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Voters Approve Bond Question and All Charter Review Amendments

Aerial photo of the International Woolen Mill boiler house, clearly showing a gaping hole where part of the roof has collapsed.

In the election held November 8, 2022, Sanford and Springvale voters gave the thumbs-up to Question 1, a $1 million bond to be used for demolition, clean-up, and construction of a parking lot at the long-abandoned International Woolen Co. site in the millyard. The boiler house, which is part of the complex, was declared a Dangerous Building by the City Council in January of this year. The International Woolen properties are currently owned by Regco, a defunct and bankrupt corporation, and are expected to be taken by the City for unpaid property taxes in February 2023. The $1 million bond will be used to leverage millions more in state and federal funding for the project. The question passed with 63% voting in favor, 37% opposed.

Voters also approved all six proposed amendments to the City Charter. The amendments were recommended by the City Council, and most were recommended by the Charter Review Committee, with a few exceptions as noted below.

Question 2 amends the Charter to add the position of Assessor to the list of positions the City Manager may appoint, with City Council approval. This was regarded as an oversight in the previous Charter. The question passed 55% to 45%,

Question 3, which voters approved 52% to 48%, comprises multiple amendments to the Budget section of the Charter:

  • The Budget Committee will be eliminated and replaced with the City Council for the Budget Review process. The School and Municipal budgets will be submitted to the Council for review. The Budget Review schedule, presentation and public hearing process will remain the same. The Charter Review Committee did not recommend eliminating the Budget Committee, but instead wanted to expand it from the current seven members to 17 members.
  • The 4% annual Capital Improvements Program budget increase will be maintained as a minimum. Half of the Capital program will be dedicated to non-rolling stock transportation infrastructure (i.e. roads and bridges), but the Council will be allowed to determine if less than half is sufficient in the future. The Charter Review Committee had recommended raising the CIP increase gradually from 4% to 7.5%.
  • The Charter will be amended to reference the current state law that provides for validation and adoption of the School Department budget by voters.
  • The amount that the City Council may appropriate for emergencies will increase from $250,000 to $1 million.

Question 4, approved by a vote of 55% to 45%, is a repeat of that last section of the previous question about emergency appropriations. It was included separately in case Question 3 failed.

Question 5 allows the Council to bond Capital projects of up to $1 million without voter authorization. The previous limit was $250,000. This question passed 52% to 48%.

Question 6 amends the Charter to require four members of the seven-member Planning Board to vote in the affirmative to pass any action. Previously, only a majority of those present was required, which could have been three members. This question was approved 60% to 40%.

In the least controversial question on the ballot, Question 7 adds definitions of terms including Municipal Officer, Department of Education and Resolution to the City Charter. Voters approved this one 67% to 33%.

See the official vote totals below.

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