Town of Edgecomb

Selectmen approve payment for mounting windstorm cleanup costs

Board seeks Jan. 16 special town meeting to pay cleanup from municipal account
Posted:  Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - 8:00am

The Oct. 30 windstorm has placed Edgecomb selectmen between a rock and a hard place. Municipal officials have approved  emergency road cleanup costs for a crew hired by Road Commissioner Scott Griffin. The cleanup is nearly complete and bills are starting to mount. On Dec. 4, selectmen voted unanimously to pay $21,830 for Griffin’s crew. This is the second time selectmen approved a windstorm cleanup payment which prompted Selectman Michael Smith to ask, “How exactly are we paying for this?”

Smith’s question was prompted by the emergency nature of the windstorm which left tree debris blocking most roads. Selectmen authorized a much smaller payment last month as part of the first bill submitted by Griffin. Selectmen didn’t recall the first payment’s exact figure, but described it as “significantly less.” The first payment to Griffin came out of the town’s surplus account, according to town officials. The second is also coming out of surplus. Selectmen are hoping to repay the surplus account by approving emergency funding for the highway and bridges account.

But the lack of voter authorization bothered Smith. He questioned if selectmen had the authority to send funds for a project not approved by voters. “I understand this is an emergency and Scott needs to be paid, but how do we do it? This money hasn’t been authorized by the voters,” he said.

The selectmen will seek emergency funds to pay for the cleanup during a Jan. 16 special town meeting. Selectmen will request enough funds to pay for the cleanup. The warrant also requests $200 to complete a Lallis property survey and seeks voter authorization for two moratoriums. Selectmen are asking residents to approve 180-day moratoriums on retail marijuana sales and related industries and for floating structures. In March, residents approved a 180-day floating structure moratorium, but it lapsed after selectmen didn’t extend it.

In other action, the waterfront committee informed selectmen it opposed instituting renewal fees for moorings. Last month, Harbormaster Corning Townsend responded to selectmen’s request for revamping municipal mooring fees. Townsend’s proposal included an initial $30 application fee for residents and $60 for non-residents. He also proposed an annual renewal fee between $10 to $15.

But the waterfront committee notified Townsend they opposed a renewal fee. The committee contended a renewal fee required considerable work for the harbormaster and lacked means of enforcement. Townsend reported the committee’s position to the selectmen during the board meeting. Townsend read a statement from the committee regarding proposed changes in the municipal mooring policy. Instead of an annual fee, the committee supported doubling proposed initial mooring fees.

Previously, Townsend proposed initial mooring application fees as $30 for residents and $60 for non-residents. The committee also requested all mooring fees collected would be allocated to it. In a note sent to Townsend, the committee indicated 10 years ago, those monies were supposed to go toward its expenses. The committee also requested a warrant article authorizing all boat excise tax revenue go to it instead of the Woodend Fund. If that proposal isn’t approved at the May 2018 town meeting, the committee requested an article allowing those who paying excise tax for vessels in Edgecomb waters have an option to dedicate their payment to either the committee or the Woodend Fund.

Selectmen will meet next at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 18 in the municipal building’s conference room.