May 25, 2018
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Sour economy shadows council

By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

BREWER, Maine — City councilors discussed at length Tuesday the bad economic times the country is facing with recent turmoil on Wall Street and talked about “belt tightening,” then purchased five replacement vehicles and equipment totaling more than $291,000.

Council member Joseph Ferris voiced opposition to the purchases. saying he had cold feet because of the economic downturn.

“I’m becoming concerned about us spending almost $300,000 in light of where the economy shows us today,” he said. Later he said, “One of the considerations that you face under a financial crisis is belt tightening … particularly when we don’t know where it’s going.”

Ferris voted against three of the replacement vehicles, but was outvoted by his fellow council members who all endorsed the purchases, which total $291,547.

Councilor Michael Celli said it could cost the city more in maintenance by not replacing the vehicles on schedule, especially since “all of them were pushed back at one time or another” from replacement requests in previous years.

Finance Director Karen Fussell also explained to the board that two of the replacement vehicles are for the sewer department and would be paid for with revenues from ratepayers.

The vehicles being replaced are eight to 14 years old. City Manager Steve Bost praised department heads for stretching vehicle use through good maintenance, and stressed that “these are not new vehicles. The [new vehicles] are replacing an aging fleet.”

Several questions about each vehicle and the equipment being replaced were asked by councilors before they voted individually to replace them.

Councilors approved purchasing two pickup trucks for $20,733 each for Public Works and the Water Pollution Control Facility; a cutaway van for $30,806 for the sewer department; a pickup and plow for $32,854 for Parks and Recreation; a dump truck and plow for $113,529 for Public Works; and two replacement loaders for $72,892.

Councilors also:

    Issued a resolution of respect for Leon “Jimmy” Collins Jr., a former police officer and U.S. Army veteran, who died on Oct. 2.

      Agreed to sign a purchase and sales agreement for the Archer Block, a building on the corner of Wilson Street and North Main Street, for $116,122. Draft plans call for the building to be demolished and a small park and parking to be installed.

        Held a public hearing to get comments for an application for Riverfront Community Development Bond funding that would partially pay for a small portion of Brewer’s proposed Historic Waterfront Trail, located between Chamberlain Bridge and Hardy Street.

          Tabled an amendment to the open-burning rules.

            Created a historic resources advisory board and appointed residents David Hanna, Dan Moellentin and Eugene More to the new panel.

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