April 24, 2018
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Greenville to vote on trail grooming funds

By Diana Bowley, BDN Staff

GREENVILLE, Maine — It will be up to Greenville voters at the June 1 annual town meeting to decide if they want to contribute $28,700 from property taxes to help pay for snowmobile trail grooming.

When the matter was raised earlier this month during a discussion on the budget, selectmen did not act on the funding request, which was approved last year, which meant it would not be included on this year’s warrant.

Since then, an outcry from business owners who depend upon the snowmobile trade for their livelihoods and those of their employees during the winter months, convinced the board to reconsider the matter. The board voted on Wednesday to include the article on the town meeting warrant.

Town Manager John Simko said he had sought an opinion from the town’s attorney and the Maine Municipal Association regarding Wednesday’s special board meeting and was assured that the board could reconsider the matter.

Those funds were seen as vital to the continued operation of the snowmobile trail program by business owners. After years with less than ideal trail conditions, the town in 2007 contracted with Laurie and John Waitkus of Greenville ITS Snowmobile Grooming to maintain and groom the Greenville Interconnecting Trail System.

Under their operation, the trails were lauded by visitors and locals alike.

But the good work came with a hefty price. The Waitkuses, who hired local people to groom the trails, had to pay $64,402 their first year from their own pockets to augment local donations from businesses and a state grant.

When the couple said they could not continue to absorb the extra cost, residents voted last year to kick in with the $28,700 contribution.

It is not known yet whether the Waitkuses would provide the service next year without the local donation, Simko said Friday.

If the grooming funds are rejected at town meeting, Simko said residents will need to raise and appropriate $21,772 for the annual payment on the town’s Piston Bully trail groomer.

Under their contract, the Waitkuses agreed to purchase the groomer by making annual payments to the town equal to the annual debt service paid by the town on the outstanding loan. But Simko believes the couple would have the right to breach that agreement which would leave the payment in the town’s hands.

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