MECHANIC FALLS — The Town Council adopted the 2021 budget for the Water Department at Monday’s monthly meeting.

The budget increased by 2% to $384,028.36. The council also approved a capital budget of $49,800 for the department.

Superintendent Steve French presented his budget during a workshop that preceded the council meeting. French said people were using more water this year due to being home during the coronavirus pandemic. Water use also increased with the addition of the Poland Trailer Park to the system. More water use translated to more income for the department, he said.

He said his three employees were scheduled to receive a 2% raise in July.

French also told the council that he is hoping to cut his hours back to three days a week by midyear.

The capital budget includes money for a new truck and a backhoe. French said he planned to purchase a truck this year, but trucks that met department needs and the budget were hard to find. He said he’s confident one can be found in the new year.

In other business, the council approved the appointments of Christopher Strout and Eriks Petersons to the Appeals Board. It also approved liquor licenses for Little Brick Pub and Village Pizzeriaa with no opposition.

The council also approved a change to its personnel policy to comply with state law for part-time employees on accrued earned paid leave. The policy states, in part, “employees are entitled to earn one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked in one year of employment. ”

The board continued discussion on renewing a cell tower contract with Maine RSA #1 on Pigeon Hill off of Route 26. The corporation is asking for four, 10-year consecutive leases.

Councilor Raymond Lavoie thought 40 years was too long and suggested a shorter span, perhaps 10 years.

Town Manager Zakk Maher pointed out that the agreement does give the town free access to the tower for antennae for fire, police and rescue. He was worried if the contract is changed, that provision could change.

The contract calls for a monthly charge of $427. Combined with personal and real estate taxes, the corporation would pay the town $8,381 per year.

Councilors asked Maher to look into the rate surrounding towns are getting for their cellphone towers.

A survey of the municipal complex revealed two encroachment issues. According to the survey conducted by JKL Land Surveying, Evergreen Trailer Park owned by Wayne Hackett has trailers encroaching the town property. The other problem has the town’s excavator garage encroaching on property owned by Vineyard Ministries. Action on the encroachment was postponed until next month so town officials can talk to the owners to work out an amiable solution.

The council held a first reading of a new ordinance covering the Police Department’s towing and wrecker policy.

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