SKOWHEGAN — Residents breezed through six articles Tuesday night at a special town meeting, approving borrowing up to $2,628,175 for energy reduction and capital improvement projects.

The Board of Selectmen recommended passage of the question, which Jeffrey Hewett, Skowhegan’s director of economic and community development, said in a meeting preview last month would save the town money in energy costs over the coming years.

The meeting was postponed last month because of a snowstorm.

“That is the energy project that we’re looking at for the streetlights in Skowhegan, the Municipal Building, the (Recreation) Department, some at the pollution control plant and some at highway,” Hewett said. “All of the lights through all of the buildings are going to be LED, if they approve it. If they don’t approve it, then we don’t do any of it.”

Hewett said in the long run, most of the borrowed money will be recouped through savings in energy costs by having updated equipment and improvements. Once it is all paid for, he said, future spending will be reduced.

Skowhegan Town Manager Christine Almand agreed Wednesday, noting that the question passed easily, 24-7.

She said over the 17 years of the borrowing plan, the cost savings will go a long way toward paying for the investment.

“The energy savings will pay for the costs,” she said. “The majority of it is paid for by the energy savings.”

Other improvements include the ventilation system in the Municipal Building and in the Opera House upstairs to cool the air in the summer, and a heat recovery and distribution system for the main floor and the basement.

That system also would provide air conditioning on the main floor and in the basement, replacing 25 window units. The plan also includes installing efficient gas furnaces to reduce heating costs. Hewett said about 600 street and decorative lights will be switched over to LED, which will cut costs in half.

In the other buildings, two heat inverters — heat pumps that can heat or cool — will be installed in the conference rooms at the community center for the Recreation Department. There also would be soundproofing installed between the gymnasium and the conference rooms, and the ventilation system will be fixed.

The furnaces at the center also would be converted to gas furnaces to make them more efficient. Exterior doors also would be sealed to be weather-tight.

Heat pumps would be installed at the pollution control plant, along with an upgraded ventilation system.

The new systems in all four buildings will be set on a single control system, with timers to control heat and cool each building, Hewett said.

“It’s going to be moving these buildings forward into the future,” he said. “Hopefully, all the buildings will be much more comfortable for the public.”

In other voting at the special meeting, residents agreed to authorize selectmen to designate a municipal affordable-housing TIF, or tax increment financing district, at a building and property owned by the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program off Norridgewock Road, west of downtown.

The $5.4 million project would be developed with 75 percent of the taxes going back to KVCAP in the TIF arrangement, as the program divests itself of its nonprofit status for that property. All other KVCAP property will remain nonprofit.

Voters also accepted a property agreement with the nonprofit Skills Inc. regarding property at 5 Greenwood Ave., in which the town will be reimbursed a percentage of the sale if Skills sells it to a for-profit company or individual. The town deeded the property to the organization years ago, Hewett said.

Residents also voted to have the town take over a parcel of land at the corner of Commercial Street and Madison Avenue from the Somerset Economic Development Corp.

They also voted to allow the town treasurer, with selectmen’s approval, to file a waiver of automatic foreclosure at the Registry of Deeds on real estate “that may be burdensome” to the town. It allows selectmen not to foreclose if hardship is indicated.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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