Casco to borrow money for town hall

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — The new Casco Town Hall and the $600,000 loan to cover the cost of making the building a reality were approved at the Town Meeting last year.

The next step to move forward with town hall plans this spring is to borrow the money from the bank.

Simple enough.

But, with the possible passage of the $2.5 million bond at the upcoming Town Meeting, the town is considering the benefits of taking out a Bond Anticipation Note (BAN).

According to Casco Town Manager Dave Morton, if the residents approve the infrastructure bond, the interest payments will be less if that bond is combined with the town hall bond.

The $2.5 million infrastructure bond, which will be a warrant article at Town Meeting on June 15, would allow the town to complete a couple road-rebuilding projects. Those top-listed are: Edwards Road and Johnson Hill Road. The proposed bond would also cover the cost of replacing the Pleasant Lake/Thompson Pond dam.

“Both the bank and legal counsel have advised that we would get a better rate if we combine it as one loan,” Morton said.

“I would recommend a BAN so that we could move forward with the town office project,” he said.

On Tuesday, the Casco Board of Selectmen voted in favor of the town manager pursuing more information about the BAN. The vote was 4–0; Selectman Grant Plummer was absent.

According to Morton, the $600,000 for the town hall project is too small a monetary amount to bond by itself.

“If the taxpayers decide they don’t want to do the (infrastructure) bond. We can use a five- to seven-year note,” Morton said.

“The BAN is two or three percentage points above what you have for a longer term note,” he said.

“We have to borrow (money) anyway. The interest rate we would be paying anyway,” he said.

The other solution is to delay the town project and wait until the fall — after the Town Meeting, he said.

After years of bouncing around the idea of different sites for the new town office, waiting longer was not a preference for the Casco board.

Selectman Calvin Nutting asked if the town hall project was ready to move to the next stages.

Morton answered that the site plan went before the Casco Planning Board this month, and is on the agenda for April 11.

“We are waiting for the architect who is trying to nail down the construction, carpentry element” of the project, he said.

“We are going back to site contractors to get sharper numbers,” he said.

Morton commended Bob Tooker, the part-time administrative secretary to the town manager and code enforcement officer, for his part in keeping the momentum going.

“Bob has done a great job of pulling everything together. He has been incredible asset through this project,” Morton said.

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