2007 Aug 24
by Edward French
The Eastport City Council, at its August 13 meeting, discussed the legal expenses it will incur in raising concerns about the two liquefied natural gas (LNG) proposals in this area. Concerning the cost of attorney fees in representing the city during the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's review of the LNG projects, councillor Brian Schuth, the council's liaison concerning LNG matters, reported that the cost so far this year has been approximately $10,000. Councillors have been told that the cost could be "hundreds of thousands" if the city is involved to the end of the review process and attempted to stop a project.
Schuth said the city is looking at its involvement on a month-by-month basis now. Approval by the council would be needed if funds are transferred to cover legal expenses from the city's undesignated fund account, and at a certain level of expense a vote by the council will be needed.
The council believes that the questions that the city is asking concerning the LNG proposals are ones that should be asked even if everyone was in favor of the projects, Schuth said. City Manager George Finch observed that the council needs to ensure the health of the community. He said the LNG companies need to pay the bills for the costs being incurred by the city.
Concerning a planning workshop held recently in Calais with the Maine Emergency Management Agency and other state agencies, council President Earl Small noted that towns need to develop their response plans within 60 days, with the LNG developers helping to pay for the cost. Finch said one flaw in the process is that a town could spend two years in planning for a project that may not be built.
The council agreed to have the city cover the cost of the water bill for the downtown fountain. Councillors stated that an individual from the downtown community would need to ensure that the water for the fountain is properly drained in the fall, and the water line will be disconnected during a period recommended by the Passamaquoddy Water District.
Finch said the city had no choice but to oppose the proposed Passamaquoddy Water District rate increase, noting that the proposal would result in an additional $45,000 cost for hydrant rental. He also was concerned that the city was notified of the proposal one month after the city budget was approved.
A fire report was added to the list of regular agenda items, with Small noting that the city needs to develop a policy concerning what the fire department should do in cases where a locked building's fire alarm goes off but there does not appear to be a fire. The department could be liable for breaking down the door or for not doing anything, he noted. Finch suggested that the city may want to impose a penalty, as other towns do, so that the alarm company fixes the problem with the alarm.
In the public works report it was noted that work would begin soon on three projects: paving of Route 190, replacing water mains on portions of High, South and Clark streets, and erecting a fence around the airport.
© 2007 The Quoddy Tides
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.