Special Town Meeting approves funding plan for new Chebeague Island fire truck

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CHEBEAGUE ISLAND — Voters overwhelmingly approved every warrant item at a special Town Meeting on Feb. 12, Town Administrator Eric Dyer said Monday.

The approximately 45 people at the 1 1/2-hour meeting approved the use of $115,000 from the town’s Undesignated Fund, and $5,000 from funds initially planned for a hydro seeder, for a new fire truck.

The town had approved a new truck last November, and at the time the $210,000 vehicle was to be funded by $90,000 from the Fire Truck Reserve, $110,000 from borrowing and the rest possibly from the Undesignated Fund.

Dyer noted that $110,000 is a small amount for a bond, “so the overhead costs of doing that, in addition to the interest, made us think, ‘well, maybe we ought to reconsider (the bonding).'”

The interest would have added nearly $10,000 to the bond. It would ultimately be cheaper for the town to pay for the truck through its own funds than to bond the money, Dyer explained. Residents agreed and voted accordingly on Saturday.

They also supported the transfer of town-owned land on School House Road to the Chebeague Island Community Association. Dyer said voters last June backed the idea of using that land for affordable housing, “and so what we’re doing now is actually acting on that initial intent … to make this happen in a timely fashion so (CICA) can access Maine Housing funds.”

A duplex will be built on the property, Dyer said.

The town approved having the Board of Selectmen work with CICA to create a conservation easement on part of the School House Road land. The easement would preserve public access over a historic trail on the property, and the Board of Selectmen will be able to offer public access and conservation easements to an organization like the Chebeague and Cumberland Land Trust. The board can also protect and preserve other parts of the land as it deems appropriate.

Voters also supported having Chebeague Island adopt the Property Assessed Clean Energy Ordinance, and having the town sign a PACE agreement with the Efficiency Maine Trust. The PACE ordinance and agreement remained on the warrant despite the recent demise of the Maine Green Energy Alliance, which had a contract through Efficiency Maine to help homeowners get energy audits and retrofits.

Dyer said he received word there is still a chance of PACE continuing without MGEA.

“Basically, no harm, no foul in putting this together on the chance that (the program) is continued,” he said.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.

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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.