MECHANIC FALLS — The town's Revenue Enhancement Committee told the Town Council on Monday that it is exploring a couple of projects that have the potential to save taxpayers money.
“Last spring it appeared the solar project we were looking at might take 16 years to pay back, so we didn't push it. Now it seems there's a potential for grant money to pay the cost of a good part of the system,” Carl Beckett said.
Beckett, with support from Yvon Gilbert and Bob Small, gave some detail of their work on a proposal from ReVision Energy that would set up a 40 kilowatt solar array that could generate just about all the electricity the municipality would need.
According to Beckett, the availability of a grant was the game changer and, while nothing is certain now, the council should be aware that the group might be coming with a proposal for consideration.
The group is also looking into ways to expand the town's tax base through encouraging business development on Route 26.
Small noted that the chief limiting factor for the area's development is the absence of a sewer system. It could make the area attractive for a hotel, he said.
“Perhaps the council could ask the sewer department to investigate, see what the possibility might be,” Small said.
Formed three years ago, the Revenue Enhancement Committee has provided the impetus for a number of projects that have saved townspeople considerable money. They include two Efficiency Maine grants totaling about $50,000 that have reduced energy consumption in municipal buildings; a $95,000 grant to pay for half the town's biomass boiler, which allowed the town to switch to wood pellets, Small said.
In other business, the council:
* Voted to include a question on the November ballot asking townspeople whether they support the fireworks ordinance that was approved in September;
* Signed an amended agreement with the town of Poland to share public works crews and equipment;
* Agreed to tie the town's policy on reimbursement for employees who use their personal vehicles to the prevailing I.R.S. rate, which adjusts accordingly with the cost of fuel; and
* Voted to continue to rely on state law regarding display of political signs.
Town Manager John Hawley also announced that for the second time the town's Annual Report had been given the first place “Supreme Award” for communities in Mechanic Falls' population category.