(from the June 2009 Maine Townsman)

From Around the State and City Hall

Biddeford: The city council voted 5-4 last month against having the city take over the operations of the local wastewater treatment plant, which has been operated by a private company for the past 20 years. A consultant estimated the city could save $150,000 a year by taking over the plant. The council will hold another workshop on the issue later this year and take a second vote, according to city officials.

Bremen: The Bremen Conservation Commission has been awarded the 2009 Sterling P. Dow Award by the Maine Association of Conservation Commissions (MEACC) as the outstanding conservation commission of the year. The award was presented at the MEACC annual meeting on May 2.

Fort Kent: The town has received what is believed to be the largest federal Disaster Recovery grant ever awarded to a Maine community. The Aroostook County community of about 4,000 will receive $1.5 million from a total available to the state of $2.2 million. The money will help the town rebuild housing and infrastructure destroyed by record floods last year.

In early June, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture announced that Fort Kent would get $3.1 million in stimulus money toward the cost of upgrading the town’s water and sewer systems, construction of a new pump station on higher ground, and repairing 3,000 feet of cracked water mains.

Two other Maine towns receiving grants under the rural water improvement program are Boothbay Harbor, which will receive $2.6 million, and Randolph, which won a $750,000 grant.

Greenville: Town meeting voters last month agreed to pay almost $30,000 to help keep snowmobile trails groomed in an effort to retain its winter tourism visits. The people who have been grooming trails told the town meeting they can no longer pay the shortfall between the cost of grooming and donations from area businesses. The volunteers who take care of trails throughout the Greenville area said they paid more than $60,000 last winter of their own money and could no longer afford it.

Kennebunk: The tri-community water district trustees, by a unanimous vote, made their position clear in late May that they had no interest in any further discussion of a contract that would allow Nestle Waters North America, owner of Poland Spring, one of the nation’s best-selling water brands, to draw water from district facilities. Although the trustees from Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Wells had indefinitely tabled contract discussions at a previous meeting, they felt it was important to further clarify their position on the matter .

Milbridge: Residents are considering changing their municipal government from a town manager and three selectmen to an administrative assistant and a five-member board of selectmen. Some residents have asked for more information and the question, prompted by citizen petition, is expected to be sent to voters for a November decision.

Oakland: Residents voted 120-47 during town meeting in May in favor of spending up to $7.9 million for capital improvements that would allow the town to hook into neighboring Waterville’s city sewerage district. Town officials said they budgeted for the worst case, and predicted the cost would be closer to $5.5 million.

Old Orchard Beach: The town council is considering changing a local ordinance and start banning chemical-free parties for teenagers at places where alcohol is served. Proponents say there have been complaints about allowing 13- to 20-year-olds in a bar atmosphere. Opponents of the ban say the parties are seasonal, well controlled and are among the few entertainment options for teens.

Saco: Thornton Academy students participated in Project Citizen in May, a national civics program designed to get more young people involved in their communities and local governments, including identifying a problem and proposing policy changes to solve it.

Trenton: Town meeting voters decided in May to wait a year before voting on whether to reverse their decision of last November to increase the board of selectmen from three to five members. The delay avoided the situation where residents were asked to both fill two new selectmen seats and decide whether to return to a three-person board.

Waldoboro: Selectmen in May reviewed a previous budget proposal and voted to reduce the weekly working hours for five municipal employees from 40 to 32.