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Windham board says town now has less control over wind funds

Windham Town Treasurer Peter Chamberlain has told the Windham Select Board that while Iberdrola’s latest offer, presented on Oct. 4, totals $1 million, most of it will not be available for the town to decide how to use.

Portions of the $1 million will go to the fire company, the school and payments to individual residents, and the amount that will come to the town will be considerably less than originally proposed, he said.

The original plan called for 20 turbines and $715,000 annually to the town in municipal property taxes and supplemental community payments.

The updated plan eliminates four turbines and spells out the dollar benefits as such:

$395,000 to the Town of Windham in municipal property taxes;
$105,000 supplemental payments to town government;
$150,000 directly to the community for use by local charities and organizations including the fire department; and
$350,000 for direct “partnership” payments to registered voters, with a minimum payment of $1,162 to every registered voter in Windham.

The Select Board met at the town office on Monday, Oct. 17 for its regular bi-monthly meeting. Chairman Frank Seawright said that while four turbines will be eliminated, one will be relocated closer to South Windham, meaning that 15 homes in S. Windham and 47 in Townshend will be within a mile and a half of a turbine. The new placement will also mean that a road across Stiles Brook will have to be constructed, Seawright said.

Responding to questions as to what would happen to the payments if after three years, Iberdrola were to go bankrupt or be sold, board member Kord Scott suggested that the lawyer who negotiated with Iberdrola could most likely answer those questions.

In other action, board member Maureen Bell asked Delinquent Tax Collector Ernie Friedli to discuss the process used in collecting delinquent taxes.

Friedli explained that after Oct. 31, he contacts those property owners who have not paid their taxes. Most are cooperative and willing to make payment, he said, and in many cases they forgot about taxes being due or were on vacation and didn’t pay before they went away. The issue is with those who ignore contacts and continue to be delinquent.

Friedli also questioned the more recent policy of not setting aside funds each year for building maintenance and new construction. He stated that the Town Office had been paid for by funds set aside over a period of years. Scott added that the roads budget last year had been able to set aside a portion of funds for future use.