Wednesday, March 12, 2014
By Paul Koenig firstname.lastname@example.org
The Chelsea Board of Selectmen probably will decide whether to sell the right to its cell tower lease after holding a public hearing Wednesday night to discuss the issue.
The hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Chelsea Elementary School.
Town Manager Scott Tilton said two out-of-state companies have expressed interest in buying an easement for the leasing rights to a cell tower on town property along Eastern Avenue.
There are about 15 years remaining on a 25-year-lease with U.S. Cellular for the cell tower, Tilton said. He previously said it was a 40-year lease. The town earns $758 a month for leasing the tower, but it could sell the leasing rights to another company for a one-time sum of more than $100,000, Tilton said.
The selectmen rejected a previous offer to sell the leasing rights last year, he said, but the offer was about $30,000 lower.
If the town sold the lease to a private company, the company would collect all income from leasing the property for 40 years. The lease with U.S. Cellular expires in 2028, but the company can renew the lease in five-year increments, Tilton said.
The town could earn more than $360,000 over the next 40 years if U.S. Cellular decides to renew its lease for the cell tower.
“I’m on the fence about it,” Tilton said of the decision. “I could see both sides. The selectmen need to decide what they want to do, whether they have a need for the money or not — and we haven’t talked about that. I think it’s going to depend on what the town says (at the public hearing).”
Tilton said the money from selling the lease could be used to replace a fire tanker or do road work. He said the town probably shouldn’t sell the lease without a clear purpose for the money.
“If nobody sees an immediate need for the money, then it probably doesn’t make sense financially to just put it in a savings account,” Tilton said.
He said New York-based Unison offered $115,000 for the rights to the lease. Los Angeles-based Wireless Capital Partners hasn’t made an offer, but has said it can beat Unison’s terms, Tilton said.
The Board of Selectmen probably would hold a special town meeting if it decides to accept an offer to sell the lease and use the money for a new fire tanker, Tilton said. If the board wants to use the money for something such as road work, he said, the board probably would just ask to allocate the money during the annual Town Meeting in June.
The board is also scheduled to:
• Hear a budget presentation on the next fiscal year from Tilton,
• consider a resident’s loan request through the town’s Community Development Block Grant fund to help buy a mobile home and
• review and approve the Kennebec Valley Humane Society 2014-2015 sheltering contract.Paul Koenig — email@example.comTwitter: @paul_koenig