Vassalboro Board of Selectmen
Minutes of the Special Meeting to discuss use of ARPA Funds
March 2, 2022

Members Present: Rob Browne, Barbara Redmond, and Chris French

Others Present: Mary Sabins, Mary Grow, Mike Poulin, Lee Trahan, Richard Green, Al Roy, Walker Thompson, Don Breton, Becky Goodrich, Dan Mayotte, and Ray Breton.

1. Call to order – The meeting was called to order by Chairman Rob Browne at 6:00 pm.

2. American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Fund usage discussion – Chairman Browne explained that the purpose of tonight’s meeting is to gather ideas for expenditures for the ARPA funds that the town has received from the Federal Government. The total amount the town will receive over a two-year period is just over $461K, of which the town has already received $231,692.56. The other half of the funds is expected to arrive in late summer 2022 or early fall. Expenditure requests have already been received from the Fire Department, First Responders, and the Sanitary District – representatives of which are all present at the meeting tonight. Chairman Browne asked Fire Chief Walker Thompson to present his ideas first.

Fire Department request: Chief Thompson stated that a vendor named Fire Tech and Safety has given the fire department a quote of $163,300 to replace 20 SCBA units and 40 bottles, with an additional 5% increase scheduled to go into effect on Feb. 2nd. The January quote for the SCBA was $5,900 per pack, plus $985 for each bottle. Rather than purchase all 20 SCBA units now, Chief Thompson felt that we have time to replace them; not all units need to be purchased at once. He feels that Premium Pay for department members is also important; he recommends $10 to $15 per call on a per-call basis. He felt the members would appreciate and be happy with any amount that they received. Chairman Rob Browne clarified that this premium pay from the ARPA funds is a one-time deal and not on-going. He wanted to be sure the fire department members understood that fact. R. Browne said the money would be a thank you for services provided, especially during the COVID pandemic. Selectman Chris French asked the Chief if he was committed to replacing 20 tanks, to which the Chief answered that he felt 16 packs and some spare bottles would be sufficient. The Chief spoke about research he had conducted with the Department of Labor to verify that the SCBA packs need to be tested every year. He’s looking into the earlier statement that FEMA considers SCBA units as expired after 10 years.

Town Office request: The suggestion had been made at an earlier meeting to use some of the ARPA funds to purchase and install an electronic roadside sign to be placed at the end of the town office driveway to provide notification to the public. Sabins noted that the School had used some of their Federal Funds for a similar purchase within the last year or so and the price tag was $27K. Discussion was given as to whether trenching would be needed to lay the cable underground alongside the driveway to light the sign. Resident Ray Breton offered that new techniques and equipment allow installation of a cable by burrowing a path underground, rather than digging a trench. Discussion was given if there are vendors in this area that have this equipment, and proposed locations for the sign.

Sanitary District requests – Engineer Richard Green described the wish list of Sanitary District projects that need to be done. Fixing the manholes is top priority. The manholes are starting to fail and the mortar is crumbling. There are 72 manholes, with 90% of those in deteriorated condition. Sabins mentioned to R. Green and the other District trustees in attendance that Cemetery Street is on the paving plan for next year and there are 4 manhole covers there that will also need to be raised. The cost estimate for manhole repair is $3,500 per manhole; roughly $250K for all manholes. C. French asked about district funds that are available for this project. R. Green stated the district could borrow the funds, but prefers not to. R. Green also stated that the pump stations need upgrades in the odor control chemical storage, the trim on the District building is deteriorating and needs replacement, the District building road needs paving, and a water source to wash down the pump stations is also needed. The District would also like sewer extensions to add users to the system to increase their revenue. Chairman Browne stated that he liked the idea of manhole reconstruction and asked how many manholes there are on Rt. #32. R. Green answered about 30 manholes. The district wants to put the manhole work out to bid soon. Chairman Browne reminded all that the ARPA expenditures need to be approved by the voters at town meeting, to which R. Green responded that it takes approximately two months to award a contract.

First Responders requests – First Responder Chief Dan Mayotte stated that his want list submitted earlier was not in priority order. D. Mayotte thinks his most important ask and top priority is replacing the AEDs that are becoming obsolete, with replacement parts hard to locate. He stated he has some money in his operating budget that he could use to purchase some AEDs, but he is holding off to see if the ARPA funds could be used for that purpose. His second item on his priority list would be the ENVO 95 masks for fire and EMS workers. The mask fitness machine is also important, along with training funds from the second half of ARPA funds when it arrives to pay for EMT training. He has 3 students in training now; three students plan to take the EMT class in the fall. As for premium pay, Chief Mayotte stated he could get call numbers easily to identify which volunteers responded. B. Redmond stated that all town staff encountered the public during the height of the COVID pandemic and should be considered for premium pay.

Other suggestions for ARPA fund usage1. C. French stated he would like to spend some of the money on products and services to make it possible to broadcast the Select Board and other Committee meetings from the conference room. 2. B. Redmond reminded the Board that Outlet Stream dam needed a leak repaired. 3. B. Redmond wondered if ARPA funds could be used for development of Streamside Park to avoid raising money from taxation for that purpose. 4. B. Redmond remembered that C. French suggested expending ARPA funds on Delta Ambulance for a training dummy. C. French stated that Delta has made no outreach to ask for a donation after he contacted them.

Conclusion – Chairman Browne said the Board would consider the requests, make a list, and take it to town meeting for approval. He reminded the group that we can only spend what we have now. He thinks the premium pay should be paid out now. B. Redmond suggested the Board members make their own priority list of ARPA fund expenditures based on the requests made tonight, to be discussed at the next Board meeting to be held on March 17th. Chairman Browne thanked the crowd for coming.

3. Adjourn – There being no further business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned at 6:45 p.m.


These minutes were read and accepted by the Board of Selectmen on 3/17/22 with the following amendments: None.