August 27, 2008

State, Town Agree on Boosting Water Rate

By Eileen M. Adams

DIXFIELD - The town's second visit to the state Public Utilities Commission office in Augusta on Tuesday has resulted in a water rate increase agreement.

Selectman Chairwoman Bettina Martin said Tuesday afternoon that the public advocate's office and the town have agreed to a 29 percent rate increase, beginning with the October quarterly billing.

That hike won't be official until the PUC approves it, an action she said that is due soon.

The town has sought to increase the water rates for several months to cover the costs for water line replacements, fire hydrant installations and operation of the department.

Martin said it had been many years since there has been a water rate increase.

The town, through the water department budget, had to pay about $9,000 to get the rate hike through the PUC, Town Manager Tom Richmond said at Monday's selectmen's meeting. Maine Rural Water drew up the first plan, at a cost of $4,000. That plan was rejected. Subsequent legal fees totaled about $5,000 to get the request to all but final approval, Martin said.

Also at Monday night's meeting, the board directed Code Enforcement Officer Sigrid Houlet to work with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and land owner Michael Treadwell regarding the removal of trees on Treadwell's property off Webb River Drive.

Treadwell is accused of violating the shoreland zoning ordinance that prohibits clear-cutting near water.

The DEP is expected to provide the town with recommendations for the penalty and the species of trees that must be planted.

In other matters, the board met in a half-hour closed session to discuss office personnel and how the town will be run once Richmond leaves his position Thursday.

Martin said the board plans to interview five candidates for the position Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Until a new manager is selected and in place, she plans to check on municipal business at the town office each day.

Also, the board awarded the contract for 4,000 cubic yards of winter sand to Archie's Inc. of Mexico for $6.51 per yard. Members also decided to solicit bids for a new boiler at the post office/ municipal building and agreed to join with SAD 21 to buy fuel.

Originally published by Staff Writer.

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