(from the
August/September 2007 Maine Townsman)

Arundel: Residents voted overwhelmingly at a special town meeting in late July to increase local spending by $250,000 and establish the town’s first paid fire and rescue service. The money will finance two full-time positions and pay a per diem coverage for members on 16- to 24-hour shifts.

Auburn: The city will receive $800,000 more in state revenue sharing funds than expected, which in turn will lower property taxes across the board by an average of $80.

Brunswick: Town councilors are seeking volunteers to serve on the Land for Brunswick’s Future Board, modeled after the successful state/private alliance that raises money to buy valuable land for statewide public use and protection. The council has not yet set aside any money for land acquisition, but hopes to get the project under way by 2009.

Bethel : The cost of repairing the town’s water supply, which was breached during an overnight flash flood in mid-July, is now approaching $500,000. Finding a new water source, an option for the water district, could run as high as $1.8 million. The city of Auburn, local contractors and volunteers were credited with helping the resort town get its system back online for the time being.

Calais: A federal judge has rejected a citizen group’s lawsuit seeking to halt construction of a new $120 million international bridge to connect Calais to St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada. The judge ruled the group did not prove the decision to site the bridge in Calais rather than nearby Baileyville was either arbitrary or capricious.

Cape Elizabeth: The town has started paying members of its volunteer public safety crews in order to get workers compensation coverage for them while on duty. The decision follows the accidental death of James Durant, a Scarborough volunteer who was struck by a car in December while controlling traffic at an accident scene. Scarborough, meanwhile, has decided to maintain its Volunteers in Police Service program as an unpaid effort, but offer members the option of buying supplemental insurance in the event they are injured or killed on duty for the town.­

Dixfield: Special town meeting voters rejected a request in late July to raise the pay of municipal police officers by $10,268. The request was issued by the finance committee with the goal of giving police the same 3.5-percent pay increase as all other municipal employees. Selectmen recommended against the raises, even after learning the funds were inadvertently left out of the annual budget approved in June. The vote was 23-17.

Gorham: The town council voted unanimously in early July to restrict convicted sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a school or 1,000 feet from a daycare center.

Kennebunkport: Property taxpayers spend about $16,000 every time President George W. Bush visits his family’s summer home, according to Police Chief Joseph Bruni. The cost represents police and other public safety staff coverage of both the president and the growing number of war protesters who line up to greet him.

Norridgewock: The Somerset County town of 3,300 became the latest community in Maine to allow all-terrain vehicles on the open road. Selectmen voted 4-0 in July to permit ATVs on several main roads in town, paving the way for sportsmen to connect with trails from Fairfield to Mercer. The change was scheduled to take effect before September and will result in lower speed limits for all vehicles on the designated roads.

Old Orchard Beach: The town council has imposed a new rule on itself that bars members from questioning the city staff except through Town Manager James Thomas. The rule, in effect unofficially for years, carries out the chain-of-command dictated in the town charter, but two of the five councilors voted against the rule, arguing that they should enjoy the same basic rights as other residents to call a town employee with concerns or questions.­ Oxford: Long-awaited improvements to a strip of Route 26 has been delayed again because of lack of state highway funding. According to one state transportation official, the stretch of Route 26 in a key retail area, which includes Oxford Plains Speedway, but really can’t get much worse, so fixing it becomes a lower priority for the state.

Presque Isle: The city will receive nearly $5 million to finance a new discharge pipeline project. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program will provide $2 million in grant money to the city, along with a $2.95 million loan, for construction of a 7,000-foot-long gravity pipeline to redirect wastewater discharges from the Presque Isle stream to the Aroostook River.

Saco: The largest single development in Saco in a century received final approval from the planning board in July. The Saco Island project is expected to cost developers $100 million and entail renovating and reusing an abandoned 15 acres of former textile mills. The mixed-use project will take four years to complete, according to planners.

South Portland: The city council has lifted a 40-year-old ban on residents serving on more than one municipal board. The vote was 4-2 to approve a resolve that resulted after a library trustee asked to also serve on the town’s conservation commission. The new rule prohibits cross-membership on the planning board, board of appeals and conservation commission.

­ Waldoboro: Three spending requests that annual town meeting voters approved by wide margins in June will not be funded because the same voters declined to override the town’s L.D. 1 tax levy limit. A resident has started a petition calling for a new town meeting on the override question out of concern for the programs that would be eliminated, including a $300,000 local/federal project to stabilize the Medomak River bank.

Wilton : Selectmen will hold a public hearing to seek opinions on whether to change the annual town meeting format from open floor to referendum voting, although a majority of the board did not think townspeople were clamoring for the change and did not favor it. The board will decide after the hearing whether to put the question to voters in November.