Board to name district trustees



SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Selectmen are to consider six applicants for two open positions on the Board of Trustees of the newly formed Southwest Harbor Water and Sewer District in executive session during their meeting Tuesday night.

One of the seats on the three-member board is held by Town Manager Don Lagrange.

On Monday, Lagrange said he expects to ask selectmen to appoint the remaining trustees when they come out of executive session. If selectmen fail to do so, the next opportunity to fill the seats would be their Dec. 8 meeting, Lagrange said.

At the polls earlier this month, voters 291-158 adopted the charter for the district under which all operations, assets and liabilities of the town’s water and sewer departments shift to the district. Once the two remaining seats are filled, the district officially begins business, Lagrange said.

One of the first items of business is for employees of the water and sewer departments to be sent notice that they no longer have jobs with those utilities. These employees can then apply for positions with the district and will be given priority, town officials have said.

“It’s going to happen soon,” Lagrange said.

Transfer of the assets and liabilities will take much longer due to the legal processes needed to make that happen, Lagrange said.

In public hearings prior to the vote, town officials maintained that a water and sewer district would lead to efficiencies that will get the costs of running the water and sewer departments under control and better address issues with the aging infrastructures of the two departments. This would come about through the oversight of the district by a three-member board of trustees and a superintendent. Still, the plan was not without critics, many of whom said they failed to see exactly how the district would achieve these efficiencies.

Another sticking point, one that resurfaced a week after the vote, was that under the charter, the town manager is one of the three trustees. This arrangement could lead to conflicts of interest because the town manager is acting on behalf of the town and on behalf of the district, these opponents claimed. Their protests at a Nov. 10 selectmen’s meeting led to Lagrange calling for amending the charter to eliminate the town manager from being a trustee.

At that meeting, selectmen voted 3-1 to amend the charter. Like with the original document, any changes must first be approved by the Legislature and then by voters in the town. Until then, Lagrange remains a trustee.

 

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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