June 20, 2018
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Rockland council elects mayor

By George Chappell

ROCKLAND, Maine — In a 5-0 vote, City Council at a reorganization session Monday night elected Deborah E. McNeil as the new mayor. She succeeds Harold “Hal” Perry, who had decided to step down.

“I’m very excited and honored to be chosen as mayor,” she said in a brief interview after her election. “I think Rockland has a great future, and we always need to reassess our priorities about where we’re going and what we’re going to do.”

She said the people are really worried about taxes and energy costs.

“We need a vision of where we want to be 10 years from now,” she said. “We’ll have to look at some of our infrastructure and where it falls [in our vision].”

City Clerk Stuart Sylvester gave the oath of office to Councilor Eric Hebert, who was re-elected in the Nov. 4 referendum, and Councilor-elect Elizabeth Dickerson, who won Perry’s seat.

During the public comment period, resident Paul Chartrand congratulated McNeil and Dickerson for their new positions.

“I want to thank Mayor Perry, wherever he may be, for his service the past two years,” Chartrand said.

Chartrand said he was in favor of using city funds to buy the land in the south end of town from Dragon Products for a shoreland park.

“This is a plan for which the improvements are supported from grants,” he said, urging the council to support the project,

Chartrand also urged residents to vote Dec. 16 on a referendum to repeal the zone change that would allow Walgreens drugstore at the intersection of Routes 1 and 17.

“In no way would this project serve the city of Rockland, its taxpayers and its residents,” he said. “That store would be larger than all of the three other buildings on the other corners of that intersection.”

He reminded residents that absentee voting would be available at City Hall.

In other business, the council voted 5-0 on an amendment to the bond ordinance for improvements to the city’s water pollution control facility and 5-0 to set a public hearing.

The city would use the bond process to borrow up to $2.25 million in a low-cost loan from the U.S. Rural Development Agency to finance repairs, improvements and upgrades to the treatment plant.

Funding includes a $750,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant and $500,000 in matching funds from the city.

The council voted to have a public hearing on the issue Dec. 1 for a public vote Jan. 4.

The payback on the matching money will come from sewer fees rather than from local taxes, said interim City Manager Terry Pinto.

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