HOULTON, Maine — A slightly revised Town Council got its first look on Monday evening at a 2009 budget that proposes applying for a $1 million bond to repair the town’s crumbling roads and sidewalks.
During the recent elections, incumbents Walter Goodrich and Sue Tortello retained their seats, while Brian Donnelly is a newcomer to the council.
The board was presented with the more than $8.5 million 2009 municipal budget by Town Manager Douglas Hazlett.
Hazlett told councilors that the major expenses projected for the town next year would be fuel oil, gas and diesel, and that projections indicate the cost has increased 48.6 percent over last year.
The county tax and the money the town must give to SAD 29 also have increased slightly.
Town officials have proposed spending money on three capital projects: setting aside $100,000 for the public works equipment reserve account; spending $10,000 to upgrade the audio and video system in the council chambers; and setting aside $30,000 for matching funds for a $4 million grant the town expects to receive from the Federal Aviation Administration to restore the runway.Hazlett also proposed applying for a 20-year, $1 million bond to repair local roads and sidewalks.
“We’re not getting ahead of our roads and sidewalks,” Hazlett said. “Taking out a $1 million bond for 20 years would help us to go after our worst roads and do virtually all of our sidewalks.”
Residents have complained for years about some local roads and many sidewalks. There has been much concern about the sidewalks, which have crumbled to the point that there are places where walkers can trip on them.
“Taking out the bond will allow us to get our major road work addressed sooner and improve public safety by addressing our sidewalks,” the town manager said.
He added that the bond would help keep down the mill rate in 2009 because the municipality would not have to set aside as much money for road repair.
If the bond is approved, the town will pay $21,175 the first year and $80,980 each remaining year. It will require board of budget review and Town Council approval, and also must be approved by voters as part of a referendum vote before April 2009.