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4/3/2013 2:00:00 PM
Bremen Re-Elects Selectman, Approves Budgets
Bremen Selectman Hank Nevins speaks at annual town meeting after hearing the election results. Nevins did not run for another term, but residents re-elected him anyway. (J.W. Oliver photo)
Bremen Selectman Hank Nevins speaks at annual town meeting after hearing the election results. Nevins did not run for another term, but residents re-elected him anyway. (J.W. Oliver photo)
By J.W. Oliver

Bremen residents re-elected Selectman Hank Nevins and approved the municipal budget and $382,144 secondary education budget during a 1 1/2-hour annual town meeting March 30.

The property tax rate will probably stay the same or go down a little bit, Nevins said.

Moments before Moderator Don Means announced the election results, Bremen Board of Selectmen Chairwoman Wendy Pieh presented a gift to Nevins, who did not run for re-election, to recognize his service to the town.

Nevins, in turn, presented a gift to the town of a framed, early 19th century bill to Bremen for state taxes.

Nevins received 60 write-in votes. He later accepted election and was sworn in. Residents also re-elected Bremen/Great Salt Bay School Committee member Bill Thomas with 70 votes, Bremen Planning Board Chairman David Koubek with 64 and Bremen Harbor Committee member Melanee Osier-Gilbert with 73. None of the races were contested.

There were no candidates for another position on the Planning Board and the harbor committee. Stephen Barnes received nine write-in votes for the former; John Mohr six write-in votes for the latter.

Barnes later accepted the position and was sworn in. Mohr declined the seat he had held previously.

Nevins, who had made a show of turning in his town office keys, reluctantly accepted them back from Pieh.

The $382,144 2013-2014 secondary education budget, which represents all expenses for Bremen students in grades 9-12, is $10,584 or 2.85 percent more than the 2012-2013 budget.

The local share of the budget, the amount Bremen taxpayers are responsible for, totals $284,644, an increase of $25,345 or 9.77 percent. A decrease in the fund beginning balance, or surplus, and a decrease in state funds account for the increase in the local share.

A closer look at the budget shows regular instruction expenses are up $19,270 or 6.62 percent, transportation is down $4053 or 12.58 percent, special education is down $3951 or 13.54 percent, career and technical education is down $1596 or 28 percent, student and staff support is up $963 and system administration is down $49 or 0.36 percent.

Highlights of the municipal budget include a $19,670 or 23.49 percent increase in town officer salaries, from $83,750 to $103,420.

An $11,500 increase in town clerk wages accounts for more than half of the overall increase.

The increase in town clerk wages is due to overlap at the town office early this year while Town Clerk Martha Varsano trains Deputy Town Clerk Kelly Clancy, who will take Varsano's place when she retires in March 2014. Clancy, in turn, will have to train a deputy town clerk to take her place.

Thus, the town was paying two clerks when it usually pays one, and will have to do the same for deputy clerks soon, Nevins said.

The town will also contribute to health insurance for employees for the first time, a new expense of $2120. That amount will only be spent if employees seek to access the benefit.

Residents also approved a raise for the selectmen, from $2400 to $3500 per year for the chairman or chairwoman and from $2300 to $3500 for the other two selectmen.

The town raised $11,000 less for roads and bridges, which includes maintenance and snowplowing. Significant balances in those accounts will help with this year's budget.

Bremen resident Tom Kostenbader, who oversees road maintenance for the town, said the town could finish re-paving all of its roads by the end of 2013, fulfilling a goal he had when he became a selectman in November 2010 to fill a vacancy on the board.

The town plans to begin a regular road maintenance schedule thereafter.

The Bremen Fire Department budget is up $9800 or 24.38 percent, from $40,200 to $50,000.

Almost every line item in the department budget is up, with a $2500 increase for fuel, $2000 increases for building maintenance, equipment maintenance and utilities; $500 increases for training and wages and a $300 increase for bookkeeping. The town will also spend $800 for mandatory hepatitis B vaccinations for all firefighters and first responders, a new expense this year.

The harbor committee operations budget is up $4400 or 25 percent due to a $15,000 expense for a new float and small increases for maintenance and repair. The town will pay for these expenses out of the balance of the harbor savings account, so they will not affect taxes.

The town raised $4000 for a "structural engineering study" of the town house.

Selectman Boe Marsh said the building "has served the town well since 1874 and we have an opportunity to go in and upgrade this building, from an engineering point of view, and make it good and solid for another 200 years."

The building suffers from severe rot on its north side, Nevins said, and the engineer who will examine it specializes in historic buildings like granges and town houses.

"As the building gets older and older, it's beginning to sag," Marsh said.

"That's happening to me, too," Nevins said.

The town plans to apply for a grant from the Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission, Marsh said. If it receives the grant, the town will only have to pay $2000 of the study cost.

The operating accounts are up $3700 or 4.46 percent, from $82,950 to $86,650. A $2000 expense for the new town website accounts for more than half of the increase.

The town will pay $34,180 for professional services this year, an increase of $2000 or 6.22 percent. A $1500 increase in attorney fees, from $7500 to $9000; and a $500 increase in Planning Board and Board of Appeals expenses, from $1500 to $2000, accounts for the change.

Other changes includes a $1000 increase in nonprofit donations, due to a new, $100 request from Youth Promise; an $860 increase in payments to the Nobleboro-Jefferson Transfer Station, a $700 decrease in shellfish operations and a $75 decrease in animal control.

The town will transfer $201,000 from surplus to spend on road repairs ($120,000) and a fire alarm and carbon monoxide system ($6000) and deposit the rest into savings accounts for future expenses.

The warrant allocates $25,000 toward the future purchase of a fire truck, $10,000 each for cemetery improvements, general capital improvement, roads and bridges and the town house; $6000 for fire department equipment and $5000 for a property revaluation.

Residents agreed to raise another $27,500 each for the capital improvement reserve and roads and bridges reserve from taxes.

For more information call the Bremen Town Office at 529-5945.

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