Police vehicle purchase, natural gas for industrial parks on tap at Hermon special town meeting

Posted March 10, 2014, at 7:27 p.m.

HERMON, Maine — Voters will be asked to authorized funding for a natural gas expansion and police vehicle purchase during a special town meeting Thursday night in the Public Safety Building meeting room.

During the meeting, which begins at 7 p.m., voters will consider a plan to use up to $98,500 in tax-increment financing revenues from the town’s TIF program, Town Manager Roger Raymond said Monday.

If the expenditure is approved, the funds would be used to extend natural gas lines by about 11,600 feet to streets in Freedom Park, Heritage Park and White Pine Business Park, all of which are located off outer Hammond Street, or Route 2, he said.

The majority of the project’s cost, pegged at about $380,000, is being covered by Bangor Natural Gas, Raymond said, adding that the TIF funds are needed to make the project financially feasible.

Among the reasons that town officials support the use TIF dollars in the expansion is that a potential new business that wants to set up shop in one of the parks requires access to natural gas, Raymond said. He declined to identify that business or say which park it is eying.

In addition, he said, an existing park tenant wants to develop a kitchen that would benefit from access to natural gas.

If voters approve the warrant article, the work should be completed by around the end of May, Raymond said.

Raymond said the addition of natural gas is one way to make the three parks more competitive, as energy costs overall have increased substantially during the past decade.

Residents also will be asked to spend $25,000 on a new police vehicle

The money was included in last year’s police department operating budget, as approved by voters at the June 2012 annual town meeting, Raymond said. Because it was not carried forward to the police equipment reserve account at the end of last fiscal year, it lapsed to the town’s unrestricted fund balance.

When the town restructured its police department last fall, its plan was to downsize its fleet of police vehicles from five to three.

The new structure included an updated contract with the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office, under which the vehicle used by Sgt. James Kennedy, a supervisor employed by the county, is provided by the county.

The vehicles used by Hermon’s three full-time officers, who are town employees, are the town’s responsibility, Raymond said.

The town already has sold two police cars, he said. The new vehicle, which will be a 2014 Ford Explorer, will replace a 2010 cruiser, the oldest of the remaining three.

“So that works out good for us,” he said, noting that the leaner fleet will save the town money on fuel and maintenance costs.

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