Council approves $50k now with eye toward adding $50k more in next budget
BAR HARBOR—Citing Bar Harbor’s unique structure and the desire to keep up the forward momentum, the Town Planner Michele Gagnon made an eloquent case for the extension of the contract between Resilience Planning & Design and the town for work on the town’s comprehensive plan.
“We believe that we need more time and money to tease out the priorities that have emerged and continue with the same level of engagement and outreach opportunities,” Gagnon said, added that the complexity of Bar Harbor’s Land Use Ordinance and the complexity of the Existing Conditions Report added to the consulting group’s work load.
“The amount of time that was spent on the existing conditions report was pretty phenomenal,” Gagnon said.
The last plan was in 2007. The plans are meant guide the town’s priorities and goals for about ten years from its start date, Gagnon has said.
The consultant has been working for comprehensive plans up and down the coast of New England and has never had to ask for money before, Gagnon said. She added, “This has been a really great partnership and they are doing a lot of good things. Bar Harbor is absolutely unique. It is not like any municipal towns they have seen: coastal or not coastal, resort or not resort.”
Gagnon said the additional funds needed is $100,000. The council approved transferring $50,000 from budget lines with extra because of later start dates for new positions and the town assessor’s position currently being empty. The additional money is expected to come from next year’s budget.
The committee voted unanimously to support and bring this request to the council. The council then gave it its unanimous support.
Before voting in favor, Councilor Jill Goldthwait said that she was concerned about almost doubling the cost of the project. “I’m growing increasingly concerned with the budget overall for next year.”
Councilor Matthew Hochman said it was the council’s responsibility to find room for the additional $50,000 in the next budget and it would be a disservice to the citizens of Bar Harbor to cut the process short.
Gagnon said that the Comprehensive Planning Committee didn’t come to the floor asking for this request lightly. Councilor Gary Friedmann asked what the town would be getting for the additional money.
Gagnon explained that it would support additional outreach and involvement from the public as well as additional small group meetings to discuss the issues. It would include the back and forth of drafting the strategies and actions.
“It buys you a more tailored plan to what Bar Harbor is and what it needs,” she said.
Councilor Joe Minutolo said that Bar Harbor is at this pivotal point in history, too. “This is incredibly important work…. When you have a good foundation, you have a better structure overall.” He said a good clean idea of direction can lend itself to future savings.
LINKS TO LEARN MORE
Our December 15 story about the last Comprehensive Planning Committee meeting and discussion.
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