BAR HARBOR — Renters, campers and summer workers without access to a washer and dryer at home may be out of luck later this year when the town’s only coin-operated laundry closes.
Laundry customers had two options until recently, one at 32 Holland Avenue and another at 6 Pleasant St. behind the former Main Street Market.
The Pleasant Street business closed in late May when Bar Harbor Bank & Trust foreclosed on the property along with the 317 Main St. parcel that includes a diner and former gas station. A foreclosure auction is set for July 16. The bank has honored the leases of Amigo’s restaurant and the Coffee Cup diner, as well as residential tenants in the attached apartments. Before the foreclosure, diner owner William Hanscom operated in tandem with Main Street Marke, operated by owner Doug Smith.
The Holland Avenue laundry has 15 washers and 12 dryers, down from previous years. Bar Harbor Auto added an office in part of the old laundry space earlier this year. Scott Beaudreault bought the businesses in 2014 from longtime owner Joe Paluga.
Bar Harbor Auto foreman Will Rich confirmed Monday that Beaudreault plans to close the laundry later this year. “He’s not even breaking even,” he said.
Town sewer rates rose 4.7 percent in fiscal year 2015, the largest increase since 2011 when they went up 5.1 percent. Annual increases in the intervening years averaged less than one percent. A 2.6 percent increase is proposed for the FY 2106 sewer budget.
“Sewer bills are always much higher than water bills,” town Finance Director Stan Harmon said. “The way it’s calculated is no different whether you’re a business or a residence.” Sewer usage is presumed equal to water usage unless you have a meter to show what’s not going down the drain, like some hotels do for their lawns, he said. An additional capital charge is calculated on summer and fall usage.
Many years ago, a laundry owner successfully petitioned the sewer rate committee for a slight break on their sewer bill, Harmon said, based on a fraction of water evaporated in the dryers. That exemption was eliminated in 1998 when the town built a new sewer plant.
Water and electricity are other major costs for laundry operators. Water rates are set to rise 18 percent next year, pending a Maine Public Utilities Commission rate case.
“There are steps in the water rates,” Harmon said, “so that the more you use the less you pay per cubic foot. There is a slight break there for the high users.”
On Mount Desert Island, there is a small laundromat in Northeast Harbor and two in Southwest Harbor. All three are about a 20-minute drive from Bar Harbor.