ANSON — Residents at a special town meeting Tuesday night will be asked to accept the closed Madison Paper Industries sludge landfill in Anson, along with more than $2 million from the paper mill’s former owners to maintain it.

That issue, and a question about whether to use money from a reserve account to proceed with a lawsuit against former Anson Tax Collector Claudia Viles, now serving prison time for embezzling more than $500,000 from the town, are scheduled for voters’ consideration at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the gymnasium at Garret Schenck School.

The mill landfill, located above the Kennebec River in Anson, would become town property, and the money that was set aside by MPI for maintenance would be delivered to town coffers if voters approve the measure, Administrative Assistant Tammy Murray said Friday.

“It’s the last remaining property that the mill owned in Anson,” Murray said of the 68-acre site off Arnold’s Lane behind the post office. “They’re turning this over to the town. You need to have it run correctly in your town.”

The property could be used for solar power some day, officials said.

The Madison paper mill closed in May 2016, leaving 214 people without jobs. The mill property was sold in December 2016 to a “joint venture” of New Mill Capital Holdings, of New York; Perry Videx, of Hainesport, New Jersey; and Infinity Asset Solutions, of Toronto.

The sale of the mill’s hydropower facilities to Eagle Creek Renewable Energy LLC, a hydroelectric power producer based in Morristown, New Jersey, was announced in April.

Murray said the paper company used the landfill to hold sludge — wood chips and clay — from the papermaking process. She said the sludge was treated and is not toxic. The dump was closed and capped a couple of years ago under the direction of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Murray said the Madison/Anson Sanitary District maintained the landfill and surrounding property for the paper company until the mill closed and the owners — UPM-Kymmene Inc. and Northern SC Paper Corp. — took over the maintenance. Now they want to give the land to the town.

The former owners had roughly $1.6 million set aside in a reserve account to maintain the landfill, along with $900,000 to transfer the landfill to the town for a total of $2.4 million.

Murray said the town will look after the site, doing routine mowing and upkeep to make sure it all remains safe and then will look into investing some of the leftover money.

“That’s the last piece that ties them to here,” Murray said. “They sold everything else.”

If voters agree to accept the site and the money to maintain it, then the legal teams will draw up the needed paperwork for the transaction, to be finalized sometime in 2018. The money to be set aside also would be used for legal services in support of the town’s property tax abatement case involving the mill.

Anson Selectman John Bryant said the five-member board voted unanimously to accept the landfill — and the money.

“It’s a great deal for the town, financially,” he said Friday. “Number one, it’s there anyway. Somebody’s got to maintain it. They’ve given us a very good financial incentive to do it ourselves. We’ve done our homework, and there’s not much in there that’s harmful. It’s paper mill sludge. It puts the town in a much better fiscal position.”

Bryant said one of the ideas for the property is using it to build a solar power facility.

In another article on the special town meeting warrant, residents will be asked to take up to $45,000 from the town’s Insurance Claim Reserve Fund to pay legal and administrative costs for a pending legal case against Viles. Superior Court Justice Robert Mullen in Skowhegan sentenced Viles to eight years in prison in July. She will serve five years and then three years of probation for a class B felony theft conviction and nine months, to run concurrently, for 12 other crimes related to tax fraud and tampering with public documents.

She also was ordered to pay $566,257 in restitution to the town of Anson — $500,948 for the theft of excise taxes and $65,309 for economic loss to the town.

“We need to take the $45,000 because we still have a civil suit with the Claudia Viles case for the restitution,” Murray said. “She’s been ordered to pay $566,000.”

The $45,000 also would be used for legal services in support of the town’s property tax abatement case involving the mill.

Murray said the town already has received $250,000 from the insurance company to cover some of the loss, and just last week Maine State Police turned over a check for $58,500 from money detectives discovered in a safe in Viles’ garage during their search of the property.

The town still needs to recover about $260,000, which Murray said the town is confident it will get with liens on Viles’ several pieces of property. She said the Viles family has “quite a bit” of property in the neighboring town of Embden and three parcels in Anson.

In other voting Tuesday night, Anson residents will be asked to appropriate up to $10,000 from the Fire Equipment Reserve Fund for repairing a town firetruck. Voters also will be asked to appropriate up to $25,000 from the Insurance Claim Reserve Fund to cover the cost of water treatment made necessary by a line break at the North Anson Sewer Department earlier this year.

None of the money to be voted on Tuesday night will need to be borrowed, Murray said, and none of it will affect the existing town tax rate of $20 for every $1,000 worth of property valuation.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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