May 23, 2018
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Brownville to meet to discuss water project

By Diana Bowley, BDN Staff

BROWNVILLE, Maine — Residents will be asked to weigh in on a proposal to upgrade the public water system during a special town meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14, at the Brownville Elementary School.

Voters will be asked to approve the project, appropriate $1,715,000 to fund it, and to accept a grant of $1,265,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The difference, not to exceed $450,000 would be borrowed, if the project were approved. The interest rate on the 28-year loan would be 2.625 percent.

“This is stimulus funding that has allowed them [USDA] to provide this nice of a package,” Brownville Town Manager Sophia Wilson said Friday. In order to accept the grant, the town would have to take the loan. The loan has to be spent first, then the grant would kick in, she said.

Wilson said there are several components to the project. It includes:

ä Installation of a second gravel well in the Junction at a cost of $133,00.

ä A backup generator for both water pump stations at a cost of $83,000.

ä Replacement of a transmission main that will go from the existing reservoir to the junction at a cost of $1,032,250.

ä Upgrades to part of the Center Street main at a cost of $105,500 and to the Henderson Street main at a cost of $315,000.

ä Systems mapping estimated at $15,000.

Those components add up to a total estimated project cost of $1,683,750, she said.

If the project is approved and funded, the transmission line that goes under the railroad yard would be retired, Wilson said.

In addition, the town has filed with the Public Utilities Commission a preliminary rate increase for the system’s approximately 490 customers. The rate increase includes money for the project, Wilson said. That rate increase is contingent upon voter approval of the project. The existing rates have been in effect since 1999, she said. Under the proposed rates, the average user would see a $50 a year increase.

Approval of the project will reduce or eliminate some future operations costs, Wilson said. If the project is voted down next week, Wilson said the town would have to recalculate the operational budget, which could result in an even higher rate increase.

“I know folks are very concerned about our existing rates,” Wilson said. “The Board of Selectmen have been very conservative and concerned as we move forward in this process. We know the economy is not great and our residents are facing higher burdens and water and sewer rates. The Board of Selectmen have worked very hard to identify avenues that will allow us to make necessary system improvements which will cost the ratepayers 25 percent of the actual cost.”

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