DIXFIELD – About 20 people at Thursday night’s special town meeting OK’d reimbursement of a couple of cost overruns and paved the way for an Industry man to build a campground along the Androscoggin River.

After electing Ralph Clarke moderator, voters were asked if they wanted to take $35,337.47 from surplus to cover additional costs associated with installation of the Thaddeus White Bridge earlier this year.

At town meeting in June, voters authorized selectmen to pay Mexico half the cost of replacing the Webb River span at the end of Dixfield’s Coburn Avenue by using five payments of $10,000 each.

Responding to a question raised Thursday night by resident Dan McKay, Town Manager Gene Skibitsky said the cost overrun was caused by an incorrect project estimate based on information available at the time and prior to the project going out to bid.

Initially, officials were told that Mexico and Dixfield town crews would install the $110,000 bridge rather than have a contractor do the work, but that didn’t turn out to be feasible, Skibitsky said.

That’s when Mexico officials put the project out to bid and realized that as a rule of thumb, contractors double the cost of materials to determine installation costs. So, the $110,000 bridge would theoretically cost another $110,000 to install.

“I think that’s where the problem happened,” Skibitsky said.

During the bidding process, a bid of $190,000 was rejected as being too high, so the project was rebid and a $150,000 bid accepted.

At a Dixfield selectmen’s meeting last month, Skibitsky said legal and financing fees weren’t figured into the total project cost, which turned out to be $341,348.

The Maine Department of Transportation agreed to pay half the eligible project costs of $170,674, leaving Mexico and Dixfield to each split the other half by paying $85,337.

In Article 3, voters were asked to OK and adopt shoreland zoning amendments as recommended by Dixfield’s code enforcement officer.

Skibitsky explained that a section of land near the town garage and between Route 2 and the Androscoggin River was zoned as resource protection in 1993. That meant nothing could be built horizontally within 250 feet of the normal high water line.

Rumford native Tom Gerrier of Industry owns 11 acres in this area and wants to build a campground there to bring business into town, Skibitsky said. But he can’t develop the high-and-dry land due to current zoning.

Longtime Dixfield resident Roger Chopping, who owns land there and has hayed it for a decade or longer, attested to the fact that it doesn’t flood.

A majority then agreed to change that area’s zoning to general development since it is above the 100-year floodplain.

In the last article, voters also authorized selectmen to use the overlay fund to cover both approved abatement refunds and minor Board of Selectmen-approved departmental overdrafts.

That meant selectmen can now take money from the abatement contingency fund to cover a $759.36 overdraft in the code enforcement/animal control officer account.

Skibitsky said the overdraft was caused by unforeseen extra hours incurred by the animal control officer due to a situation involving numerous cats along the Common Road.

Skibitsky assured voters that selectmen would only use the money to cover minor overdrafts. The overlay was budgeted last June at $39,637 and only $9,800 has been used, so far.


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