PARIS — As the days get colder, road construction and maintenance are something all Mainers pay attention to.

The Paris Board of Selectmen focused on this Nov. 27.

Paris Town Manager Vic Hodgkins brought estimated figures to the board regarding a potential bond for road construction and upkeep that reflects five-year bonds for $2.5 and $2 million offering a glimpse into what bonding would entail if interest rates are not fixed.

Either bond is currently estimated over five years with an interest rate increasing steadily from 1.8 percent to 2.2 percent.  A $2 million bond would result in $124,600 in interest over the loan term; the $2.5 million bond would incur $155,750 in interest.

Selectman Scott Buffington asked what a typical road’s lifespan was and noted checking with the town’s engineer would be prudent. Hodgkins said depending on road conditions and if there’s a top coat, he estimated approximately 15 to 20 years. 

Buffington also raised the idea of discussing different bond amounts and timeframes to potentially borrow and build more, citing the fire station that was constructed on a 20-year bond.

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It was mentioned by Hodgkins though, that new road construction done in a similar timeframe would subsequently all need to be replaced at approximately the same time in the future. Taking out smaller bonds on shorter terms retains the board’s ability to evaluate and either change course or take another bond out in five years to stagger the construction and future repairs. 

Hodgkins has yet to have the opportunity to sit with Highway Director Jamie Hutchinson and plan out the roads program for the next fiscal year, which is aptly named “Jamie time.”  He plans to do so soon.

Buffington countered he does not want to see a large bond payment that must be met in addition to the maintenance costs of the town’s other roads and that “we are not leveraging the benefits of the money we put down when we borrow less.”

Hodgkins noted that this past year, Paris got favorable pricing, including on asphalt, but that relying on the savings from such materials are offset by the increase in interest due. He likened the attempts to chase savings by borrowing more to “a dog chasing its tail.”

He estimated the town has saved an estimated $30,000 to $40,000 a year doing its own ditching. 

“The number one thing I’ve learned throughout this entire project is water is the enemy, we have to make sure the roads are ditched well,”  Hodgkins said.

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