GOULDSBORO — Spiraling utility and fuel bills have spurred town office staff to explore alternative service providers and other means to reduce municipal costs, but at the same time make operations more cost-effective and energy-efficient.
After getting the green light, in the form of the Select Board’s 3-0 vote March 3, interim Town Manager Eve Wilkinson and town Infrastructure Supervisor Jim McLean are moving forward and switching from Spectrum to Consolidated Communications as the town office’s internet provider. McLean estimates the change will cut the monthly internet service cost in half, from $351 to $175 per month. Consolidated will install a dedicated fiber-optic cable that will supply wireless access for the town office, Fire Station No. 1 and the Prospect Harbor Women’s Club Building.
In addition, McLean says the town office also will see its internet service double in speed from 25 to 50 megabits per second (Mbps) and noted related paperwork will be reduced from three internet service bills to one. He said Consolidated will waive the cost of the fiber-optic installation, which could begin in upcoming weeks. He said the town’s up-front expense likely will be limited to purchasing a router and connect port.
Selectmen also back McLean’s recommendation to sign on with Ampion, a Boston-based company that sources solar power for businesses, municipalities and residential property owners in Maine and elsewhere in New England. By signing on with and promoting Ampion, the town is being offered a 15 percent discount, on its electric bill. McLean estimates an annual savings of $600 to $700.
“It’s a 15 percent savings on our energy costs,” he told The American. “The actual cost [of supplying energy] per kilowatt hour will be reduced by 15 percent.”
Once Gouldsboro subscribes to Ampion, McLean added, any local property owners opting to sign up will be rewarded with a $100 gift card. The town also will receive a $100 check for every local resident who subscribes to the service.
“It behooves us all to do what we can for the environment,” the town infrastructure superintendent said. “I am a big advocate of solar electricity. I think it’s a good investment.”
At the March 3 meeting, town office supervisor Anne Laine informed selectmen that the Winter Harbor Select Board has unanimously voted to join the Gouldsboro broadband initiative to improve the speed and quality of internet access across the Schoodic Peninsula. She said Winter Harbor Town Manager Cathy Carruthers has drafted a letter of support affirming her town’s participation in the project.
In other business, selectmen endorsed the Gouldsboro Historical Society’s request for $8,500 in funds as well as the Dorcas Library and Life Line Ministries Food Pantry’s respective requests for $8,000 and $3,000 in funding for the 2022-23 fiscal year. Representatives from all three organizations outlined their needs.
Gouldsboro Historical Society President Don Ashmall reported the society is exploring an endowment fund’s establishment as well as the possible installation of solar panels on its buildings as a means to curb energy costs.
Selectman Robert Harmon reported that his wife, Donna Harmon, is taking over the food pantry’s operation and the South Gouldsboro facility will require some remodeling. Marie Crawley has run the Route 186 facility for years. She and her husband, Chris, pastor of the Solid Rock Bible Baptist Church, are moving to Florida.
“We’ve gone through some pretty hard times here and it [the food pantry] has kept people afloat,” Selectman Ernie West said.
Dorcas Library board member Margaret Jones informed selectmen that the building has been reroofed to improve energy efficiency and the focus has turned to the Learning Center building, which requires both roof and siding work, across the street. With the pandemic receding, Jones said in-person activities are gradually resuming at both facilities.