After an executive session, Wiscasset selectmen on Tuesday accepted the retirement of the wastewater treatment plant’s director, Richard Gaerth, as of Jan. 2.
Gaerth recently learned, and informed selectmen during the open session, Maine Department of Transportation was billing his department $34,000 for sewer work, including 21 manhole covers, as part of the downtown project.
Gaerth said he did not realize the funds would be required before the work was completed, as the contract was signed last year before his tenure, but that the cost would require limiting his department’s spending. The bill would wipe out 27 percent of the special fund for necessary improvements of the waste treatment facility, which required a rate increase of 30 percent over the next three years.
Parks and Recreation Director Lisa Thompson demonstrated how her department intends to reduce costs and increase revenue, including limiting hours at the Community Center, increasing costs for programs and membership, reaching out to other towns to become community partners, which would give their residents the same rate as Wiscasset residents, and increasing programming for seniors, the fastest growing demographic in Wiscasset.
Thompson said that this fiscal year she expects to have revenue of more than $440,000, which is more than half of the department’s budget.
Airport Manager Rick Tetrev announced there was a minor incident involving a small plane and a taxiway sign, which the plane owner’s insurance company is paying for. He also said airplane gas may be limited this year because the supplier’s tank requires maintenance and will be shut down from November until March. Tetrev said he will buy as much as possible before the tank shuts down.
Several people spoke about the need to repair the town clock and the tower that houses it. Leslie Roberts said she is looking into grant funding to rehabilitate the clock and tower. Town Manager John O’Connell said weatherization will be performed, enclosing the tower with white plywood and weatherstripping to keep rain and snow out, but a more substantial restoration would be in the neighborhood of $50,000.
Pam Logan said that when the clock was donated the town became its steward, and Wiscasset had a responsibility to maintain it. Kim Dolce said there should be funds appropriated for maintenance; O’Connell said there are funds in the budget for clock maintenance.
Susan Blagden thanked Ted Snowden for his work repairing the Tucker gravesites at Woodlawn Cemetery, and thanked the county for planting hedges to hide the tank and utilities at the courthouse.