GOULDSBORO, Maine — Voters are expected to decide today whether to do away with the town’s trash bag fees.

The issue of trash bag fees was placed on the ballot this spring by citizen’s petition after a group of residents became concerned that the cost of $1.50 a bag was too burdensome on some residents. Some who support eliminating the fees also have said that the 40 people who voted in favor of the fee proposal at a special town meeting last August do not represent the majority of voters in Gouldsboro.

Others who support the fees have said that they have helped to reduce waste and the town’s expenses and that there was ample advance notice about the special town meeting at which the fees were enacted.

The open session of Gouldsboro’s annual town meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. today at the Community Center on Route 195.

According to Town Manager Yvonne Wilkinson, voters also will be asked to approve funding a $350,000 municipal education reserve account.

Wilkinson said Tuesday that, unless the account is created, Gouldsboro’s education costs are likely to increase sharply for the 2010-2011 fiscal year. The town has approximately $517,000 set aside to help defray education costs for the 2009-2010 academic year, she said, but it will not have any equivalent funds for the next year.

If voters reject the $350,000 reserve account allocation, the effect of the 2010-2011 school budget on the town’s property taxes are likely to be significant, she said.

“Even with a flat budget, it would look like an increase” because of the higher taxes, she said.

The noneducation costs of the town’s 2009-2010 budget are expected to be $1,274,312, not including the town’s Hancock County tax bill of $157,632, according to Wilkinson. These two expenses are about $21,000 more than they were for the 2008-2009 fiscal year, she said.

She said that because local education costs are determined by officials with Regional School Unit 24 and because they are being decided by separate votes at other meetings, she is unsure how the town’s education expenses will affect Gouldsboro’s current tax rate. The town’s current tax rate is $7.40 for each $1,000 of a property’s assessed value, she said.

Gouldsboro’s estimated contribution to the RSU’s 2009-2010 $32 million budget is $2,456,000.

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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....