DOVER - North Branch Fire District voters approved a $4.7 million bond for plant improvements on Thursday, November 9. Voters also approved exempting the town of Dover from taxes and establishing a capital reserve fund.
The votes occurred via Australian ballot. Of 835 registered voters in the district, 64 cast ballots. The article pertaining to the bond passed 33-31; the article pertaining to exemption of town properties passed 49-14 with one blank ballot; and the article pertaining to establishment of a capital reserve fund passed 50-14.
Linda Holland, fire district administrator, said that the Prudential Committee hopes to put the plant improvement work out to bid this winter for work to commence in the spring. Billing for the bond is not expected to begin for users until 2020.
At a presentation to voters on November 2, Prudential Committee member Brendan Ryan detailed the updates to be made and the estimated costs thereof. Major components of the updates will include UV and screen upgrades,$70,000; clarifiers, $1 million; biosolids removal technology, $500,000; pond liners, $1.4 million; a sprayfield renovation, $450,000; yard piping, $300,000; ADA compliance and access work, $65,000; and design, fees, and contingency, $1.1 million.
Town properties that will be exempt from taxation until the district’s next vote include the fire department, police department, school, and town offices from sewer taxes. Those properties were previously exempt, but that changed after an amendment that was introduced from the floor at the district’s last annual meeting. Following a request from the Dover Selectboard, the Prudential Committee agreed to bring the matter back to the voters at the time of the bond vote.
Holland said the town has already been billed for November, but is on the agenda for the next board of abatement meeting, which will be held on December 7.
“The bill wouldn’t be due until December 15,” said Holland.
How the capital reserve fund will be funded will be discussed at the Prudential Committee’s next regular meeting. Also to be discussed at that meeting will be proposed changes to district ordinances, including getting rid of the district’s “B priority list” and changing how meters are paid for.
“The committee is hoping that with the reserve fund, the voters will no longer need to pay for their meters when it’s time to replace them,” said Holland. “Currently the meters are the responsibility of the homeowner. They would become the responsibility of the fire district.”
The Prudential Committee will meet on Thursday, November 30, at noon at North Branch Fire District, 78 Dorr Fitch Road.