(from the August/September 2010 Maine Townsman)
From Around the State and City Hall
Belfast: The Waldo County Municipal Association will host a candidate forum on Sept. 15 at the University of Maine’s Hutchinson Center, featuring most or all 13 candidates running for state House or Senate seats from the county. The forum will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the former MBNA call center facility. During the first part of the forum, questions important to town and city leaders will be posed to the candidates on a number of issues ranging from municipal revenue sharing and school funding, state mandates, properly maintaining the state’s roads and bridges, regionalism and consolidation.
Eustis: Owners of TransCanada, the developer of an industrial wind farm on Kibby Mountain near Chain of Ponds in western Maine, told the Land Use Regulation Commission it would revise its expansion plan to reduce its proposed addition of 15 turbines to 11. The company already had won approval to erect 22 wind turbines, now under construction, but LURC balked at the size of the proposed expansion.
Gardiner: Residents got to meet city police officers, state troopers and other emergency personnel during the National Night Out, a program designed to improve relations and understanding between the public and emergency responders. This year was the third straight in which the city sponsored the event. “I think this is great,” one resident told the Kennebec Journal. “We don’t get enough of this kind of thing and we need it.”
Old Town: Police received reports of 41 vehicle break-ins over a 13-hour period on Aug. 4 and cautioned residents that the days of not having to worry about locking their cars and trucks are over. Every one of the 41 vehicles, all parked at different houses, were unlocked. Police said they expect more vehicle burglaries.
South Portland: The city’s General Assistance Department has become Maine’s first to implement a 100 percent paperless and file-free operation. The transition to a paperless tracking and reporting system began last December. Among other functions, the Welpac computer software program, being used by a handful of other Maine municipalities, tracks clients that apply for assistance, determines eligibility and streamlines the processing functions of administering GA. GA Administrator Kathleen Babeu said the new system “results in increased statistical data, accuracy and efficient reporting capabilities.”
Statewide: The State Planning Office is again offering $500 matching grants to municipalities for the promotion of recycling and/or composting. This is a community’s opportunity to get creative with residential information and outreach efforts. In previous years, grants have been award for a variety of things such as web page development, facility signage, compost workshops, and customized print brochures. Application deadline is September 10. For more information and an application form see http://www.maine.gov/spo/recycle/index.htm or contact Suzanne Duplissis if you have any questions email@example.com or 287-9074.
Statewide: Six municipalities have been designated as a Maine Downtown Network Community by the Maine Development Foundation. The designation will help the communities gain support for “community branding” efforts, historic preservation and economic development, among other benefits. The six municipalities are: Belfast, Brunswick, Damariscotta, Dover-Foxcroft, Machias and Madawaska.
An article on the PACE energy program in the July Townsman said, “Participation in the program would require towns and cities interested in the program to adopt a special ordinance allowing a surcharge to be added to property tax bills.” However, all the rules and regulations for the program have not been adopted. Municipalities may use their property tax billing systems to assess and collect PACE loan payments but they are not required to do so. As the article notes, some municipal officials are wary of combining a PACE loan and a property tax bill. MMA’s best information at this point is that PACE programs may be structured and administered without adding a surcharge to property tax bills.