Questions Fryeburg voters face at the polls Tuesday

FRYEBURG — Voters will face several choices when they go to the polls on Tuesday, June 11, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the American Legion Hall.

They will decide:

Who will be their representatives? Fryeburg has contested races for a seat on the Board of Selectmen, as well as the SAD 72 School Board.

Incumbent Richard Eastman is being challenged for a three-year seat by former selectman Cliff Hall.

For SAD 72 school director, the race is between incumbent Anne Trumbull along with Cindy Alden and Christopher Mattei for two three-year seats.

Who will enforce the law? Residents will express their view as to whether to keep the Fryeburg Police Department or disband the local law enforcement agency in favor of Oxford County Sheriff’s Department coverage.

The question was posed as the result of a citizens’ petition. At a public hearing on the issue, many residents voiced support to keep law enforcement control “local” by retaining FPD.

There would be some cost savings by switching to the county. To keep similar coverage, the town would likely opt to a five-man plan. Sheriff Wayne Gallant said current FPD officers could join his department, if they met entry criteria. By hiring local officers, a concern regarding having “familiar” faces on patrol in Fryeburg would be eased, Sheriff Gallant said.

The warrant contains two articles, one asking whether to disband the FPD. If the article is approved, then voters would be asked to raise money for the sheriff’s department.

Will the Fryeburg Water District remain “active” or become “inactive?” Eight years ago, the Fryeburg Water District was formed by a vote of the customers of the Fryeburg Water Company for the primary purpose of having in place a “legal structure,” which could purchase the Fryeburg Water Company if its private owners decided to sell.

While the Water District has trustees, it has no authority or responsibility over the Fryeburg Water Company or the use of water in Fryeburg — that is the total responsibility of the Maine Public Utilities Commission, according to longtime trustee Dick Krasker.

To keep the district “active,” Krasker says it costs about $1,000 each year to pay for elections, advertising for the election and annual meeting, membership dues for Maine Rural Waters and other “housekeeping” costs.

Those funds have been donated, sometimes by trustees themselves. With the town and other organizations losing revenues due to the tight economy, Krasker believes the $1,0000 could be put to better use, rather than on a board that ultimately “is occupying a seat.”

“We appreciate the generosity of the residents of our community, but feel a $1,000 a year expense for something that has no function is not a good use of funds,” Krasker said. “Better that the funds be aimed at fuel assistance, the food bank, rescue, after school education and a host of other far more pressing community issues.”

At this time and into the “foreseeable” future, the Fryeburg Water Company is not for sale, according to Hugh Hastings II, representing the private stockholders. Hastings made this intention known to the Water District in a letter on April 30, 2013.

So, Krasker supports placing the Water District in an “inactive” state. Residents will cast a non-binding vote for either “active” or “inactive,” which will give the Water District Board direction on how to proceed.

Krasker emphasized that “inactive” does not mean the Water District would be eliminated. While a bill would be submitted to the Maine Legislature to legally enter the inactive state, residents could simply seek a reversal, at any time, to make the district “active” once more if the Water Company were to be placed up for sale.

“An inactive status preserves the District for when it is needed, but doing so at no cost,” Krasker added.

Outgoing Water District trustee Scott Montgomery hopes voters will keep the district active.

“I strongly urge voters to keep the district active. The State of Maine gave the people of Fryeburg a huge gift by creating the district. It gives authorities and responsibilities that can be great tools for the people who live here. It can and has done things that can benefit the town. Its sole purpose is looking after the water and district inhabitants’ concerns. Given the recent water issues in town and the simple fact water is so precious, it seems logical to want to keep this tool handy,” Montgomery wrote in a letter to the editor, which appears in this week’s edition. “The district has not had to pay any money to have the district active and with a little effort that can continue. The expense, time, effort and learning have been done and everything is in place. If the district goes inactive and sometime in the future the people want to bring it back, all the setup has to be done again. In effect, it will have to start over again and it would take many months and dollars to get it going again.”

 

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