Order to approve a supplemental appropriation from unassigned fund balance for legal, engineering, and other expert consultation related to natural gas service expansion.
ACTION: Council action is anticipated.
The Towns of Yarmouth, Cumberland, and Falmouth are collaboratively working to investigate the potential for extending natural gas distribution systems into all three communities. Such investigation includes examining the legal, regulatory, public safety, economic development, environmental and public finance implications of either private competitive systems, a public system, or some other arrangement.
At a joint Town Council meeting of all three communities on July 18, 2012, there was general agreement that the development of a natural gas distribution system offers potential benefits to the public and should be investigated openly and thoughtfully.
At the joint meeting, there was a proposal for all three towns to spend $15,000 each toward the next phase of a feasibility study including the service of legal and engineering consultants. Since the meeting on July 18, the town managers have met with others including Maine natural gas utility companies. The town managers learned that a specific feasibility study may not be the best approach at this time because it is possible that the private sector will carry some of this burden. Despite that possibility, there will be a need for engineering feasibility peer review, legal consulation, regulatory research, and other expertise, which is why the request remains at $15,000 for each community. The Town Councils in Yarmouth and Cumberland have recently approved similar appropriation requests.