Amid pandemic, Limestone budget up for vote in July election

LIMESTONE, Maine —  Limestone residents will vote on the municipal and school budget via referendum — as opposed to the town’s annual meeting — during the town’s July 14 election at the Limestone Community School auditorium. 

There were delays in holdingf town meetings because of the restrictions on gatherings imposed as part of Gov. Janet Mills’ state of civil emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Limestone Town Manager George Finch said the ballot will allow residents to vote on each department’s budget individually. Limestone and many other Maine municipalities are already one month late passing their annual budgets as a result of the pandemic, and Finch said this method will allow them to approve their budget without falling further behind but still staying within state guidelines.

Residents will also be able to choose town officials during the election. Two three-year seats on the board of selectmen are available, and for this board member Fred Pelletier is running as an incumbent and Jesse Philbric is running to replace Tadd Devoe’s seat. 

For a single three-year term on the Limestone Water and Sewer District Board of Trustees, both Thomas Albert and Robbie Caldwell are running to fill Neil Leighton’s seat.

For a single three-year term on the Limestone School Committee, Marie Conarroe is running against incumbent Shaun Guerrette.

Absentee ballots can be picked up at the Limestone Town office at 93 Main St., or by calling 207-325-4704.

“This was a difficult choice for the board to make as Limestone has always looked forward to their annual town meeting,” said Finch. The change was made to meet the governor’s emergency order, and that the board could not see any other way to meet the guidelines with an expected turnout that would exceed current occupancy limits. 

“Already we are facing a one month delay, as the new fiscal year begins on July 1,” he said. “Unfortunately this is just one of many unintended consequences of the pandemic guidelines.”

Leading up to the election, Finch said Limestone will provide a wide variety of data concerning town and school budgets on the town’s website. It will also include links to attend Zoom meetings and to their official YouTube page, which contains footage of both selectboard and school committee meetings.

The election will be held from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the school auditorium, and Finch said the facility will be set up to accommodate social distancing guidelines as well as meeting other state-issued guidelines from the Maine CDC.

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