Belfast City Council backs weatherization project

Posted Sept. 21, 2010, at 11:57 p.m.

BELFAST, Maine — City officials decided Tuesday night to participate in a federally funded program that aims to make home weatherization projects more enticing for property owners.

The council’s adoption of a local Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, ordinance, also means that Belfast will be one of eight demonstration communities in Maine that will share $1.25 million over the next year to promote such projects, Councilor Roger Lee said during the regular City Council meeting.

The federal funds will be distributed through the Maine Green Energy Alliance, a nonprofit organization that is an offshoot of Efficiency Maine.

“We’re very excited about it,” Lee said. “We think it means people will actually be able to wade their way through complex systems of loans … There’s lots of money to be saved by people if they do this weatherization.”

According to Councilor Marina Delune, the city has a tentative goal of getting 200 houses retrofitted for “optimal energy savings” within two years.

Councilor Lewis Baker was the sole dissenting vote, saying that he would rather not spend tax dollars this way.

But other councilors clearly did not agree.

“I think it’s a local and national priority to lower our energy dependence and I’m all for it,” Mike Hurley said.

In other action, the council unanimously decided to accept a bid from Yankee Fire Rescue of Randolph and award a $118,862 contract for a 2011 Ford F-450 ambulance, a price that includes a new electric-operated ambulance stretcher that costs $12,000. The city opted to keep the 2006 ambulance as a backup for the other two in the fleet.

Last month, Belfast Fire and Ambulance Department made 244 ambulance runs, according to City Manager Joseph Slocum.

Councilors also unanimously approved the appointment of Tod Rosenberg as the city’s new code enforcement officer.

Rosenberg, who now is the Topsham code enforcement officer, plans to start working for Belfast on Oct. 18. Before working for municipal governments, he said he served in the U.S. Air Force for 25 years, much of it in the civil engineering arena.

“In the military, you didn’t have a union card,” he said to the council. “I feel very comfortable in all the roles of construction.”

Additionally, councilors discussed — but did not take action — on matters including amending the city’s bidding policy to favor local businesses more and to change the city charter to lower the amount of nonbudgeted, nonemergency money the council can spend before it is required to call a special public hearing.

Delune, who proposed both amendments, suggested lowering the amount from $300,000 to $150,000.

“I believe we made a fairly serious mistake to not put out to public hearing our decision to spend $299,000 on a 2-acre piece of property,” she said about the city’s purchase of a vacant lot adjacent to the Belfast Common.

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