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Selectmen review recycling results and cable contract

February 11, 2010
TUFTONBORO — Recycling efforts are definitely on the rise in Tuftonboro, according to the transfer and recycling center's assistant supervisor, Darren Madeiros. At the Feb. 8 meeting of the Board of Selectmen, he reported an increase in 2009 of 28 tons of recycled materials to the Northeast Resource Recovery Association (NRRA), resulting in increased revenue.

There was also a decrease of almost 13 tons of disposal, which reduced costs.

Madeiros attributes much of the difference to the introduction of a swap shop on site last year and said that more people are asking for recycling bins. He is looking into the possibility of selling electronics for 25 cents a pound – about the cost for disposal – to Colt Electronics.

Mike Edgecomb of Time Warner appeared before the board to answer questions about the town's contract with the cable company, which comes up for renewal in 2011. Chairman Dan Duffy began by expressing concerns raised by citizens about losing stations and getting Maine stations rather than those from Boston. He said that many residents have roots in Massachusetts and would prefer to view Boston stations.

Edgecomb replied that two stations were removed to increase the bandwidth needed for high definition television service, and Tuftonboro is considered to be in the Portland market rather than the Boston market.

Selectman Carolyn Sundquist asked if the town has an option to invite another company, considering that Time-Warner owns the cable lines. Edgecomb said it would be difficult to change to another company without a breach of at least one of four criteria having occurred, and the matter would most likely be disputed in court.

In regard to phone service, Duffy noted that Time Warner can serve some residents but not all. Edgecomb explained that the Rural Exemption Act determines that they can't serve phone lines where TDS is operating. They could compete with Fairpoint, which is a much larger company, but the market is fairly small.

Sundquist asked if it would be possible to lower the density requirements for access, which are currently set at 15 homes per mile. The answer she got was that the payback isn't there, for it costs $25,000 a mile to run cable.

Joe Kowalski, a resident of Tuftonboro and the man behind the video camera at the selectmen's meetings, said that Adelphia provided Boston channels and with five Maine stations on, "I feel like I live in Maine." He also asked if the company had a map of customers in town and how Time Warner knows of density changes.

Edgecomb said the changes are noted in the course of business transactions.

Bill Kaiser spoke up to volunteer to be on the committee, and Bob Theve wondered who sets the fee schedule and complained that a product, access to Boston channels, had been taken away. Edgecomb replied that the town could become a rate regulator for basic cable with the FDC, but that it no longer has that right with disc competition.

When asked by Selectman Bill Stockman, what happens next, Edgecomb said he would send over the "boilerplate" information for the five-member advisory committee the board is planning to set up, to study.

The Cross Country Appraisal group asked for the authority to settle cases itself with the Board of Tax and Land Appeals to expedite matters rather than going through discussion with the selectmen first. Selectmen denied that request, with Stockman stating that he felt it was their duty and they might have more information to offer in some cases.

Sundquist reported that the House Finance Committee voted not to extend the collar that keeps state property taxes in support of the school system local when it expires in 2011 and said a member of the Carroll County Coalition, Pat Remick, would be asking to meet with the town's four representatives about the matter.

Public input

Bill Kaiser asked, "Why is it so difficult to keep the Web site up to date?" and complained, " If it's not current, it's not worth having." Sundquist responded that the town does not have a full-time Webmaster, information is updated by departments, and commented that it doesn't cause harm to leave something up longer than necessary.

Kaiser said that he had volunteered to do it, but Sundquist said that it is not a hands-on Web site.

He then continued that the most recent agenda was up late. Duffy said that it was posted in the appropriate places in town as required by law.

Kaiser also expressed displeasure with the town's policy that allows three false alarms per property in a year before charging for the expense to the town, saying that he would prefer it only be allowed once before charging.

"It's a tool," said Duffy. "People put them in their homes and it helps the police."

Chief Andy Shagoury has responded to Kaiser's concern with a letter, detailing the number of false alarms in a year, that he sent both to the selectmen and to Kaiser, who acknowledged receipt of the letter but said that he had not yet had the time to read it.

Kaiser had one complaint. He would like to have more detail in the police log rather than "only a summary."

In another vein, Guy Pike, a write-in candidate for the race for Duffy's seat, proposed that the selectmen require a pledge of allegiance to the flag before all meetings as "a reminder that this is a republic, not a democracy." Duffy replied with a smile, " I guess I'll have to look up republic in the dictionary."

The board is scheduled to meet next on Feb. 22, at the town office building, at 7 p.m.

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