OTISFIELD – Voters at next week’s annual town meeting will be presented with two road improvement plans that would put the 2015-16 budget at $1.73 million or $2.14 million, depending on whether either is approved.

Residents at Thursday night’s hearing on the 2015-16 budget appeared cautious about the proposals.

The plans were developed by the Road Study Committee, after about six years of study and extensive input by Road Commissioner Richard Bean.

One calls for a five-year $1.8 million bond to reconstruct segments of Powhattan, Rayville, Bell Hill, Peaco and Gore roads over two years. The bond would require an average $360,000 annual payment for four years, but only a $13,364 payment in the first year. If approved, the municipal budget would be $1.73 million.

The other calls for spending $408,000 to rebuild Powhattan Road, which would put the budget at $2.14 million for 2015-16.

Administrative Assistant Marianne was among those questioning the financial impact of the spending.


“That’s not even including the school (assessment),” she said. “The school is going up 7 percent and we don’t even have (an assessment) from the county yet.”

The bond proposal is expected to raise property taxes about 12 percent, Selectmen Chairman Hal Ferguson said.

“That’s going to put quite a pinch on us,” one taxpayer said.

If neither proposal is approved, Road Commissioner Richard Bean Sr. will use $180,000 in the road budget to rehabilitate Powhattan Road from Forest Edwards Road to Route 121, Ferguson said. He urged voters to attend the town meeting to voice their opinion.

Also fueling the proposed increase in the budget is a $34,000 request for design work to repair the Pleasant Lake Dam in Casco. The dam is owned by Casco and Otisfield and controls the level of water in the 4-mile-long lake, which lies in both towns. The dam beside Route 121 was built in 1850 and repaired in 1980 and 1992.  

Casco and Otisfield selectmen received a report from the Maine Emergency Management Agency last year that said there is significant leakage and structural deterioration at the dam. The dam is losing as much as 1,000 gallons of water per minute in a minimum of three places but is in no immediate danger of breaching, according to local officials.


Town boards, along with Peter Barber, president of the Pleasant Lake Association, and others have been meeting since September 2014 to discuss how to resolve the problem.

Both towns will face significant fines from the Department of Environmental Protection if the dam fails.

Officials told residents at the budget hearing that taxpayers will get some temporary financial relief because of a delay in the Cobb Hill Road improvement project. Ferguson said the engineer was not able to get all the information necessary to push forward with funding this year.

In other budget news, Budget Committee Chairman Joanie Jacobs said the budget includes an average 3.8 percent pay increase for Bean Sr. and town office workers.

The committee decided to double the Contingency Fund this year from $5,000 to $10,000 in an attempt to build up the funds. 

Jacobs said there have been increases in some budget requests. Employee benefits increased from $179,848 to $183,168 and public safety and cemeteries also increased from $148,337 to $151,382.

The public works budget is down from $655,000 to $645,000 while other departments remained essentially the same except for a $5,000 increase in the capital improvement budget.

The annual town meeting gets underway at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 27, at the Community Hall on Route 121.


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