POLAND — Greater-than-expected heating, ventilation and air conditioning costs mean a planned library expansion project might need a $550,000 infusion, the Select Board learned Tuesday.

Town Manager Matt Garside told the board that architect Michel Giasson, who designed the Ricker Memorial Library expansion, said that higher heating, ventilation and air conditioning system costs are the major factor in the increase.

To comply with state code, the HVAC system would be needed for the entire library building and not just the addition.

The additional money would be financed by another bond that could be voted on in the June 13 town referendum warrant.

A 10-year $850,000 bond for the expansion was approved by voters at last year’s Town Meeting.

The town also voted to utilize $150,000 from the library’s Stone Trust for design expenses associated with the expansion.


Garside said it is important to get feedback from townspeople to determine whether to put another bond question before voters.

Two public hearings are planned for the warrant articles, including the tentative $550,000 library bond question.

The first public hearing is scheduled for Saturday, April 1, at 9:30 a.m., with a second one set for Wednesday, April 12, at 6:30 p.m. Both are to be held at the Town Office.

The Select Board is then expected to determine at its April 19 meeting whether the $550,000 bond article will be included in the municipal warrant articles.

In other business, the board signed the Regional School Unit 16 warrant article for a 20-year $5 million bond to fund replacement and updating of the heating and ventilation systems for three elementary schools in Mechanic Falls, Minot and Poland.

The article would come before voters in the three towns on May 2 as a single referendum question. Voting in all three towns is by referendum ballot from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.


Assistant Town Manager Nikki Pratt said the 20-year bond would ultimately cost $8 million when including the interest.

It was pointed out that the costs are estimates only. No bids have gone out.

Repairs to Minot Consolidated School are estimated to cost $1,790,000 and would be done first due to a failure in the heating system this year.

Work is estimated to be $1,670,000 for Elm Street in Mechanic Falls and $1,375,000 for Poland Community School.

There is also a contingency amount of $241,000 included in the bond.

Selectperson Stan Tetenman suggested the bond should have been just for the emergency situation for the Minot school, since no time frame was given for the other schools and actual costs may be higher in two or three years.


Select Board Chair Stephen Robinson noted that according to the cost-sharing formula for RSU 16, Poland picks up 67% of all costs.

The Select Board, on the advice of the town’s assessor, Rob Duplisea of RJD Appraisal of Lewiston, also voted unanimously to employ a flat-rate increase on all property assessments — residential, waterfront and commercial. Officials said the action will have no impact on an individual’s property tax. The move will prevent a potential reduction in revenue sharing money from the state.

The increase in property values will narrow the certified ratio between assessed property value and today’s market value. Due to the spike in real estate sales in Maine during the COVID pandemic, the ratio widened between market prices and assessed valuation of properties.

Two years ago Poland’s ratio of valuation to market rate was 95%, based on an evaluation done in 2012. Last year the ratio was 86%.

When Duplisea met with the board in September 2022 he said a significant drop would happen in 2023. It did.

Before the board took the vote Tuesday night, the certified ratio for Poland would have been 65%. Because of the board’s action, it now stands at 91%.


Pratt emphasized in a meeting on Wednesday that this increased assessment would have no bearing on any individual’s property tax. Higher property valuations from the flat rate increase allow the town to lower the mill rate a corresponding amount so that the amount of tax revenue from each property remains the same.

Pratt pointed out that by increasing the property valuation in this stop-gap measure, the town’s total valuation will increase to $93 million, which in turn means the state’s amount of revenue sharing funds to the town should increase by about $250,000.

The Select Board has the authority to set an across-the-board flat rate increase without having to go to the voters.

An overall revaluation of all properties in town is set to take place in three years.

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