NEW GLOUCESTER – The proposed fire station construction project will be discussed at an informational meeting at 7 p.m. on Nov. 27 at the AMVETS Post 6 Hall on Route 100.

One selectman, Steve Libby, opposed a fire station committee’s recommendation that the project be funded with approximately $1.3 million from the town’s undesignated fund balance, which totals $5,027,700. He wants to see the project bonded, which would cost taxpayers roughly $248,000 in annual payments over 10 consecutive years.

In the past, auditors recommended the town keep the undesignated fund balance at $1.5 million for unforeseen emergencies. Libby opposed using the undesignated fund balance and tax increment financing district funds set aside for the project.

The undesignated fund account includes tax money, plus other revenue sources with accrued interest earnings. The money wasn’t turned back to taxpayers or used to offset spending requests over the past decade.

Dr. Harold Bartlett, a fire station committee member, said the undesignated funds need to be used for the $2.3 million fire station project. In the past, voters approved setting aside some reserve funds toward the new building.

“Not too many people know $5 million is in the undesignated fund balance,” said Bartlett.

Libby argued that selectmen should be clear giving voters one choice on a special vote that will be scheduled next year. He opposes giving voters a choice to bond versus using the undesignated funds and reserves and TIF funds.

“That shows lack of leadership for selectmen if we give two choices to voters. You’d water down the vote. The board of selectmen say what is best,” said Libby.

Committee member Tim Joy argued that bonding will put more pressure on taxpayers. “I believe we should pay as we go. I don’t think bonding is a good way to go. The next five years will be telling times for our town. We see more for sale signs and little construction than I’ve ever seen,” he said.

Town Manager Rosemary Kulow will prepare the financing information for the public informational meeting, showing payments through bonding plus interest versus paying through reserves and undesignated funds with interest earned offset by the spending.

The board agreed to spend up to $25,000 for architectural, engineers and pre-permitting costs for the station.

In other business, Libby failed to muster support to change the board’s meeting schedule.

He proposed that the board consider new regular meeting times, the first Monday of the month at 9 a.m. and the third Monday at 7 p.m. so more people could attend.

Board Chairman Dave Lunt said the change would be impossible for working people, including himself.

The board will meet at 7 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of each month.

A petition drive urged selectmen to plow the fairgrounds track for winter walking.

The board turned the issue over the the Parks and Recreation Committee for input.

No decision was reached.


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