Don Lagrange, Southwest Harbor town manager. Lagrange testified in Augusta recently that an increase is needed in the number of trustees of the Southwest Harbor Water and Sewer District. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Utility charter change goes to the Legislature

AUGUSTA — The full Legislature is to consider an amendment to the charter for the Southwest Harbor Water and Sewer District that would increase the number of trustees from three to five.

A legislative subcommittee voted unanimously Feb. 14 to send the amended charter on to the full Legislature, according to Southwest Harbor Town Manager Don Lagrange, who also is one of the three trustees.

Lagrange was in Augusta to testify before the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology about the proposed amendment.

The water and sewer district took over operations of the town’s water and sewer departments on Jan. 1, 2016.

After about a year of operation, said Lagrange during his testimony, “it has become clear that the number of trustees for the district needs to be increased.”

Five trustees would “provide greater community representation” in the operation of the district and relieve some of the administrative burdens now carried by the three current trustees, Lagrange said.

“A larger board composition will ensure that a quorum exists for district meetings and provide greater flexibility in the sharing of workloads,” Lagrange told the subcommittee.

Southwest Harbor resident Jim Snow also testified last week. Snow has been a critic of having the town manager as one of the trustees, speaking out on the issue both before the charter went into effect and after. He reiterated many of his statements before the subcommittee.

Snow claims that because the town and district are separate entities with varying interests, there is a conflict of interest with the town manager serving as trustee.

Lagrange is not a resident of Southwest Harbor. Along with calling for the amendment to eliminate the town manager as trustee, Snow told the subcommittee that language should be included to require that trustees be residents.

Snow’s suggestions were not incorporated into the proposal to amend the charter going before the full Legislature. Lagrange said he expects a vote in “a month or two.”

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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