Police & Fire

Milo residents approve $825K line of credit for public safety building project

MILO — The town of Milo is currently in the planning stages of a new building to house the fire, police, and public works departments. The community can spend up to $6,375,000 in USDA funds for the public safety building, which will be located at the business park and across the road from the Milo Water District office less than a mile up Park Street from the 100-year-old town hall where the fire and police departments are currently located.

Plymouth Engineering has been meeting with town officials and department heads over the last few months to design each department’s section of the facility, with plans now solidified and ready to go out to bid. The engineering firm estimates the building, groundwork, and engineering costs to total $7,200,758 or $825,758 more than what Milo has available in project funding.

To make up for the difference, residents approved a line of credit not to exceed $825,758 to cover costs above and beyond the $6,375,000 for the public safety building during a special town meeting on May 8.

“The building’s currently 24,000 square feet and that includes the fire department, the police department, the (department of public works), and the overlapping shared facilities that the fire department, the police department, and public works are going to be using,” said Keith Ewing of Plymouth Engineering.

He said the structure will be made out of steel to house all the fire and police vehicles and most public works equipment.

“This grant is for one building,” said Town Manager Robert Canney, saying the funds cannot be divided up for multiple department structures. “We can have whatever design we want but it has to be for a public safety building.”

He said the town currently has a public works garage on Knowles Avenue and eventually the town will make a decision on what to do with the property.  

“Our plan will be not to heat it so I know that’s our biggest expense for that building over there,” the town manager said. “It costs more to heat that building than it does this building.”

He said offseason equipment will be stored inside to be kept dry.

Canney said the garage is too small now with just one bay. He said during an overnight winter storm a broken plow cable needed to be replaced outside.

The town manager said the salt shed cannot be simply moved, so that is another reason for keeping the garage for the time being.

“That’s another problem we will have to find a solution for once we get moved into the new building,” he said, saying he will continue to look for grant funds for this purpose.

“Once we get the bids back in, it’s an 18-month build,” Canney said about the construction process. Plans have bids coming back by September.

“We don’t know what the final cost is going to be until the bids come in and that won’t be in until late summer,” he said.

Ewing said plan revisions have taken out one bay from the public safety building to help keep costs down.“Unfortunately the longer we take to build it the more prices go up,” he said. “If we delete another bay out of either the fire department or the public works that would get us closer to where we need for the budget but you’re $900,000 different at the moment.”

Canney said they believe $80,000 has been reduced from equipment costs — this has not yet been officially subtracted from the $825,758 — such as planning to purchase a TV in the training room and break room tables later on. “We said we can do that on our own cheaper after the building is built,” he said.

Canney said once bids are all in then they will know the true cost of what needs to be borrowed for expenses beyond the USDA grant. He said a line of credit would be secured through a commercial lender for the short-term and then Milo could go with the Maine Municipal Bond Bank and its lower interest rate for town projects.

“In the fall we will come back with another special town meeting so we can go to the bond bank and actually borrow the money to pay it off,” the town manager said.

Presently the interest with the Maine Municipal Bond Bank is 1.5 percent. The loan would be for 30 years, which at the full amount would come to $34,200 per year.

Canney said a solar farm at the business park is in its third year of a 30-year Tax Increment Financing agreement in which the company keeps 80 percent of its tax assessment and the town receives 20 percent. He said these monies need to be used at the site, and that can include the public safety building. The town manager also said the solar farm has been undervalued so far and will be reassessed.

With a $7 million value, which could be around $25 million after revaluation, the town receives $28,000-plus in taxes annually. Canney said these monies go into a holding account and previously this has been used to cover mowing and replacing a storm-damaged sign.

“The town office is going to stay in this building, we are not moving,” Canney said. “This is our community center, this is our emergency shelter for the community. We have social services come in several times a month to meet with people.” 

He said currently there is little privacy but the plan is for the current police office to be used by agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services when they are in town.

When asked Canney said the town hall foundation is fine. The fire station floor is sagging under the weight of the trucks, but this can be attributed to the building being constructed back in the time of horse-drawn fire carts.

During a select board meeting that same evening, residents were reminded of the special election on Monday, June 3 to fill four open seats on the select board. Nomination papers are due by May 22.

A cluster of resignations has left just Chair Paula Copeland on the board.

Susan Libby, Donald Banker, and Eric Foss resigned about two months after a group of residents initiated a process to remove Banker, the former chair, from the board following a March 7 meeting between the three members that appeared to violate Maine’s public access law.

Select Board member Stephanie Hurd resigned partly because of the fallout from the meeting that has caused controversy in town, she told the Bangor Daily News.

The June 3 ballot has two select board seats to run through next March, another for March, 2026, and the fourth for a term to run through March, 2027.

Copeland mentioned the March annual town meeting had 15 monetary warrant articles not being voted on that evening with the municipal audit awaiting completion. She said the meeting will resume at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 20 at the town hall.

Staff Writer Valerie Royzman contributed to this story.

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