Another layer added to Portland school bond decision

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PORTLAND — A $70.6 million bond proposal for renovations to city elementary schools goes to the City Council on Wednesday, July 6.

But the 5 p.m. discussion will be limited to creation of an ad hoc committee to review the School Board’s proposal. The bond and any revisions may eventually be referred back to the School Board, and then to the City Council Finance Committee – a process could keep the bond question off the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

A second meeting scheduled to start at 7 p.m. will include an order extending the reporting deadline for the Pesticide and Fertilizer Task Force to Sept. 16. Councilors will also vote on referring a Building Energy Use Benchmarking Ordinance to their Energy & Sustainability Committee.

The proposed ad hoc committee for the school bond would be comprised of four councilors and four School Board members. It would meet only after a City Council workshop on the plans to renovate Longfellow, Lyseth, Presumpscot and Reiche elementary schools.

In order to meet the November ballot deadline, councilors would have to vote by their Sept. 7 meeting, after a public hearing is held. That would require a first reading sometime in August.

Councilor Nick Mavodones Jr., meanwhile, is seeking to extend the deadline for the Pesticide and Fertilizer Task Force, which began meeting June 14. The task force was originally ordered to report to the Energy & Sustainability Committee by July 11, with a final report completed by July 20.

The task force is comprised of 12 people, with Mavodones as chairman. It is charged with reviewing the proposed pesticide ordinance in South Portland, as well as ordinances throughout the country, while determining what best practices can protect city waterways, Casco Bay and residents.

Any proposed ordinance would be first reviewed by the Energy & Sustainability Committee, led by Councilor Jon Hinck.

Hinck’s committee will also get a first look at a “benchmarking” ordinance that could require owners of buildings more than 20,000 square feet, or 50 or more residential units, to track and list the building’s energy consumption. That information will be made public on the city’s website.

Tenants in affected residential units would be required to supply energy information to owners as needed.

The information will be required beginning Dec. 31, 2017, and undergo an evaluation by the city by Dec. 31, 2020.

“Tracking this kind of information encourages property owners to increase their efficiency, which saves them money in the long run and contributes to a more sustainable Portland,” Hinck said in a July 1 press release.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Portland City Hall, 389 Congress St.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.
  • Chew H Bird

    The energy and sustainability bench marking sounds to me like an intrusive government that wants to know peoples private business. in order to quantify the value of energy use data they would also need to know why it was used. Such intrusive regulations, in my opinion, are unethical and are none of the government’s business.