Vassalboro selectmen, school committee suggest compactor supplement at transfer station

by Mary Grow

The transfer station was again the major topic as Vassalboro selectmen and budget committee members met sequentially at Vassalboro Community School the evening of April 1. The two boards seem to have reached agreement on a recommendation to voters at the June 7 town meeting

John Melrose, chairman of the selectboard, had condensed earlier discussions into a two-part recommendation. Phase one, to be done in 2021-22 if voters consent, involves buying and installing a new compactor that would supplement, not replace, the old one.

When selectmen and Road Foreman Eugene Field toured the transfer station the morning of March 24, Field pointed out that it was designed to have two compactors.

The second compactor Melrose sees going where open-top containers are now located, close to the current compactor. His plan includes the update to the electrical system that board members earlier agreed was essential.

Melrose recommends adding a hopper, a variable frequency drive, controls and a shelter for the second compactor. His proposal includes security alarms and gates and relocating the control building.

His estimated cost for the work came to $117,500. Reserve funds will cover about $95,000 of the total. Melrose recommended transferring $85,000 from surplus (formally called undesignated fund balance), with the hope that overfunding will give next year’s selectboard leeway to expand the project.

One suggestion he relayed from Field was to consider buying a skid steer instead of replacing the backhoe. The backhoe is used to compress materials in the open-top containers; the new compactor would minimize use of open-tops; and a more versatile skid steer should be more useful.

If the next selectboard chooses to do nothing more at the transfer station, the extra money can be put back into surplus. Selectmen and budget committee members agreed that the town’s surplus account is large enough to stand the withdrawal.

Town Manager Mary Sabins had prepared a revised budget sheet and revised town meeting warrant articles to match Melrose’s proposal. Selectmen and budget committee members supported them.

Budget committee members also supported selectmen’s recommendations on all other warrant articles for which firm figures were available April 1. They planned to meet next on April 6 with the school board.

In other business at the selectboard meeting, board members unanimously awarded two bids.

They sold the old fire truck to the highest of four bidders, Asian Auto Services, of Plaistow, New Hampshire, for $3,632.12. Firefighter Michael Vashon said the truck was sold “as is, where is”; he expects someone from New Hampshire to come and get it. Sabins said proceeds will go into the fire truck reserve fund.

For installing a new boiler at the North Vassalboro fire station, selectmen chose the lowest of three bids, $17,250 from Houle’s Plumbing and Heating, of Waterville, provided the price will hold and the company will wait for payment until the new fiscal year begins July 1.

After speaking with a Houle’s representative April 5, Sabins emailed that the company will buy the boiler right away, before any price increase, and will not expect the first town payment until July 1. The second payment will be due when installation starts and the final payment when the job is satisfactorily completed.

Should town meeting voters decide not to buy the boiler, Vassalboro will pay Houle’s a restocking fee, the manager wrote.

The selectmen also signed Sabins’ three-year contract renewal.

After the April 6 meeting, budget committee meetings are also scheduled for 7 p.m., Thursday, April 8, and Tuesday, April 13. The next selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., Thursday, April 15; the agenda is supposed to include final review of the June 7 and 8 town meeting warrant. All meetings are currently scheduled to be held in person at Vassalboro Community School.


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