Sewer Rates May Go Up This Month

Town Council Will Discuss Pat’s Pizza, Potential Flavored Tobacco Ban, MLK Day March, and New 50K Grant for Municipal Building

BAR HARBOR—At its January 3 meeting the Bar Harbor Town Council may authorize the town manager to sign a $50,000 Community Action Grant at its next meeting as well as approve the use of several downtown streets for a Martin Luther King Day March, January 16. The council could also approve a rate hike for town sewer users.

WATER AND SEWER BUDGET ORDINANCE AMENDMENTS

The council may or may not adopt the budgets for both departments.

Sutherland wrote, “On June 21st of 2022, the Council approved a Continuing Resolution for the Water budget. This provided staff the time needed to develop a budget for your approval. The FY23 budget was introduced at the Dec. 6 meeting. Here is a link to the water budgets including the proposed budget for FY23. You may wish to bring your water budget book to this meeting.”

The water budget does not have a rate increase for the remainder of fiscal year 2023 because the town would use some of this year’s savings to cover operating expenses. Sutherland said that the town has started the approval process with the Public Utilities Commission for rate increase approvals in the next fiscal year (2024). Capital improvement projects will occur that year.

The sewer budget does have a rate increase of 18%, which would occur for January through June of 2023.

“What does this mean for the home owner? The residential minimum would go from $48 to $56 for the last two quarters of the fiscal year. This anticipates expenses related to operating and treatment including an interest payment related to the infrastructure bond,” Sutherland wrote.

DIVER ED

Ed Monet is up for an appointment for the town’s Harbor Committee. The Appointments Committee (Councilors Matt Hochman, Jill Goldthwait, with Jeff Dobbs excused) unanimously appointed the former harbormaster and man known to many as Diver Ed to the committee. The Town Council will approve or not approve the nomination.

MARCH

Kendra Rand on behalf of the MDI High School Civil Rights Team is asking for the use of High, Cottage, Main and Mount Desert Streets for a Martin Luther King Day March, January 16.

The march is expected to begin at the Village Green, proceed down Mount Desert Street to High Street, then go right onto Cottage Street, right onto Main and then terminate on the Village Green or the MDI YWCA.

In his packet, Town Manager Kevin Sutherland said that the police department supports the temporary closing of the streets and does not need to use additional staff to do so.

$50,000 GRANT

The Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future has granted the town a Community Resilience Grant for $50,000 to support local climate action efforts. The grant is meant to improve the Municipal Building’s energy efficiency and electrify it. The town’s Sustainability Coordinator Laura Berry would implement the grant. The 1911 building was once a school and a courthouse. It currently uses a 22-year-old Weil-McLain model 578 boiler and a 2020 Crown model FW-6 hot water boiler. The Crown was a replacement after an 18-year-old Weil-McLain hot water boiler failed to work. The current system burns #2 heating oil to heat the building.

The project seeks to transition the building into a cleaner heating and cooling system as well as increase public awareness of climate change impacts and opportunities.

The application states, “Through combining energy auditing, community engagement, and building electrification and efficiency upgrades, this project seeks to publicly demonstrate the climate and cost-savings benefits of beneficial electrification to Bar Harbor residents and business owners, as well as the millions of visitors our community receives each year, through leading by example and fully electrifying the Bar Harbor Municipal Building – the most visited publicly owned building in our community.”

The project includes an energy audit and would replace the current heating system with an electric alternative.

project timeline via application via Manager’s Notes to Council

PAT’S PIZZA

Pat’s Pizza will return to the Town Council as it asks for a special amusement permit for three or more musicians with mechanical amplification and dancing. Jason Fowler has submitted the application. The item also appeared at the December 20 agenda but the letters sent to abutters notifying them about the public hearing did not have the proper address for Pat’s, which is located at 6 Pleasant Street in the downtown transitional zone, which means some of its abutters are residents. The town has resent the letters to abutters with the proper address.

One of those abutters spoke at the December 20 meeting against the project, saying that mechanical amplification would impact the peace and enjoyment of his Edgewood Street home.

About an hour before that December meeting, the council received a letter from Diwas Thapa, the property’s landlord saying that he wasn’t aware of the application and that there are five apartments in the same building as Pat’s. Some are year-round residents. Some are vacation rentals.

“I am fairly confident that they don’t have knowledge of this application either. I do not know the details of this plan and how loud it will be,” Thapa wrote.

He added that the building’s lease does not allow for loud noises.

OTTER CREEK UPDATE

Marine Resources Committee Chair Chris Petersen will update the council about the cove that is partially in Bar Harbor and partially in Mount Desert and Acadia National Park.

FLAVORED TOBACCO ORDINANCE

Former President and CEO of MDI Hospital, Arthur Blank has requested time to speak about a potential ordinance banning flavored tobacco.

Sutherland wrote, “Should the Council wish to further explore this, I would want to make sure everyone is properly notified once the ordinance is drafted and has a chance to weigh in.”

In October 2021, Bangor had enacted an ordinance which banned flavored tobacco products, but then had to repeal it in April 2022 because it didn’t give tobacco retailers a 30-day notification that the ban was occurring. Portland and Brunswick also have similar ordinances. Maine L.D. 1550 was tabled by the Maine Legislature in 2021. That would have created a statewide ban.

Blank sent councilors material from Flavors Hook Kids Maine, which said that four out of five kids who have used tobacco started with a flavored product (a 2013-2014 study) and that one in five Maine high school students are “current using a tobacco product.” That data is from a 2021 study.


MORE DETAILS

The meeting begins at 6:30. P.M. in Council Chambers at the Bar Harbor Municipal Building. It may also be livestreamed or watched on Spectrum channel 7. Near the beginning of the meeting, members of the public can talk for up to 3 minutes on items not in litigation or on that night’s agenda.

To download or view the agenda, the full manager’s memo, and council packet, click here.


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