Lu Gallaudet of Cumberland urged the Town Council on Monday to scale back on added expenses. The panel that night approved bonding up to $7 million for facilities improvements and a new fire truck. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

CUMBERLAND — The Town Council voted 5-2 Monday to issue bonds of up to $7 million to fund several facility improvements and a new fire truck.

The projects presented are conceptual, and Town Manager Bill Shane said he expects as costs are fine-tuned in the coming months the total of the 20-year bond could be closer to $6 million or $6.5 million. The 20-year bond carries a 2.5% interest rate.

The council had first explored a $5 million bond, but the need for extra space by School Administrative District 51 – whose nearly 30 buses are headquartered and maintained at the town’s Drowne Road Public Works site – caused the amount to increase, Shane said.

The Cumberland-North Yarmouth district has eyed relocation of its fleet to North Yarmouth’s Public Works facility, but neither that town’s Select Board nor the School Board have taken a formal vote on the matter.

In the event the bus fleet stays put, SAD 51 would pay the town $2 million, plus interest, in annual installments over the life of the bond, to offset the extra cost. Shane noted that 71 percent of SAD 51 taxe revenue comes from Cumberland.

Unlike communities where bonds go to referendum, Cumberland’s council has the power to approve borrowing. Residents have 30 days from the July 8 vote to petition for a referendum to overturn the decision in cases where more than $100,000 would be borrowed or an ordinance has been changed, Shane said.

The largest piece of borrowing would be $4.26 million for projects at the town’s Drowne Road Public Works garage, which could be complete by fall 2021. Those include a new wash bay, a town mechanic bay and two school mechanic bays. A new 3,600-square-foot building closer to Drowne Road would house locker rooms, offices and lunch and meeting rooms.

The funds will also pay to restore the area to be cleared this year of Cumberland’s compost and brush pads, which will be closed and moved to a town-owned property off Tuttle Road. The restoration is to be planned with residents of nearby neighborhoods and the Planning Board.

The town had looked to relocate all of Public Works in order to make room for further development of the Village Green community. But high levels of methane gas at a closed landfill near the garage led the town to scrap those plans, which prevents additional housing from being built in its place.

“Since the land cannot be redeveloped, we’re trying to utilize it the best we can, and trying to become more of a mechanical maintenance facility than a construction operations center,” Shane said last month.

About $500,000 of the bond could also go toward building a new sand and salt shed on property to be acquired by the town at 215 Middle Road, behind Storey Brothers. Those operations are also being removed from the Drowne Road garage.

Also included is $275,000 to build a new compost pad on town-owned land by the Town Forest, and $75,000 for a landscaped berm. Proceeds totaling $225,000, expected from the sale of land on Greely Road to Jeff Storey, would help offset those expenses.

The bond would include $150,000 to expand Town Council Chambers, where a wall would be knocked down to allow for more space during elections and well-attended meetings. The nearly 1,200-square-foot room would be expanded by 551 square feet, and a collapsible wall would be used when extra space is not needed, Shane said.

Another $190,000 would fund about 40 new parking spaces at Town Hall to facilitate overflow traffic from various functions held in the area, including the food pantry and Little League games.

The bond also includes $1.4 million for a new ladder truck, which the manager called the “most-utilized vehicle” in the Fire Department’s fleet. It would replace a 20-year-old model that needs about $50,000 in repairs and be on the road by January 2021.

Lu Gallaudet of Range Road cautioned the Town Council against spending money instead of finding ways to save it.

Cumberland is a small town, she said, “and this idea that we … should have so many things seems incorrect to me. In the last decade, we have had numerous large items: school additions; new firehouse; wonderful, saved public lands.”

“I just feel that we need to find ways as a small town to use and reuse what we have, to get creative, and to accept that what we have is adequate, and to not keep adding things that are what I view as unnecessary luxuries.”

Mike Edes and Bob Vail, the two councilors who voted against the bond, said they support some elements, but not all. Vail favored the sand and salt, and compost pad reconstructions.

“I support the changes to Town Hall, to the town garage, and to the pad, but it’s just not enough for me to support voting for this tonight,” Edes said.

While he backed the whole package, Councilor Bill Stiles noted the importance of “fine-tuning the numbers that go with each part of it.”