FRYEBURG, Maine — Residents will go to the polls today to vote in state, town, school and water district elections.
The school budget will be dealt with in August because of a ballot error.
Generally at town meeting, Fryeburg residents debate and decide a number of articles by voice vote or a show of hands, and then vote on other articles or elected positions at the polls on another day. But due to COVID-19, open town meeting, which was scheduled for July 16, was canceled.
Voting will be 8 a.m.-8 p.m. at the David & Doris Hastings Community Center at 59 Recreation Drive, a new location for voting this year. Town Manager Katie Haley told the Sun that masks will be required at the polls.
"We will be making every effort to sanitize regularly but ask for the public's help in keeping everyone safe," said Haley.
Residents were encouraged to vote absentee. As of July 9, 338 absentee ballots had been issued. Absentee ballots will be accepted until the close of the polls.
Haley said the municipal budget with capital improvements totals $3,618,993, which is the lowest overall budget since 2018.
Perhaps the most controversial thing to be voted on this year is Article 34 which calls for a 99-year lease for the airport. At a June 18 Zoom hearing, Airport Authority member Gene Bergoffen explained that the authority has to renew its lease every seven years, and that makes it difficult to get lenders to invest in the airport.
Resident Nora Schwarz questioned the authority's management of the land and if the town should give them more.
"These people at the airport for all the wonders that they provide us with, also managed to allow a tree clearing at the runway 14 approach that they were subsequently fined for because they clear-cut around Round Pond unnecessarily," said Schwarz.
There are no contested races. No one is running for Fryeburg school board, and selectmen called for write-in candidates.
Earlier this month, MSAD 72 Superintendent Jay Robinson announced there was an error in the July 14 budget referendum ballot question and that the ballot would have to be corrected.
The budget vote will now happen Aug. 18, and there will be a virtual public hearing on Aug. 4 at 7 p.m.
Selectman's Chair Tom Klinepeter at the July 9 selectmen's meeting said it's too bad the error happened. He was alluding to the fact all the ballots were to be voted on together.
"Nobody ever votes in that election," said Klinepeter. "We would have had a large amount of votes on a school budget for once and now we are going to go down to almost nobody voting."
At the June 25 selectmen's meeting, Selectman Kimberly Clark noted that no one is running for school board in Fryeburg this year. Fryeburg belongs to MSAD 72.
"We need to send an appeal out to the community asking people to step up because we, you know, we definitely want representation on the school board," said Clark.
According to MSAD72.org, Fryeburg has two members whose terms are expiring, Kim DeVries and Marie Struven, and one position is vacant.
Meanwhile, the MSAD 72 school ballot will have four questions. MSAD 72 covers the Maine towns of Brownfield, Denmark, Fryeburg, Lovell, Stoneham, Stow, Sweden and in New Hampshire Chatham.
There are two seats open at the Fryeburg Water District, with Greg Huang-Dale and Steven Anthony up for re-election. There is nothing else on the ballot. Trustee Jay Ahern may step down. The top three vote-getters will get a seat in the event Ahern resigns and there are write-in candidates, said Huang-Dale.