PENOBSCOT — Voters briefly considered where to send their trash during the annual town meeting Tuesday night, but they ultimately decided to leave the question for another day.
It is a question that will come before many other towns in northern and eastern Maine before the year is done.
Those municipalities currently all send their trash to an energy recovery facility in Orrington known as Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. (PERC), but PERC has favorable contracts with Emera Maine that will expire in 2018.
Because the disposal costs will then rise, the organization that represents the 187 towns and cities that send their trash to PERC, the Municipal Review Committee (MRC), is recommending they back the construction of a new plant in Hampden.
That plant, proposed by a company known as Fiberight, would utilize a new waste recycling technology that has been tested in just one U.S. facility, but which MRC says will be more affordable and environmentally friendly than PERC.
PERC has issued a counter-proposal for towns still interested in sending their garbage to Orrington beyond that date.
Towards the end of the 3½-hour meeting Tuesday night, Penobscot voters were asked whether they wanted to cast their lot with MRC, which is now rallying towns for the Fiberight facility. Municipalities such as Bangor, Brewer and Bar Harbor already have gotten on board.
But given the magnitude of the decision and their unfamiliarity with the merits of each proposal, the 70 or so voters at the meeting ultimately balked. In a hand vote, they showed strong support for postponing the decision until April, as all three selectmen recommended.
Other items approved at the town meeting:
- Uncontested elections for municipal and school officials: Sally Bridges for a 2-year term as town clerk, Paul Bowen for a 3-year term as selectman, James Goodman for a 3-year term on the school committee, Ann Boudreaux for a 3-year term on the finance committee
- A 2016 municipal budget of around $544,517, which is down $31,917 from this year’s.
- A 2016 school budget of $1.8 million, which is down 0.24 percent from this year.
- The borrowing of $150,000 for the purchase of a $283,000 fire truck. The rest was raised in previous years.
- The spending of $55,000 from a reserve account for a new school bus.
- The raising of $1,688 for a summer reading program.