What People are Reading
- What a very sad and shocking
2 years 29 weeks ago
- Smart Meters
2 years 32 weeks ago
- 100 year old house burns
2 years 32 weeks ago
- Column 2-10 re Treason
2 years 41 weeks ago
- Radical Difference
2 years 42 weeks ago
- This activity is such a
2 years 50 weeks ago
- Okay Great we got a sign!
2 years 50 weeks ago
- Hate Crime a Sad Moment Indeed
3 years 15 hours ago
More in News
Buckfield citizens resist green loans
BUCKFIELD — Most towns bend over backwards in order to attract federal grants, but in Buckfield, a group of voters seems to feel that town leaders are trying to force federal funds down their throats.
The issue became news on November 2, when a majority of Buckfield voters rejected, by a vote of 475 to 351, a measure that would have allowed Buckfield homeowners to apply for federally-funded weatherization loans.
It was an unusual vote, as the measure costs neither the town nor taxpayers a dime, and has no obvious downside.
Now, despite resistance from some citizens, town leaders are bringing the matter up again at a special town meeting.
Proponents say that the measure failed due to a lack of communication between the program's sponsors and the voting public.
"To my knowledge, Buckfield is the only town where it didn't pass," State Representative Terry Hayes told town leaders.
The program, called Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), was approved by the state legislature last April for several selected municipalities, including Buckfield.
Hayes, a member of Buckfield's Green Energy Team, says that the ordinance's defeat is due to misconceptions about what the initiative actually means.
"What we learned from this experience ... was that we had done an inadequate job as an energy team in informing neighbors as to what it meant," said Hayes. "There was a lot of misunderstanding about what passing the ordinance would have obligated the town to."
In fact, said Hayes, the town would pay nothing for the program.
Hayes speculated that some citizens probably voted against the measure because they were opposed to the very idea of an ordinance, a position she characterized as being "cultural."
"You're correct. Most people don't like ordinances because they're always expanding on it," said Buckfield resident Allen Young to Hayes. "Once they get it, they start expanding on it. That's my opinion."
Hayes asked the board to bring the ordinance back up during a special town meeting.
"At a town meeting," said Hayes, "we have an opportunity to answer the questions live and in person, to put to rest any of the fears that folks may have about obligating the town in some way."
Citizens in attendance seemed skeptical of the measure, suggesting that any education efforts have a long way to go.
Tony Bachelder said that he was concerned about General Assistance recipients getting themselves into trouble with the loan.
"The state's already paying for their wood and their oil. So these people, that are already having their wood or their oil paid for, if they're borrowing money, what happens if they don't have money to pay it back?" asked Bachelder. "Are they going to lose their house?"
Hayes said that the people who qualify for heating assistance are receiving weatherization without personal loans, as the state attempts to limit the heating aid given in this manner.
"Maybe the 495 who said no were educated, and that's what they meant," said resident Michelle Casey. "… Why do this again? We've already voted it down."
Dick Piper, another resident, said that he supported the measure.
"Since it doesn't cost anything for a special town meeting, why don't we do it and get it done?" he asked.
Some residents expressed concern about bringing up any matter, no matter how beneficial, after it had been defeated at the ballot box.
"I think something that's been voted on by that many people, to, all of a sudden in the middle of the winter, slip it into a special town meeting is not the right way to go," said Joyce Hartson.
Lowell said that he felt the measure would be an appropriate item to bring up at a town meeting.
"Is this really a misuse of special town meeting? Is it frivolous?" said Lowell. "From what I'm hearing [it's not]."
Lowell said that approving the measure right away, as opposed to waiting for the next town meeting, could save residents money.
"The advantage of doing it now, in a special town meeting would be that ... we could have this online and people could get it before the winter's done," said Lowell.
The board had difficulty deciding whether to bring the measure back up at a town meeting.
Selectwoman Eileen Hotham recused herself from the vote, based on her role as a member of the Buckfield Energy Team.
Robin Buswell, expressing mixed feelings on the matter, initially abstained from the vote.
"Terry, don't hold this against me, but I'm gonna vote no," said Buswell.
That left John Lowell, the board chair, as the sole voting member. He cast a vote in favor of the special town meeting, but the measure failed, as it lacked a majority.
Immediately after the motion failed, Buswell employed the unusual procedural move of a "motion to reconsider," which allows the prevailing side in a vote to bring the matter back to the table.
After further discussion on the matter, Buswell joined Lowell in voting in the affirmative, which allowed the special town meeting to be scheduled for late February.