Residents face beer, wine referendum

8 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — On Tuesday, Houlton voters will be asked to cast their ballots in the state primary candidates, the RSU 29 budget, and a local referendum option regarding the sale of beer and wine on Sundays.

The polls will be open Tuesday, June 14, 2016 at the Gentle Memorial Building, 128 Main St., from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Residents can register to vote at the Town Office and at the polls, provided they bring identification and proof of residency.

Absentee ballots are still available until Thursday, June 9, at 4 p.m. at the Town Office.

The municipal referendum will ask voters if they wish to allow the sale of malt liquor and wine to be consumed off the premises of licensed establishments on Sundays. The question is on the ballot as part of a citizens’ petition.

Stores were selling beer and wine up until April 2015 when changes came about after an investigation by the state’s Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages agency. The agency directed the Houlton establishments, including the town’s three grocery stores, to cease Sunday sales of beer and wine. Spirits, however, were still allowed.

For decades, Houlton was known as a “dry town” meaning there were no Sunday alcohol sales of any kind. In 1993, a town referendum was held to see if voters wished to allow Sunday sales of beer and wine. That vote failed 699 in favor, 874 opposed.

Voters will also be asked to cast their ballot on a the proposed $13.1 million spending plan for RSU 29 for the 2016-17 fiscal year. The budget features a $282,653 increase in spending over last year. However, thanks to a large anticipated carryover balance, coupled with a one-time refund from the Maine Public Employees Retirement System, the actual tax impact next year is a decrease of almost $11,000.

In addition, voters will be asked if they wish to continue the budget validation referendum process for an additional three years. If this question fails, it means the district would be able to approve its spending plan during the annual district budget meeting held at the high school, as opposed to doing the current two-step process.

Also on the ballot, depending on which political party the voter is registered with, will be candidates for representatives to Congress, State Senator, Representative to the Legislature and Judge of Probate.

For more information, call the town office at 532-7111.