May 22, 2018
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Rockland council to seek voter approval to borrow $586,000 for new road sand and salt shed, delays decision on new garage

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — City Councilors opted Monday night against holding a third referendum in November to seek voter approval for a new public works garage despite a plan that reduces the scope and costs.

Councilors agreed, however, to ask residents whether they wanted to borrow $586,000 for a new shed to shield salt and sand used by the city to keep roads passable in the winter.

Councilors gave preliminary approval to a bond referendum on Nov. 5 for the salt and sand shed but rejected sending a question about borrowing to build a new garage back out to voters.

Voters have twice said no to borrowing money for a combined garage and associated salt and sand shed. The most recent rejection came in November 2011 when residents voted 895-881 against borrowing $2.9 million.

This time the administration came in with the options that included asking voters to borrow up to $2.4 million for a 14,000-square-foot garage and a salt and sand shed to be built on city-owned property adjacent to the transfer station. The November 2011 referendum would have built an 18,000-square-foot garage. Other options was a garage only at $1.9 million or the shed only at $586,000.

City Councilor Elizabeth Dickerson said the shed was the top priority because the city is losing salt and sand due to runoff in wet weather. That runoff is going into a brook that eventually feeds in the Weskeag marsh, she said.

There are still questions on operating costs for the garage, Mayor Will Clayton said Tuesday morning, causing councilors to want to hold off on that more expensive of the two items.

The administration had pointed out that the city would realize a savings in doing both projects at once rather than separately.

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