Hartland looks to state for help with debt

Posted May 18, 2009, at 9:52 p.m.

HARTLAND, Maine — Town officials glimpsed the light at the end of the tunnel Monday when they found state leaders receptive to helping them through the town’s financial crisis.

Town Manager Larry Post, Selectmen Chris Littlefield and Judy Alton, and state Rep. Dean Cray and Sen. Douglas Smith met Monday morning with Gov. John Baldacci.

“It went very well,” Post said Monday afternoon. “It was a very productive meeting.” Post said he outlined the town’s financial situation: nearly $900,000 in debt and pending legal action by SAD 48 for unpaid school assessments.

He would not provide details of the meeting since nothing is complete yet, he said.

Post was seeking a state guarantee for a bank loan that has been tentatively approved. Without the loan and the ability to restructure the town’s debt, Hartland may have to file for bankruptcy.

Hartland is more than $864,000 in debt due to the failure of town officials to raise enough revenue to cover expenses over the past several years. Post said the town is attempting to borrow $1.5 million to pay off the debt and school assessments. The loan would be paid pack over a 10-year period but needs a state guarantee.

Post said there is no guarantee mechanism currently in place in state government, but he said state officials Monday “were looking at options” to help the small Somerset County town.

“The state will take this opportunity to work with us,” Post said. “I am very optimistic. The meeting had a very good tone, and we are pleased and grateful for the cooperation we are getting.”

Post said state officials said they will get back to him by late next week.

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