February 23, 2020
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Pittsfield panel seeks library expansion bids

PITTSFIELD, Maine — Months after they originally were planned to be released, request for proposals for the $1.3 million Pittsfield Public Library expansion will be sent out this week.

The 3-inch-thick bid package is expected to draw a lot of interest, as construction companies are among the hardest hit by the recession.

“With the current economic conditions, it is thought this is the best time for this project to go out to bid during a 10-year period,” Town Manager Kathryn Ruth told councilors Thursday in a memo. “Therefore, it is expected that pricing will be very favorable and the project will proceed forward. There certainly has been a lot of interest from builders, too. We expect a lot of bids.”

Bids are due by 3 p.m. Friday, May 8, and they are to be in lump-sum format.

The project has been completely funded through grants, gifts and donations. Fundraisers have been held for more than three years.

The expansion will be located on the west side of the library and will include a new children’s room, expanded circulation desk, a new teen area, and a public meeting room with access outside of library business hours. The adult section will be expanded, and the existing children’s room will become home to the Maine collection.

The renovations also will allow for an expanded computer section, now housed in the lobby and an adjacent hallway.

Councilors will vote on approving the request for proposals at their 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 7, meeting.

Also at that meeting, councilors will hear from the town’s tax assessor, James Phillips, that the town’s assessments have dropped below 70 percent of their value for the first time. “This situation needs to be addressed or the town will begin losing some state subsidies,” Ruth said.

In a letter to the council, Phillips said the simplest thing to do would be to increase all properties by a single factor. “It is easier for the taxpayer to understand and all properties are adjusted by the same percentage,” Phillips said.

He is recommending using a factor of 1.6 across the board. He said that is based on a sales ratio study that revealed for the years 2007 and 2008, the town was assessing property an average of 57 percent of market value.

Other items on the meeting agenda include:

• Two public hearings: one on tax-acquired property and another on new General Assistance regulations.

• A new contract with Constellation NewEnergy, Inc. of Boston, to supply electricity to the town’s streetlights for the next two years. Ruth reported that this should save the town nearly $5,000 a year.

• Accepting a donation from TD Banknorth of a popcorn machine, to be used at town functions and lent to area nonprofit organizations.

• Renewal of special amusement permit and liquor license for the Broken Putter Restaurant and Lounge.

• Approval of an off-premises catering license for Jeff’s Catering and Banquet Center of Bangor to provide services for a reunion at Maine Central Institute.

• Accepting bids on town-owned used equipment.

• Signing the unlicensed dog warrant.

• Purchasing a zero-turn mower for the public works department.

• Accepting the bid of Bangor Savings Bank at 1.85 percent interest for the town’s tax anticipation loan for 2009. Offers ranged as high as 4.25 percent.

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