WINSLOW — The councilors voted 4-2 Monday to approve the first reading to submit a $10.33 million bond to the November referendum.

The bond will be used for school renovations and consolidation as Winslow schools move forward with the plan to close the Winslow Junior High School, moving seventh- and eighth-graders to the high school and sixth-graders to the elementary schools.

The proposed project would add nine classrooms to the high school for the younger children, parking spaces at both schools and a performing arts center for $2.09 million.

Councilors Jerry Quirion and Ben Twitchell voted against the proposal, mostly because of the price tag.

Quirion said most residents he talked to about the project were concerned about the tax rate increase the town would face to finance it.

Councilor Ken Fletcher, who voted in favor of the proposal, said he was concerned because the price increased from $8.3 million to about $9.6 million before demolition costs.

According to Fletcher, if the town enters a 20-year bond, it would need to increase the property tax rate by about $0.75 for every $1,000 of assessed property value.

“I’m seriously concerned that if we keep going in the direction we’re going, we are gonna run out of money,” he said.

The school board previously voted to close the junior high and shift the students to the town’s other two schools after a study found that the 1928 building would cost more than $3 million to fix.

The council also voted 6-0 to sign a consent agreement with Caleb Albert, which was tabled at a May 9 meeting.

The agreement releases Albert from a town code requirement, and in exchange he waives his right to claim the town owes him money for contaminated well water.

Albert’s property is near the town’s municipal salt and sand storage area, which is uncovered. Albert paid to connect his house to the municipal water supply to avoid potential contamination.

In 2015, Cory Dow, who lives across from Albert’s property, found that his well was contaminated with sodium and chloride, or salt. In September 2016, the Town Council agreed to pay him $16,739 in a settlement without prejudice.

In other business, Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro spoke during the time for public comments. Isgro suggested that the towns look at combining some services, particularly the schools, to help ease tax burdens.

“When we look at the population trends in our schools, they seem to be going down and not up,” Isgro said.

With Winslow looking at renovating buildings and Waterville potentially closing some of its schools, Isgro said this is the right time to start looking at other options and potentially leaving an Alternative Organizational Structure, or AOS, model.

“I’ve had a long talk with Eric Haley (Superintendent of AOS 92) recently … if you look at just the AOS system, I know Eric and his staff believe it’s not working,” he said, adding that the district staff is burnt out.

Councilor Ken Fletcher supported the idea.

“If you look at the trends, we are going to have to do something,” he said.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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