MOUNT DESERT, Maine — Local voters decided to enact a moratorium on the construction of communications towers at their annual town meeting this week, according to a town official.

Michael MacDonald, town manager of Mount Desert, said Wednesday that the measure passed Tuesday night with relatively few dissenters. The moratorium is retroactive to Feb. 9, when selectmen voted in favor of it, he said.

Voters approved an overall municipal operations budget of approximately $5.6 million, including the addition of $1,400 to help support the Masonic Lodge in the village of Somesville, MacDonald said.

The proposed elementary school budget of $2.9 million ended up being $30,000 less because of lower-than-expected health insurance costs, he said. With the new budget, the town’s estimated tax rate is expected to be around $5.80 for each $1,000 of a property’s value.

Voters approved the purchase of a $659,000 ladder truck for the town’s fire department. They also approved a proposal to change the local dog ordinance but rejected a measure to change the town’s investment policy, according to MacDonald. The proposed amendment to the investment policy would have entailed a change to the town’s ethics ordinance, he said.

In local elections, which were held Monday, challenger Marilyn Damon ousted incumbent Patrick Smallidge from the Board of Selectmen. Damon received 254 votes while Smallidge received 172.

In the race for school board, incumbents Gail Marshall and Laura Hendricks each were re-elected over challenger Sumner Rulon-Miller. Marshall garnered 334 votes, Hendricks received 366 and Rulon-Miller got 92 votes in the three-way race for two seats.

At the open session of the meeting, which was held Tuesday night at the elementary school in Northeast Harbor, town officials took a break during the voting to recognize resident George Peckham for his participation in town affairs. Peckham, who Smallidge jovially said has a “sharp tongue,” has been a consistent presence at selectmen meetings and a vocal proponent of changing the funding formula for Mount Desert Island High School.

Peckham got a standing ovation in the school gym as he was presented with a cane by Smallidge on behalf of the town. Smallidge’s tenure on the Board of Selectmen came to a close as soon as Tuesday’s town meeting ended.

MacDonald estimated that approximately 120 people attended Tuesday’s sessions of annual town meeting.

“I really thank all the citizens who took the time and came out,” MacDonald said.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....