Tuesday, 11 December 2018 21:53

$2.6 million approved for Skowhegan energy saving project Featured

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SKOWHEGAN - A multi-million dollar energy project, about three years in the making, was approved by Skowhegan voters on Tuesday night.


Town officials said the more than two and a half million dollar bond for the project will pay for itself over a term of 17 years.


At a special town meeting, voters approved that bond, along with some other articles approved Tuesday night.


The borrowed money will be going to various energy saving improvements, like fixing the municipal building's roof and windows, updating heating and cooling systems, and converting street lamps to LED.


Town officials said that will reduce the street light budget by about eighty percent.


"It's certainly appealing and why a lot of municipalities are looking into these types of projects," said Christine Almand, Skowhegan's Town Manager.


Updates will be made to the municipal building, the community center, and highway department.


Based on the treasurer's estimates, borrowing that money will add to Skowhegan's current unpaid debt, which is about $13 million.


But Almand said the energy savings from this project will pay for itself in the long run.


"Typically when you have debt, you have to raise taxes the next year to pay for it," she said. "This is different because we are not raising taxes in order to pay for this project."


While residents voted 24 to 17 to approve the measure, it wasn't without some push back. Some said during the meeting it was too much money to be voted on by a small crowd.


Others came in undecided, saying they were just finding out about the vote.


"I had just got wind of this meeting," said Lynda Quinn, a Skowhegan resident. "And I want to know why we need to raise $2 million, almost $3 million and why it wasn't on the warrant items that we had in November."


But more residents agreed that the ends here justify the means.


"We need to be looking at different ways to lower our taxes and even though we have to borrow to do it, in the end it will pay," said Judi York, who lives in Skowhegan.


According to town officials, construction can begin in about a month, though some parts will have to wait until the warmer weather in the spring.


Something else that voters approved at the special town meeting was a housing TIF that will help move forward with low income housing on Mary Street.

Kelly Mitchell

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Kelly Mitchell joined the news team in March of 2018. She grew up splitting her time between York, ME and Haverhill, MA, but her favorite childhood memories took place along the rocky coast of southern Maine. She's now e...