BELFAST — The City Council on Nov. 15 tabled a request from Airport Manager Kenneth Ortmann to retain the services of an engineer to assist in implementing a plan for construction of new hangars at the airport. Ortmann has said building new hangars could significantly increase city revenues from airport operations.

The airport manager originally presented a plan to the council that would authorize an agreement with civil engineer Thomas Fowler of Belfast for up to $5,200. The plan would task Fowler with: researching and educating airport staff and the Belfast Airport Advisory Committee about the science and assumptions underlying existing phosphorus rules and regulations on land use and development; evaluating pros and cons of possible approaches/strategies to address the problem; initiating and holding meetings; and assisting in implementing the chosen plan of action.

Ortmann said Maine Department of Environmental Protection has set limitations related to phosphorus in nearby watersheds. City Code and Planning Director Bub Fournier said phosphorus contamination of watersheds is an issue the airport and other nearby developments have to deal with. He said it would be nice to know where the developers stand with respect to state regulations and how the airport and nearby developments are affected.

City Manager Erin Herbig said due to the nature of the phosphorus issue, she felt the city should take a more modest approach. She suggested perhaps contracting with Fowler to perform just the first step of the five proposed; i.e., researching the underlying phosphorus rules and regulations. Herbig also suggested a cap of $3,500 for the cost of such work.

Council member Neal Harkness proposed tabling the discussion and asking Fowler to provide the city a cost estimate for performing the first step of the four originally proposed, and the other councilors agreed to that approach.

Council approves bond issuance

The council also approved the issuance of general obligation bonds in the amount of $3,245,000 for the purpose of financing the acquisition, design, construction, renovation, rehabilitation, upgrading and equipping of improvements to the wastewater collection and transmission systems including Vine Street, High Street, Waldo Avenue, Miller Street, Field Street and River Avenue.

Prior to approving the issuance of the bonds, the city held a public hearing, but no one from the public commented on the proposal.

Increase in ambulance rates

The council also unanimously approved a request from Fire Chief Patrick Richards to approve increases to ambulance service fees. Richards said the last time the department increased such fees was in 2017, and the proposed increases would bring the city more in line with other local departments.

According to a list of proposed fees provided by Richards, the cost per mile would increase from $15 to $20. The cost of basic life support would increase from $650 to $800, advanced life support would increase from $900 to $1,000, advanced life support 2 would increase from $1,200 to $1,400 and the on-scene charge would increase from $100 to $325.

In other matters before the council:

  • Councilors approved the hiring of Damon Lefferts as a full-time police officer for the Belfast Police Department. With his hiring, the department is now fully staffed.
  • The council also approved the hiring of Mark Smith as a full-time truck driver/laborer in the city’s Public Works Department.
  • Councilors also approved accepting $5,000 from the Belfast Area Chamber of Commerce for the city’s share of proceeds from the 2022 Arts in the Park event.