China selectmen decide to maintain inactive local police department

by Mary Grow

Much of the China selectmen’s June 21 business was following up on voters’ decisions at the June 8 town meeting. All but one selectboard vote was unanimous; two items were postponed.

Police services generated the longest discussion. Voters approved a $34,000 police budget for 2021-22, to fund a contract that would provide 10 extra hours a week of service from the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office (KSO), in addition to China’s share of county policing.

Selectmen agreed they should de-activate, but not eliminate, the China police department, which currently consists of five part-time officers, four with full-time jobs with other departments.

Town Manager Becky Hapgood explained that a China police officer will need to submit a report in January 2022; and if selectmen disbanded the local department and later wanted it back again, starting over would require paperwork.

She estimated the cost of maintaining the department on paper, with the men doing nothing but filing the required report, should be less than $1,000. Selectmen agreed having the local force remain an option while they tried the KSO arrangement was a good idea.

They voted unanimously for the additional deputy sheriffs’ work, 10 hours a week (on average) at $60 an hour, plus maintaining an inactive local department. Later, they re-appointed three local police officers, Jordan Gaudet from KSO and Michael Tracy and Jerry Haynes from the Oakland Police Department.

On a related issue, they signed the two-year dispatching contract with the State Police postponed from their previous meeting (see the June 17 issue of The Town Line, p. 3).

On June 8, voters approved the revised Tax Increment Financing (TIF) document, called the Second Amendment. Hapgood reported that town office staff are finishing paperwork to send it to the state for approval.

Selectmen authorized six disbursements from TIF funds, some made possible by the June 8 revisions, all within the budgeted amounts that were part of the approval, all recommended by the TIF Committee (see the June 17 issue of The Town Line, p. 9).

The appropriations are as follows: $37,500 for the China Region Lakes Alliance; $12,500 for the China Lake Association; $30,000 for the China Four Seasons Club; $10,000 for the China Broadband Committee to contract with its consultant; $30,000 for Maine Rivers for the Alewife Restoration Initiative (ARI); and $35,000 for the Thurston Park Committee.

Votes were unanimous except for the Broadband Committee appropriation, which Selectman Wayne Chadwick opposed. Hapgood said the consultants’ contract has been revised so that any expenditures over the $10,000 will need separate written approval. The selectmen’s vote included authorization for her to sign the contract.

In two other town meeting follow-ups, selectmen authorized Hapgood to sell the old grader by sealed bid – probably in July, she said. For the sale of the about 40-acre lot on the east side of Lakeview Drive, they approved her plan to solicit expressions of interest from real estate agents in town.

Agenda items postponed, on Hapgood’s recommendation, were discussion of FirstPark and an appointment to the Board of Appeals.

After voters rejected funding for FirstPark for 2021-22 (thereby returning it to the higher 2020-21 amount), selectmen agreed to investigate withdrawing from the Oakland business park. Hapgood said she has a copy of an attorney’s letter on the complexity of withdrawal, and advice from China town attorney Amanda Meader. She recommends waiting to see what the town of Rome does.

There are vacancies or pending vacancies on several town boards, Hapgood said. She plans to advertise all of them and therefore asked selectmen to postpone action until she presents a group of new nominees.

The manager reminded selectmen of their special end-of-year meeting at 4 p.m. Wednesday, June 30. The town office will close at noon June 30 so staff can complete paperwork.

The town office and transfer station will be closed Saturday, July 3, and Monday, July 5, for the Independence Day holiday. The next regular selectmen’s meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 6, instead of the usual Monday evening.


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