POLAND — On the recommendation of engineering firm Wright-Pierce, the Board of Selectpersons decided Tuesday night to postpone taking bids on the Route 26 sewer extension until September or October.
Rob Williamson, who works for the Topsham engineering firm overseeing the project, told the board a diminished labor force has compelled contractors to limit work that can be done this year.
Bids for the sewer line expansion were due by May 13, but Williamson told the board contractors “don’t have time to put together estimates” because they are overwhelmed with jobs because of the lack of laborers.
Williamson said contractors traditionally begin scheduling work in the fall for the following year.
He said he knows of only two contractors who might have been planning to bid by the May 13 deadline, but if Poland delays the bid process until fall, more contractors could enter the mix.
Williamson also suggested the town give the winning contractor some money in advance to buy and store materials this year. It could allow the winning bidder to move on the project quickly in 2022, and might save money on the cost of materials, should they increase in 2022.
Poland voters approved a $4.8 million bond at the August 2020 Town Meeting to extend the sewer line. The extension is expected to run northward on Route 26, from Top Gun across the causeway to Cyndi’s Dockside restaurant.
In other matters, Select Chair Steven Robinson said he joined with Town Manager Matthew Garside; Norm Beauparlant, who represents Poland on the Regional School Unit 16 board of directors; RSU 16 Superintendent Ken Healey; and Assistant Superintendent Amy Hediger when they held a Zoom meeting with Maine Department of Education officials to discuss what the state can to do assist communities with diminished enrollment due to COVID 19, which significantly reduced state funding in the next biennial budget cycle.
The state’s appropriation for next year’s RSU 16’s budget is almost $488,000 less than this year.
Robinson said he would write a letter seeking assistance from the state, pointing to how an unfair burden has been placed on local property owners.
Robinson said he would seek the support of the RSU 16 board of directors, and planned to share his letter at Monday’s meeting of the board.
Robinson he would also ask the neighboring towns of Mechanic Falls and Minot to support the letter effort, too.