Selectmen approve town meeting warrant despite disagreement

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro selectmen approved the warrant for the June annual town meeting at their April 20 meeting, agreeing to disagree with the budget committee’s recommendation on the one spending question on which the two boards differ.

They also continued discussion of a new proposal for street lighting that should save money. The issue was not ready for action, because, Josh Heald of Pemco & Company, LLC, said, the Maine Public Utilities Commission needs to make one more decision before companies like Pemco can bid to replace utilities like Central Maine Power Company.

As Philip Haines, chairman of the board of selectmen, summarized the Pemco proposal, the company would replace existing streetlights with LEDs that Pemco would own until Vassalboro paid off the cost of the work, using part of the energy savings for the payments. Once repayment was finished, Vassalboro would have three options: extend the contract and require upgrades; assume ownership of the lights and contract with Pemco to maintain them; or take ownership and maintenance responsibility.
Edward Wright of Sewall Engineering represented Pemco in person at the selectmen’s meeting; Heald joined on a conference call.

Heald said Pemco is a member of the International Dark Sky Association; streetlights it installs face downward to minimize light pollution. Heald and Wright said modern technology allows real-time performance monitoring, so any malfunctions should be quickly corrected.

Vassalboro’s 2016 town meeting will begin at 6 p.m. Monday, June 6, at Vassalboro Community School with action on 2016-17 school and municipal budgets and policy issues. On Tuesday, June 14, voters will decide local elections and whether to continue the written-ballot referendum on the school budget for another three years, and endorse or reject the school budget approved June 6.
Nomination papers for local elective office are available at the town office. Signed papers must be returned by 4 p.m. Monday, May 2.

The monetary issue left with differing recommendations is how much to appropriate from the alewife fund (money from the sale of alewives trapped annually at the Webber Pond dam) for the China Region Lakes Alliance. Selectmen recommend $5,000; a majority of the budget committee recommends $10,000.

In addition to the usual annual spending decisions, voters will be asked to authorize purchase of a new loader for the public works department and a new fire truck. The cost of the loader is capped at $165,000, with funds to come from taxes, the equipment reserve fund and sale of the 1993 loader. The fire truck is capped at $305,000 plus interest, as town officials propose a lease-purchase agreement.

Also in the warrant is a request for authorization for the selectmen to sign necessary documents to let Vassalboro continue as a member of the Municipal Review Committee (MRC), the group behind plans for a new trash disposal facility to serve Maine towns and cities beginning in 2018.

Current contracts to use the Penobscot Energy Recovery Company (PERC) incinerator end in April 2018. The MRC, the group that has represented Maine municipalities in dealings with PERC, has researched options for future waste disposal and chosen a facility to be developed in Hampden by Fiberight as economically and environmentally preferable.

Selectmen also seek voter approval to apply for $1 million in Community Development Block Grant funds to help the Vassalboro Sanitary District carry out plans to connect to the Waterville-Winslow sewer system.


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