May 25, 2018
Aroostook Latest News | Poll Questions | DHHS Report | Islesboro Ferry | Election 2018

Houlton councilors secure loan for equipment, construction projects

By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff

HOULTON, Maine — For close to a decade, town officials repeatedly have reviewed a long list of capital projects that needed to be completed, but they failed to find the money to finance them.

On Monday evening, town councilors decided to take out a loan to pay for some of the much needed work.

Councilors voted in favor of securing a three-year, $200,000 loan from Katahdin Trust Co. for the purpose of completing projects throughout the town. The loan has an interest rate of 2.99 percent.

Among the projects that will be financed with the money are the replacement of three lawn mowers that will be used by the parks and recreation department and the cemetery department. Town Manager Doug Hazlett told councilors that the existing mowers have a lot of hours of use on them.

The funds also will be used to pay off another loan for a replacement ambulance earlier than anticipated. Money from the new loan also will be used to replace the gymnasium floor at the Gentle Memorial Building.

Councilors similarly had acquired a loan in 2007 to pay for projects after accepting a capital plan for the municipality.

The thick report on the state of town buildings and equipment is presented to the council every year and identifies and sets priorities for major projects the town should spend money on over the next five years and estimates a price tag for each.

Back then, councilors pledged to finance the projects and decided to take out a three-year, $130,000 loan to pay for the work.

The loan bore an interest rate of 3.89 percent and helped the town purchase new furnaces for three public buildings, replace furniture at the town office, replace outside doors at the Gentle Memorial Building and purchase equipment for the cemetery department.

Councilors talked briefly about the new loan on Monday evening, but most saw the benefits of the move, considering the low interest rate and the fact that putting off the projects is not in the town’s best interest, considering the escalating cost of construction and other materials.

“The benefit of the loan is that we can spread this out over three years,” Hazlett told the group. “All of the projects will be put out to bid.”

Councilor Nancy Ketch also reminded the councilors that the town’s auditor had recommended they finance the town’s long list of projects with a low-interest loan.

Councilors were most in favor of replacing the 65-year-old floor at the Gentle Memorial Building.

Councilor Sue Tortello said that she was in favor of the loan, adding that councilors would prioritize the list of projects that need to be completed.

“To me, the gym floor is a safety issue,” she said Monday evening. “Someone is going to get hurt. The longer we wait, the higher the cost of the project is going to be.”

Councilor Brian Donnelly agreed.

“The gym floor is like a skating rink,” he said. “I agree that something needs to be done.”

Councilors voted 5-0 to approve the loan.

Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

You may also like