Madawaska residents approve budget, ordinances during annual town meeting

3 weeks ago

MADAWASKA, Maine – Dozens of residents packed into the Madawaska High School cafeteria on Tuesday night and voted to approve the budget and adopt ordinances during the town’s annual meeting.

This year’s $8,146,900 tax commitment is the same amount as the previous year. Interim Town Manager Dan Foster said this year’s budget will almost certainly lead to a slight decrease in the mill rate.

“We have a good surplus, which is always nice to see,” Foster said. “And I can assure you that the budget that the folks will be passing tonight will not require a mill rate increase.”

MADAWASKA, Maine — June 25, 2024 — Madawaska Interim Town Manager Dan Foster is pictured here during the town’s annual meeting on June 25. (Chris Bouchard | St. John Valley Times)

The town’s mill rate last year was $25.40 per $1,000 of evaluated property. Foster said town officials will meet with the assessor in August and that they should be able to set this year’s mill rate in September.

Foster said last month that the primary factors behind this year’s budget are increased revenues and the utilization of surplus monies, as the town spent about half a million dollars less than anticipated during the 2023-24 budget year.

Due to a light winter, the public works department saved about $275,000. The town also cut two full-time positions within the public works department.

The recreation department also went from two full-time staff to one full-time employee and one part-time employee.

Foster answered clarifying questions about some items on the warrant, however each article passed by a majority vote. One resident asked Foster if he could clarify Article 45, a lengthy item that asks voters to let the town borrow up to $1 million – with all of the money forgiven — to cover costs associated with wastewater treatment facility and collection system upgrades.

Foster said he also found the legally required wording of the article confusing. He said Madawaska has some issues with its wastewater collection system, and that the Department of Environmental Protection will give the community up to $1 million to treat these issues. The department is offering the funding because it will help prevent a potential environmental risk.

And while the word “borrow” is used in the article, the money would not require a match or require any taxpayer funding.

“The bottom line is that they will give the town of Madawaska a million dollars,” Foster said. “We do not have a match. We’re allowed to use it on our pollution control system.”

Citizens also approved a solar and housing ordinance during the meeting. The solar ordinance will create a distinction between small-scale and large-scale solar systems. It defines small-scale systems as generating less than 50 kilowatts of power and large-scale systems as generating anything over this amount.

The housing ordinance, which coincides with newly mandated state law, will define accessory dwelling units. These are any units that are within, connected to, or on the same property as a single-family dwelling unit. These accessory units are used for people living independently from the primary property owner.

Foster, who will be stepping down as interim manager once newly-appointed town manager David Daigle begins on July 15, commended the community in a speech to residents during the meeting.

“I hope that you appreciate and understand the value of the community that you have,” he said. “This is a dynamic, positive, quality community. There is a lot going on; it’s very busy for the size of the population. You’ve got a lot of people who are looking to do great things.”