Naples plans special town meeting

By Dawn De Busk
Staff Writer

NAPLES – It can be frustrating when an anticipated expense arises sooner than expected. Sometimes, forking out the funds for the necessary project will cost less than postponing it until later.

Such a situation can be faced with comfort when the money is available to pay the bill.

That is what the Town of Naples is dealing with – spending $80,000 to put in underground water pipes while the state has open ditches such as the one in front of the town library. If the town waits to put in the proposed fire suppression lines, the state will finish its ditch work this spring and the town will pay a ($10,000) temporary paving fee, which would allow lines to be put in later but likely at a higher cost.

The good news: The money exists and can be used for such a purpose, according to Naples Town Manager Derik Goodine.

During Tuesday’s Naples Board of Selectmen meeting, selectmen discussed the topic of putting in fire suppression pipes, and how to pay for the installation of that infrastructure.

This subject will be up for discussion again at a Special Town Meeting on April 18 at 7 p.m. in the town hall’s meeting room.

The $80,000 could come from one or two Tax-Increment Financing (TIF) funds, Goodine said.

Residents must approve the allocating of the money for this purpose. According to the language when the TIFs were developed, voters must support the use of the money, he said.

Each fiscal year, the Downtown TIF gets another $200,000 boost which would bring the balance to $584,633 on July 1, Goodine said, indicating those funds would be adequate to cover the cost of putting in the underground piping on the state’s construction schedule. By July 1, about one-third that amount will be in another TIF fund covering the Route 302/Route 11 business area, he said.

The Naples fire suppression project was “promised” $80,000 through Cumberland County Community Development Block Grant, and now the amount the town will get is up in the air, according to Goodine. If the grant money was released, the town could not spend it until it was approved at Town Meeting in June. So, that money – whatever the final number - won’t be available until July, he said.

At the beginning of the discussion, Selectman Rick Paraschak described the history of the fire suppression project. Originally, it started out with hopes to put in a pump station, an idea that was nixed because of the high cost.

Voters had already approved the cost of putting in waterlines; and town officials planned what would be affordable as the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) moved into town to construct the new, fixed bridge and revamped Causeway. But, when crews expanded ditch work, the town had a window of opportunity to put in addition fire suppression lines – from Lake House Road to the fire station, he said.

Paraschak strongly advocated for getting the pipe in. By autumn 2011, those pipes would bring water to several fire hydrants on the Causeway, he said.

Selectman Bob Caron Sr. seemed uncertain about saddling another bill on taxpayers.

“I agree with you it’s prudent to do this now. And. the pump station isn’t getting done – so that’s less money,” he said.

“Last year, Naples was on the hook for more money that we ever paid before. How are you going to do this?” Caron directed his question to the town manager.

“I am crunching numbers,” Goodine replied. He explained that money from the Route 302/Route 11 TIF could be used for project downtown, which would provide a bigger pool of money.

“So, we are not having to go out to bond for this?” Caron asked.

Goodine gave him a firm no on the bond question.

“We will do a cash payment. There won’t be a bond,” Goodine said.

Selectman Christine Powers reflected on what the town would end up with it is all said and done.

“This is really forward thinking,” she said.

“If you sit back and look at how many people it would help or benefit, it’s the best use of TIF funds,” Powers said.

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