NEWS
(from the
October 2005 Maine Townsman)

Hope: After a proposed new fire station was turned down by voters in June 2004, a committee of residents and firefighters is now proposing that a smaller and less expensive fire station be built. The newly proposed fire station would cost about $450,000, compared with the $780,000 figure estimated for 2004 project.

Dover-Foxcroft: Over 200 registered voters have signed a petition to move the town away from an open town meeting to a referendum-style town meeting. The proposal will be voted on this November. If it passes, future town meeting warrant articles will go before voters as referendum questions.

Clinton: As the police department merges its data reporting with the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Department, it will soon be equipped with a global positioning system (GPS) in each police cruiser. The new system will include two laptop computers and two mobile data radios. Nearly $29,000 worth of equipment comes from a federal (Homeland Security) grant.

Calais: The city will be receiving a $400,000 grant and a $600,000 loan from the USDA Rural Development agency. The funds will be used to upgrade a wastewater pump and the sewage treatment plant.

Benedicta: This former Aroostook County town, now part of the unorganized territory, is undergoing election changes. The Aroostook County commissioners are looking at contracting this unorganized territory’s election services to the neighboring town of Sherman. The idea came about after the Secretary of State imposed several new election requirements on the township. A central voting center in Sherman would better facilitate meeting the state’s requirements.

Winslow: The owner of a hydroelectric dam will continue to contest the town’s $25 million tax assessment for fiscal year 2000-01. This abatement request has previously been defeated at both the superior court level and in front of a state property tax review board. The dispute is now being taken to the Maine Supreme Court.

Kennebunk: The board of selectmen has agreed to send a proposed charter amendment to the November 8 election that would change the open town meeting to a referendum-style meeting. The amendment would allow residents to vote on a printed ballot rather than conducting an open meeting. Proponents of the referendum-style town meeting say there would be greater voter participation.

Saco: The city council voted unanimously to bring a $10 million bond for the proposed buyout of a Maine Energy Recovery Co incinerator, located in downtown Biddeford, before voters in November. Both communities are now scheduled to vote this November on the buyout. Some local officials and residents view the downtown incinerator as a impediment to economic development in the two communities.

Brunswick: With the Brunswick Naval Air Station due to close in a few years, the town anticipates losing 20 percent of its student enrollment. With the loss of so many military children, the school system will no longer be eligible for the $700,000 to $1 million in federal funds it has been receiving annually for those students . State education aid would also be reduced. According to newspaper reports, Education Commissioner Susan Gendron plans to have a bill introduced during the next state legislative session that would lessen the impact of state education aid for the town, and for other towns affected by a sudden drop in student enrollment.

Raymond: Property values have increased substantially as a result of data collected from a town-wide revaluation. This first revaluation in 16 years has more than doubled the town’s assessed value. The town’s tax rate has dropped below 10 mills.

Wiscasset: The town will be combining their planning and economic development offices into one office. The current economic development director position will be eliminated. Reasons cited include budget pressures, changing needs of the community, and a changing development landscape.

Lewiston: Residents of the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments (AVCOG) region will be able to take hazardous waste and household chemicals to a new facility located outside of the city’s landfill.

Kennebunkport: The board of selectmen has approved the purchase of an all-terrain vehicle to facilitate police patrol of more than 3,000 acres of local conservation land often used for recreation. A portion of the cost is being covered by a state grant, and the remainder will be paid as a match from local funds.

Winslow: Preliminary cost estimates for a proposed renovation of the high school show a total price of $9 million. Three million dollars of the project would be covered by state funding, and $6 million would need to come from local taxpayers. It is expected that the high school renovation project will be put before Winslow voters at the November 8 election as a referendum question.