China select board acts on three spending requests

by Mary Grow

China select board members acted on three spending requests at their Oct. 23 meeting.

They held a long discussion about trucks with Director of Public Services Shawn Reed. Reed reported the previously authorized new town truck, once scheduled for September delivery, is not yet even “on the assembly line,” due to a series of delays (including a major fire at a supplier’s factory).

Reed would like to buy another truck, to replace a half-ton truck China bought in 2011 that has 185,000 miles on the odometer and needs work to pass inspection in December. Despite the shortage of both new and used trucks, he has found a replacement that will cost $65,862.25.

Town manager Rebecca Hapgood said the (unaudited) public works capital reserve fund balance is $150, 939.

Two China select board members have considerable experience with trucks, so there was a detailed discussion about the truck, including considering whether it could double as a plow truck, as Reed recommended.

The unanimous decision was to authorize Reed to buy the truck but not, for now, a plow to go on it. The plow might be considered next year, board members said.

Board members had three bids for each of two projects in Thurston Park, the 400-acre town-owned recreation area in northeastern China.

The relatively simple project is a 20-by-20-foot building to store park equipment. Board members accepted the lowest bid, from Reardon Brothers Construction, of Albion, for $19,763.59.

The other project is repairing Yorktown Road, the entrance to the park from the north. The area needing attention is partly in Albion and partly in China.

Hapgood had no definitive legal opinion on whether China officials can spend taxpayers’ money in another town to access China property. Bidders were therefore asked to submit a separate bid for each town’s part of the road, and select board members took no action on the Albion part.

For work inside the China town line, they again accepted the lowest bid, from S. D. Childs and Sons Excavation, of Palermo, for $30,700.

Returning to a previously-discussed issue, Palermo’s use of China’s transfer station, Hapgood presented a revised version of the new transfer station admission policy that goes into effect Jan. 1, 2024.

Since Palermo officials object to their residents being charged $2 for the new annual access permits that will be required for China residents, the new policy offers Palermo residents two options.

  • A Palermo resident can obtain an access permit, for $2, at the transfer station;
  • Or, each Palermo vehicle must stop at the entrance and the driver must “see an attendant before unloading any items.”

Board members approved the revision on a 2-1 vote, with Janet Preston and chairman Wayne Chadwick in favor, Brent Chesley opposed, Jeanne Marquis not yet present and Blane Casey excused from the meeting.

On a related issue, Hapgood reported that she had talked with town attorney Amanda Meader about terminating the 2016 transfer-station-sharing contract between China and Palermo. Termination by either party must be for breach of contract or just cause, and requires a year’s notice, she said.

Board members asked Hapgood to invite Meader to a board meeting to discuss the topic.

In other business Oct. 23,

  • Board members appointed Benjamin Weymouth to the broadband and tax increment financing committees. The tax increment financing, or TIF, committee is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 30.
  • Preston reported that China is enrolled in the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments’ Community Resilience Program, making the town eligible for certain grants.
  • Three people reminded select board members they have not yet done anything substantive about improving the South China boat landing and Town Landing Road. All three are concerned about erosion into China Lake.

One suggestion from earlier discussions, endorsed again by China Lake Association president Stephen Greene, is to limit the landing to hand-carried canoes and kayaks, minimizing vehicle traffic. Greene said grant money is available to work on the landing, and the lake association will contribute funds.

  • Resident Scott Pierz again asked about the China Lake water level (see the Oct. 19 issue of The Town Line, p. 3). Hapgood replied she had talked with Vassalboro town manager Aaron Miller and was waiting for more information.
  • Hapgood’s report included a reminder that the town office will close all day on Nov. 7, with polls open in the nearby former portable building from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. On Monday, Dec. 11, in recognition of China’s local Municipal Employees’ Appreciation Day that Hapgood invented, the town office and public works department will be closed from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The Oct. 23 meeting was held at 5 p.m. as board members consider whether to change to that earlier time. The time for the next regular China select board meeting, scheduled for Monday, Nov. 6, in the town office meeting room, remains to be determined.


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