NEW GLOUCESTER — The Selectboard has 60 days to present a new municipal budget to voters after appropriations for the New Gloucester Public Library and Planning Department were rejected at the polls last week.
The Selectboard and Budget Committee will hold a joint meeting in about a week, according to newly elected Selectman Peter Bragdon. Bragdon, former chairman of the Budget Committee, defeated political newcomer Paul Larrivee Jr. 631-544 in the July 14 election.
The $8 million budget’s appropriation of $87,860 library was defeated 657-563. The $60,046 budget for the Planning Department was voted down 732-484.
The library and planning budgets had been cut during budget negotiations and were the topics of weeks of debate and budget revisions.
Although the rejection of the library budget was not a surprise, Bragdon said the vote on the planning budget was unexpected because the Selectboard had reinstated the work hours it initially cut from that department.
However, Bragdon said, the Budget Committee did not have time to reconvene after the Selectboard revised the budget, so the warrant reflected an outdated recommendation from the committee.
“(There was) such a difference we think that people got concerned and didn’t know and voted no … The short answer is we really don’t know (why it was rejected),” he said.
He added that if the Budget Committee had time to reconsider, its recommendation on the warrant would have been closer to the amount on the warrant item.
Results of Tuesday’s election were unavailable until about 9 p.m. last Thursday.
“Due to the outstanding voter turnout and volume on Election Day, the required hand counting of the ballots is taking an especially long time to complete,” read a statement on the town’s website. The town office was closed an additional day, on Thursday, to count the ballots.
Deputy Clerk Kimberly Getchell said this week that the results took so long to come in because all 40 warrant articles on each ballot had to be hand counted. By the time the Selectboard finalized the budget and decided to send the town meeting warrant to a referendum vote in mid-June, it was too late for the town to order ballots that could be counted by a machine.
Getchell said about 15 volunteers over two days helped count the ballots. 614 residents voted by absentee ballot and 795 voted in person.
“Normally we have a town meeting where people vote in person and usually (there is) a max 150 people. This year everyone who got an absentee (state ballot) got a town ballot as well, which is unprecedented,” Getchell said.
In the SAD 15 School Board race, there were no candidates, but incumbent Gary Harriman received 128 write-in ballots. There were 67 other write-in ballots.
There were no candidates for Water District. Incumbent Trustee Norm Chamberlain received five write-in ballots for the one-year term seat.
Both questions on the SAD 15 budget validation referendum, on the $28.2 million district budget and the $195,076 adult education program budget, passed.