MADISON — Residents offered an assortment of views Tuesday on the town’s proposal to build a natural gas pipeline from Richmond to Madison, but votes weren’t tallied by press time.

Residents appeared split on the town’s proposal to bond for a $72 million pipeline as they left the town office Tuesday night.

Roxanne Cannon said she voted no because “I don’t think it’s a good idea for Madison to take on that responsibility by themselves when there are so many other communities involved.”

Daniel Clough, who voted yes, offered a different opinion. “If a privately owned company can make a profit on the gas pipeline, it’s certainly going to be a benefit to the town of Madison,” he said.

He was referring to Portland-based Kennebec Valley Gas Co., which is competing with the town to build the line through 12 communities.

While the company would turn the profit from the pipeline back to its investors, town officials say they want to use the profit to offset municipal taxes.

Tammy Robbins also voted yes. “I come from New York, and that’s what we use,” she said, adding that natural gas is cheap and efficient.

But Geneva Asselin said she was wary of the risk of bonding for $72 million and cited mailings from Madison Taxpayers Against Bad Debt, funded in part by Kennebec Valley Gas.

“I feel it’s going to cost us a lot of money, and they said they’d put our homes up for collateral,” she said.

Town officials and the town’s lawyer have said the mailings were misleading and that the pipeline would act as collateral, not resident’s homes, in the case of a potential default.

Lisa Meunier also balked at the large sum and voted no, saying, “I think we spend enough as it is.”

Brian Bonneau said he doesn’t believe revenue from the pipeline will offset its cost, particularly because the Maine Public Utilities Commission will set the rates. He said there will be additional costs for residents to convert their heating systems to natural gas.

Ryan Pinkham did have confidence in the projected revenue and voted yes. “It’s going to happen anyway, so we might as well get a tax break out of it,” he said.

The town has estimated the pipeline will offset about all of the municipal budget after five years of operation.

Leland Moore also voted yes, saying the pipeline will help create jobs.

Town Manager Dana Berry said he expected about 1,200 people to vote, based on the rate of ballots being cast during the day. With 3,125 registered voters, that’s a turnout rate of about 38 percent.

The town on Monday released more than 700 pages of public documents pertaining to the pipeline. After reviewing the paperwork, Janet Mills, an attorney with the Preti, Flaherty law firm who is representing Kennebec Valley Gas, said she questioned whether the town’s bonds would be tax-exempt because the pipeline would extend outside the town.

Madison’s attorney Lee Bragg on Tuesday differed with Mills’ assessment. He said that the tax-exempt nature of the bonds has nothing to do with whether the pipeline is taxable property or not.

The pipeline is taxable, he said, and Madison plans to pay other towns the property taxes they are due.

Tax-exempt bonds command a lower interest rate because the bond buyers don’t have to pay federal income tax on the interest.

Erin Rhoda — 612-2368

[email protected]


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