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Norway approves $2.7 million budget
NEW RULES — Code Enforcement Officer Joelle Corey-Whitman explains some of the major changes to the town's rental ordinance that were adopted by annual town meeting voters in Norway on Monday night.
NFD's NEW TRUCK — The Norway Fire Department's new Engine 3 was on display outside the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in Paris on Monday night as Norway voters walked into the school to begin the town's annual town meeting. Annual town meeting voters last year approved the money to buy the truck,
NORWAY —Voters approved a $2.7 million municipal budget, an updated rental and street vendor ordinance and gave provider agencies another $5,000 at the annual town meeting Monday night.
About 75 voters, who met in the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in Paris, approved the 46-article warrant in about 90 minutes with little discussion.
Voters okayed the revised rental ordinance, which, in part, changes the method of inspections to a stricter standard and increased inspections from every three years to every two years with better enforcement ability and stiffer fines.
Voters approved the $2.7 million municipal budget with only a minor change, giving an additional $10,000 to the police department largely to supplement the department's wages. The department's budget of $470,346 had been reduced by $10,000 – the amount town officials felt would be saved if the proposed police department merger with Paris had occurred July 1 as expected when the budget was developed.
The proposed budget is less than a 3 percent increase over last year's budget. A significant increase in the town's share for the Oxford Hills School District, along with a decline of $55,000 in state revenues, a $40,000 increase for retirement payments and costly capital needs for roads and maintenance has all impacted the budget this year, said officials.
Voters approved $740,000 for the Highway and Public Works Department, $353,000 for road improvements, $62,105 for in-town road improvements and $219,800 for the fire department among other department budget requests.
Voters also approved an amended street vendors permit which will repeal the 1936 hawking and peddling ordinance that officials say has become outdated. A new electrical ordinance will provide additional safety measures for firefighters – ensuring they will not be electrocuted in case of a fire in a structure that could still be powered.
Voters approved $20,000 from the Community and Economic Development reserve fund to build a pedestrian bridge across the Pennesseewassee Stream in order to connect the Water Street municipal parking lot to Main Street.
Town Manger David Holt, who submitted the request, said the town will be able to utilize its parking lot better and access the Gingerbread House and other Main Street sites from that parking lot with the bridge in place.
Voters spent the most time – about 20 minutes – questioning why they were cutting money to the provider agencies, such as Western Maine Transportation Services, the Red Cross and Reach, who were all present at the meeting, from $25,000 to $20,000 this year.
Holt said he hesitated to do it but because some requests were down and the town needed to save money, he requested the lesser amount. Voters amended the article to give the provider agencies a full $25,000. A volunteer group will decide later this year how that money will be divided.
In other capital item requests, voters approved $45,000 for the reserve account for truck and plow gear replacement; $45,000 for the reserve account to fund the eventual replacement of tractor-type highway equipment (such as the grader, loaders, sweeper and trackless;) $5,000 for the sidewalk and traffic safety and $8,000 for the bridge repair reserve.