HOULTON, Maine – Prices continue to rise but the town’ s capital needs have not decreased, and town councilors have begun thinking about which projects are a priory next year after receiving the town’ s 2008 Capital Plan.
The plan is required by charter and is presented to councilors each year. It identifies and sets priorities for major projects that the town should spend money on in the next five years. It also estimates a price tag for each.
Town Manager Douglas Hazlett distributed the report during a recent meeting.
He noted that while the town has no major equipment needs, he was concerned with other needs outlined in the plan because of the rising cost of fuel and uncertainty surrounding the costs of school administration consolidation.
He told councilors that, as a result of those concerns, he had suggested deferring as many capital projects as possible to 2010 or later.
Hazlett did highlight three projects that he felt were significant current needs, including setting aside $40,000 to implement an equipment replacement reserve account for the town’ s public works department.
He noted that the average vehicle at the department is 19 years old and last year’ s harsh winter took a heavy toll on much of the equipment. Hazlett suggested setting aside the money to replace some of the oldest equipment.
Hazlett also suggested spending $5,000 for the gradual replacement of outdated and non-Occupational Safety and Health Administration-compliant furniture and equipment, and using $800 to install an electric water heater in the police and fire department building.
Councilor Sue Tortello said she was pleased to see the plan included projects geared toward making town buildings and equipment more energy-efficient.
Councilor Paul Cleary was concerned about the number of projects the town was delaying.
“We just had one of the worst winters of our lives,” he said. “We’ ve put projects off in the past and now they are more expensive.”
Cleary suggested that financing more projects now would save money in the future.
The council will consider which projects to fund when they begin putting together the budget this winter.