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Joint Facility

Can a Town build a joint facility with another town or the MaineDOT?

The short answer is “yes”………….. given the right conditions.

Intuitively, it would make sense to share facilities with another town or the MaineDOT. However, each situations needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis. Presently, there are a handful of Municipal/State joint facilities or shared operations statewide. There are also a couple of town/town joint facilities and even a couple county/municipal facilities. Just like sharing fire trucks or even school superintendents, whether inter-governmental sharing of facilities or services make sense depends upon consideration of the particular state and local needs.

First, MaineDOT plows and controls ice on “state highways”, and towns are concerned with their “local roads” and some “state aid” roads. For example, the MaineDOT plows and salts I-95, and many of the route numbered State Highways. Each town maintains all the other public roads. This means the salt shed location must meet the operational needs of both sets of road networks.

Second, maintenance techniques used by adjacent towns and/or the MaineDOT may be different. For example, MaineDOT and several towns have shifted to a “salt priority” program a few years ago. This means that MaineDOT is using very little sand these days and is controlling snow and ice with salt, new technology, early pre-wetted salt application, and training. On the municipal level, many towns still use mostly sand to control ice. This means MaineDOT needs to store mostly salt and towns mostly sand. Obviously, having two separate piles is problematic.

Third, there are several ownership, construction, and operational details to work out up-front.

  • Who will determine where a facility is located and who will actually own it?

  • Will the partner contribute to the initial construction and/or will it pay a monthly lease for renting space?

  • If the future groundwater pollution or private well contamination occurs, who’s at fault?

  • Do both agencies have the same approach to compliance with environmental laws?

  • How will quantities of sand/salt be tracked during the winter?

  • If the MaineDOT and Town (or private plowing contractor) has different schedules in a storm, who will load the trucks and who will own the loader?

  • Will citizens have access to the piles, a custom common at town facilities but not at MaineDOT facilities?

In sum, it takes the right location and good planning, communication, and sustained effort to make joint facilities work. When these conditions are present, adjoining towns and/or the MaineDOT owe it to the taxpayers to see if a joint facility can work. Given that there is a need to build about 70 more municipal buildings and about 40 more MaineDOT buildings around the State, it seems likely there are places where a joint facility meets everyone’s needs.


 

This page last updated on 6/27/13