Police chiefs, house values, grants

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FARMINGTON – New police chiefs, revaluations, businesses and grant money. Local towns are looking forward to new and continuing challenges in 2007, town managers across the region said Friday.

Farmington’s major projects will be focused on the roads, Town Manager Richard Davis said. The biggest one will be reconstructing the intersection of Bill Hill and Osborne Roads, where a number of accidents have occurred over the years. “It’s been a safety issue,” Davis said. “People come flying up over the hill and they have a tendency to drift to the other side of the road.” Redesigning and then reconstructing it will cost $80,000 to $90,000, he said.

Also in the works is repaving Broadway after a drainage pipe was replaced in an emergency this fall, and working on upgrading Church Street, both in the downtown.

“Those will be the most visible projects,” Davis said.

Wilton selectmen plan to announce the name of the new candidate for police chief tonight, just a month after former Chief Wayne Gallant left office to become Oxford County sheriff, Town Manager Peter Nielsen said.

In 2007, Nielsen said, the town will also be purchasing a new firetruck. But by far the biggest issue Wilton residents will face, he said, is a property revaluation that will be reflected in next fall’s tax bills.

“It’ll have varying effects,” he said. “I expect the shorefront property will see larger value increases than other properties in town,” he said. “We’re going to try to keep our spending low so the impact is as small as we can make it, and still do the things we’re going to do.”

Fieldwork has been going on all fall and winter, he said.

Rangeley is also facing a revaluation this year, Town Manager Perry Ellsworth said. “It’s a total revaluation of Rangeley and Oquossoc,” he said. “They’re still collecting data.” The revaluation should be done in June, he said.

The town’s new comfort station should also be finished this summer, and the one in Oquossoc will be started, he said. “This has been 10 years in the making.” Also in the works are several airport safety projects, Ellsworth said.

“And we’re looking forward to continuing prosperity and the health and happiness of our citizens and visitors.

“And most of all, we need snow,” he said.

The towns of Jay and Livermore Falls have some financial issues to deal with.

“We’re going to be facing some tough budget issues,” Jay Town Manager Ruth Marden said. Voters have been setting money aside for years to be put into a new town office, she said, and now seems to be the time to decide what to do with it. The current building has heating and electrical problems, she said.

The town could also save nearly $200,000 if it farmed the dispatch service out to Franklin County, Marden said. “We’re going to put it in front of the voters in April,” she said.

Not planning enough for capital improvements added to budget stress in Livermore Falls in 2006, and so in 2007 selectmen plan on doing things differently, Town Manager Martin Puckett said.

“We’re putting together a capital improvement plan,” he said. “We just formed a budget committee. We’re trying to take a new approach.” The town also needs a road improvement plan, he said. “We have older equipment and older roads,” he said. Figuring out just how much cash is needed to bring the town’s infrastructure up to date will take a while, he said. “It’s going to take some research.”

Money is short in the 2006 budget, too, Puckett said. A special town meeting is being held tonight to vote on whether to appropriate more money to run the town dump. “That’s an ongoing thing,” he said.

On the financial bright side, Livermore Falls received nearly $190,000 in Homeland Security Grant money to buy a new firetruck under the Assistance to Firefighters program, Puckett said. The town was also nominated to be a Square One community through a program called Main Street Maine. Livermore Falls will get $7,500 to help figure out how to improve the downtown, Puckett said. “It’s going to be good stuff. There are a lot of good things coming our way.”

Kingfield is looking at a slightly more sedate year, Town Manager John Dill said, with one big exception. “We expect to see the Poland Spring plant up and running,” he said. New tax dollars won’t affect the budget until 2008, he said.

“We’re also going to have a new comprehensive plan to vote on at town meeting,” Dill said.

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