last year, according to City Manager Anthony Wilson. Increased spending, however, will not automatically mean higher property taxes, as officials said they plan to offset the increase with greater use of unrestricted funds and non-tax revenue.

Residents authorized the city to continue negotiations with the Maine Department of Transportation to create a Belgrade Water District to serve the triangular section of the city bounded by Routes 27, 135, and 8, where road salt storage contaminated the aquifer that serves the area’s wells. .

Two items related to this issue were on the terms of reference:

• Section 22 asked if residents support the creation of the Water District, which serves as voter ratification of a bill passed by the Maine Legislative Assembly last year to create the district. This article passed 249-135.

• Section 23 authorized the Board of Selectpersons to negotiate a contract with the Maine DOT to resolve the issue, which passed 349-49. The execution of the contract is always subject to the approval of the voters, once finalized.

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In other votes, Melanie Jewell and Richard Damren Jr. were re-elected to the Board of Selectpersons, with Jewell receiving 276 votes; Damren, 264 votes; and Nicholas Alexander, 158 votes.

Five candidates were vying for a three-year position on the Regional School Unit 18 Board of Trustees. Sharon Frost won the race with 169 votes. Of the other four candidates, Penelope Morrell received 125 votes, Brian D. Wedge received 56 votes, James M. Smith received 25 votes, and Stacey Dowling received 18 votes.

Two of the 41 articles of the mandate failed, including:

• Article 7, which would have raised $5,000 for the Belgrade Lakes Region Business Group’s July 4 fireworks display, was beaten 195-217.

• Article 24, which would have raised $5,000 to improve pedestrian infrastructure and signage to reduce vehicle speed in the village, was defeated 182-219.

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