Sewer trustees vote to use $60,000 from reserve for repairs

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LIVERMORE FALLS — Selectmen, in their capacity as sewer trustees, voted Monday to use $60,000 from the Wastewater Treatment Plant reserve account toward a repair expected to cost $160,000 to $200,000.

Jay selectmen will also have to vote on using the money, because the town shares the cost of it.

Both towns would need to find a way to pay for the remainder of the cost to buy a bar screen and building to cover it.

The matter is on the Jay Board of Selectmen’s meeting agenda for 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14, at the Town Office.

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Livermore Falls owns the plant and Jay and Livermore Falls share the cost of maintenance and operation of it based on the flow of sewage treated at the plant. The plant serves some homes in both towns. The current formula has Jay responsible for 54 percent and Livermore Falls, 46 percent.

The reserve account has $92,000 in it and nobody wants to use it all, Livermore Falls Town Manager Kristal Flagg said.

An in-line channel grinder, nicknamed Muffin Monster, has deteriorated to the point that it needs to be replaced. The equipment was repaired three years ago at a cost of $22,000, Flagg said in October 2012.

The intent is to replace the equipment with a bar screen or rack that would remove any rags and large solids to ¼ inch that would come through the sewage flow. A lot of rocks, sand and disposable wipes currently come through the system and damage equipment.

A committee was formed in Livermore Falls to look at ways to pay the $80,000 that the Livermore Falls Sewer Department owes to the Livermore Falls Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The Sewer Department in Livermore Falls is separate from the town. Sewer users foot the cost of the the sewer system. In Jay, sewer users pay a certain amount based on the amount of water each residence uses and general taxation covers the rest.

The Livermore Falls committee suggested a variety of different recommendations, including a one-time use of money from the town’s undesignated fund to pay off the $80,000, Flagg told selectmen Monday. Discussion included possibly making it a loan, she said.

Nobody agreed to have a certain amount be paid through property tax bills, she said. There had been previous discussion on asking all taxpayers to help get the Sewer Department out of debt.

People on the committee, which included sewer users and nonusers, thought it would hurt funding and the possibility of getting grants for the Sewer Department, Flagg said. If the town helps pay for the Sewer Department, then the town’s undesignated fund would be considered in the financial formula, which will hurt the chances of getting a grant, she said.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Bill Demaray said they need to be careful because the town’s reserve account, the undesignated fund, is supported by taxes.

Flagg said the board could wait till the June referendum on the annual town meeting to consider asking voters to use money from the town’s account to repay Sewer Department debt and pay for the repair or they could hold a special town meeting.

The only problem with an open town meeting is not all people attend, Demaray said. If there is a referendum vote, there are absentee ballots available if voters can’t get to the polls, he said.

The board took no action on the idea. Instead, it plans to see if Jay selectmen approve spending $60,000 from the treatment plant reserve to pay for a portion of the plant repair.

dperry@sunjournal.com

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