It took 122 Lubec voters over four and a half hours to get through the 52 articles on the town warrant, but they did it. The sometimes‑contentious town business meeting, moderated by veteran Harold Bailey, was held on August 6 in the Lubec school cafetorium and dealt with 42 fiscal items, four ordinance amendments, an update to the town charter, transfer of the ownership of the former Columbian packing plant and a number of procedural items.
Former Town Manager Dana Bradley set the tone by challenging Article 2, which requested $358,540 for general administrative expenses. Bradley, since 1975 the town's longest‑serving manager who also held a similar post in Farmington for three years, has wrestled with the select board during the last year over town office staffing costs and hours. He proposed a $20,000 reduction and asked that it be decided by written ballot. The motion to amend passed by a 68‑43 margin, then the amended article passed. By the time Article 2 was concluded, the meeting was nearly one hour old.
Most of the articles passed either unanimously or nearly so, with a few discussions that centered on clarification rather than challenges; however, this was not the case with Article 39, which dealt with the process by which the town disposes of tax‑acquired properties. A proposed amendment would have removed a clause, resulting in a long‑term opportunity for former owners to re‑acquire properties that had been foreclosed on for non‑payment of taxes but not sold outright by the town. Selectman Michael Scrivani pointed out that town seizure comes only after "three years of not paying taxes," to which Selectman Justin Doran added, "We don't want your property. We're not in the real estate business." After extensive discussion the original article, including the disputed clause, passed by 40‑23. By this time it was after 10 p.m., more than three hours into the meeting.
"We're doing pretty well," quipped Bailey. "This far and it's not even eight." He pointed at the clock over the kitchen door, long stuck at 7:45, bringing out some much needed laughter.
The four ordinance revisions passed with little or no discussion, as did Article 45, which authorizes the town to move forward with grant applications toward adding much‑needed dock space. An earlier article in The Quoddy Tides reported that construction would be partly funded with taxpayer money; this was not correct.
The proposal to transfer ownership of the former Columbian plant to the town from the Lubec Historical Society also generated discussion, much of it centering on the potential liability of undiscovered contamination. Ultimately this proposal, needed for the process of applying for federal funds to pay for the needed cleanup, passed unanimously.
Article 51, which authorizes the select board to move limited funds between accounts to cover unanticipated expenses, triggered another Bradley challenge. Claiming that this process leads to "fiscal irresponsibility" by effectively removing the spending limits already set by voters, he asked that it be voted down. The discussion, which began more than four hours into the meeting, included personal challenges, but the article ultimately passed as written.
The final article, dealing with town acceptance of revenues, required more time for Bailey to read to the remaining voters than it did to pass. At that point, 11:30 p.m., at least six voters called out motions to adjourn the meeting. No objections were heard to that suggestion.
New town officials elected
Earlier the same day town elections were held. Joanne Hallett Case has been elected to the board of selectmen, replacing Justin Doran, who has accepted employment elsewhere and did not run. Charlotta Farmer has been reelected to the school board and Stephanie Page was elected to replace Sonja Bailey, who did not run. Anthony Cannone has been elected to the Lubec Harbor Board, where one seat remains open. Carl Hood and Dallas Hood have been given the nod as Lubec Water District trustees. No candidates ran for the three open positions on the budget committee.