SABATTUS — The town has to respond to a $11,172 yearly antenna bill, after a tower company that had long let them use the space for $1 warned it has reconsidered.

One potential option the majority of selectmen approved on Tuesday night: Exploring whether it makes sense to build a communications tower on town property, a cost that could be $100,000 to $200,000.

Town Manager Tony Ward said he received word from American Tower Corp. on March 10 that the town’s 15-year lease on its Pleasant Hill tower is set to expire this year.

Ward said when the tower was built in 2002 by Spectrum Tower Co., the site approval included language about the Fire Department getting one antenna on the tower for $1 year for the life of the tower.

Over the years, three more antenna were added, one more for fire and two for police. The agreement in 2002 didn’t specify the cost of additional antenna, Ward said.

The town kept paying the $1 and was never billed for more.


It was business as usual until Sabattus was contacted two weeks ago for a lease renewal.

“The first proposal they made would have been $21,600 (a year),” Ward said. “My response was short and sweet: ‘No way.'”

After pouring over the original contract language and negotiating, Ward said the current proposal is $7,560 for the two police antenna and $3,612 for one fire antenna. It would continue to receive the other at $1 a year.

“We could absorb it, but it’s either one of two things, we have to increase our budget or we have to cut services in another line to offset it,” he said.

Instead, he’s exploring options and has already toured three potential sites where the town could build its own tower.

“What I’m doing is working with a local communications company about what alternatives there are for us: If we built our own tower, if we had them build one for us,” Ward said. “There is no quick resolution to this. If we ever said we wanted to build a tower, that can take … years to do. We’re trying to do long-term and short-term planning.”

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