Did BRAG strikeout on budget request?

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

BRAG may have struck out in seeking town funding for 2019.

Bill Macdonald, president of the Bridgton Recreation Advancement Group, sent a letter to selectmen seeking $45,500 to maintain the sports complex off Portland Road. The funds would cover a shopping list of items from loam and seeding to purchasing small tools, parking lot grading and field prep.

Last year, BRAG received $50,000.

Selectmen, however, voiced displeasure that the request came very late in the budget process, something they addressed with BRAG officials a year ago.

Selectman Bear Zaidman pointed out that organizations seeking funding appear before the board to explain their requests.

“BRAG coming in at the last minute isn’t fair to others,” Zaidman said. “The town manager and staff work real hard on the budget and put in a lot of hours.”

Selectman Robert McHatton wondered if the time has come to take a closer look at whether the town should take over the complex, and whether the board should include an article letting taxpayers decide whether to fund the request, much like an article addressing the Bridgton Community Center.

Board Chairman Greg Watkins noted that selectmen had a meeting with BRAG officials earlier in the year to talk about what work needed to be addressed to complete the complex, and what the timeframe looked like. A follow-up meeting to talk about progress on the To Do List has yet to occur.

McHatton presented a motion to add the $45,500 to the budget as requested by BRAG. The motion failed due to a lack of a second.

In other meeting notes:

Committee revived. The town tried to create an Ordinance Review Committee, but had little luck. Planning Board member Deb Brusini is taking a crack at it.

Brusini looked over the “charge,” and recommended to selectmen that the committee consist of a minimum of three members and a maximum of seven, since attendance was a problem.

“The committee has had a hard time getting started,” she said. Brusini has two people lined up for the committee, and a couple of others who will likely apply. Selectmen applauded Brusini’s efforts.

Alternate article. After some review by the town’s attorney, selectmen supported the inclusion of an article outlining the sale of surplus property.

A citizen’s group pushed for the change after the sale of town-owned property at the Saunders dowel mill site. The article, if approved, would require town-owned land — other than land acquired from nonpayment of taxes or wastewater assessments — to be sold by sealed bid, public auction or through an agent or multiple listing, whichever selectmen deem to be in the best interest of the town.

The article also calls for the town to send out written notice to abutters, as well as include information on the town’s website, social media used by the town, and published at least once in a newspaper of general circulation in the town.

Work underway. Improvements to the Veterans Memorial in Depot Square, as well as Burnham Road, have started.

Resignation. Selectmen accepted the resignation of Marita Wiser as a member of the Appeals Board. The town will advertise the opening and seek candidates.

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