Vassalboro budget committee focuses on transfer station, public works

by Mary Grow

Meeting on March 18 right after that evening’s selectmen’s meeting, Vassalboro Budget Committee members focused on the transfer station and the public works department.

A majority of the selectmen had just agreed on two transfer station priorities, replacing the aging compactor and upgrading the electrical system. Budget committee members talked about other elements of engineer Al Hodsdon’s recommendations, which include adjusting the compactor site to make room for a second one and to make the traffic pattern safer, roofing disposal containers and building a second driveway off Lombard Dam Road.

Their reactions ranged widely. William Browne asked, “Why fix it if nothing’s wrong?” Committee Chairman Rick Denico asked if someone should direct traffic during peak hours; Michael Poulin advised consulting the town attorney about liability if the suggestion was adopted. Douglas Phillips thinks that, “The selectmen ought to look long-range.”

Selectmen chimed in on the argument over whether the current traffic pattern, which requires backing up to disposal containers, is dangerous. Board Chairman John Melrose said station Manager George Hamar could talk about close calls and damaged cars. Rob Browne retorted that no rearrangement would be 100 percent safe, because “You can’t eliminate danger with people involved.”

Many of the questions budget committee members prepared in advance of the March 18 meeting dealt with public works, and Town Manager Mary Sabins shared information from Road Foreman Eugene Field.

Field’s budget for asphalt for summer road work is based on an expected price of $70 to $80 per ton of paving material, but he fears the estimate could be low. He and China Public Works Director Shawn Reed intend to seek bids for both towns together, as they have done in past years, Sabins said.

In reply to a specific question about “the road ruts in the Lombard Dam Road,” Field intends to repave it, with a shim coat to fill in the low places and a layer of asphalt, but not to tear it up and rebuild it.

Given the two major culvert replacements required recently, there was a question about bridges and culverts. Sabins said Field and state employees inspect them regularly, but no formal risk assessment is done. Phillips recommended an inventory.

Melrose informed budget committee members of minor adjustments in the selectmen’s draft 2021-22 budget since the two group last met.

Budget committee and school board members had planned a March 23 joint meeting, but it was cancelled because the school budget is not ready. Budget committee members left the question of a March 25 meeting unresolved, after Phillips said he wanted to see the school budget before making decisions on the municipal budget.

A chart Melrose prepared for the March 4 budget committee meeting shows that 80 percent of 2021-22 property taxes are projected to go to the school budget. The municipal budget uses 12 percent and the Kennebec County budget the remaining eight percent.

 
 

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