November 30, 2021

Utility district disbanded

FORT KENT — The Maine Public Utilities Commission has spoken, and the Fort Kent Utility District no longer exists, as of today.

The Fort Kent Utility District, which operated the municipal water supply and the waste-water treatment system, will officially become a department of the town.

“The MPUC has taken action, and this is the final chapter,” Town Manager Donald Guimond said Thursday morning. “All the deeds and paperwork will be completed Thursday.

“When the town office opens for business on Monday morning, the utility will be a department of the town,” Guimond said.

The MPUC action was taken Monday, Dec. 27.

In January, the town council will hold a public hearing to amend the town’s sewer ordinance, enacted in 1968, and also to change the billing procedures for the water utility.

A number of small changes will be made to the more than 30-year-old sewer ordinance. Guimond said the number of changes will, in effect, create a new ordinance.

For the water utility, the town wants to change the billing procedures. Water consumption meters were installed last summer and fall at all homes and businesses on the system. Customers, said Guimond, will be billed on usage, instead of according to the former system, which billed on the number of water fixtures, such as toilets and faucets, listed on the user account.

Billings will also be made bimonthly, on alternate months, for different areas of town.

If there is enough time for posting notice of the hearing, the public session will be held Jan. 10. If not, said Guimond, the hearing will be held Jan. 24.

The town went ahead with taking over the operations of the utility district last month. The town accepted the assets of the utility district, affirming the Sept. 7 vote of residents for the dissolution. Administrative duties of the utility district will be done by Guimond.

Voters approved dissolution of the district, 228-45, in a referendum vote Sept. 7. Utility district trustees had voted, before the referendum, to transfer all its assets to the town.

The district was formed by the Legislature in 1991. Dissolution was approved by the Legislature last May, and the proposal has been signed by Gov. Angus King.

Dissolution of the district has been controversial for nearly three years. Proponents claimed the move would save users up to 28 percent a year on rates.

The district included the waste-water treatment system, which opened a new $8 million plant one year ago.

Since taking over the utility, the town has approved the construction of two extension projects. The projects are on North Perley Brook Road and at Fort Kent Mills.

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