Readfield voters will be faced with a $550,000 question when they hit the polls Tuesday — whether to authorize a bond in that amount for repairs and improvements to the fire station and library.

Even if the bond is approved, and a spending increase, the local share for the municipal budget is expected to decrease for the 2019-2020 fiscal year because revenue is growing.

The anticipated revenue for 2019-2020 is $6,827,249, an increase of $423,724 — or 6.62% — from the current fiscal year’s revenue of $6,403,525.

Town Manager Eric Dyer attributed the increase to a rise in revenue sharing from the state.

The proposed spending plan figures mirror the anticipated revenue, with the increase primarily created by the fire station and library projects.

The proposed spending plan for the 2019-2020 budget year is $6,827,249, up $432,363 — or 6.76% — from the current fiscal budget of $6,394,886.

Taxpayers would be responsible for $928,983 of the municipal budget if this budget is approved. That is $34,339 — or 3.76% — less than last year’s local share of $965,322.

The Readfield Fire Department’s Harriman Station is seen in photo taken May 23 in Readfield Corner. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

It’s too early to say yet what the town’s 2019-2020 tax rate will be because the Rural School Unit 38 budget is not final. Readfield voters and others in the RSU 2 district are expected to vote Tuesday on that spending.

The capital improvements to the fire station and library are expected to cost $810,000. That total will include funding to cover engineering, architectural work, permitting, site development and construction, according to Dyer.

Of that cost, $235,000 would be paid from the undesignated fund balance, $25,000 from the Fire Department auxiliary and private donors, and up to $550,000 on a 15-year bond.

“It was mentioned at a Select Board meeting that approving this project would be an investment in the volunteers,” Dyer said.

Both organizations rely almost exclusively on volunteers.

The Fire Department has a force of 30 to 40 members, and most of the work at the library is done by volunteers — with the exception of a part-time librarian, who works about 24 hours a week.

The fire station project is anticipated to cost around $700,000, Dyer said.

Among the improvements would be the addition of a fourth bay, which would create a space for department equipment that’s now stored both outside and between vehicles.

Nancy Miller looks for a book to check out at the Readfield Community Library on May 22 in Readfield. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

The project also would expand the building, with space for a meeting and training area with a kitchen, which also could be used as a warming center and for other purposes. Two restrooms with showers would be added — the station has one restroom, but no showers — along with two bunk rooms to be used by fire and emergency personnel.

Winthrop Ambulance is stationed there during the day, Dyer said, and he expects there might be a need for overnight coverage as the Readfield population grows and ages.  

Constructed in 1978, the station, Readfield Fire Chief Lee Mank told the town during a budget hearing in March, has not undergone any major improvement.

At the library, the largest repair would be replacement of the roof.

The existing roof is original to the building, which is at least 100 years old, Dyer said, and the need for a new roof is pressing. The current roof does not have trusses, and the shingles need to be replaced.

Dyer said he expects the work would cause minimal interruption to library operations.

The library also would be scheduled to get an emergency exit with an outside staircase leading from the second floor to the ground. This would bring the building up to code.

If money is left over, it would be spent on strengthening the floor and undertaking cosmetic work.

Dyer said the work on the two buildings is considered a single project, in part because the buildings share the same septic system.

“(The septic) we have now is at the end of life,” he said, noting that the 20-year-old system is not meant to handle the amount of weight it bears, such as firetrucks.

Auditor Marc Roy, director of financial reporting for Berry Talbot Royer, told the Select Board during a March 18 meeting that the town has the economic resources to take on projects being considered.

This photo, taken Thursday, shows Readfield Community Library in Readfield. A new roof is among the upgrades for the building on the ballot. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

Another article on the ballot will ask voters to consider a solar project at the town’s transfer station — but only if it saves the town money.

Approval of the article would authorize municipal officers to negotiate a power purchase agreement and then install a solar collection field at the Readfield Transfer Station. The solar field would offset about 90% of the electricity used by town operations, Dyer said, including that for the transfer station, the fire station, the library and the Town Office.

The provider of the of the solar power project has yet to be determined. Two companies — Sundog Solar and Revision Energy — presented proposals to the town in March.

Two seats are open for three-year terms on the Select Board. Incumbent Kathryn Mills Woodsum and newcomers Ralph Eno Jr., Alfred Parks Sr. and Marie Rodriguez are vying for the seats.

Shawn M. Coull withdrew from the race in April, but his name will appear on the ballot. Votes for Coull will not be counted and will be treated as a blank vote.

The town also will be seeking residents to fill one seat on the RSU 38 Board of directors and three seats for one-, two- and three-year terms on the School Committee. According to the warrant, those positions will be filled by write-in candidates.

Secret-ballot voting will take place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday on the second floor of the Town Office.

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