(from the
August/September 2006 Maine Townsman)

Mount Desert: Preliminary results of a new revaluation of the Town of Mount Desert shows property values have tripled in the past 14 years and the median sales price for a non-waterfront home is now $410,000. The median sales price for a waterfront building lot is $950,000. Michael Tarello of Vision Appraisal Technology, which is undertaking the project, said the new values are preliminary and would not be final until after a series of informal hearings that will give property owners a chance to question the new assessments. Mount Desert is one of four towns on Mount Desert Island, home also to Acadia National Park.

Waldoboro: Police will buy an all-terrain vehicle with a $4,000 grant from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to hunt down ATVers who have used the road less traveled to elude police for years. The town will also contribute $4,700 to buy an ATV and find $3,100 in the operating budget to pay for four hours of patrol a week through the end of the fiscal year. Police think the vehicle will help them respond to trespassing and other landowner complaints, as well as drug eradication.

China: Selectmen will ask local voters to choose one of three long-term options for the town’s two schools: merge students from China Primary School and the middle school by expanding and renovating the primary school; renovate the middle school and continue using both schools; or do neither. Voters also will be asked whether to borrow $265,000 for improvements to the middle school, with an estimated $184,000 to be repaid with a state grant.

Saco: The city council has agreed to spend $8,000 for a residential-sized wind turbine for the wastewater treatment plant that could generate 400 kilowatt hours of electricity a month. The proposal was developed by the council’s energy committee after members visited Hull, Mass., where the city runs two wind turbines that save residents thousands on electricity costs, according to the committee.

Milbridge: Selectmen have accepted a petition to dissolve SAD 37 and create a school union. Petitioners have submitted formal requests in the other SAD 37 towns of Cherryfield and Columbia. A school union would allow each town to have its own school committee; supporters say more local control will result in lower costs. Voters in all three towns must approve the dissolution by a two-thirds vote.

Madawaska: The Planning Board has endorsed using a $400,000 Community Development Block Grant toward the rehabilitation of the former Ames complex. The project conforms to the vision of the town’s comprehensive plan, which calls for recruiting new retail businesses to the area.

Naples: Members of the board of selectmen, planning board and appeals board met recently with the town attorney to discuss what constitutes a conflict of interest and when a conflict is strong enough to warrant recusal. Officials were told that they should also be as concerned about the appearance of a conflict of interest. Town leaders are considering an ethics ordinance for the town.

Hope: Town officials would like to design a new town seal, and have decided that Town Administrator Jon Duke should lead the effort. According to Duke, the town apparently had a town seal 10 or 15 years ago, but no one can find it. Duke plans to ask a group of townspeople to help with the project.

Fort Kent: The town has landed a $120,000 grant from the Maine Municipal Investment Trust Fund to help fund the installation of water and sewer lines for an assisted-living housing project now under construction. The balance of the project will be paid for by the developer and by a new tax increment financing district.

Norway: Sewer users in the towns of Oxford and Norway will see a 17 percent increase in their sewer rates for the 2006-07 fiscal year. The money will cover capital improvements and rising electricity costs caused by wiring problems at the plant.

Poland: Poland Spring Bottling Co. officials have reached an agreement with the Town of Poland to recoup about $2 million in tax refunds owed to the company. The negotiated deal gives the town until 2013 to repay the full $2.1 million that is owed to Poland Spring under tax increment financing agreements. The company overpaid its taxes under the TIF for about six years before town officials discovered the mistake. Poland Spring, the town’s largest taxpayer and employer, also agreed to forgive $200,000 of the debt and to also forgo any interest owed over the period.

Sanford: The town council approved a new contract with the town’s firefighters, giving them 3-percent raises for each of the next three years in exchange for the employees agreeing to pay 15 percent of their health insurance premiums, up from 10 percent presently. The wage increases are expected to cost about $48,000 for the first year and a total of $148,200 for the term of the new contract.