Alna eyes fire station lot redo, asking price for town office cape
Following budget talks Feb. 28, a new Alna town office is still in play and voters may consider starting to fund a redo of the fire station’s parking lot. Fire Chief Mike Trask said the lot, dating to the early 1980s, is warped.
That stems from water getting through cracks, causing heaves, Trask told selectmen. He proposed raising $10,000 this year toward the projected cost of about $38,000.
“That seems like a lot of money,” Third Selectman Doug Baston said about the total.
“It does. But pavement isn’t cheap,” Trask said.
First Selectman David Abbott said the lot has held up pretty well considering its age. Members did not object to asking voters to start a reserve fund for the project, in a warrant article separate from the fire department budget. They supported his budget request. Trask’s $84,863 proposal is up from about $75,000 last year, Abbott said; officials noted the budget includes $6,666 for group life insurance voters approved in 2017 as a separate item because it was new, so it’s been added to the budget this year but is not a new expense, they said. Trask said firefighter call pay is up nearly $8,000, to a proposed $16,162 after calls hiked by 23 calls last year.
Departing Emergency Management Agency Director Roger Whitney asked the board to hike the director’s annual pay from $300 to $1,000. Selectmen went with $500, plus the $15 an hour he recommended. He said he will get Town Clerk Liz Brown an estimate to insert in the warrant to fund the hourly pay.
“It would be hard to ask for a big increase (in the yearly pay) in one year,” Abbott said.
On another front, Baston remained optimistic the board can prepare a warrant article in time to ask voters for a new town office. The board released information obtained from real estate agents about a possible asking price for the centuries-old cape that now serves as the town office. Baston said Poe Cilley of William Raveis Carleton Real Estate in Bath and Peter Christine of Drum & Drum Real Estate in Damariscotta each figured the asking price around $130,000.
Baston continued, the town could take out a 30-year, $260,ooo loan for a new town office, then when the cape sells, immediately apply that money to the loan.
The board announced public hearings at 6 p.m. March 12, tentatively at the fire station, for the two referendum questions to let businesses sell alcohol to consume on-site. One ballot question would allow it on Sundays; the other, the rest of the week. Alna currently allows alcohol sales for off-site consumption only.
Officials said the fire department has earned a Safety and Health Award for Public Employers (SHAPE) from the Maine Department of Labor. Trask and Whitney expected a representative from the state agency to present it that night. None appeared, so the presentation will be rescheduled, they and selectmen said.