After more than an hour in executive session with Wiscasset School Department attorney Gregory Im, on Thursday, Jan. 26, the Wiscasset School Committee voted unanimously to authorize Superintendent Heather Wilmot to secure financing and execute a $1.75 million energy conservation performance contract without a special town meeting.
The action reaffirmed the school committee’s unanimous Dec. 15 vote to authorize the contract with Siemens Inc. to complete energy-efficient improvements to school department buildings. The Wiscasset Board of Selectmen has criticized the contract, with some selectmen accusing the school committee of “showing contempt for voters” and “trying to pull a fast one.”
In response, the school committee voted unanimously to reverse course and send the energy project to voters at a special town meeting, which the Wiscasset Board of Selectmen previously voted to hold in open session to consider a moratorium on retail marijuana establishments.
The Wiscasset Board of Selectmen considered the warrant for the town meeting at their Jan. 17 meeting and voted 3-1 against it. Selectmen cited low voter turnout, public education about the project, and a petition to consider alternative education options for Wiscasset’s high school students as reasons to instead hold the special town meeting by referendum.
Selectmen scheduled a meeting for the following day to sign a warrant for a special town meeting by referendum, which requires a 45-day notification period. The selectmen’s meeting was later canceled so budget committee and school committee recommendations could be included on the warrant.
The Wiscasset School Committee also voted on Jan. 26 to unanimously recommend the energy contract for a special town meeting warrant, if feedback from the town indicates a special town meeting by referendum is needed.
Wilmot has said the school department risks losing $91,000 in rebates for energy-efficient improvements if the contract is not secured with Siemens in March and work does not begin in April.