Van Buren residents approve budgets, elect officials

1 month ago

VAN BUREN, Maine – Van Buren residents approved a $3,432,569 budget and elected municipal officials during the recent June 11 election and June 12 town meeting.

This year’s budget represents a $145,206 increase over the previous year. Town Manager Luke Dyer said that while several factors can influence the town’s mill rate, which will be set in August, this year’s budget will likely not result in an increase.

This is because the mill rate is not just a result of the budget, but also other programs such as BETE (Business Equipment Tax Exemption), BETR (Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement), and the homestead exemption.

Dyer said some other factors include new construction in town and the demolition of the old Yacht Club building to make way for a new business, all of which will increase the town’s valuation.

Last year, Van Buren set the mill rate to $20.5 per $1,000 of evaluated property. This was a $0.25 reduction over the previous year’s mill rate of $20.75.

During the June 11 election, residents voted 145 to 57 in favor of the MSAD 24 budget. The school budget this year was $515,325, or just $3,000 higher than last year’s budget of $512,105. The school budget also passed during the town meeting.

Dyer commended the school committee for coming in with such a minor increase, particularly while other schools in the area are dealing with major increases.

Voters also elected town council incumbents Paul Nadeau and Anne-Marie Poitras back for another three-year term with a respective 141 and 138 votes. 

Rodney Soucy Jr. was elected as a Van Buren Light & Power Trustee with 104 votes. Daniel Pelletier was elected as a Water District Trustee with 97 votes. And Leslie Beaulieu and Christina Dolan were elected to the MSAD 24 school board with a respective 152 and 124 votes.

Dyer opened the town meeting with a presentation illustrating recent municipal grants and programs. These include a new fire station and training center, for which the town just received $2.177 million via federal congressionally directed spending, and a $77,845 Grant Street Park Project, funded by the Community Resilience Project.

He also mentioned the town’s Citizens Institute on Rural Design grant, which they received in late 2023. Dyer said this has opened up several opportunities for the community, including their collaboration with Drexel University in Philadelphia.

Dyer on Thursday said the reception during the town meeting shows that the town is moving in a positive direction.

“We understand that we need to make some change and we need to formulate a direction that moves Van Buren into the future,” he said. “And I think we’re lucky to have community members that are interested in making that happen.”