ELLSWORTH — City councilors will take up a number of issues on Monday evening at their January meeting, including several board appointments, a discussion on rules regarding timeshares that was tabled in December and items relating to Hancock County Technical Center and a municipal solar farm.
One of the first items of business will be a vote that was tabled at the council meeting on Dec. 20 on an ordinance designed to help lessen the burden of dealing with tax delinquencies and foreclosures at Acadia Village Resorts.
If enacted in its current form, the ordinance would shift the burden of collecting taxes on the units from the city to the company that manages the property, which would be responsible if owners didn’t pay.
Councilors tabled a vote on the ordinance after a public hearing at their meeting on Dec. 20, when owners and staff from the resort argued that the plan was not only unfair but would ultimately result in more foreclosures, as the resort would likely need to raise fees to cover the taxes.
Also on Monday, councilors will hear from Director of Development Services Janna Richards, who is requesting authorization to accept a $25,000 grant from the Maine Department of Transportation’s Planning Partnership Initiative to fund a study to extend the city’s bike/pedestrian trail, which ends on Birch Avenue, to the Downeast Sunrise Trail, which picks up on High Street near Beals Avenue.
“It’s for a feasibility study which assesses alternatives and any impacts those alternatives would have as well as costs,” Richards said.
The Department of Transportation would be a true partner in the plans, said Richards. “They basically bring you up to the conceptual stage.”
Possibilities include extending the trail beside the existing railroad tracks, said Richards, but all options are on the table.
Richards also will be before the council to request authorization to purchase updated aerial maps for the city’s GIS mapping software, which is used for everything from tax mapping to public works projects.
“Basically the last imagery was probably flown somewhere in 2012, 2013, so obviously we’ve had a lot of growth and development and transformation in Ellsworth in that time,” Richards said. “We just want our imagery to reflect that.”
The updated maps are projected to cost $19,000, money that would come from the city’s tax increment financing (TIF) reserve funds.
Also on Monday, councilors will hear from a search committee that formed in late August with the goal of selecting a firm to study the feasibility of replacing or renovating Hancock County Technical Center. The seven-member committee, which includes a member of the public and representatives from City Council, the Ellsworth School Board and the nonprofit Ellsworth Business Development Corp., has been looking for firms since November and plans to present a consultant agreement to councilors on Monday evening.
Councilors also will vote on a request by the city’s finance director, Jenn Merchant, to withdraw up to $25,000 from capital reserves to conduct due diligence and legal and technical review relating to proposals relating to the city’s municipal solar initiative.
The city officially kicked off the request for proposals process in late November, looking for a firm to install solar panels on one of several possible sites, including the former dump off Stabawl Road, past Northern Light Maine Coast Hospital.
Other items on the agenda for Monday evening include votes on board appointments for David Burks and Marc Rich to the Planning Board and Jeffrey Toothaker and Mike Wight to the Board of Appeals.
The City Council will meet on Monday, Jan. 13, at 7 p.m. in the council chambers. The event also will be streamed live on the city’s Facebook page, facebook.com/ellsworthme.