Government at a glance

Board: Lewiston City Council
Met: Tuesday night


Special Thursday meeting

Issue : Councilors are convening a special workshop to discuss how to hire a new city administrator.

The Scoop: The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. in City Council chambers and the public is invited to attend.
The meeting will be broadcast on Great Falls TV, however not on the channels normally reserved for council meetings. Since the special meeting was called together quickly, GFTV is moving the broadcast to channel 22 for Time-Warner Cable subscribers and Channel 3 for Oxford Networks subscribers. The meeting will be shown a second time at 7 p.m. Saturday on the regular channels — Time Warner Cable channel 7, and Oxford Networks channel 1.

Sewer power

Issue: Lewiston-Auburn’s sewage plant treats an estimated 11 million gallons of sewage each day, at a cost of $1.7 million per year. The Lewiston-Auburn Water Pollution Control Authority is applying for grants to an energy recovery plant, heating that raw sewage to extract methane gas and generate electricity. The system would cost $14 million to build, but could save the two cities an estimated $920,000 per year.

The scoop: Authority officials are presenting the plans to city leaders. Monday, they explained the project to Auburn councilors. Tuesday, they discussed it with Lewiston councilors. Lewiston councilors were concerned about costs and potential odors from the work. Authority officials said a closed system would be built to collect the methane which should reduce odors at the plant.

Up next: The authority hopes to apply for federal Department of Energy grants this fall. If they get the grants, the plant could be operational within three years.

Planning software

Issue: Efforts to combine some Lewiston and Auburn operations are moving ahead. The cities are now planning to unite their planning, permitting, code enforcement and inspection departments with a single software platform.

The scoop: Lewiston and Auburn city staffers outlined the software to Auburn councilors on Monday and to Lewiston councilors on Tuesday. It would let residents and contractors file for permits, track projects and gather information for both cities via the Internet. The software would also streamline municipal operations and let the city share staff more efficiently. The software package would cost each city about $200,000.

Up next: Councilors Monday directed staff to continue investigating the software package, designed by Georgia-based Energov Solutions.

Heating help

Issue: When councilors agreed to place $250,000 toward weatherization programs with Community Concepts, they asked program organizers to report back on how that money has been spent and how it would be used in the future.

The scoop: Community Concepts Program Administrator Sandy Albert reported Tuesday that the agency has a list of 800 elderly, low-income residents looking for financial help to weatherize their homes. During the last winter, the group was able to pay to weatherize 72 households. That included replacing eight furnaces.

Up next: The group is expecting a similar workload this coming winter. It hopes to help winterize another 80 homes. It has a waiting list of 725 qualifying residents looking for help.

Farmers fees

Issue: The Great Falls Farmers and Artisans Market Association has hosted a Farmer’s Market in Kennedy Park during the summer for the last five years and now hosts similar markets at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center and Central Maine Medical Center.

The scoop: The association is looking to expand by offering food items purchased at other stores. City codes would require each vendor to get a roving diner license, at a cost of $84 per season. City staff recommended applying for the less expensive peddlers permit, or to apply for a $550 flea market permit. That would allow all kinds of vendors to use the market. Organizers asked councilors to exempt them from paying the fees.

Up next: Councilors agreed to the exemption by a 7-0 vote.

Liquor licenses

Issue: Local restaurants and bars must reapply for liquor
licenses and amusement permits each year. Liquor licenses permit the establishments to serve alcohol; amusement permits allow them to play music, have a DJ, host
karaoke or have games on site.

The scoop: Councilors renewed special amusement permits for She Doesn’t Like Guthries, 115 Middle St.; Sparetime Recreation, 24 Mollison Way; and Carriage House Plus, 1119 Lisbon St.

Moving on

Issue: Councilors reached the end of Tuesday evening before
they’d reached the end of their agenda. They decided to postpone
several agenda items rather than continue the meeting past midnight.

The scoop: Councilors were scheduled to discuss creating a
maximum limit on city borrowing, changes to operations at the city’s
recycling transfer station, rules for the 15-minute public comment
period at the beginning of their regular meetings and their workshop
meeting schedule for September.

Up next: Councilors will take them up at their next regular meeting.

Contact government reporter Scott Taylor via phone at 689-2846 or via e-mail at [email protected]

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