2016-02-19 / Front Page

Port announces capital improvement plan

By Wm. Duke Harrington Staff Writer

KENNEBUNKPORT — Town Manager Laurie Smith has unveiled a five-year capital improvement plan that envisions spending $14.8 million over five years, with nearly $4 million expected to go before town meeting voters in June.

Review of the plan consumed the majority of the most recent selectmen’s meeting on Feb. 11, and while comments were few, a general consensus did appear.

“Sounds like a lot of money to me, I don’t know about you,” Selectman Allen Daggett told his peers.

“Remember, this is a plan, not a budget,” Smith said. “There are things that may not get approved as part of the fiscal year 2017 budget, but this provides an awareness of what is out there, so far as challenges, so we can hopefully stabilize the tax rate by planning accordingly and budgeting appropriately each year.”

The five-year plan does swing about a bit. While $3.97 million is on the table for the upcoming fiscal year, the plan calls for $2.35 million in capital spending for the 2018 fiscal year, followed by $5.48 million in FY 2019, $1.57 million in FY 2020 and $1.44 million in FY 2021. Additionally, there remains $17.88 million in future projects of which Smith and her various department heads are aware, but which are not due to be addressed within the next five years.

Chief among these future needs will be a project, currently estimated at $6 million, to replace 4.3 miles of sewer lines dating to 1972. A $700,000 project to replace the Cape Porpoise pier also is seen as something that may need to be done down the road, while the fire department has a $700,000 plan to overhaul the village fire station and a $1 million ladder truck replacement on its long-term wish list.

The fire department also has one of the larger spending items on the current-year CIP plan, ringing in at $440,000, to replace Engine 33.

Among $140,500 in additional equipment needs, Fire Chief Allen Moir also is requesting $50,000 to replace the oldest vehicle in his fleet, a 1974 brush truck.

“That’s just slightly newer than most of the members of the fire department, but it is a standard shift and even some of the older members don’t know how to drive a standard,” he said.

Moir also serves as the town’s wastewater superintendent, a division where “the big money will be spent this year,” according to selectboard Chairman Sheila Matthews-Bull.

However, Moir pointed out that his request – which includes $516,000 to replace the Green Street pump station, and $319,000 to replace the Chicks Creek pump station – is part of a $1.7 million bond package residents will be asked to vote on. As such, those payments will not hit the tax rate until future fiscal years, he said.

“If we get permission at town meeting in June, we’re looking at a design phase and then not actually going out to bid until 2018, maybe,” Moir said. “So, it’s not all going to happen next year, but we’ve got to have that money [approved] to do it.”

Even so, selectmen seemed a little leery of the total wastewater bill.

“That is a big nugget,” Selectman Ed Hutchins said “Is there anything that can slide, or be delayed for one year?”

“We’re actually trying to scale back some of the things we wanted to do for this year,” Moir said, while Smith suggested now may be the time to go out for a bond, given a predicted 1 percent interest rate.

Meanwhile, the only person who seemed truly happy with the wastewater budget was Parks and Recreation director Carol Cook, whose total request came to $70,000.

“It’s always good to follow wastewater. It makes me look good,” she joked.

However, it quickly became clear that Cook has a project – the replacement of the parks office building – that will quickly exceed the $50,000 currently budgeted.

Cook’s department is currently housed in a portable classroom kept in the parking lot of Kennebunk Consolidated School. Because the recreation department was not able to get space inside the school building as part of an upcoming renovation, the plan is to decamp to a spot across the road, near the current concessions stand.

However, town Planning Director Werner Gilliam said an inspection of the portable building, which currently sits on rotted support and is visibly leaning to one side, revealed about $80,000 in needs to bring it up to code, including adding a bathroom.

“It’s an old building. There are some maintenance items that would need to be taken care of,” Gilliam said. “Once we started looking at the building and adding everything up, we very quickly came to a pretty significant number. There are cracks in the walls and, I’m sure, some hidden damage that we can’t see.”

However, the $80,000 figure does not include repairing the roof, replacing windows, adding a kitchen if the current concession stand is removed or actually moving the building from where it sits now.

Gilliam estimated it would cost $120,000 to place a new modular building in Parsons Field to house the rec department, although that figure did not include laying a foundation or other site work, or demo costs on the old portable classroom.

Selectmen did not offer an opinion during the CIP presentation on whether they favored moving and rehabbing the portable classroom, building something new or some other option. Still, Matthews Bull was clear on one thing: Cook’s budget will need to be bumped up, if not this year, then soon.

“We’ve got to start saving,” she said. “You’ve got to put more [money] in there.”

“Oh, so I don’t look quite so good now,” Cook said.

Among some of the other CIP requests for the coming budget is a $100,000 line item to set funds aside in preparation for a future renovation to the town office building. Smith said the plan is to expand the office into the old fire barn, to expand secured storage space for town documents and to create a “small conference room.” An architect’s estimate prepared last year pegged that project at $400,000, she said.

Meanwhile, Gilliam is asking for $30,000 for a “document management system” to digitize planning department records.

“We’re realizing that just adding more filing cabinets to the space that we have isn’t necessarily the answer,” he said.

The planning department also would like $15,000 to buy a used four-wheel drive vehicle.

“We end up on a lot of roads and private drives that are not as well kept as our public roads, and we often end up using our own personal four-wheel drive vehicles to make those inspections,” Gilliam said.

Among police department requests, Chief Craig Sanford has asked for $50,000 to furnish the new station, along with $25,000 to replace his 2011 cruiser and $30,000 to replace a 2013 patrol vehicle.

Although put off until the 2018 budget year, Sanford said his department also will need about $100,000 to update its emergency dispatch equipment.

“The dispatch consoles we have are very old and the state is transferring to digital. So, in the coming years, it’s going to be tough for us to do business,” he said. “We’re going to have to do some upgrades to the heating and ventilation systems in the future, because the existing system is being taxed and overtaxed with the additions that have been put on.”

Finally, the public works department submitted one of the biggest spending requests, at nearly $1 million. Director Michael Claus has asked for $160,000 to replace the town’s 2000 model year street sweeper.

“I looked at used sweeper, but we haven’t found anything that really works well for what us,” Claus said, saying he concluded a new unit is the way to go.

Road repair will top $557,600, Claus said, with work on Mills Road and North Street, as well as finishing work already started on Goose Rocks Road, listed as “the big projects.” Another $160,000 is set aside for sidewalk repair and construction, while, in a separate line item, Smith said $11,500 would be spent to expand sidewalks around the Benoits block in Dock Square.

However, Claus noted that some of his CIP request includes money needed as a local match for previous state grants, as well as money place-holders for future grants.

“This figure is a little bigger than what we’ll actually spend in tax dollars,” he said. “And this is not going to get spent in just this fiscal year.”

And finally, on the topic of future fiscal years, Smith and Claus have penciled in $800,000 as part of the 2018 CIP budget to rebuild Pier Road, and another $2.7 million for FY 2019 to build up Ocean Avenue, work that is slated to include $1.3 million in sewer line and water main replacements.

Both projects, Smith said, are driven by new floodzone maps which account for rising sea levels. Of course, as Daggett noted, locals don’t need FEMA maps to know the area is prone to flooding. The only question is to what degree the issue needs to be addressed.

“It floods out 6 to 12 inches there six times a year, maybe,” he said. “But you can still cross it in a pickup truck and it doesn’t appear to be doing too much damage.”

“The concern is that someday it might wash out,” Smith said. “I think those [projects] can be put off, but those [budget numbers] were put in there in case you want to go forward with those. It’s a matter of how we want to address rising waters. The question is, when is the right time to do it?”

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

Return to top