Municipal group will try to sell a majority stake in Hampden trash plant after it takes over
By Sawyer Loftus, Bangor Daily News Staff
The municipal group set to become the new owner of a shuttered Hampden trash plant wants to sell a majority stake in the facility once it takes over to fund its restart.
Proceeds from the sale of a majority stake in the Coastal Resources of Maine plant would go toward covering the estimated $20 million cost of restarting the facility that has been closed for more than two years, since its previous operators ran out of money to run it.
The Municipal Review Committee, the group of 115 towns and cities that used the plant, previously said it would rely on member towns to fund startup costs.
The municipal committee is taking over the plant following a last-ditch effort to find a new buyer. The bondholders that funded the plant’s construction and have the authority to sell it agreed to sell it to the Municipal Review Committee after that effort yielded no qualified buyers.
The Municipal Review Committee’s last-resort offer, which is worth just over $1 million, represents just a fraction of the $52 million the bondholders, largely out-of-state investment funds, paid toward the facility’s construction.
While the group has effectively secured the facility, it will still need to come up with the estimated $20 million needed to bring the processing plant back to life.
In a town hall meeting in April, Municipal Review Committee leaders said they needed help from member municipalities to raise those funds.
Now, the group has shifted gears and is looking for a private-sector partner to become a part owner of the facility, because of how complicated it would be to fund the facility through municipalities, Municipal Review Committee president Karen Fussell said Wednesday.
“It’s not a small thing we’re asking of our members,” she said, “so we’ve refocused our efforts to try to see if we can first find a private partner that will either negate the need to seek financing help from our members or at least reduce the amount.”
The group is turning to a list of parties that expressed interest in working with the Municipal Review Committee if the group became the plant’s owner but were not interested in becoming full owners, Fussell said.
While Fussell didn’t name any of these prospective partners she said they are a mixture of entities based in Maine and outside the state.
The plan would leave the Municipal Review Committee a minority owner, she said.
“We want to make sure that we have a sufficient level of control and say over what’s happening at the plant to protect our members and our members’ interests,” Fussell said.
Additionally, the group is reaching out to state and federal partners to seek funding, she said.
While the group is looking toward private funding, the sale of the facility is making its way through the legal system because the facility is in receivership and a judge needs to sign off on any sale.
Superior Court Justice William Anderson last Friday ordered that the sale, which was supposed to close by June 30, be paused after two creditors who put up funds to pay for construction formally objected to the sale terms because they wouldn’t see any proceeds from it.
However, Fussell said the two creditors have been satisfied and will withdraw their objections in the coming days, allowing the sale of the facility to move forward with hopes of it being finalized by mid-July.