Fort Kent voters pass 2020 budget with slight increase
FORT KENT, Maine — Fort Kent voters passed a 2020 budget on Monday that showed a slight increase over last year during their annual town meeting.
The meeting had been postponed for three months due to COVID-19.
The new budget represents a slight increase over last year’s budget, a projection of 22.36 mills from 2019 to 22.44 mills in 2020, a potential increase of $8 for every $100,000 of property owned.
This number may change based on homestead calculations not yet factored, and could possibly be reduced.
“This year we had some uncontrollable increases we need to factor into our calculations,” Fort Kent Town Manager Suzie Paradis said.
Among those were increases in union contracts, professional liability and health insurance and the inclusion of an extra pay period this year.
Monday’s meeting was held at the Fort Kent Lion’s Pavilion at Riverside Park, an outdoor venue chosen to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19.
The most recent executive order by Gov. Janet Mills allows for public gatherings of no more than 50 people in Maine while under the civil state of emergency.
Chairs were placed inside the pavilion to seat up to 48 people, all at a distance of six feet apart.
The 47 voters who attended the meeting passed all 48 articles presented in the town warrant.
A new budget item presented for voter approval was a $19,000 request to rebuild a portion of the parking lot at the site of the Fort Kent Fire Department.
Voter Larry Guimond asked at the meeting whether the town could “skip a year” in terms of funding the parking lot project.
“We have skipped several years. The parking lot that is there now is the original one from when the building was built in 1987,” Fort Kent Fire Chief Ed Endee said. “Right now we can’t even stand up in some places it’s so bad.”
Endee added that the parking lot serves as a ramp for the department’s fire equipment and also as a place for firefighters to perform training exercises.
The town also requested $1,500 for marketing to promote business in Fort Kent.
Among the non-budgetary articles was a request of voters to authorize the town to sell a Main Street property, formerly the site of the VFW building.
Election of a new town councilor occurred in March when voters selected Joey Ouellette to fill a three-year seat vacated by Councilor Scott Pelletier when his term expired.
A full recording of the meeting is available on the WFKTV Channel 4 YouTube website.