China transfer station committee postpones decision on fee increase for Palermo residents

by Mary Grow

The Dec. 6 China select board discussion covered a variety of topics, most to be continued at future meetings.

Lawrence Sikora, chairman of the Transfer Station Committee, explained the basis for the committee’s recommendation that Palermo residents, who use the China facility by contract, be charged an additional 25 cents per disposal bag.

The price is based on four factors: the regional consumer price index; transportation costs for waste and tipping fees for disposal; and the price China pays for the bags. Sikora said the first and especially the last numbers are increasing and will likely continue to increase. Select board members therefore postponed a decision to February 2022, to get updated figures.

Palermo has received the required six months’ notice that an increase is coming at the end of March 2022.

Sikora also recommended hiring an engineer to design a cover for the precrusher beside the hopper building. Exposed to weather, the panel covering the controls is rusting; and China is paying to have accumulated rain and snow hauled away.

Board member Wayne Chadwick was unsympathetic. “Buy a can of paint” for the rusting panel, he suggested, reminding the audience that when the precrusher was approved, supporters said it didn’t need a cover.

Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood said the transfer station reserve account has more than $50,000 that could be used for a cover.

Board Chair Ronald Breton asked Sikora and Transfer Station Manager Ronald Marois to get an estimate on the cost of an engineer’s advice.

On another trash-related issue, Breton referred to a Bangor newspaper article about lack of progress in finding a new owner to reopen the former Fiberight plant in Hampden. He said Town Attorney Amanda Meader advised China officials not to risk penalties by trying to withdraw from the town’s contract with the Municipal Review Committee that represents municipalities that supported Fiberight.

Sheldon Goodine, chairman of the Municipal Building Committee charged with planning an addition to the town office building, presented and elaborated on his committee’s preliminary report. The recommendation is for a single-story addition on the south side of the front section of the present building.

The report included CAD (computer-assisted design) drawings by committee member and Codes Officer Jaime Hanson. Breton proposed using them as the basis for a Request for Proposals to contractors who could turn them into specifications and build the addition.

He suggested money for the addition be part of the 2022-23 selectmen’s budget request.

One topic that will not be on a future agenda is board member Janet Preston’s proposal to consider a different voting method for local elections. She had presented information on three other types that she considers likely to produce a fairer result (see The Town Line, Dec. 2, p. 2).

Board members voted 3-2 not to continue the discussion. The majority consisted of Breton, Blane Casey and Chadwick; Jeanne Marquis supported Preston in voting for continued consideration.

By an identical vote, members did continue discussion of employees’ health insurance for the 2022-23 budget year, instead of deciding immediately to renew the present plan, as Preston and Marquis favored.

Several employees told board members that the current health insurance plan, though it is less generous than the one they voluntarily gave up in 2018 to save the town money, helps make up for comparatively low municipal pay.

The Town of China currently covers the full cost of a single plan and 85 percent of a family plan. Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood said this year’s two percent rate increase would cost taxpayers a total of $6,573 for the year, or $1.89 for each tax account.

In other business, board members unanimously appointed Lucas Adams a member of the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Committee.

Hapgood reported that the first Senior Day, held Dec. 1 in the portable building behind the town office, was a success. The next one is postponed from Wednesday, Dec. 8, to Thursday, Dec. 9, because of possible snow forecast for Wednesday.

Weather permitting, the gatherings will be held every Wednesday until further notice, with Thursdays as alternate days in case of bad weather. The time has been changed, by request, to 10 a.m. to noon, instead of 9 to 11 a.m.

Also on Thursday, Dec. 9, the China Broadband Committee is scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. in the portable building to discuss internet service improvements with a representative of Spectrum/Charter Communications.

The next regular China select board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 20.




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