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Town meeting format could be thing of past in Middleton


MIDDLETON - After the town tax rate rose by 21 percent last year, many residents will have to be convinced before approving a 2.8 percent increase to the budget this week.

Residents must elect officials and decide whether to stick with the traditional town meeting format when polls open Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Old Town Hall. The remainder of business will be determined at Town Meeting, which is scheduled to begin Saturday at 9 a.m.

Last November, the state set the town's overall tax rate at $24.60 per $1,000 of local valuation. It is $5.14 cents - or 21 percent - greater than last year's rate of $19.46.

Five Articles - 3 through 7 - represent the town's operating budget, which would appropriate a total of $1,518,243. It is $43,159, or 2.8 percent, larger than last year's budget of $1,478,572.

Article 8 would appropriate $200,000 to continue the maintenance and reconstruction project along King's Highway. Selectmen and the Budget Committee recommend the amount be reduced to $100,000. These funds would not lapse until Dec. 31, 2018 or when the project is finished.

If approved, Article 9 would add $20,000 to the Highway Department Capital Reserve Fund (CRF). Selectmen and the Budget Committee recommend the amount be reduced to $10,000.

Article 10 would appropriate $20,000 to continue trimming trees along town roads. Selectmen believe the amount should be reduced to $10,000 while the Budget Committee does not recommend this article.

If approved, Article 15 would draw $40,000 from the Revaluation CRF and raise $5,000 through taxation to pay to revaluate properties in town.

Article 11 would accept $2,400 in grant money and add it to the Milfoil Invasive Aquatic Species CRF while Article 12 would add $10,000 to the fund, which offsets the cost to prevent the spread of exotic plants in waterways.

Neither the Board of Selectmen nor the Budget Committee recommend Article 12.

If approved, Article 13 would add $5,000 to the Town Hall Repair and Rehabilitation CRF while Article 14 would add $1,000 to the Natural and Manmade Disasters CRF.

Article 16 and 17 ask residents to establish a Heritage Commission and a related fund while allowing selectmen to appoint at least three residents to serve as members and up to five others to serve as alternates.

If approved, Article 18 would require the town to include the estimated tax impact on warrant articles in the future.

Article 19 asks resident to rescind the town's $200,000 bond offer on the Deer Run Road project of 2008, which did not come to fruition.

jquinn@newstote.com

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