Plans being finalized for Atkinson to join the Unorganized Territory

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DOVER-FOXCROFT — Piscataquis County officials are making preparations for Atkinson to join the Unorganized Territory (UT) on July 1 — the community voted 187-19 (nearly 91 percent) at the November referendum to deorganize.

During a Feb. 5 meeting of the county commissioners, County Manager Tom Lizotte said the final Atkinson annual town meeting before deorganization would be held on the evening of Monday, Feb. 11. “I don’t anticipate any issues,” Lizotte said.

The town meeting warrant includes items on the sale of the town hall and 12-acre salt/sand pile lot as well as voting on the closure of a bridge and remainder of the McCorrison Road over Alder Stream, which is weight restricted and has been closed to all but recreational traffic during the winter.

“I will have to go over there and make sure they have closed the McCorrison Road, and we will have to do a final inspection to make sure the roads are in good enough shape for the county to take over and Atkinson has been doing a good job,” Lizotte said about inspections to follow the town meeting.

“I don’t see any major issues that they are going to have to jump over,” the county manager said.

In other business, Lizotte presented the commissioners with 2019 state valuation figures for Piscataquis County, the region’s 19 communities, and the UT. The county municipality valuation is $1.75 billion and the UT’s is $870,350,000.

The combined figure of $2,620,350,000 is an increase of $148,900,000 from 2018, or about three times more compared to previous yearly increases Lizotte said. He said the higher valuation can be attributed to the wind power project in Kingsbury Plantation.

“Kingsbury, which is our smallest community with 26 people, is now our fourth highest valued community,” Lizotte said. He said the plantation’s 2019 valuation of $114,350,000 is up by $88,750,000.

“They will be right behind Dover-Foxcroft, Greenville, and Guilford,” the county manager said with these respective totals being $310,550,000, $291,750,000, and $119,600,000.

Lizotte said the 2019 Piscataquis County UT valuation is up by nearly $26 million from the year before to $870,350,000.

“We will assess the county taxes based on these valuations for 2020,” he said.

Piscataquis County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Tom Capraro said he met with an engineer from Dirigo Engineering to discuss revised plans for an agency storage garage for vehicles and equipment on the county’s East Main Street campus.

“I went to the engineer and we decided to take the second floor off and put it on the back of the building,” Capraro said. He said this adjustment would change the structure dimensions from 54 by 26 feet to 54 by 38 feet.

Capraro said this should reduce the building cost by $80,000 to $90,000.

“The only thing is I need to go before the (Dover-Foxcroft) planning board because I’m changing the plans so I’m doing that March 7,” he said. “Hopefully that can get going before the spring.”

The garage went out to bid twice last year. In May three bids for an EMA storage garage all came in multiple times more than the project budget. The garage estimate was between $85,000 and $100,000, and the bids were for $278,836, $342,848, and $476,638.

A month later the structure was put out to bid again with some revisions to the specs, such as eliminating a $100,000 performance bond requirement recommended by the project engineer and taking out a September completion deadline. Ralph McNaughton Construction of Newport, which bid $278,836 the first time, was the lone bidder for round two (five companies took out paperwork). The second submission from the company was for $259,618.

In July the commissioners passed a motion to waive the competitive bid process and authorize Capraro to negotiate with a contractor at a rate capped at $120,000.

The commissioners typically meet the first and third Tuesday mornings of the month. With Commissioners Chair James White scheduled to be out of state in early April, these meetings will instead be Tuesday, April 9 and Tuesday, April 23.

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