Boothbay approves $3.2M bond for storm repairs

Residents approve 2 articles during special town meeting
Mon, 04/01/2024 - 12:45pm

    Over 40 Boothbay voters on March 27 authorized seeking a $3.2 million bond to repair road damage from back-to-back January storms. Cleanup began on Shore and Samoset roads, King Phillips Trail and Grimes Cove immediately after the storms with public works and Crooker Construction crews. But a more intensive cleanup and road reconstruction is needed. Town officials expect state and federal relief assistance later this year.

    Post-storm conditions left several Boothbay roads in disrepair and created emergency concerns especially for those in East Boothbay. With state and federal aid eight to 12 months away, town officials believed recovery work needed immediate addressing which led to seeking a temporary bond. So, selectmen requested a town meeting to seek a short-term loan or bond to kick-start recovery efforts. 

    The bond will finance planning, engineering, design, permitting and construction of emergency road repairs. The town reported current outstanding and unpaid bonds totaling $1.15 million with estimated interest at $411,325. The $3.2 million bond has a 5.82% rate for a five-year term. Estimated term interest is $527,238. Town officials expect to pay off the bond in less than a year. If emergency funds arrive in eight months, the town would pay $126,229 in interest. If repayment takes 12 months, $188,826 for a year. 

    During public discussion, a resident asked what precautions town officials were taking to prepare for future natural disasters. Town Manager Dan Bryer reported the town hired a biologist for long-term planning on Wildcat Creek which he described as “susceptible to weather.” The town also received a federal Sea Buoy Grant for studying sea-level rise. “This opens us up to receiving NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) grants and provides us with more flexibility than most coastal towns,” he said.

    Another question was if any government grants would pay for interest accrued from the bond. Bryer said “no.”

    Residents also approved a second warrant article appropriating $1.5 million in financing design, engineering, planning and construction of sewer and water lines along Country Club and Butler roads. The new infrastructure would provide services to Boothbay Region Development Corporation’s affordable housing project. The corporation is developing a 137-unit project on a 30-acre parcel on Butler Road. Last year, residents approved seeking $1.5 million in a general obligation bond for the project. Afterwards, Bryer discovered there was a less expensive option. He proposed using $1.6 million in the Omnibus Tax Increment Fund to finance the project. He told residents approving the question would save the town “hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest.”

    Residents unanimously approved appropriating $1.5 million from Tax Increment Finance Revenue to pay for sewer and water expansion to Country Club and Butler roads and deauthorizing general obligation bonds approved last May. 

    Both warrant articles were approved without any dissenting voters.