FARMINGTON — The Board of Selectmen is backing Sen. Tom Saviello, R-Wilton, in pursuing additional benefits from Central Maine Power Co. as compensation for a proposed power line from Quebec to Massachusetts that would run through six communities in Franklin County.
“We are going to house in Franklin County 20 miles of this power line,” Saviello said during the selectmen meeting Tuesday night. “You’ve been promised property tax revenue, which you do need. They’ve promised jobs, and I don’t know if that’s real. I’m trying to figure that out.”
Saviello has been critical of a lack of benefits in the project.
On Tuesday, he said he is hoping to further a conversation with the company seeking to add more benefits to communities for hosting the power line, including improvements to broadband internet and cellphone service and economic development.
Farmington has been promised $458,000 in new property tax revenue from the project, something selectmen said they don’t want to jeopardize.
“I want to make sure we’re doing this for the right reasons,” Selectman Michael Fogg said. “If it’s financial help for Franklin County, obviously I’m all for that. But if taking on this project is simply because CMP didn’t offer us what Northern Pass or the one in Vermont did, then that’s not a reason the project shouldn’t go through. I’m uncomfortable with that.”
CMP was selected recently by Massachusetts after consideration of bids from two companies in Vermont and New Hampshire, where the project was awarded originally but failed to pass the evaluation of a state committee.
Saviello, who said he has received affirmations from Franklin County commissioners and selectmen in Wilton to continue discussions with CMP, said if the conversation goes nowhere, he won’t stand in the way of the project.
“I’m just trying to make it so we benefit at the end of the day,” he said. “If we don’t, and you’re OK with that, I’m OK with it. I just want you to have all the information and be a part of the conversation since you didn’t have the information to start with.”
A public session with CMP is planned for July 16 at Mt. Blue High School, where residents and selectmen from Franklin County will be able to ask questions of CMP officials and hear their pitch on the project, Saviello said.
“I’m comfortable with the things talked about — trying to expand broadband, the economic development,” Chairman of the Board of Selectmen Josh Bell said. “It sounds like you haven’t said anything that should be cause for concern.”
In other action Tuesday night, the board approved a liquor license for a new restaurant, The Farmington D, that will replace Boivin’s Harvest House at 367 Wilton Road. Owner Rachel Jackson said she plans to open the restaurant in August.
Town Manager Richard Davis also brought up concerns about a 25 percent rate increase at the Farmington Village Corp., the local water district; and an appeal on property tax valuation from the Farmington Walmart.
Davis said Walmart is seeking to have its property tax valuation brought down from $12.3 million to $10 million, which would reduce the store’s taxes by about $46,000. He said the store did not give a reason for the request, which will be heard by the board of assessors July 9.
“It’s just their business practice,” Davis said. “It’s what they do. So far they haven’t presented any information that clearly justifies it.”