The Wilton Select Board discusses issues regarding ARPA funds on Tuesday, March 21. Selectperson Mike Wells, left, appeared before the county commissioners to ask for aid, but was turned down due to federal guidelines. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

WILTON — The Wilton Select Board received updates on ongoing issues, such as getting ARPA funds for the upcoming water transmission line project, on Tuesday, March 21.

Selectperson Mike Wells addressed the board with an update on an application that he and Town Manager Perry Ellsworth filled out to submit to the Franklin County Commissioner’s office.

“Here in Maine, county government is much smaller, they get a large amount of money,” Wells said to the board. “So, we said, ‘how about if we try to defray some of our infrastructure costs for the water district by applying for some of the county ARPA funds and it fits very well in infrastructure upgrades and water quality.”

Wells attended the Franklin County Commissioner’s meeting on Tuesday, March 21, to plead the case of using ARPA funds to offset the cost of the water transmission line project. While presenting, Wells stressed that Wilton funds were stretch thin due to the government mandate regarding the disposal of sludge contaminated with PFAS chemicals.

“We’ve been hit hard in the Wilton Water and Sewer District because of a state mandate and the mandate says that we need to get rid of our sludge to a landfill,” Wells said he told commissioners. “Our sludge has no PFAS in it, but it’s a state mandate. And so, we need to pay roughly $18,000 or so a month. We’re in the hole right now $200,000 this year to remove sludge that has no PFAS in it.”

Recently, the Wilton select board has had to raise sewer rates by 15% and a staggered 10% increase to water rates was passed last year. The increase to the sewer rates came after Water and Wastewater Superintendent Heinz Grossman presented his sewer budget with $1,055,134 in expenses and $811,675 estimated in revenue.


Wells mentioned that Wilton had also received USDA funds for their water transmission line project, and as a result of that funding, Wilton is not eligible to apply for ARPA funds.

“Any organization that’s applying for ARPA funds can’t have any other federal funding,” Wells said. “We just had a chance at $1.5 million, and it was thrown out because of the federal guidelines.”

Selectperson Tiffany Mauri inquired about a potential workaround to that issue, asking if water and sewer could apply for ARPA funds directly as opposed to the Town of Wilton.

“I’ll ask around,” Wells responded.

Well also shared an update on the “unfunded mandates” that Wilton is facing regarding the disposal of PFAS sludge. The issue arose at a previous meeting, where Ellsworth stated the mandate was an unfunded mandate and in violation of Maine law.

According to the information shared by Wells, if the State does impose a mandate without the approval of two-thirds of both Houses, it must fund at least 90% of the new local costs.

“There was a two-thirds vote, therefore they don’t pay, are not required,” Wells stated. “They, the state, is not required to fund any of it.”

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