Freeport unveils $2.5M capital improvement budget

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FREEPORT — Town councilors on Tuesday discussed the town manager’s proposed capital improvement plan and its costs for fiscal year 2016.

Town Manager Peter Joseph’s plan includes spending almost $2.5 million in 2016 to repair and replace town equipment, improve infrastructure and spur economic development.

Joseph said he expects there to be some changes to the proposal before it is accepted, and that once it is approved, councilors will begin discussing the 2016 operating budget.

At $750,000, changes in the Fire Department account for 30 percent of the year-costs. That money will be used to replace Engine 3, a 1988 Grumman Fire Cat Pumper that was supposed to be replaced in 2009. Instead, the town repaired it for $56,000, extending its useful life for another six years.

Joseph proposes spending $685,000, or 28 percent of the 2016 total, on infrastructure improvements. These include reconstructing Litchfield Road for $430,000 and replacing culverts on Hunter, Merrill and South Freeport roads, Larue Drive, and Lower Mast Landing. The capital construction also includes paving the School Street parking lot at Leon Gorman Park and converting some parking lots to make them accessible to RVs. Drainage in South Freeport Village would also be improved.

About $166,000 would be earmarked for the town’s “Destination Freeport” tax increment financing district, which Joseph said will help spur economic development and allow sidewalk improvements.

For the Police Department, $88,000, or 3 percent of the total, would be used to replace two squad cars. The department is also looking to redesign and expand its locker room.

Replacing an ambulance for $196,000, or 8 percent of the total, is planned for the town’s Rescue Unit. According to Joseph’s proposal, the maintenance costs for the town’s 2005 Ford E350 PL custom ambulance are increasing and it would be better to replace the vehicle.

The Public Works Department needs $223,000, or 9 percent of the total, to replace a vehicle and repair equipment. A dump truck, a 2005 Sterling, needs to be replaced because of a “poor maintenance record” and because the model is now obsolete. The department’s wood chipper needs to be repaired as it is “serviceable” but “needs significant repairs.”

For the Solid Waste and Recycling Department, $170,000, or 7 percent of the total, is proposed to replace a baler and to fill the remaining portion of a landfill. Filling the landfill would cost $150,000.

A sum of $170,500, or 7 percent of the total, is being proposed for repairs at municipal facilities. Of this amount, $30,000 would be used to replace garage floor drains at the Public Works Department with high density polyethylene material. Within Public Works, cables need to replaced on a vehicle lift machine and a radio repeater needs to be converted to Narrow Band System.

Other municipal facility improvements include upgrading computers, replacing floors at Town Hall and the library, improving windows and a heat pump, and installing LED lighting. The town’s mowing tractor also needs to be replaced.

About $30,000 is planned for other repairs, and $3,000 for new cable TV equipment.

A public hearing on the capital plan will be held April 7.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

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I’m a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I’m from a small town in NH no one’s ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.