Auburn: The city is working on setting aside additional funds in an effort to build up its rainy day fund (undesignated fund balance). It currently has about four percent of its annual expenditures set aside, but it aims to reach about eight percent. Auditors and other finance experts recommend the higher percentage, especially to achieve a better credit rating.
Gardiner: Councilors voted to discontinue use of the city’s dispatch center in favor of using the services of the new Central Maine Regional Communications Center to dispatch police, fire and ambulance personnel to emergencies. Switching will save the city an estimated $15,000 the first year and $45,000 per year in the following years.
Canaan: The town is planning its first full property revaluation in 15 years, to be completed by the summer. Since the 1991 revaluation, the town’s assessment ratio has fallen to 76 percent. New valuations will be used for 2006 property taxes.
Lewiston: As a result of TD Banknorth’s purchase of a New Jersey-based bank, half of the Bates Mill 3 north building in Lewiston will undergo a $7 million renovation, providing space for 100 new workers in support services. TD Banknorth is the biggest tenant at Bates Mill.
Bangor: Contract talks and negotiations between the city and its firefighters’ union continue, revolving primarily around the issues of pay and health insurance premium costs. It is not yet clear whether a settlement will be reached without mediation or arbitration.
Bowdoinham: The town is trying a different approach to recycling and discarding of items – “freecycling.” Instead of hauling unwanted materials to the recycling barn or transfer station, residents are urged to post a description of the item(s) on the town’s web site, www.bowdoinham.com, for the purpose of swapping items or giving them away. Only residents may post items, but individuals from other towns can acquire items.
Augusta: The city council has authorized an appeal of a federal judge’s decision to overturn city fees on street demonstrations (commonly aimed at state or federal issues). The city has spent about $34,000 on the court case thus far. Supporters of the appeal say city taxpayers should not have to pay the cost of demonstrations. Opponents of the appeal argue that the rights of people to protest are being threatened.
Somerset County: Commissioners voted on January 17 to purchase land in East Madison on which to construct a new county jail. The land will cost $210,000 and the jail, which will house 173 inmates, will cost $30 million. Commissioners expect to borrow an initial $2 million to finance design costs. Sewer access to the site is not yet in place, and negotiations are underway to address this issue.
Hammond: This Aroostook County town of about 100 residents is exploring deorganization. In the fall, a petition in favor of considering deorganization was signed by the majority of the town’s registered voters. A February 9 meeting with state officials was scheduled to discuss the issue.
Windsor: Selectmen voted on January 24 to accept two citizen-initiated petitions: one attempting to eliminate the town manager position; the other to reduce the board of selectmen from five members to three. The petitions will be voted on by secret ballot in June. Any changes approved in June would not take effect until the March 2007 town meeting.
York: Town officials are hoping to acquire six acres of downtown real estate for $750,000. Voters could be asked to approve this purchase in May. The land would become the site for new municipal facilities. One goal of the town’s comprehensive plan is to keep the town hall downtown.
Kennebunk: Selectmen approved a revised Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan on January 24. The plan is the result of four months of preparation, debate and site visits by the fire chief.
Rockland: Interest in possibly consolidating the high schools of SAD 5 and SAD 50 is growing. The SAD 5 school board voted on January 24 to send a letter to the neighboring school district, expressing interest in continuing talks. The merge could include a technical school, and a potential offering of some college level courses.