At their July 18 meeting, Vassalboro selectmen talked about money (funding for the Vassalboro Sanitary District [VSD] expansion and buying a police car) and people (creating a new town solar committee and appointing its members, a change in codes officers and a neighborhood dispute).
Richard Green of Hoyle, Tanner & Associates, engineers for the VSD project to connect Vassalboro’s sewer system to the Winslow-Waterville one, gave selectmen an estimated budget, including estimated sewer user fees.
Planned costs for the connection total $7.768 million, but Green hopes it will come in under budget. The money will come from federal and state grants and loans and from Vassalboro’s TIF fund. Green’s budget showed $290,000 in TIF money already granted and, he said, mostly spent. Selectmen said VSD officials asked for another $120,000 (see The Town Line, June 20).
Green said the plan for the future is to use town money for three purposes:
- Helping homeowners who will now have the sewer line available pay the estimated average $5,000 to connect to it, including running a pipe from the street to the house and rearranging internal plumbing;
- Providing the reserve fund required by one of the federal loans; and
- Creating an annuity account to help offset debt service costs.
His report estimates the average annual user fee at $1,382, although he said the figure will be affected by many variables, including operating costs and annual charges from the town of Winslow once the system is operating and how many new users sign up.
Also, he said, using TIF dollars as planned could save each user about $50 annually.
Green estimated about 30 houses along about another 3,000 feet of Route 32 in North Vassalboro will be able to connect; Duratherm Window also intends to hook in, he said. No homeowner is required to connect unless his or her septic system fails. The more users, the lower the fee will be per user.
Selectmen thought the cost to users too high; Board Chairman Lauchlin Titus feared some residents’ sewer fees would be higher than their property tax bills. Green called his figures probably a worst-case scenario, with costs likely to be lower than expected and revenue perhaps to be higher.
After discussion, board members appropriated another $100,000 from the TIF fund to the sewer project on a 2-1 vote, with Titus and Robert Browne approving and John Melrose, who argued for a lower figure, opposed. They propose considering funding again in a year when VSD officials will have more complete information.
Town Manager Mary Sabins said the TIF fund had almost $144,000 available. Resident Michael Poulin again urged selectmen to expand the development projects for which TIF money can be used. It is currently limited to the sewer expansion and the Alewife Restoration Project (ARI); Poulin would like capital improvements at the transfer station added, and perhaps an improved outhouse at the East Vassalboro boat landing (see The Town Line, June 20, 2019, p. 3, and July 11, p.4). Selectmen asked Sabins to consult the state Department of Economic and Community Development, which sets rules for using TIF funds.
On another financial issue, Police Chief Mark Brown, asked to investigate options for the new police car voters authorized at the June town meeting, brought selectmen a recommendation for an SUV from Quirk Ford, in Augusta, for $36,303, less than the amount voters approved. Selectmen accepted Brown’s recommendation unanimously. They agreed to decide on financing later, as Brown said, delivery will be 12 to 14 weeks after the order is placed.
The newly-created Solar Study Committee is to be charged with recommending a company to install a solar generating system to serve several town buildings, again as authorized by town meeting voters. After considering residents who expressed interest, had relevant experience or both, selectmen appointed Donald Breton, Arthur Kingdon, Barbara Redmond, John Reuthe and Clough Toppan to the committee, hoping all will agree to serve.
Selectmen also appointed Patricia King a new member of the Conservation Commission.
Sabins reported that Codes Officer Richard Dolby has resigned, effective in mid-August, and will be succeeded by former Codes Officer Paul Mitnik, who resigned from his position in China at the end of June. Mitnik had already been hired by the town of Wayne, to whose officials he has given notice.
The Priest Hill Road neighborhood dispute comes under Dolby’s and/or Mitnik’s jurisdiction. Alan Johnston attended the selectmen’s meeting to complain about unlicensed vehicles, old trailers and other items he considers junk on Howard Crosby’s property across the road. He wants Vassalboro’s junkyard ordinance enforced. Later, Crosby and his wife Joanne told board members they are willing to get rid of things as weather and their resources permit.
The next regular Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for Thursday evening, Aug. 15. At either that meeting or a special August meeting to be announced they intend to set the 2019-2020 tax rate so bills can be mailed out. The first of four quarterly tax payments will be due Monday, Sept. 23.
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