Vassalboro select board looks at VSD finances in hour-long discussion

by Mary Grow

The May 2 Vassalboro select board meeting featured an hour-long discussion among board members, Town Manager Aaron Miller, Vassalboro Sanitary District trustees and Megan McDonough and other VSD customers, with frequent references to information supplied by or to be sought from attorneys.

The goal is to find ways to manage VSD finances, especially repayment of the debt from connecting the Vassalboro sewer system to Winslow, without making already-high sewer bills even higher.

NOTE: The May 2 Vassalboro select board meeting again included an hour-long executive session with the town attorney, during which the recording of the meeting shows the empty meeting room. After a little more than two-and-a-half hours from the beginning of the meeting, board members returned for another quarter of an hour.

The agenda on the town website,, includes a 29-page document titled “Outline of May 2 VSD-TIF-Discussion.pdf,” available for viewing or downloading.

The VSD serves about 200 of Vassalboro’s about 2,700 households, select board chairman Chris French said. Its lines run along Route 32 (Main Street) from East Vassalboro through North Vassalboro to the Winslow line, and along some side streets off Main Street.

The first topic was whether some of Vassalboro’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds could be allocated to the debt repayment. Miller and select board member Frederick “Rick” Denico, Jr., said Vassalboro’s TIF document says money must be spent in town; but they have not been able to get from VSD trustees an accurate figure on what proportion of the lines is in Vassalboro and what proportion is in Winslow.

Engineer Richard Green, representing the consultant that operates the VSD system, said the question shows a lack of understanding of how funding agencies work. Funds are allocated by purpose, not by geography, he said.

After more discussion of legal advice, TIF requirements, the difference between construction and debt service and related topics, Green said he could provide the information town officials initially requested in February.

Miller and select board members agreed they still need the town auditor’s input. A meeting of town and VSD officials and the auditor is tentatively scheduled for the end of May.

A second issue was how VSD trustees are chosen. Denico pointed out that the VSD charter allowing board members to elect new members contradicts state law.

State law, he and Miller said, requires an open election by sanitary district residents; they cited Title 38, Chapter 1105, in the Maine Revised Statutes. Denico said the town would cover the cost of VSD elections along with municipal election costs.

Trustee Rebecca Goodrich said VSD’s attorney thought the charter did not need amending. She planned to talk with the attorney again the next day.

After their executive session with the town attorney later in the meeting, select board members voted unanimously to ask the trustees to change their method of election as soon as possible.

The third major topic was other funding sources. Select board members suggested two: joining the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments to get grant-writing assistance, and creating housing districts to encourage residential (and associated commercial) growth in North and East Vassalboro, so more sewer users would share the costs.

McDonough urged acceptance of both ideas. Neither would provide prompt relief, everyone agreed.

The May 2 select board meeting began with a short presentation by Matthew Weaver, of Damariscotta-based First National Wealth Management, who said Vassalboro’s investments are doing well. The conservative investment portfolio had an overall return rate of 9.66 percent in the previous year, he said.

The other major topic for which select board members had time before the executive session was review of Miller’s draft warrant for the June 3 and June 11 town meeting. Select board members suggested minor changes.

After the executive session, Miller summarized a Delta Ambulance report for the first three months of 2024. The service responded to 97 percent of Vassalboro’s 911 calls, a total of 117; in 19 percent of the calls, no one was transported (and Medicare did not reimburse Delta for the call). Average response time was 14 minutes, 15 seconds.

Board members unanimously nominated Miller to serve another term on the Maine Municipal Association’s Legislative Policy Committee.

The next regular Vassalboro select board meeting is scheduled for Thursday evening, May 16. Two topics postponed from May 2 are likely to be on the agenda: review of plans for the transfer station redesign, and updates to the town personnel policy.


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