Easton residents approve budget and choose leaders   

2 weeks ago

EASTON, Maine — About 40 Easton residents turned out Monday night to approve 42 warrants during the annual town meeting.

At polls throughout the day on April 1, residents re-elected Tammy Beaulier-Fuller and Norman Trask to the Easton Select Board and chose Bradley Trask and Penny Siddiqui for the school board.

Moderator Kevin Marquis announced election results and led those attending through the agenda. Residents approved all warrants, including the next fiscal year’s budget items, with little discussion.

It was Jim Gardner’s last annual meeting as town manager. Gardner will retire on April 30 after 13 years as the town’s leader and 25 years in municipal government, but already has a role. He was recently appointed by Maine’s Senate to the Loring Development Authority board.

Select board members presented him with a plaque honoring his service to the town.

Gardner presented Easton’s Spirit of America Award, which recognizes volunteerism and service, to the Friends Helping Friends Food Pantry. Pantry leader Vaughn Martin accepted the award. 

EASTON, Maine — April 1, 2024 — Vaughn Martin (left) of the Friends Helping Friends Food Pantry in Easton accepts the Spirit of America Award on the pantry’s behalf from Easton Town Manager Jim Gardner during the annual town meeting on April 1. (Paula Brewer | The Star-Herald)

The pantry distributes food monthly and helps 110 families, Martin said.

Among the warrants, residents approved $113,333 for the Easton Fire Department and up to $75,000 to replace the fire station’s heating system.  

One resident asked about the plan to replace the station. Gardner said applications are nearly ready to submit for federal funding in next year’s cycle, and fire department leaders are looking at prospective plans and sites for a new station. 

The current building can’t accommodate the size and weight of fire trucks and equipment, Gardner said. Replacing the heating system will allow the building to be repurposed.

Under highway department business, a resident asked whether the year’s paving schedule included the railroad tracks on the Station Road, which have been in disrepair for some years. The tracks are owned by the state, so the town can’t fix them, Gardner said. 

Among other budgetary items, residents approved $233,625 for town administration, $388,041 for the highway department, $116,090 for recreation, $35,889 for building and grounds maintenance and $345,960 for other expenses, which include the Tri-Community Landfill, streetlights and assessing.

Voters also approved the property tax schedule. Taxes will be due Oct. 1 and interest will start accumulating on unpaid taxes on Nov. 1 at a rate of 8 percent.