May 20, 2018
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Fort Kent council rejects groomer funds

By Julia Bayly, BDN Staff

FORT KENT, Maine — Members of the Fort Kent Snowmobile Association are looking for alternate short-term funding after the Town Council declined to loan $40,000 toward the purchase price of a new trail groomer.

Snowmobile association volunteer groomer and member of the local Fort Kent SnoRiders Club Kenneth Michaud told the Town Council on Monday night the new $180,000 machine already has been purchased with funds on hand plus the trade-in value of the old groomer.

“We still need $40,000,” Michaud said.

Those funds, he said, would be repaid to the town by the first of May thanks to anticipated grant money.

“This is a piece of equipment we use for the town,” Michaud said. “Snowmobiling brings in business for the restaurants, hotels and everyone.”

Members of the council, however, felt their hands were tied since the fund had not been pre-approved as part of any article on the annual town warrant.

“The only option would be to loan it from the revolving loan fund,” Don Guimond, town manager, said.

Council members expressed concern at using revolving loan fund money — funds normally reserved for small startup businesses — for such a large expense and voted down the request, 3-2.

“Our vote was not to stop them from grooming,” Councilor Gilman Caron said. “That’s not what the revolving loan funds are for.”

During the meeting, Michaud indicated that if the town could not make the loan, he and other association members would look for alternative sources.

In other budgetary business, the council voted to transfer $276,587 representing surpluses and revenues from the administration, public works, police, fire, recreation and economic development accounts into capital-equipment reserve accounts.

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