November Elections & Referendum
Tuesday, November 7th is the big day across America with the election of a new president. Here in Dexter, Maine we also have plenty on the ballot to consider. Besides a number of State Referendum questions there will be an opportunity to elect two seats on the Town Council as well as filling positions on the School Board, Hospital District Board of Directors, and Utility District Board of Trustees. Voters will also be asked whether or not they wish to repeal the Dexter Land Use Ordinance that was adopted last November, and will also be presented with the question of whether or not to accept revisions to the Town Charter that were recommended by the Charter Commission. Voters will also be casting ballots in a new location for the first time in nearly twenty-five years. Be a part of the action and vote!
To Repeal or Not to Repeal
The issue of adopting a local land-use plan has raised the interest and emotions within many towns across Maine during the past several years. Locally we’ve been on a “roller coaster” ride when it comes to adoption of such a plan. Two years ago, after months of work in the development and review process, the Town Council adopted a Dexter Land-Use Ordinance; however, a citizen petition was immediately filed to seek repeal of the new ordinance. In the November 1998 referendum the ordinance was successfully repealed by a narrow margin. However, in early 1999 another citizen’s group reintroduced the ordinance and succeeded in having it placed on the November, 1999 ballot. Voters approved the ordinace, but once again a citizen’s group filed filed a petition attempting to block the results of the November 1999 elections by again seeking repeal of the ordinace by referendum. So here we are, two years later and we’re still grappling with the issue of getting a local land-use ordinance adopted. On the November ballot is a referendum question that seeks to repeal the Dexter Land-Use Ordinance that was approved by Town voters in November 1999. The question will be presented as follows: “Shall the ordinance entitled ‘Dexter Land-Use Plan” be repealed?” Voters will be required to vote either yes or no. If you vote yes the current ordinance will be repealed, and we will have no municipal land-use plan. If you vote no, the plan adopted during the November 1999 election, will become effective immediately.
Town Charter Revision
In November 1999 Dexter voters approved the creation of a Charter Commission to undertake a review of the Town’s existing charter. By law, the Commission functions as an entity indedpendent from the Town Council, and their proposal for revision must be presented to voters. The nine-member commission has completed their task and a referendum question dealing with changes to the charter will be on the November ballot. Copies of the proposed revision may be viewed at the Town Office, at the Library, or on the Town Web Site.
Where Do You Go To Vote?
Many of you may recall that earlier this summer we held our last election at the Julian P. Clukey Army Reserve Center.
During the ensuing months we’ve considered several new
voting sites, including the Town Office, Knights of Columbus,
and VFW building. After much thought and consideration, the Town Council has selected the VFW building located on Cedar
Street. This site provides ample parking as well as plenty of space to accommodate the voting booths and registrar tables.
Polls will be open at the location from 9:00 AM until 8:00 PM on Tuesday, November 7th. If you have questions about voter registration or absentee ballot procedures please call Shelley Watson, the Town Clerk and Registrar of Voters, at 924-7351. If you haven’t registered to vote, now is as good a time as any!
Board & Committee Updates
This has been a busy year for all the Town’s Boards
and Committees. The Downtown Planning Committee and the
Cable Television Advisory Committee are two recently created
groups. The Downtown Planning Committee will be charged with the challenge of helping create a vision for Dexter’s future downtown area, and is an important element in how competitive
the Town will be when it comes time to acquire state and federal
grants necessary to achieve the changes envisioned by the Committee and Town leadership. The Cable Television Advisory Committee will be the key group responsible for
the future development and operation of local cable television programming. We have had an outstanding response from local residents and business operators for participation on the Downtown Planning Committee; however we’re still seeking candidates for the Cable Advisory Committee. If you’d be interested in being considered for appointment to a municipal Board or Committee, please contact the Town Clerk or Town Manager.
The 2000-2001 property tax bills have been mailed and should have been received by all Dexter property owners. We were successful this year in keeping the property tax rate at 20.5 mils, which mirrors last year’s rate. This translates to $20.50 of property tax on each $1,000 for which your property is valued for assessment purposes. For example, if you own property that the Town assesses at a value of $100,000, you are paying about $2,050 in property taxes for the tax year spanning the period from July 2000 through June 2001. Taxpayers are reminded that 2000-2001 property taxes are due for payment by November 30th.
Tax payers are encouraged to inquire about exemptions that may be available which could provide some reduction to the level of annual property taxes. Also the State of Maine provides a Property Tax Refund Program which may prove helpful to some property owners. Applications for the refund program are available in the Town Office, but must be filed with the State by January 31, 2001.
Economic Development Working Group
Late in 1999 we created an Economic Development Working Group composed primarily of municipal officials.
The goal of the group was to generate ideas and opportunities to promote local economic development. Over the months we've come up with some reasonably good ideas and faced some relatively tough challenges. Unfortunately, we can achieve only a limited amount of success without the support and participation of local business leaders. We generally meet on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 3:00 PM in the Town Manager's Office. If you'd like to be a part of this effort, or just unload a few ideas on the group, you're certainly welcome to participate.
Public Safety Emergency Dispatching
During the last six months we've gone through a significant
change in the way our Ambulance and Fire Departments are being dispatched; however, most residents may not even be aware of the change. The Penobscot Regional Communication
Center is now providing emergency dispatch services for both Fire and Ambulance, and during the coming months our Police Department will also transition to the regional dispatch facility.
Dexter residents still have to call three separate numbers for each service; however, sometime in the not-to-distant future
all of the numbers will be combined into a simple 9-1-1 call. As we get closer to that time we'll be providing ample information to alert the public to the change. We'd anticipated completing the transition to a regional dispatch service by mid-summer, however, delays in equipment deliveries as well as approval of an additional operating frequency for our Police Department have slowed the process.
2000 Annual Town Report
Very soon we'll begin the process of assembling the Town's
Annual Report. In past years the Report focused only on municipal operations; however, we feel the document is very important to the community from a historical perspective as well as a good source of information that can be referenced throughout the year. We're seeking to expand the Report to include activities relating to the Town's service, recreation, and professional organizations. If your group or organization is interested in being included in the year 2000 Dexter Annual Report please contact the Town Clerk or Town Manager.
Note from the Recreation Director
In April, Andy Conway took over as the Town's new Recreation Director. Andy has a long association with
Dexter Recreation and he's a great fit for the position. He certainly had a busy first summer as the Recreation Director, and participation was good for most of the programs. Looking ahead to the Fall of 2000 our Recreation Department will be offering flag football, soccer, and field hockey. Volunteers are always needed to help coach and run events. Persons wishing to help with any of our recreation activities can get an application from the Recreation Director or at the Town Office. Be on the lookout for more information regarding registration for upcoming programs and activities. Remember, the fee for each program is generally $10. If you have any questions please contact Andy Conway, at 924-7351 between 12:00 Noon and 5:00 PM, Monday - Friday. His office is located on the second floor of the Morrison building.
Economic Development Update
Recently, the Town Council approved Dexter's participation as a member of the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council. This was intended as a one- year trial effort to determine the benefits that could be derived from working in a cooperative effort with the Piscataquis County based group. Mark Scarano, Business Development Director for the organization, has been contacting businesses in Dexter during the last several months. We're hopeful that this initiative will help provide some exciting opportunities for some of Dexter's businesses, as well as attract new business to the area. If you are a Dexter business and would like to contact Mark, he can be reached at 1-800-539-0332.
Council Chamber Window Displays
The front windows of the Town Council Chambers in the Morrison Building are frequently used for seasonal displays and special events; however, we've recently started offering local small businesses, artists, and crafters the opportunity to use the windows to promote their products and services. Generally, one of the windows can be used for an entire month for an individual business display. If you'd like to know more about this great opportunity to promote your small business please call or stop by the Town Office.
Bicentennial related activities formally began on July 22nd with the ringing of church bells and a band concert presented by the Brewer Community Band. Although rain forced the concert and ice cream social indoors, the program went on as planned. A host of activities and events are planned for the months ahead, culminating in the summer of 2001 with a grand finale display of fireworks and parade. Some of the programs planned for the coming year include an arts & crafts fair, an antique auto show, a musical stage production, and much more. The Town is even sponsoring a contest to design a Bicentennial Logo. Organizers are looking to add more activities to the calendar of events. Groups or individuals who would like to help or schedule an event as part of the Bicentennial Celebration can contact Liz Breault at the Abbott memorial Library, 924-7292.
New Location for Dexter Police Department
If you’ve been following the construction activity at the corner of Main and Church Streets you know that the work on Dexter’s new Police Department is just about complete. What was once a filling station has been miraculously transformed into an impressive new facility, which should provide an excellent location for our Police Department for decades to come. It wasn’t too many years ago that the Dexter Police Department was actually operating out of a hallway and closet in the Town Office. Over the years the Town’s law enforcement needs have grown but the Police Department has continued to operate out of cramped and outmoded facilities. When the Webber Oil Building became available the Town recognized the opportunity to relocate the Police Department to a strategic and visible site on Main Street. Now, after much planning and hard work, the new facility should be fully operational by mid-October.
Creation of a Town Seal for Dexter
We’re seeking public input for the design of a new Town Seal. For years the Town hasn’t had an “official” seal, and it seemed appropriate that one be adopted during the Bicentennial Year. If you would like to submit a design proposal for consideration, they must be received by Wednesday, October 11th. Design artwork must be submitted on 8 1/2 x 11 white bond paper. It’s anticipated that a design will be selected by the Town Council in October. The individual or group submitting the winning design will receive an award of $150. The design for the new Town Seal will become the property of the Town of Dexter, with the Town retaining all rights for publication and reproduction. Inquiries should be directed to the Town Manager at 924-7351.
Congratulations To Police Officers
During the last several months we’ve had several important changes occur within the Police Department. Alan Grinnell has been promoted to the grade of Corporal and Kevin Wintle successfully completed the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in Waterville. Darrin Smith is the newest addition to the force, replacing Mike Knight, who recently took a position with the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department. We’d like to congratulate Alan and Kevin on their accomplishments, and welcome Darrin to the Department.