Alna selectmen pursue March town vote on town office

Posted:  Thursday, December 7, 2017 - 8:30am

Alna town meeting voters next March may have a proposed new or redone town office to consider, selectmen said Dec. 6. Board members were unsure they’ll have a proposal by then, but said they are going to try.

Third Selectman Doug Baston said if they don’t try, it won’t happen, and he doesn’t want to wait another 15 months for a town vote, he said. Officials have talked for years about making over or replacing the cape on Route 218. Selectmen’s talks this year have centered on fixing and expanding the cape or selling it and putting a new town office on remaining acreage.

First Selectman David Abbott reiterated his past doubts a proposal would be ready for town meeting. But he said it could be a harder sell to residents in 2019, if next year’s taxes climb due to rising student counts. School choice is continuing to attract families, selectmen said. Taxes could rise 20 percent, Abbott said.

“They’re being snatched up,” Second Selectman Melissa Spinney said about homes. Baston predicted someone will put in a subdivision.

The board continued mulling manufactured as an option for a town office, saying it could run less than stick-built and still be quality construction. Resident Ed Pentaleri also doubted stick-built would save the town money. “To me, it’s just hard to believe.”

Selectmen discussed plans to visit two Waldoboro vendors, Ralph’s Homes and Maine Modular. They had not decided if they would visit the businesses together or separately. Baston said a town office would need a custom design, but viewing manufactured homes would help gauge their quality. Then the board can set a public hearing and invite both businesses to send representatives, Baston said.

Referring to recent suggestions building a town office could bring work to local contractors, selectmen said there is no guarantee if it was put out to bid, someone local would get the work. Seeking bids from contractors would also add more moving pieces to the process and might only be putting contractors through a drill, if it was already clear manufactured was the way to go, Baston said.

Also Dec. 6, selectmen decided to cover about $15,000 in the October windstorm’s cleanup costs with about $5,000 each from contingency, surplus and roads. The bills were Jeff Verney’s and Mike Jewett’s portion of cleanup costs including tree removal and addressing road washouts, selectmen said. The board considered using the whole $10,000 they said was in contingency, but decided to leave some for other emergencies.

The board meets next at 6 p.m. Dec. 20 at the town office.