MECHANIC FALLS — Police Chief Jeff Goss and recently hired Sgt. Paul Schroder were praised at Monday night’s town council meeting for their work to restore the department to its full deployment, while still providing coverage for the town.

“You don’t know how much time, effort, and energy Jeff has put in rebuilding this police department,” Town Manager Vic Hodgkins said.

Mechanic Falls lost the bulk of its police force over the spring and summer months when two had left the state, two left to work for other departments and a fourth officer resigned for other reasons.

By summer’s end, Goss was the sole police officer in town. Coverage continued in town with the assistance of the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office.

Schroder, formerly with the Auburn Police Department, was hired in the fall and it was announced at Monday’s meeting that Michael Rioux of Mechanic Falls was hired as a patrolman. Rioux will begin training at the Police Academy in January.

“We are starting to rebound,” Goss said.

In a related matter, the council endorsed an interim contract with the police department that will include a new pay scale and retirement plan approved earlier this year.

Hodgkins said this contract will last until June 2022, with hopes that a new three-year contract will be in place by then.

OTHER BUSINESS

The council approved the Water Department’s budget following a presentation by Superintendent Steven French.

The operating budget will be $437,568, an increase of $53,539 from the current year’s budget. That increase is primarily in the salaries, insurance costs and contract services.

In the capital budget expense portion, French said the Maine Public Utilities Commission informed the department that it has too much money in the bank.

In his report to the council, French stated that according to the department’s accountant the water department can spend up to $100,000, “without jeopardizing” the department’s financial status.

The improvements will include hydrant replacement on Clifford Street, Geographic Information System locator, pump replacement, engineering fees for a Libby Road Project and a generator.

French concluded in his report that the expenditures for needed repairs and improvements will not affect the water rate and are investments in the future.

The council approved Hodgkins’ recommendation to contract with Haley Ward, Environmental Engineer firm in Lewiston for a three-year contract of $10,500 per year to test the water at the landfill at the transfer station.

Approval to change the phone system at the Municipal Building with FirstLight was also endorsed by the council. Hodgkins said the town will save between $100 and $200 a month with the new phone service.

The town’s new auditor will be RHR Smith and Company at an annual cost of $8,000, an increase of $300 from the current year.

The town council also moved to have John E. O’Donnell begin the town’s revaluation in the second half of 2022 for April 1, 2023-2024 end date.

The cost for the revaluation $150,000 of which $130,000 is already in a reserve account.


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