MECHANIC FALLS — Three Mechanic Falls Water Department projects have been approved for funding through the state’s drinking water revolving loan program, Town Manager John Hawley told councilors this week.

“The water-line extension into Poland is the No. 2 project on the list,” Hawley said, adding that it had guaranteed funding.  

Approval gives a boost to Poland’s plans to develop its downtown village district, allowing the Mechanic Falls Water Department to borrow up to $986,000 at an interest rate of between 1 percent and 2 percent to extend the water line from Poland Regional High School down Route 26 as far as Aggregate Road and the Poland Fire Station.

Poland officials are seeking to fund the project from several sources, including the state’s Community Development Block Grant program, in order to borrow as little of the $986,000 as possible. 

The two other water department projects to make the approval list are replacing the main that crosses the Little Androscoggin River behind the American Legion Hall and a backup well to the district’s main well, with up to $228,000 and $159,000 being reserved for each, respectively.

The water department will also be getting a new truck, following council action to accept Rowe Fordland’s proposal to provide a 2010 4-wheel-drive Ford F-150 for $13,015 with the water department’s 2004 truck in trade. Six bids were received. Rowe’s was the lowest for a 4-wheel-drive truck.

In other business, the council gave Hawley authority to implement the Revenue Enhancement Committee’s idea for offering local businesses display space on the foyer walls of the Town Office.

Councilor Bob Small said it would give the town’s 120 businesses a chance to market themselves. 

“And its a great way for townspeople to know what’s available,” he said.

The council took no action on setting town employee wage increases for next year. 

Department budgets are being prepared with 3 percent raises figured in. However, Hawley questioned whether the raises are affordable. Councilor Rielly Bryant said he was OK with a small increase if it would help retain employees. Small said there are many people who don’t have any jobs and that he was not comfortable with 3 percent raises.

Hawley reported that his survey of towns that contract out their winter road maintenance found only one town — Lamoine — with a cost-per-mile that compared favorably with what it costs Mechanic Falls and that, considering the lack of local control that comes with privatization, he doubted it was worth it. 

Bryant agreed. “We looked at it to see if there would be significant savings,” he said. “There isn’t.” 

Councilors supported a plan to seek funding for paving projects costing nearly $500,000 now that the town has made its last payment on a paving bond. The money would pay for paving about 4 miles of the town’s 22 miles of roads. 

In order of priority the roads under consideration are Edwards Road, Riverside Drive, School Street, Upper Myrtle Street, Second Avenue, Laurel Street, Oak Street, Marshall Street, Bucknam Street, Walker Road, Perkins Road, Clifford Street and Summer Street (Maple to Mitchell).

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