MECHANIC FALLS — The Town Council agreed Monday night that the Revenue Enhancement Committee should continue exploring how to use the town’s resources to enrich community life without raising property taxes.
During its first year, Chairman Bob Small told the council, the committee came up with an idea that put $34,000 directly into town coffers, took initial steps to re-establish a celebration to replace the defunct Homecoming Days, and began to explore the possibility of the town taking fuller advantage of its water resources. It also identified a number of other potential cost measures, particularly in the energy field.
Small noted that Homecoming Days, which helped create a sense of community and offered an opportunity for fundraising, faded when Smokey’s Greater Shows disappeared from the local scene. However, after discussions, the Mechanic Falls Historical Society has offered to provide leadership to develop a community day this year.
“They’ve already set June 26 as Community Day,” the same day as the Pottle Hill 10 kilometer run, committee member Lou Goulet announced.
The committee’s recommendation to the council to harvest timber from the town woodlot on the transfer station property led to Fred Huntress being named town forester, and $34,442 in revenue that helped offset decreased state revenue this year.
“Wholesaling water for a profit is a very complex issue,” Small said, “but one that has the potential to greatly enhance town revenues.”
Tapping into the town’s valuable water resource will require a careful and well thought out strategy, he said, as would potential advantages the town might realize from its wind, solar and hydro resources. It was the pursuit of these ideas and more that prompted the council to ask the committee to continue its work.
The council also heard Town Manager John Hawley report that his request for his proposals for providing police services had drawn responses from Androscoggin County, Oxford County officials and the Maine State Police.
Hawley reported that Oxford County said its mission was to take care of Oxford County and had no interest in going beyond its boarders. Maine State Police said it wasn’t in the business of providing the sort of services Mechanic Falls might require. And while Androscoggin County Commissioner Randy Greenwood wrote that the county might make arrangements to provide police services similar to what it does in Poland, that would require a fairly lengthy transition, and he offered no dollar amount for what it might cost.
Councilor Rielly Bryant noted that the idea was for the council to see if another agency could provide the town with more cost effective police coverage so it could discuss the pros and cons of that proposal. Then, it would make its recommendation to residents, who ultimately would decide which way to go, he said.
With no solid dollar figures to work with, the council voted to drop consideration of the matter.