NEWS
(from the July 2010 Maine Townsman)

From Around the State and City Hall

Auburn: A privately owned recycling plant is saving 60,000 gallons of water a day by changing the nozzles on 36 old water fixtures on just one machine, officials said in July. The change will save the company almost $100,000 in city fees a year. The savings come from using and heating less water and from a drop in the amount of effluent that drains into the city’s sewers.

Bangor: The Maine Land Use Commission voted in early July to deny a request from the Texas-based TransCanada Corp. to expand its wind farm atop Kibby Mountain near the Canadian border in western Maine. The company had hoped to add about 630 acres and 14 turbines at the Franklin County mountain area, but LURC members, in a straw vote, decided the expansion could impact wildlife habitat and the scenery in the area. The company already has approval to erect 44 turbines on Kibby.

Biddeford: The town council reached accord with the clerical union, the last of five municipal union groups to ink new contracts. The clerical group, as with other unionized employee groups, will not get a pay raise for the fiscal year 2009-10, but will receive 1 percent to 3 percent raises in both of the final two years of the agreement, based on the inflation rate.

Brunswick: Federal transportation officials approved the extension of passenger train service to coastal Maine, giving Amtrak the green light in July to rehabilitate 26 miles of rail lines and extend service from Portland to Brunswick, including a daily stop in Freeport. The project, which will be funded primarily through a $35 million federal stimulus grant, will take more than two years to complete.

Carthage: Special Town Meeting voters in June rejected a proposed moratorium on commercial wind farm development by a vote of 48-42. The vote was prompted by citizen petition to slow plans for an industrial wind farm along the ridge of Saddleback Mountain in western Maine. Officials said the developer, Patriot Renewables LLC of Quincy, Mass., owner of a wind farm in Freedom, still has numerous regulatory rules to clear before it can move ahead with its new proposal.

Limestone: The U.S. Senate has passed a new defense budget that includes $1.5 million for a project at the former Loring Air Force Base to design a heavy-lift transport vehicle for the Navy.

Mexico: A mild winter, increased excise-tax revenue and more money than expected from the Federal Emergency Management Agency combined to help the town end the fiscal year in the black on June 30. The good news means an expected increase in the property tax rate will be less than one mill, according to Town Manager John Madigan.

Newport: Only one of four banks responded to the town’s request for $175,000 to finance a new sand and salt shed. Town Manager James Ricker said the lone bid was unprecedented for securing a municipal bond. While some selectmen wanted to seek bids outside of town, Ricker recommended against the move since the Merrill Bank bid had been made public. Ricker said he would seek bids from a broader area the next time the town needs financing.

Saco: The town’s police chief is developing a plan to create a second deputy chief position as he restructures the department into two bureaus; one for patrol and dispatch and the other for recordkeeping, training, facilities and accreditation. The department includes 47 officers and other staff members.

St. George: More than 200 residents have appealed the new values of their property following the first outside revaluation in 15 years. The value of the average property increased 75 percent to 85 percent. Prior to the revaluation, property was assessed at 63 percent of fair market value, officials said.

CORRECTION:

A News item from May about Litchfield should have said voters defeated spending $185,000 for the town’s first revaluation since 1994.