Freedom residents talk trash, dam repairs at annual town meeting
Freedom — A few dozen Freedom residents gathered on a frigid March 11 morning to discuss town-run trash and recycling pickup, improvements to Sandy Pond Dam, funding for service organizations and work that has been done to revamp the post office.
Last fall, residents signed off on town officials purchasing a compactor, truck and recyclables trailer in order for the town to handle its own trash and recycling pickup. The move is expected to save money, Selectman Stephen Bennett said, as well as providing a better service.
The town was contracting with Troy-based Sullivan's Waste for weekly curbside trash pickup, while recyclables were picked up on a monthly basis, according to published reports. That contract expired in January and the town has been handling its own trash and recycling services since then.
Bennett noted officials are anticipating increased savings in next year's budget, which will more accurately reflect what the town is spending to collect and haul its own trash and recyclables, because this year's budget included a final payment to Sullivan's.
“We're gonna save some money here,” Bennett said regarding town-run trash service.
Sandy Pond Dam
In 2015, the town approved spending $25,000 and the remaining balance from a private contribution to repair Sandy Pond Dam and make safer a footpath that runs across the top of it. That work has been completed but additional improvements are still needed, town officials said, including placing larger rocks on the downstream side to prevent erosion at the base of the dam.
While discussing spending money in the Sandy Pond Dam fund, which has a balance of $1,506.43, a resident questioned whether it's wise to spend the money because that work, as noted above, needs to be completed.
Town officials, however, said the money could help pay for that work. Whether it's enough is questionable, Selectman Ron Price said, because it will be difficult for a contractor to place the rocks. However, he suggested the town's Public Works Department possibly could handle the job.
Residents approved spending money in the Sandy Pond Dam fund for the walking trail and other improvements.
Service organization contributions
Residents approved contributing $13,279 to numerous service organizations but not before questions were raised as to why the town isn't giving money to Unity College Library, and why it reduced its contribution to Waldo Community Action Partners.
As to the former, selectmen said the town received a letter from the library stating it did not want a contribution this year. Residents in town will still be able to access the facility, Selectman Brian Jones said.
Waldo Community Action Partners received $3,904 from the town last year, but requested only $3,329 this year, Jones said, so that's the amount the town recommended.
Residents also discussed work that's been completed at the post office and what additional improvements town officials are planning to make. Bennett said the town has replaced asbestos tiling with new flooring and also replaced some lighting. In the future, he said the town is also looking at running a new furnace line, which he anticipated would be a relatively minor expense, and possibly replacing existing fluorescent lights with LEDs.
While the town owns the post office building, it leases the space to United States Postal Service. Under terms of that lease, the town is responsible for maintenance and repairs while USPS pays for electricity, heat and snow removal.
Currently, Bennett said the town is charging USPS about 60 cents per square foot to lease the building, and he thinks the town should increase that amount to $1 per square foot.
Residents approved raising and appropriating $5,000 for maintenance and repairs for the post office, as well as a request to create a designated fund for the building.
The meeting adjourned shortly before noon and town officials pointed out that residents should see a decrease in their taxes based on the town's portion of the budget.
In addition to the usual town meeting business, local and state officials recognized Sallyann Hadyniak, who serves on multiple town boards and committees, for her volunteer work.
Bennett presented Hadyniak the Spirit of America award, while Senate President Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport, gave her a legislative sentiment for her community service.
“She epitomizes the spirit of volunteerism,” Bennett said during the presentation.
Brian Jones was re-elected to a three-year term as a selectman.
Cynthia Abbott, Freedom's longtime town clerk, tax collector, excise tax collector and registrar of voters was also re-elected, as was treasurer Ernestine (Erna) Keller.