2016-01-29 / Front Page

Push made for sewer project vote

By Wm. Duke Harrington Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — Some attendees at a Jan. 7 joint meeting of officials from RSU 21 and its member towns were somewhat taken aback by a presentation made by the Kennebunk Sewer District.

It’s been known for some time that the district is planning a $20 million upgrade of the sewer treatment plant – a project that has been estimated at a $380 annual hit to user fees for the average KSD customer. In addition to a need to modernize the plant, district manager Mike Bolduc has said fewer than 250 new customers will max out capacity of the existing system.

But what really took some officials off guard at the Jan. 7 session was an announcement that KSD “may or may not” go to voters for approval of the bond needed to do that work.

That prompted Kennebunk school board member Lionel Menard to attend the regular selectmen’s meeting Jan. 12, at which he asked the board to press KSD trustees for a public vote.

“I question whether the expansion is really needed in regards to the growth of the town, he said, “But it just seems like that much money, given the fact that it’s going to impact everyone, should be voted on.”

“The look on your face was priceless when he said we may or may not vote on it,” said Kevin Donovan, chairman of the selectmen, drawing a laugh.

“Frankly, up until that point, my attitude was, well, it’s people on the sewer system, it’s their problem,” Donovan said. “But, as was pointed out that night, it will affect the school budget, as well as town hall services, municipal buildings and everything else. So even though I am not on that system, I will in fact end up, in a roundabout way, paying for part of that system.”

And just as non-customers of KSD will pay in a roundabout way, by virtue of supporting sewer bills to the school and town, those who are on the sewer system will pay that plus their own bills.

“It basically means some people are going to get hit twice,” Menard said.

Although the board made no promises, Donovan, at least, expressed support for demanding a public vote.

“I have no problem with that suggestion. I think it’s a good one,” he said. “I think it’s something we should look at seriously.”

Staff Writer Wm. Duke Harrington can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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