Franklin Countys First News

Wilton’s town meeting is 6:30 p.m. Monday

Photo by Tony Nazar

WILTON - Voters will be deciding a 54-article warrant at the annual town meeting Monday. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Academy Hill School cafeteria.

Among the decisions will be the continuation of the wastewater treatment plant upgrade, a separate $30,000 request to go towards the plant upgrade debt service and a total municipal budget of $2.8 million, which represents 1 percent increase over current spending.

Voters will be asked to approve Phase II of the treatment plant upgrade project totaling $4,962,000 and accept a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for $1,987,000.

Residents approved Phase I of the project totaling $4,696,000 at last year's town meeting. The aging system's 25 of 30 pump stations will be replaced, along with the headworks at the plant. Phase II deals with the internal processes of the treatment plant itself. The project was broken into two phases in order to help secure funding, said Wastetreatment Department Superintendent Clayton Putnam at a public hearing on the project held in April.

Annual loan payments for both projects would total $168,000. The current plan is to cover that cost with increases to the sewer bill; selectmen approved a $213 per year rate increase in regards to the Phase I upgrade debt payments. Another $178 per year rate increase would be necessary to cover the cost of Phase II's debt payments. The project, in total, would raise a typical sewer rate of $265 to $656, for example.

In addition to making a decision on Phase II at the town meeting, voters will consider a warrant article which asks if $30,000 should be raised and appropriated to help defray the costs of the loan repayments and lower the sewer rate. The town did this in the past, after the treatment plant was installed in 1978.

Previously, Putnam calculated that the plant added at least $14 million of tax value to the town: a combination of improved lakefront properties and large-scale customers such as the Comfort Inn, upgrades and entities which would not have been possible without a treatment plant and wastewater system. That added value translated into additional tax money that would have required a .78 mil increase to the rate, the equivalent of a tax increase of $78 on a $100,000 home. The requested $30,000 appropriation, he noted, translated into a $11 increase per $100,000 worth of property.

If approved at the town meeting, Phase II bids would be received by the town in the spring of 2013 with construction beginning in May. While Phase I, replacing pump stations and some limited work at the plant, would be complete in December 2013, the entire project would be finished in December 2014.

The town doesn't have many other options, Putnam noted. The plant currently meets all regulatory criteria, but likely will not in the future as limits become more strict. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection would then likely file a consent order, Putnam said, effectively a court order that would force the town to upgrade the plant. At that point, the funding lined up to bond the project might not be available.

The municipal budget as recommended by selectmen shows an increase of $4,919 for a 1 percent increase. The Finance Committee added in more fire department equipment for an increase of $7,719 or a 1.02 percent increase.

Among the zoning ordinance changes voters will be deciding is to designate the former primary school and bus garage across the street from the current residential zone to downtown village zone. The change will allow for more varied use of the property, according to the Town Report. Also, a change to the town's zoning ordinance is requested to include a building demolition permitting process. The amendment is needed, say supporters, to give property owners direction in accordance with the state's requirements and adds a time limit on when the work is to be completed. Details of the proposed changes are listed in the Town Report.

As is the tradition here, a barbecue hosted by selectmen will be held for residents before the meeting Monday beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the school's cafeteria.

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2 Responses »

  1. To all Wilton residents: please attend and be involved with your Town's government.

  2. I hope the taxpayers support the sewer upgrade. We are going to HAVE to get the work done regardless, and now is the time while there are grants available. it's better than paying for the whole system upgrade only at the taxpayers expense!