Cumberland council OKs bond for senior housing work

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CUMBERLAND — The Town Council on Monday unanimously approved a 20-year bond of $740,000 primarily to fund senior housing heating systems and roofs.

The new systems would replace those in 30 units at the town-owned Hawthorne Court off Tuttle Road, and are long overdue, Town Manager Bill Shane said last month. The council, asked by the Cumberland Housing Authority to authorize the borrowing, tabled the item Aug. 25.

“Since then, we’ve come up with a few more ideas … that will possibly save us some money,” Councilor Bill Stiles said at the time.

The bond will be paid entirely through rentals at Hawthorne Court, and not through the town’s general fund.

The existing systems are original to the units and are more than 20 years old. While they have been scheduled for replacement, the town has been holding off until natural gas is available this year.

Of the amount to be bonded, $600,000 will go toward the senior housing improvements. Of that, approximately $340,000 will fund the heating project. The roofs of the complex’s nine buildings are also to be replaced over the next two to three years, at a cost of about $260,000.

An independent roof consultant conducted an audit of the roofs about four years ago, and found they had about three to five years of life left, Shane has said.

The remaining $140,000 of the bond will pay off Maine State Housing Authority debt. The Cumberland Housing Authority had considering retiring part of its existing debt early so that it could obtain lower interest rates and have greater budgeting flexibility in the future.

The original bond was for construction of the facility.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.