NEWS
(from the April 2009 Maine Townsman)

From Around the State and City Hall

Augusta: The state capital will receive $100,000 in federal stimulus funding to improve its energy efficiency. Although the city was the only municipality to get a direct grant, officials said other cities and towns will get about 60 percent of the $9.6 million expected by the state for energy efficiency. The money will be distributed through block grants administered by Efficiency Maine.

Belfast: The city has won $1 million in federal stimulus funding toward a proposed $1.4 million in upgrades to the city’s wastewater treatment system. The city also will receive a 20-year loan, at no interest, of $342,687 for the work.

Biddeford: The city’s proposed budget is down $223,000 from the current year’s spending in an attempt to keep the property tax rate flat for municipal services. Like most Maine communities preparing budgets this spring, leaders are facing both a drop in revenue and an increase in costs in the coming year. In Biddeford, officials expect $750,000 less in non-property tax revenue.

Camden: The four coastal towns that comprise the Mid-Coast Solid Waste Corp. are now paying 50 percent more to dispose of trash, except demolition debris, in the first fee increase since 2002. Town officials from the four towns of Camden, Hope, Lincolnville and Rockport have approved the increase, which took effect on April 1.

Dexter: The regional airport is among only three in the state that will share $5.5 million in federal stimulus funding for construction of aircraft safety buildings. The Dexter Regional Airport will get the lions’ share at $3.8 million, followed by the Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport in Trenton with $1.2 million, and the Augusta State Airport, set to receive $500,000.

Eliot: Selectmen must find $400,000 in budget cuts, or 10 percent of municipal spending, to balance its fiscal 2010 budget. Officials are dealing with steep revenue declines, including an anticipated reduction in excise taxes. Department heads were asked to revamp their budgets downward and selectmen said they hope to maintain the current work force.

Fort Kent: By a single vote in secret balloting last month, residents rejected a proposed six-month moratorium on construction of wind power farms. The vote was 45-45 and failed for lack of majority. In February, the town council refused to back a moratorium on industrial wind.

Frenchboro: The tiny Hancock County town of 46 residents will be featured on a future Oprah show after crews filmed the town in March and Oprah interviewed residents who had gathered at the schoolhouse for an Internet meeting with the talk show star. The segment will be included in a show featuring people who live unusual lifestyles.

Fryeburg: The Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled unanimously last month to overturn a lower court ruling and the decision of the town planning board to deny a permit application by Poland Spring Bottling Co. to operate a pump station on the east side of town. In October of 2005, the local planning board initially approved the company’s permit application, but then after a local appeals board decision overturning that approval followed by a Superior Court decision remanding the appeals board decision back to the planning board, the planning board changed its mind and reversed its original position. This decision by Maine’s highest court appears to have finally settled the issue in favor of the company.

Jay: Town Manager Ruth Marden has offered to give up a clothing allowance and her scheduled three percent raise in fiscal 2010 to help the town balance its next budget. The total savings for the year are pegged at about $2,400 and follows a similar move by the Augusta city manager last month, who also cited economic hard times as a reason to bear his share of the proposed budget cuts.

Ogunquit: The town’s Conservation Commission has drafted an ordinance to regulate the use of pesticides as a way to protect the town’s water supply as well as wildlife and plants. Whether the ordinance makes it to the November ballot will depend in part on how much support it garners during an April public hearing.

Old Orchard Beach: Preliminary budget projections presented to councilors in mid-March hold the line on the property tax rate, in part by eliminating cost-of-living raises for town staff, delaying all major equipment purchases; and cutting the seasonal police force by 25 percent, or 10 officers.

Paris: Selectmen last month unanimously rejected forwarding an ordinance to voters calling for the small western Maine town to become the first in the state to codify English as its official language.

Sumner: All but one of 40 residents who attended an early-April forum supported a proposed three-turbine wind farm on Mollyockett Mountain. In a straw vote, residents voted for the town’s wind power study committee to continue its work. The proposed farm would be located on town-owned land and cost an estimated $8 million to build.