MILLINOCKET, Maine — Town leaders expressed hope Thursday that a bill allocating $250,000 annually for the operation of the Dolby landfill would continue to make its way out of state legislative committees.
Town Manager Eugene Conlogue reported to the Town Council during its meeting Thursday that LD 1683, An Act To Provide Funding To Operate the Dolby Landfill in the Town of East Millinocket, had passed one of its early hurdles in the Legislature.
Members of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources on Wednesday unanimously voted that the bill ought to pass as intended, according to results posted on www.maine.gov.
“We are very, very pleased and extremely grateful to that committee down there for once again listening to something that is very important to this area and coming through for us,” Conlogue said Thursday.
As proposed by state Rep. Herbert Clark, D-Millinocket, the bill would relieve Millinocket and East Millinocket of any fiscal liability or responsibility for the operations of the landfill.
The Legislature voted in June to take ownership of the dump, thereby clearing the way for the eventual purchase of the two Katahdin region paper mills, as no would-be buyer wanted the landfill’s cleanup and maintenance costs.
State officials have estimated it would cost roughly $31.9 million to run the landfill commercially plus another $14.6 million to close a filled portion of Dolby. Gov. Paul LePage has pressed both towns for assistance in operating the landfill, with Millinocket offering $50,000 and East Millinocket offering assistance with laborers, but neither offer has yet been accepted.
The towns have balked at taking on landfill responsibilities, with their leaders saying that they lack the funding, personnel and expertise to run a landfill effectively.
The state also is investigating whether it can lease or sell the landfill to a private owner to be operated as a commercial landfill or other similar enterprise, an option given a lukewarm reception in the region.
Councilors Michael Madore and Gilda Stratton praised Clark for helping engineer the bill’s passage to this point. They said he had been working closely with the towns to see that the towns’ best interests were represented in Augusta.
The bill still must pass through several more committee and general legislative reviews.