by Mary Grow
China selectmen spent their Dec. 11 meeting looking ahead, including considering a Transfer Station Committee recommendation to buy equipment.
Committee members recommended replacing the forklift and adding a new pre-crusher compactor in the 2018-19 fiscal year. Selectmen later discussed buying a new forklift immediately; the old one is rickety enough to create safety concerns, several board members said.
Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux said he authorized immediate repairs to make sure the machine is safe to use.
Bob Kurek, Palermo’s representative on the Transfer Station Committee, said the pre-crusher would compact demolition and debris to make hauling it away more efficient. Currently, he said, transfer station staff spend a lot of time tamping down debris with the front-end loader, and still get an average of only 6.6 tons per load. The pre-compactor should increase the average load to at least 10 tons, saving almost $3,300 a year in hauling fees.
At that rate, Kurek said, the $53,000 machine (plus an estimate $3,000 installation cost) would pay for itself in about 17 years. The model he suggests has a 25-year life span.
The pre-crusher could also serve as a back-up disposal box when the transfer station is unusually busy.
A new forklift would cost a little more than $24,000 or around $26,000, depending on the chosen machine, with trade-in, Kurek said. A good used one would be only about $6,000 cheaper.
If selectmen were to buy a new one in the current fiscal year, part of the payment could come from the transfer station reserve fund into which Palermo’s annual fee for sharing the facility is deposited.
Selectmen intend to revisit the issue in January 2018.
In other business Dec. 11, Regional School Unit (RSU) #18 Superintendent Carl Gartley attended to repeat in person his prior written invitations to selectmen and other interested town officials to tour China’s two schools. No date was set.
Gartley said the RSU is applying again for state funds to enlarge China Primary School so that China Middle School could be closed. There are 84 applications for major construction being submitted, he said; the state typically funds about a dozen in a 10-year period.
Meanwhile, more than $2 million of the $14 million bond issue RSU voters approved in November will be spend on China schools, Gartley said.
Selectmen accepted board member Neil Farrington’s offer to serve as coordinator for China’s 2018 bicentennial celebration, a post Farrington has been filling informally for more than a year in the absence of any other interested person.
Farrington proposed selectmen enter into discussions with trustees of the Branch Mills Union Church about the town taking responsibility for maintenance of the 1857 building.
The town, unlike a religious unit, can apply for historic preservation grants, he said. In addition to preserving a historic building, his proposal would even out support for China’s four villages, now that South China has gotten sidewalks and help with the library relocation, Weeks Mills has had its schoolhouse repaired and China Village has the causeway project funded with Tax Increment Financing (TIF) money.
By consensus, the rest of the board approved a professional inspection of the church.
In the other end of town, board member Donna Mills-Stevens said the planned fire pond on Neck Road needs approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection before work to enlarge the existing pond starts. Mills-Stevens had also found a report of waste dumped on one of the properties involved, with no evidence the state had closed out the issue.
According to the holiday schedule on the town web site, on Friday, Dec. 22, the transfer station will be open as usual and the town office will close at 2 p.m. On Saturday, Dec. 23, the town office will be closed and the transfer station will close at noon. Both will be closed Sunday, Dec. 24 and Monday, Dec. 25, as well as Monday, Jan. 1, 2018.
Selectmen agreed to close the town office Tuesday, Dec. 26, to conform to the state schedule. L’Heureux said the transfer station will be open half a day, 7 a.m. to noon, on Dec. 26, to avoid a big rush at the end of the holiday week.
Because the next regular China selectmen’s meeting would have been Christmas Day, board members rescheduled it to 8 a.m. Wednesday, Dec, 27.