Livermore Falls selectmen approve agreement to share sewer superintendent with Jay

Donna M. Perry, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine
·3 min read

Apr. 9—LIVERMORE FALLS — Selectmen voted 4-1 Thursday to accept an agreement for Jay's sewer superintendent to oversee both towns' sewer employees, collections systems and operation of the Livermore Falls' wastewater treatment plant.

Jay selectpersons will take up the agreement at 6 p.m. Monday at the Spruce Elementary School gym in Jay.

A joint sewer committee has worked for about a year to reach an agreement on sharing services to save both towns money.

Livermore Falls is expected to save money on the cost of the superintendent because it will be based on the two towns' sewage treated at the plant.

Superintendent Mark Holt would spend 10% of his time on the Jay collection system, 10% on the Livermore Falls collection system and 80% overseeing the wastewater treatment plant. Each town would be responsible to pay its 10% share. This will be revisited annually.

The 80% would be paid based on the sewage flow formula. This year's flow rate is Jay, 58.2% and Livermore Falls, 41.8%. The percentage of the flow formula is expected to rise on Jay's side because all of that town's sewage is now going to Livermore Falls to be treated.

"I didn't like the way (the agreement) is written," Livermore Falls Selectmen Rodney Heikkinen, a member of the joint committee, said. He read the document at home. It sounded almost like Jay wants everything and Livermore Falls was left out, he said.

Interim Town Manager Amanda Allen said "you have been on the committee and you helped write it." She asked why he didn't say anything previously.

"There is no way I can vote in favor of this," Livermore Falls Selectmen Ernie Souther said. "I was elected to the board to look out for the best interest of Livermore Falls."

Selectman Heather Bronish, another committee member, asked what would be detrimental to Livermore Falls?

Jay would control the facility owned by Livermore Falls, Souther said.

This is not a good deal very good deal for Livermore Falls, he said, raising his voice.

Bronish asked again why it was not a good deal for Livermore Falls.

"I have a right to vote my opinion," Souther said.

There are two superintendents, one in each town, and Livermore Falls superintendent is retiring in Jay.

Jay has paid 60% of the operations and maintenance of the plant and has had no say, Holt said.

The agreement would lower the cost of superintendent services, he said, for both towns.

Jay will be paying about 65% of the superintendent costs.

Holt said he would report to the Livermore Falls town manager. He will remain an employee of Jay to keep his benefits and not have to start fresh in Livermore Falls. Jay would pay his salary and Livermore Falls will issue a credit to Jay in the monthly operation and maintenance bill for wastewater treatment.

Heikkinen said he likes that two towns would be combining and it was just the wording he didn't agree with.

Holt pointed out that an attorney hired by both towns wrote it.

Holt said though he didn't do it alone, he has been instrumental in getting $6.8 million in grants for the plant's upgrade, which is estimated to cost $12.2 million. Both towns will pay 50% of the upgrade.

Allen said she started as sewer clerk in 2011 and it was not great in the beginning and the town went through some trying times with Jay but now the two towns have a great partnership.

This is not Jay trying to take over, she said.

Bronish said Holt has brought in a lot of money for the towns.

Holt said he recommended that two selectmen from each town and the two town managers form a committee to set his salary.

Souther opposed the vote, while Bronish, Heikkinen and Selectmen Jeff Bryant and Nixon Ortiz approved it.