SOMERVILLE — Among the seven articles facing residents at Saturday’s special Town Meeting, one could save Somerville more than $30,000.

Residents may decide to refinance a 10-year, $800,000 bond taken out to do road construction in 2017. The draft warrant states that there is $562,849.14 remaining on the bond, based on a 3.2% interest rate. The Select Board is proposing to refinance the balance through the Maine Municipal Bond Bank or a loan with a commercial bank, depending on which option is more favorable. The warrant article states that the Maine Municipal Bond Bank is projecting a 1.15% interest rate that gradually increases to 1.43% during the seven years remaining on the bond, which would result in a $32,600 reduction in the bond’s total cost over seven years.

First Selectman Chris Johnson said the article came from Somerville officials “looking for ways to save the town money.”

Residents will also decide whether to enact a draft marijuana business ordinance, written by the town’s Cannabis Committee. Per the draft, a total of four retail marijuana businesses will be allowed in Somerville, two adult-use and two medical. According to the ordinance, town residents will be given preference on the licenses then, if two candidates are vying for one license, a merit-based scoring guide will be used to rank the applications.

All applications require a $500 fee. Annual retail store license fees, adult-use or medical, are listed at $2,500. Annual manufacturing and testing facilities license fees are $1,500, plus any fire and code enforcement inspection fees. Annual licensing fees for adult-use cultivation facilities range from $1,000 to $3,000 based on how many square feet of plant canopy is being grown, while medical marijuana cultivation requires a $250 fee plus inspection fees.

Johnson said one resident told town officials that those fees may be too high, but a public hearing at a meeting of the town’s Planning Board was only attended by members of the Cannabis Committee. Johnson said last month that ordinance looks “pretty good,”


“I really don’t have any feelings one way or the other,” he said of the ordinance. “I don’t have a read on what the town’s response will be.”

Another article could authorize the Select Board to apply for a United States Department of Agriculture grant to bring a broadband internet network to all of the town’s residents. The cost of the network would be funded through that grant, a matching grant from the state’s ConnectMaine Authority, other grants and a loan paid back using revenue from people paying for internet service through the town-owned network. The warrant article states that town officials are “not planning on any property taxes” being used to fund network construction or operation.

The article states the town will contract with a private partner to maintain and operate the network, receiving a portion of the revenues. Those revenues could be used to pay debt service from the construction, held in reserve to improve the network in the future or subsidize the service for qualified residents.

Residents will also decide on a citizen’s petition article that could result in the town’s road commissioner position becoming elected. Town residents told the Kennebec Journal that the petition was sparked by turmoil between residents and town officials over subpar road work in the town done with funds from an $800,000 bond.

Johnson said the petition is a straw poll asking what people prefer. Recognizing the petition’s intent to call for action, however, the select board created a subsequent warrant article to be read if the citizen’s petition passes to change the road commissioner position to a one-year, elected term, beginning in June.

The final article will be to authorize the town’s Select Board to enter into a Power Purchase Agreement with Sundog Solar if it will save the town money on electricity costs. This is in relation to a proposed solar field being constructed by Regional School Unit 12.

The meeting will take place Monday at 9 a.m. at Somerville Elementary School.

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