South Portland OKs water, sewer bond, rejects charter changes

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved borrowing for city sewer and storm drain improvements, but rejected two amendments to the City Charter.

A $3.5 million water and sewer bond, which will cover the remaining costs of the $12 million, four-phase plan to modernize the city’s sewer and storm-drain systems, was approved 7, 782 to 3,689.

The 20-year bond will be made through a state revolving fund, and will result in less than a 1 percent increase in residential sewer rates: the current rate of $4.66 per 100 cubic feet of water will increase to $4.70. There will be no net increase in property taxes, and loan payments will be covered through 2024 by tax increment financing.

The first phase of the project, which is nearly complete and was paid for with existing monies, took place on Sunset Avenue. The next two phases will focus on Main Street and Wythburn Road, and the last will focus on the Pleasantdale neighborhood. 

The project is part of an effort to eliminate combined sewer overflow outlets around the city, which often empty untreated discharge into Casco Bay. Any runoff from driveways and streets contributes to this issue, as well as to the flooding of basements and streets during powerful storms. 

CSO plants, like the ones at Cash Corner, Broadway, Evans Street and Turners Island, separate the storm water from the sewage and then treat the sewage using modern gravel wetlands systems. The amount of waste discharged into the bay is reduced with these plants and improvements to existing infrastructure.

While voters favored the bonding, the charter amendments did not fare as well.

The first would have eliminated voting district representation on the Board of Assessment Review and Civil Service Commission, and allowed up to three members from any voting district to simultaneously serve on both panels. This proposal was rejected 5,800 to 4,572.

The second amendment would have eliminated the requirement of one polling place for each of the five  city voting districts. The amendment would have also changed the status of election wardens and ward clerks from elected officials to appointed officials. This proposal was defeated 6,913 to 3,841 votes.

Lily O’Gara can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or Follow her on Twitter: @lilyog28.

Sidebar Elements

South Portland Assistant City Clerk Alice Kelley, right, and election volunteer Susan Small at work on Election Day at the Boys & Girls Club polling station.

Kristin Fox and her 1-year-old son, Connor, at the Boys & Girls Club polling station in South Portland on Tuesday. “He should be in the bathtub,” Fox said of her son, “but this is more important.”