Solar farm up for vote



BAR HARBOR — A proposed community solar farm (CSF) project, budgets and bond issues will be on the warrant when residents gather at annual town meeting here on Tuesday, June 2.

One week later, on June 9, voting will be held at the municipal building for open town council and school board seats, on the Land Use Ordinance repeal and replacement, and on two citizens’ initiatives affecting where utility installations may be located.

Article T on the open meeting warrant next week would authorize the Town Council to lease town land and roofs for the purpose of siting community solar farms and to enter into power purchase agreements to provide power to the municipality.

A 45-kilowatt solar array at the town’s new public works complex off Crooked Road has been proposed, but Article T is not tied to that specific project. Town councilors currently may enter into leases of up to 15 years without town approval. A lease of 30 years or more may be necessary for these projects, and such a lease would be covered by the warrant article.

The CSF model is designed by ReVision Energy and is made possible by Maine’s virtual net metering legislation. Under the state’s rules, utilities must allow renewable energy generated at one site to offset usage at another site. Up to 10 individuals including the site owner can share ownership of the project.

The $20.3 million total projected expenditures include the municipal budget, assessments from Mount Desert Island High School and Hancock County government and the Connors Emerson School budget.

The town’s projected assessment for Mount Desert Island High School is $2.9 million, down slightly from initial estimates. The elementary school budget is $5.7 million.

The municipal portion of the proposed budget for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, which begins July 1, comes to $11 million.

If the total budget is approved as presented, it would generate an estimated 4.5 percent hike in property taxes. That would equal a yearly increase of $135 in property taxes on a home valued at $295,000, the median home value in Bar Harbor.

A $400,000 bond issue to repair the brick exterior of the historic fire station downtown also will come before voters at the meeting.

Another proposed bond, for $1.7 million, would fund replacement of water mains underneath Route 3 when a four-mile section of the state highway is rebuilt in 2016. Town taxpayers already have appropriated $540,000 for their share of the Route 3 project, which is expected to cost approximately $18 million.

Both bonds would carry an interest rate of 3.75 percent over 20 years.

Capital improvements in the budget include a map plotter in the Assessing Department and a front end loader and a light truck for the Highway Department.

The open town meeting on June 2 is slated for 7 p.m. in the Emerson School gymnasium.

On June 9, polls will be open at the municipal building from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

 

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Managing Editor at Mount Desert Islander
Liz Graves is managing editor of the Islander. She's a California native who came to Maine as a schooner sailor.lgraves@mdislander.com

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