BUCKFIELD – More than 100 people attended a public hearing Wednesday night to discuss a referendum that would have the town take over the financially troubled Buckfield Village Corp. which provides water to about 170 customers.

After a lengthy question-and-answer session, there was no action Wednesday on placing a referendum on the Nov. 7 ballot to allow the town to take over the corporation.

In order to cover a debt of more than $1 million incurred to build a filtration plant for the North Pond water supply, the corporation has requested a rate increase that would have its customers paying the highest rate in the country. The typical customer would pay $615 a year.

The public listened to Steven Levy of the Maine Rural Water Association, who pointed out that regardless of what happens to the corporation, the town will still have to pay the loans back.

And Public Advocate William Black said he was not sure if they could get the rates down, and he did not want to give residents any false hopes about that.

Several in the audience said they would get their own wells but Levy noted the debt will still have to be paid by the town’s property owners, whether they are on corporation water or not.

Resident Laura Parks pointed out that anyone who travels over Route 117 in the area should be responsible to pay their share of the 2005 $525,000 bond that paid for replacing the water line on Depot and Turner streets, a project required by the Department of Transportation.

Part of the bill, she said, does fall on the entire town, though she pointed out she does not receive water service.

A discussion on the necessity of fire hydrants prompted town Fire Chief Steve Bly to say they are necessary, particularly in the winter when the department can’t get water form area ponds.

There was discussion about applying for a Community Development Block Grant, but since the town doesn’t have a comprehensive plan it is not likely it could get one.

There were 15 members of the corporation who elected Peter Gagnon and Susan Chatterton as commissioners. Gagnon, in another vote, was chosen chairman of the corporation. The third commissioner is Richard Pope.

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