Selectmen add 14th item to November 8 ballot (China)

by Mary Grow

China selectmen have added a 14th article to the warrant for the Nov. 8 local election (for a summary of the first 13, please see The Town Line, Sept. 22 , p. 6 ).

At a special meeting Sept. 22, Town Manager Daniel L’Heureux said the board voted unanimously (with Neil Farrington absent) to ask voters to appropriate from the Development Program Fund $10,000 to purchase land at the head of China Lake’s east basin across Causeway Street from the boat landing.

The Development Program Fund is fed by tax revenue from the expanded Central Maine Power Company line, money set aside in a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) plan and spent by voters on recommendation of a TIF Committee and the selectmen.      The proposed purchase is a preliminary step in the committee’s plan to expand water access at the head of the lake to make it safer for fishing and boat launching.  The committee has had an engineer study the area; future additional steps include providing fishing platforms over the water connected by a trail, additional parking and runoff control measures.

The land the committee is asking voters to buy is owned by Susan Bailey, with whom L’Heureux has been negotiating a sale price.  He said Bailey continues to ask for more than $10,000.  The parcel, which is mostly wetland, is assessed at $1,700, according to discussion at selectmen’s and TIF Committee meetings.

The special selectmen’s meeting was followed by a budget committee meeting at which L’Heureux said the committee recommended voters approve all but one of the seven monetary articles on the Nov. 8 ballot.      The manager said the committee unanimously recommended approval of three items: spending $12,000 from surplus to buy land behind the town office off Alder Park Road; appropriating $50,000 from TIF funds for recreational-trail maintenance; and buying the Bailey property.  Six members supported putting Palermo’s annual transfer station payment in a new transfer station capital fund; taking $3,800 from surplus to assess senior citizens needs; and adding $5,000 to the police budget.

Only three members supported the manager’s request to move $100,000 from surplus to the capital equipment and repair reserve fund, with three opposed and one abstaining, L’Heureux said.  The main objection was concern about reducing the undesignated surplus below the committee’s target level.

Selectmen voiced a similar concern at their regular meeting Sept. 19.  L’Heureux told them that in the eyes of bond rating agencies, moving the $100,000 from one account to another would not affect the town’s credit rating.

Selectmen have scheduled a public hearing on the Nov. 8 questions for 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 17, at China Middle School if the all-purpose room is available.  The next regular selectmen’s meeting is set for 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 3.


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