June 11, 2021

Windham residents gather for annual town meeting June 12

Windham's Annual Town Meeting will be held at 10 a.m.
Saturday, June 12 in the Windham High School Auditorium.
Residents will vote on proposed municipal and RSU 14
budgets and for a number of upcoming town projects
and purchases.  PHOTO BY ED PIERCE
By Ed Pierce

During Windham’s annual town meeting this weekend, residents will have their say in either approving or disapproving of the submitted 2021-2022 town and RSU 14 budgets.

The meeting starts at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Windham High School auditorium and participants are required to sign in to receive a voting slip. Ballots will determine the fate of Windham’s proposed $35,115,270 budget and RSU 14’s $52,233,221 budget.

Windham’s municipal budget is up slightly from the $35,048,303 budget for 2020-2021 approved by town voters last June.

“In the proposed budget 2021-2022, we are looking to accomplish several objectives,” said Windham Town Manager Barry A. Tibbetts. “We hold the budget increase due to the COVID impacts on residents and businesses, continue with the paving and equipment replacement programs, develop recreational playing fields and playground while expanding parking at Lowell. The first item is to hold or limit any increases in the budget to the minimum based on the COVID impact to residents and businesses. The municipal budget increase is at 0.33 percent, or flat or no increase to the mil rate.” 

If approved on Saturday, the new budget would fund paving and sidewalk work; work on rear access roads off Route 302; addressing North Windham wastewater treatment; completing the second phase of the Lowell Reserve parking lot; creation of three new playing fields behind Manchester School; a possible new community center; and addressing open-space property issues in Windham.

Town meeting participants will be asked to greenlight repaving projects for Land of Nod Road; Depot Street; Common Avenue; Dunridge Circle; Page Road, Vance Drive; Varney Mill Road; the Gosher and Gateway Subdivison; Hillcrest Subdivision; the Abby and Oak Subdivision; and Lantern Lane Cross Culvert. 

Should the budget proposal be approved, capital funding would also be allocated up to $200,000 for paving stretches of dirt roads on Hall Road; Gilman Drive; Old Country Road; a portion of Swett Road; Keene Road; Barnes Road; Read Road; Town Farm Road; Pendleton Ash Way; Peartree Lane; Craig Road; Claman Drive; Jones Hill Road; Hall Road where it meets Route 302; and Neighborly Way.

The 2021-2022 budget proposal will authorize Windham to add an assistant town manager and two new fire/emergency medical technicians. Town impact fees will be used to replace the playground equipment at Lowell Preserve and funding will be used for a design and engineering study to improve Donnabeth Lippman Park.

Budget approval will give permission for the town to lease or purchase two plow trucks; a street sweeper; a trackless snow blower/mower; three new EMS stretchers; and three new cardiac monitors. It also allocates $550,000 to complete the purchase of Engine 7 for the Windham Fire Department.

With the mil rate of 4.4 unchanged from a year ago, the municipal tax rate for Windham will be flat, Tibbetts said.

The 2021-2022 budget proposal for RSU 14 is up $1,450,223 or about a 2.86 percent increase from its 2020-2021 budget.

RSU 14 Superintendent of Schools Christopher Howell said that minimal additions were proposed through the budget process this year and that the increase reflects fixed costs related to negotiated salaries and benefits for employees.

“The district will be receiving an additional $974,159.00 in subsidy from the state this year,” Howell said. “This is a welcome addition that should result in a minimum tax increase for households in Raymond and Windham.”

According to Howell, Maine Gov. Janet Mills has proposed an increase in funding to the legislature to meet the promise of 55 percent for public education.

“If this passes through the legislature, it will further reduce the tax requirement for the RSU,” he said.

Even with this proposed budget, per pupil cost for RSU 14 students is slightly below the state average of $12,442, coming in at $12,294.

If approved at the town meeting, Windham Primary School would receive additional funding for physical education, music and art and for educational technicians. Raymond Elementary School would gain additional funding for educational technicians, while Windham Middle School would lose one teacher. Also under the budget proposal, the district would create a new e-sports program, and the nurse position at Jordan-Small Middle School would be converted to a nurse technician. <

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