May 24, 2019

High cost of generating electricity prompts Matinicus to buy fuel tanks

MATINICUS — An average residential power bill on Matinicus can run as much as $200 a month, according to Town Clerk Wanda Philbrook. The reason is that the island has to get a tanker to steam out to the island with a load of oil in order to run the diesel electrification system.

In an effort to control the high price for power generation, town meeting voters agreed on Saturday to purchase the fuel tanks owned by Richard Moody. The vote was 37-17.

The town meeting is held in late April because so many residents leave the island during the winter months. Philbrook said the population dwindles to 30 or 40 over the winter, compared with the 61 registered voters who attended Saturday night’s two-hour session.

The town budget was passed as presented, with an $8,000 increase. New appropriations included $3,000 for the ferry subsidy account and $3,500 for a new municipal building account. The town also appropriated $1,500 for a new copier for town hall.

The purchase of the fuel tanks was actually approved in December at a special town meeting which empowered town officials to negotiate for the purchase. Finally the tanks were sold for $25,000, but Moody made a gift to the town of $12,500. Voters on Saturday night approved a transfer of $12,500 from surplus to pay for the purchase.

Voters also approved an article to borrow $10,000 over three years for improvements to the tanks and lines to the power station. Another $10,000 will be taken from a special fund to complete the improvements.

Moody, a fuel dealer, told the town he was getting out of the business because of excessive insurance costs. With the $20,000 in improvements and pollution-abatement equipment, the town can afford to self insure, officials said.

The island appointed a new constable several months ago, but at the town meeting Saturday voters decided to table a measure to provide insurance for the position. Town assessors will investigate the matter further.

The town clerk consulted the Maine Municipal Association over a problem of last-minute registrations to vote at the annual meeting.

The moderator was Clayton Young.

Next year’s town meeting was scheduled for April 27, 1991.

Philbrook was returned as town clerk and school board member. She was unopposed as town clerk and beat Darlene Ames 32-28 for the school board post. Richard Khols bested Victor Ames for the assessor’s position, 36-24. All other town officers were returned.

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