Vassalboro board OKs TIF funds for VSD

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro select board members began their June 13 meeting by electing Frederick “Rick” Denico, Jr., board chairman, succeeding newly re-elected member Christopher French.

After a very sparsely attended public hearing on Vassalboro Sanitary District (VSD) Treasurer Rebecca Goodrich’s request for Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds, board members unanimously approved:

An allocation of $200,000, of which at least $124,000 will be put toward repaying debts for the VSD’s connection to Winslow and the remainder used for other expenses; and
Reallocation of $100,000 approved in 2019 to current needs.

Town Manager Aaron Miller said the VSD’s proposed uses of the money meet TIF requirements.

On a related issue, board members appointed Lisa Miller (no relation to Aaron Miller) a member of the VSD board. One pending issue is a rewrite of the district’s charter, slated to include provisions for electing VSD board members at the same time as municipal elections.

Only VSD customers would be eligible to become, or to vote for, board members. Town Manager Miller said town officials will need to prepare a separate VSD voter list.

Also pending is a long-term solution that will provide VSD with sufficient operating funds without bankrupting its approximately 200 customers who live in and between East Vassalboro and North Vassalboro villages.

French recommends housing projects in the villages to spread the costs among more people. Denico, saying that solution will take too long, proposes Vassalboro join the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments (KVCOG) and ask its experts to apply for grant funding for the VSD.

The June 13 select board meeting began with a presentation by Kennebec Water District (KWD) General Manager Roger Crouse and Water Quality Manager Robbie Bickford. They explained KWD’s plan to discharge excess process water from the Vassalboro treatment plant into Outlet Stream.

The plant is on the west side of the stream, on Route 32 (Main Street) a short distance north of East Vassalboro village. Bickford said it has been treating China Lake water since 1993. It has a capacity of 12 million gallons a day, but processes only about 3.5 million gallons a day, he said.

The process water washed filters in the plant. It is clean enough, Bickford said, so that federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines allow a small percentage to be added to the plant’s output.

KWD would like to discharge some or all of the process water, part of an ongoing effort to reduce chemical use to help save rate-payers money.

Bickford and Crouse made two main points. The process water varies from the water already flowing in Outlet Stream in only one respect; it contains slightly more aluminum – “the most common metal on earth,” Bickford said. And the amount of water the outfall will add to the stream will be so small that neither the aluminum concentration nor the water level will be affected.

Bickford said KWD is getting necessary local, state and federal permits this spring, aiming to have a final plan and a chosen contractor in time to begin construction in the summer or fall of 2025.

Town and KWD officials touched briefly on a question raised by the high water level in China Lake earlier this spring: should some entity other than the Town of Vassalboro manage the Outlet Dam, in East Vassalboro? Crouse said KWD would like to stay involved in discussions of dam management.

Miller intends to schedule a workshop meeting with interested parties.

In other business June 13, select board members followed up on some of the actions voters authorized at the annual town meeting June 3 and made preparations for the new fiscal year that begins July 1.

In the first category, they:

authorized Miller to proceed with buying a new skid steer;
approved the lowest of three bids for removing tiles containing asbestos at the former East Vassalboro school building, from New Meadows Abatement, Inc., of Bath, for $10,310; and
discussed first steps for a new building on the public works lot.

For 2024-2025, they approved a long list of appointments and reappointments to town boards and committees. Miller announced vacancies on the planning board (John Phillips is resigning, he said); the Conservation Commission (he commended retiring member David Jenney for many years of service); the cemetery committee; and the trails committee.

Board members reaffirmed their prior decision to close the town office at 3 p.m. on Thursday, June 27, to give staff time for end-of-year record-keeping. If necessary, staff members will return Friday morning, June 28.

The next regular Vassalboro select board meeting is scheduled for Thursday evening, June 27.


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