(from the
April 2006 Maine Townsman)

Auburn: A possible June 2006 referendum to rescind the city council’s approval of a $5 million bond parking garage project has been averted. City Attorney Patrick Scully has opined that residents do not have the right to use the petition process under the city charter to bring matters related to council appropriations for budget or capital items to a referendum vote. A group of residents was hoping to circulate petitions to challenge the project. A spokesperson for the group vowed to keep the issue alive.

Houlton: Town officials in the Aroostook County shiretown are encouraged by statistics provided by the town’s code enforcement office, showing that 20 new businesses were established and four businesses expanded here in 2005. Town officials have attempted to draw new businesses to the area by hiring two economic development consultants and adopting a downtown revitalization plan.

Rumford: The town was cited by OSHA for several safety and health code violations after the municipal building, fire station and town garage were inspected by a state official. The town has since formed a safety committee to provide a forum in which to review some possible remedies. Town Manager John Eldridge reported to selectmen that he has met with department heads, and has begun a plan of action. The town must comply with the regulations by April 15.

Cumberland County: This county began a “reverse 911” service on March 4. This service provides phone notification (20,000 calls in an hour) of emergencies and significant news alerts to residents in a given area. The service is provided by agreement with a Midwestern company, “City Watch,” and because it is considered a bulk purchase, each municipality within the county is able to have its own account, and at a special rate.

Lincoln: The town council voted March 20 to approve a 20-year tax increment financing (TIF) agreement with Lincoln Paper & Tissue LLC. The TIF deal is awaiting state DECD approval.

Westport Island: Residents will vote on June 13 on whether to go with a referendum-style of voting at town meeting or retain the open town meeting. A citizen information committee gathered and presented enough signatures to get the issue before the voters.

Topsham: The town has signed a $1.035 million purchase agreement to buy .87 acres on Main Street. This land, formerly owned by Cumberland Farms, will become the location of a new town office and a public safety facility.

Kennebunk: The planning board is considering impact fees as a way to pay for some capital improvements. After a joint meeting with the board of selectmen on March 13, members of both boards expressed an interest in levying impact fees to help pay the cost of constructing a new fire station. Such a proposal may be addressed at the town’s annual meeting in June.