There were no real surprises at the August 26 Stonington Selectmen’s meeting—except that excise tax revenue is up, contrary to expectations. Last year the town collected $204,903 in excise tax; right now, with about 75 percent of the tax money in, it looks as if it will top that number by a little. As she distributed an interim budget, Town Manager Kathleen Billings-Pezaris said that the town is in “good shape.”
A couple of weeks of dry, sunny weather may have visitors cheering and gardeners bemoaning the need to water or give up, but the selectmen are already focused on the coming winter.
The Farmer’s Almanac just came out, and its prediction of a colder and snowier winter was alluded to, but preparations for winter had already begun with the ordering of a new snow plow which will be ready soon.
Meanwhile, the town is stocking up on sand and salt, purchasing 1,500 cubic yards of sand to add to the amount already there. According to Billings-Pezaris the salt pile is “way down,” and she plans to purchase 350 tons, which is 50 cents cheaper than last year’s $57.56 a ton.
Billings-Pezaris presented the state’s contract for plowing Route 15 in Stonington, and said at $11,399 for the year, the town loses money on it. She said it was unlikely the state could hire someone to do it for that price. She added that “of course we do 15A for nothing,” but the selectmen agreed to sign the contract, since the alternative, having someone else do it, would not guarantee the timeliness or quality of the work.
Moving on from snow to hurricanes, Selectman Evelyn Duncan, who also serves on the Stonington Sanitary District Board, said that work replacing the line serving the Hagan Dock, from the stonecutter statue down to the end, which includes the Fisherman’s Friend, the firehouse and Penobscot East Resource Center, has to be done this fall, and that she would like to see it done before the floats are pulled out of the water and piled on the dock. The line is deteriorated and clogged.
Quotes will be solicited from Andrew McCullough, who did the work on the Moose Island Causeway, and also Olver Associates, at the suggestion of the selectmen.
Selectman Richard Larrabee said that the floats will have to come out, regardless of the fact that once stacked on the dock they cover the area to be dug up for the sanitary district line, if a hurricane is forecast. Duncan agreed, and the plan is to do the work as soon as the summer pressure on the dock ends, but before the hurricane season gets going.
Bids are going out for fuel sales on the fish pier and plowing.
Derek Crocker has been hired as the new Animal Control Officer.
In a Water Company meeting which preceded the selectmen’s meeting, operator Ben Pitts went through a litany of repairs and replacements being made.
The water company is pumping about 50,000 gallons a day, but usage, at 55,000 gallons a day is exceeding that, and the standpipe is down to 25 feet.
Once the summer residents who are water company customers leave, the pressure on the water supply will lessen, but that does not solve the underlying problem—leaks.
Although the water company constantly checks for leaks, it is still losing about 6,000 gallons a day, said Water Company Board member and Selectman Evelyn Duncan.
Duncan also said the water company will be out of money by October 1, so they will have to get a loan. Billings-Pezaris said the town could lend them money, but it would have to be approved at a public meeting. The other option, of going to a bank, has been discussed before.
Pitts said Frank Hegarty will be in Stonington on August 27 to assist in repairing or replacing a pump at the 205 well, which has not been producing the 20 gallons a minute it was expected to, but is down to five or six gpm. It has been running 18 hours a day, increased from 12, and the pump gave out.
Aside from a request to purchase a 10 hp pump, which was approved, and a request to purchase a furnace for the pump house, which the selectmen wanted time to consider the choices, there were no requests for expenditures.
There are still grant applications pending, as well as a new rate schedule, to be presented at the September 9 meeting.