2015-11-04 / Front Page

Lisbon voters elect new faces to the council, reject fourth school budget

BY DARCIE MOORE
The Times Record

LISBON

Lisbon voters once again rejected a 2015-16 spending plan for Lisbon School Department. Voters also elected three new town councilors who ran on a platform of wanting to ensure residents are heard and that the town gets moving in a positive direction again.

Since the June 9 budget validation referendum, voters have rejected four budgets proposed by the council. Each time, a majority also indicating they opposed the budget because it was “too low.”

Rejected Tuesday was the council’s proposed $15,207,082 spending plan. That was a reduction from the $15,441,270 spending plan for 2015-16 proposed by the school committee last month.

A total of 884 voters opposed the budget because it was too low, compared to 184 who checked off “too high.”

Each time the school committee has put forward a budget for a public hearing and town council adoption, the council has voted to reduce the spending plan, bringing it into compliance with a council mandate that the school department cut $600,000 in additional local spending.

According to state statute, the town must continue to vote on the budget until one is legally adopted through a budget validation referendum. In the meantime, the school department operates off the last budget adopted by the town council.

New blood on council

Two incumbents were defeated by newcomers. The incumbents had said they hadn’t planned to run, but were urged by constituents to run for another term.

Allen Ward defeated Dillon Pesce for the District 2 seat on the council, garnering 682 votes compared to Pesce’s 388 votes. Pesce is finishing his first, three-year term on the council.

Ward said he is glad to have the vote over and wants to begin moving forward.

“I’ve had some excellent support locally and I’m very appreciative of everybody’s combined effort to have the vote stand tonight to be able to start looking past the finger pointing and getting things back to moving the town in a positive direction,” he said.

He thanked those in town who voted for him “so we can get back to being Lisbon proud.”

In District 1, Kasie Kolbe defeated incumbent Mark Lunt, 481-344.

Kolbe was still waiting for the win to sink in Tuesday night.

“Honestly, I’m really surprised,” she said.

At the polls all day, many people told her she had their vote because she was there showing voters how much she wanted the jobs of councilor.

“I’m excited to get started,” Kolbe said, “and just restore the voice and do what’s right for the voters and citizens of this town. Obviously that is one of the biggest issues: voters have said they don’t feel heard and if I can restore their voice, I’m going to do it by all means. It’s a privilege to be a councilor and it’s no longer about you, yourself and I. It’s about them. That’s what I want to see restored again and put a rest to this animosity against each other and eliminate that line in the sand.”

Normand Albert won the three-way race for the at-large council seat with 856 votes. Michael Hebert netted 534 votes and Richard Nadeau received 366.

“I’m just really happy,” said Albert, who commended his opponents and said either of them would have done a fantastic job if selected.

He added: “I’m proud of my town for, as a whole, saying ‘We want change. We want our voices heard and it’s important to make that change.’”

“I’m just really honored that the people of Lisbon are asking myself and Allen Ward and Kasie Kolbe to step up and be their voice so we can do that,” Albert said. “I’m really excited to restore a sense of compromise and willingness to find common ground that all people in our community can be satisfied with.”

There’s no way to truly please everyone but there is no reason you can’t come together to find a compromise that works for everyone, he said, adding “the only way we can move forward as a whole is if we work together.”

Marie Hale won a seat on the water commission with 975 votes compared to opponent Steve Warren, who got 776 votes.

Hale said she is the first female water commissioner. When the water department was looking to become a water district a couple years ago, she wanted to be on a committee gauging the feelings of residents which is what got her interested in running for the commission. Her main goal she said, will be on keeping Lisbon people drinking Lisbon water.

Herbert “Pete” Reed and Kathi Yergin ran unopposed and were reelected to three-year seats on the school committee as did Paula Jefferies for the remaining year of an unexpired term.

Charter amendments

Five of the seven charter amendment questions failed.

Question 1 failed 925-889. It contained a charter amendment that would remove the two consecutive one-year term limit to be eligible for election as the chair or vice chair of the town council.

Question 2 failed 1,078-737. This amendment would have increased from $100,000 to $250,000 the cost-per-unit amount of school department capital equipment expenditures that must be approved at a town-wide referendum, and provided for town council approval of capital expenditures with a cost-per-unit amount between $100,000 and $250,000.

Question 3 failed 978-832. This charter amendment sought to remove the two consecutive term limit to be elected as chair of the planning board.

Question 4 failed 1,052-865. This charter amendment would have removed the two consecutive term limit to be elected as chair of the zoning board of appeals.

Question 5 passed with a 1,013-893 vote. These charter amendments change the date of the annual submission of the capital improvement program to the council from January to May, increase the construction project limit for capital improvements to be included in the program from $10,000 to $25,00 and removes planning board review of the capital improvement program.

Question 6 was defeated with a 1,108-713 vote. This amendment would have increased from $100,000 to $250,000 the cost per unit amount of town capital expenditures that must be submitted for approval at a town-wide referendum.

Question 7 passed with a 1,068-756 vote. This charter amendment changes all gender specific terminology in the charter to gender neutral terminology.

By more than a 2-1 margin, Lisbon voted in favor of an Androscoggin County charter amendment (1,391-532). The amendment would reduce the authority of the county budget committee over the salary benefits of election officials by limiting the committee’s authority to approve or deny increases in salaries or expansion of benefits. The town council recently adopted a resolution opposing the amendment. The Sun Journal reports the amendment passed with 68.7 percent of the county-wide vote (12,617-5,737) minus tallies from Livermore and Livermore Falls.

dmoore@timesrecord.com

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