(from the August/September 2009 Maine Townsman)
From Around the State and City Hall
Augusta: City officials were unable to find a firm interested in buying the naming rights to the Augusta Civic Center. The city received inquiries about the proposal but none materialized. Some city officials think the poor economy had an effect on the interested parties’ ability to make an offer.
Bangor: The city council voted unanimously in August to allow the electronic control device known as a Taser to be used to subdue dangerous or out-of-control patients at Eastern Maine Medical Center. The hospital donated money to the city to buy one of the new devices, which would only be used by a trained city police officer.
Lincoln: Opponents of a wind turbine project were handed a defeat in August by the Maine Board of Environmental Protection, which rejected the Friends of Lincoln’s argument that regulators were too quick to approve a 40-turbine project in the Greater Lincoln area. The BEP declined to approve public hearings, as requested by the opponents. Wind projects continue to stir up controversy -- and support -- throughout Maine as a way to reduce reliance on non-renewable energy, as well as new tax revenue for cash-strapped areas.
Minot: Selectmen will seek legal advice on whether they should refund the portion of development impact fees charged to homeowners for education now that the town’s consolidated school is property of the new Regional School Unit (RSU) 16. Over the past five years, the town has charged homebuilders impact fees of $2,800, with $2,000 of that money dedicated to education.
Old Orchard Beach: Voters will be asked in November to elect six residents to join three appointed members to serve on the town’s new charter commission. The new panel will consider changing the existing charter or devising a new one. The charter, which governs the local government, has not been amended since it was passed by voters in 1998.
Shapleigh: Poland Spring Water Co. will remove its test wells and monitors at a state wildlife area after being unable to reach agreement with the state to use the site to extract water for its Hollis plant. The company also will not pursue a permit to draw water from a second site in town, this one owned by the municipality.
St. Agatha: Using more fee revenue for services to unorganized territories, the town will be able to keep its mill rate at 18.5 despite a 2.3 percent increase in the town budget, a 7.3 percent increase for education and a 3 percent hike in county taxes.
Wells: Firefighters may continue fundraising efforts during work hours after getting approval by selectmen in late July. The staff raises money for charities, including the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The firefighters formed a union last year. The agreement requires them to raise money as part of their membership.
Statewide: Community Development Block Grants have been awarded to seven Maine communities. The grants will be used to encourage new businesses and create new jobs. The winning communities were: Brunswick, Boothbay, Kennebunk, Old Town, Rockland, St. Agatha and Sanford. In all, nearly 50 jobs will be created with the money.