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Caribou, Limestone residents have no shortage of local items on ballot

CARIBOU, Maine — The people of Caribou and Limestone will have plenty of local issues to vote on during the Nov. 6 election, including open seats on the council and school board, a non-binding referendum on a proposed Caribou senior tax assistance program, and the fate of Limestone Community School.

For Caribou, residents will be able to vote in two City Council candidates for a three year term. A total of four candidates are running for councilor, with no incumbents: Thomas Ayer, Christine Lister, Christopher Lydon, and Jody Smith. Incumbent Betheny Anderson is running unopposed for a three-year term on the RSU 39 School Board and Betty Hatch is running for a three year term on the Jefferson Cary Memorial Hospital Fund board.

Anyone hoping to learn more about the Caribou City Council candidates will be able to do so at an Oct. 24 candidate forum in the city office at 6 p.m., after which the candidates will be available for a public meet and greet.

The Caribou ballot also features a non-binding advisory referendum that asks residents if they favor a program designed to provide property tax relief for senior citizens who are either longtime residents or are living on a low income. For the city to move forward with the program, local property taxes would increase by one half mill, which would result in someone with property valued at $100,000, for example, paying an additional $50 in annual property taxes.

Since this is a non-binding question, the city is not required to take action after the election. Councilors discussed the question at length during an August meeting, with some apprehensive about raising property taxes. Mayor David Martin suggested only moving forward if there is overwhelming support for the referendum, as residents would not be likely to complain if they are mostly in favor. However, he said that if the vote is close, then the city would likely not move forward with the program.

Limestone residents also will be asked to vote on a serious issue: whether to officially withdraw from RSU 39, which serves Caribou, Limestone, and Stockholm. Last year, the RSU 39 board of education voted to send Limestone High School students to Caribou, which sparked the withdrawal effort in Limestone. After voting in favor of a petition to withdraw, holding a number of public hearings on the matter, and establishing agreeable terms for withdrawal with RSU 39, the only step now is the final vote on withdrawal to allow residents to take back ownership of the school. If this question passes, withdrawal would be effective at the beginning of the 2019 school year.

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