Canton selectmen discuss a proposed sewer rate hike Thursday night at the Town Office. From left are Don Hutchins, Carole Robbins, Chairman Russell Adams, Brian Keene and Scotty Kilbreth. Rumford Falls Times photo by Marianne Hutchinson

CANTON — Selectmen voted Thursday to propose raising the sewer rate by 20%, starting Oct. 1, to cover higher costs for maintaining land around the sewer plant and the four lagoons there.

A public hearing on the proposal is set for 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12, at the Town Office.

Selectman Scotty Kilbreth said the rate has not been raised since 2009, and the additional money is necessary to maintain the land and lagoons at the plant on Bixby Road.

“We have to maintain the lagoons and keep them free of vegetation because if we don’t, the tree roots will puncture the liners,” he said.

Other factors are a license renewal and test in the next few years costing $8,000 to $10,000 and a wage increase for the next maintenance employee when Dave Madison retires in three years, selectmen said.

Kilbreth said sewer customers with one- or two-person households can expect to pay $16 more per quarter starting Oct. 1.

In other business, selectmen decided to add three more roads to their list for improvements this fall. They added Staples Hill, Farrand Hill and River roads. On the list earlier were Campbell, Tessier and Edmunds roads. Improvements include ditching, culverts and grinding old tar and repaving.

Voters approved a $750,000 road bond in June.

Selectman Don Hutchins said he spoke with Hannah Pingree, director of the state Office of Policy Management, about building solar panels on the properties flooded by the Androscoggin River in December 2003.

The fire station, Town Office, local nursing home, sewer plant, two churches, the elementary school and dozens of homes were flooded, forcing the relocation of the town center, according to a Federal Emergency Management Agency report. The town secured millions of dollars in federal, state and local funds to acquire and demolish the damaged properties, and to help with relocations, the report said.

Hutchins, Kilbreth, Selectmen Russell Adams, Carole Robbins and Brian Keene plan to meet with government representatives in September to learn about possible government aid for a solar energy project.

There are many options for using the land in the former town center, Hutchins said.

“My overall goal was to try to get electrical bills for all the townspeople as minimal as possible,” he said. “But then also it would attract some businesses.”

In other matters, Brian Jordan of the Canton Trail Riders invited selectmen to the 23rd annual ATV Toy Run at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, at the Whistle Stop Trail in Farmington. It features a raffle, free barbecue and donations of toys and cash. For more information or to register, contact Jordan at 357-4460.

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