Cupola cost to be Naples warrant article


By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — The cupola relocation project will be presented to the public as a warrant article separate from the proposed 2018–19 budget.

“The cupola will be separate, listed as a separate warrant article altogether, not grouped with the budget,” according to Naples Town Manager John Hawley.

Although it is a standalone warrant article, if the residents approve paying for the cupola project, it will impact the budget. The total request for moving and repairing the cupola is set at $41,500.

That estimated cost came forward too late for the town’s budget committee to include it in the proposed 2018 budget. Therefore, if the cupola project is approved at the annual town meeting the funding would be covered through the overlay. The overlay is a few cents above the tax rate; and is typically put in place to raise extra tax revenue to offset tax bills that are paid late.

“That will not change the mil rate. What it is going to do is adjust the overlay,” Hawley said.

The cupola project is not being endorsed by any town board or committee. In fact, on Monday, the Naples Board of Selectmen and the Naples Budget Committee voted against recommending the warrant article.

The selectmen voted, 1–3, to recommend the cupola relocation project. Selectman Kevin Rogers was the only person who voted to throw his support behind funding the cupola move. Selectman Rich Cebra was absent.

The budget committee voted, 0–5, to recommend this article.

Traditionally, there is no endorsement for or against a standalone warrant article.

“This is something that is not going to come up year after year. It would be like a bond article,” Hawley said, explaining why the cupola was being treated as a standalone article.

Again, the precedence has been for standalone warrant articles to appear without a vote to recommend or not recommend.

However, after some discussion and especially because there was such a high dollar amount attached to the article, the group decided to go ahead and send it to town meeting with a record of how the selectmen and the budget committee had voted.

Chairman Jim Grattelo advocated for attaching the yes or no recommendation to the warrant article.

“I think it is important that the members of the selectboard and the budget committee go on record. This thing has gone back and forth. People are looking for direction from us. That is our job,” he said.

At first, Selectman Bob Caron II disagreed about the need to vote on it.

“We’ve talked enough about it during the meetings that our comments and opinions have been known,” Caron said.

Grattelo said, “No, your opinion isn’t known. You have said, ‘Let the voters decide.’ I don’t believe we were elected to run away from an issue without letting the townspeople know how we feel.”

Kevin Rogers spoke.

“I think town meeting is [when] everybody is going to get how we feel about the vote,” Rogers said.

Chairman Grattelo took the floor.

“So, you would rather have five members of the selectboard and five members of budget committee say how they feel,” he said.

Caron said there was no requirement for discussion by the board during town meeting. They would be speaking as residents of Naples like everybody else.

Budget committee vice-chair Bob Nyberg clarified, “We can’t add ‘neahs’ and ‘yeahs’ to this?”

Grattelo said that has been the precedence for standalone articles.

Budget committee member Caleb Humphrey brought up something that may have been a tipping point for the rest of the group.

“In the past, have we had to spend large amounts of money on a standalone article?” he asked.

Selectman Jim Turpin, who also sits on the budget committee, expressed his personal views.

“My own feeling before we vote on this. I’d like to see some money donated to this. I would like to see this not come out of town coffers. If this was a request for half of it and the other half was coming from the enthusiasm that is out there” it would be easier to support, Turpin said.

Humphrey said he would like more factual references to the cupola’s possible impact on tourism. He said other towns might have a similar historical landmark that brings in tourists. It would be preferable to spend $41,000 on something that could benefit the economy and not just a nice piece of history that has a “Norman Rockwell feel to it,” he said.

Another part of Monday night’s discussion was how things might play out.

“It came as a surprise to me when voters voted against the regional bus,” Turpin began. “If the voters vote down $41,000 — is the option for the $10,000 still there?”

The answer is no.

If the article is voted down, there is no chance to request a smaller amount from the town, except through a  special town meeting.

However, while the article is on the floor an amendment could be made to decrease the funding request.

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