PRESENT: Chairman Hathaway, Councilor Cheney, Councilor Michaels, Councilor Friedman and Councilor Kelly-- Budget Committee members J. Manter, B. Hogan, J. Lord, and G. Greenwood-- School Committee members P. Lewis, K. Carr, R. Wetherbee, A. Ostrofsky, and Principal Nichols, and Supt. Perry-- Manager B. Reed, Police Chief B. O’Halloran, Fire Chief G. Martin, Town, CEO A. Thomas, Supt. B. Free, Rec. Dir. Freese and Deputy Clerk J. Reed, 13 members from the public, BDN Reporter J. Harrison
ITEM 1. The May 21, 2001 Veazie Town Council was called to order at 7:00.
ITEM 2. Consideration of minutes: Councilor Michaels asked that the comments made pertaining to, if the town decided to spend more how would it impact aid, be noted in the May 7, 2001Motion: Councilor Cheney --to accept April 23, 2001 minutes with the requested addition be accepted. Seconded: Councilor Friedman Vote 4-0-1 in favor, Chairman Hathaway abstained.
ITEM 3. Consideration of the Agenda: There were not any additions made to the agenda.
ITEM 4a. Public Comments: P. Robertson asked why the Public Comment Item was so early in the agenda. Chairman Hathaway said the item had been moved up on the agenda to convenience people who may not want to stay for the whole meeting to be heard. K. Robertson asked Chairman Hathaway if he supported the budget and the Chairman said yes fully.
ITEM 5. Public Hearing: At 7:07 Motion: Councilor Friedman-- to open up the Public Hearing Seconded: Councilor Cheney vote 5-0 in favor.
S. McLaughlin asked for time to review the materials because she was not at the last meeting. Chairman Hathaway read through last year’s figures and this year's anticipated figures.
Public: Asked why the service fees were decreasing so much this year?
Manager Reed stated because there were not any big projects like the power plant, Bangor Gas or any sub-divisions anticipated for the upcoming fiscal year. Chairman Hathaway continued.
P. Robertson asked why there was a big jump in the full-time fire fighter position line. Manager Reed explained that an additional full-time fire fighter has been hired and the coverage hours will be extended. Also there were monies to allow for advanced on-the-job training for the on-call fire fighters. Chairman Hathaway continued on to the Police Department Budget.
P. Robertson asked what the $16,000 line for School Programs and Crossing is for? Another citizen asked if the police were already on duty when they were at the crossing and are they getting paid more when they do the crossing? Chairman Hathaway stated no they were not being paid any additional funds but that the line helps to track the cost of a crossing guard and related school and community programs. He then asked Chief O‘Halloran if he could explain further. The Chief outlined that many hours are spent on school related matters such as home visits and discussions with Principal Nichols as well as truancy matters. This line was created to show the funds that are spent working in relation to school projects. K. Robertson asked if the money was over and above
salaries. Chief O’Halloran said yes. P. Robertson asked so if the line were not there, the figure would be added to salaries? Manager Reed then added that the monies for the Bike patrol and other summer projects are supported by the line item. Councilor Cheney stated the line covers various issues. Chairman Hathaway continued on to Public Works Budget.
P. Robertson asked why such a large increase in the Health insurance? Chairman Hathaway stated it is indicative of the times. Additionally, the custodial line has been moved to Public Works, which would increase the medical insurance line.
Mrs. Patterson: Why is the cemetery line up so high? Does that mean it will be better taken care of? Manager Reed explained that in the past the funds came from the cemetery fund but now the funds will not come from the fund. She stated, the backside is not mowed very well and she had complained to the manager in the past. Manager Reed stated that B. Free had his people on it and if there is a problem to contact Public Works or him.
Mr. Suddy: Is the town going to salt instead of sand this year? Chairman Hathaway stated that the Town is looking into it but a building would be needed to store the salt. Mr. Suddy stated that Towns that use salt are cleaner. Chairman Hathaway stated that it is being investigated but there are environmental affects to consider as well—the trees along the interstate are browning because of salt use. Councilor Friedman outlined that he knows the Department is revfiewing the option on the salt issue.
Councilor Hathaway went through the fixed cost lines.
Chairman Hathaway went on to the Parks and Recreation Budget and P. Lewis stated that she is pleased with the Rec. Program because it gives the children a safe place to go after school.
Mrs. Brooks: Why did the salaries go down? Manager Reed pointed out that the salary lines have been broken out by positions. Mr. Suddy: Will there is any dug out built for the ball fields? Chairman Hathaway stated it was not in this year’s budget but F. Gagne has started to raise funds through volunteers to get portable fencing. Mr. Suddy: As far as safety, dugouts are very important.
Councilor Michaels stated that what he has heard most about the Rec. Program is that parents don’t have to go to Orono. Public: Are there going to be port a potties? Chairman Hathaway said there had been talk about expanding the program and believes it has been a great investment. Councilor Friedman said he would like to add that it would not be such a great program without Mrs. Freese. She was applauded.
Chairman Hathaway proceeded to the Capital Plan and Projects. The monies for the cemetery are planned to construct section 12. Chairman Hathaway pointed out that the capital projects are an ongoing wish list. He then pointed out the importance of the monies for the comprehensive plan’s match development. He stressed how important it is to have a long-term plan now for Veazie’s future. With the build up of Buck Hill Sub-division that began as 25 lots with 4 cul-de-sacs and now there are 14 lots and one temporary cul-de-sac. He stated, “We need to be visionary and think into the future.”
An entrance sign line has been added to the budget this year. P. Robertson asked how could a sign cost $8500.00? Manager Reed said the money is to replace all three signs. K. Robertson asked if the guy in town could do the signs and Chairman Hathaway stated The Painting Place was no longer in business in Veazie.
Chairman Hathaway moved on to the Reserve accounts. P. Robertson asked why the VEMA account was tripled and was it because of the power plant? Chairman Hathaway said no it was not because of the power plant but that it is time to address potential disasters with a plan.
He stated that this is the year that Veazie needs to set aside monies for the future because it will be the last year that the town will get full funds from the state and the 1.2 million tax monies from Casco Bay. Public: Who decides how the funds are spent? Chairman Hathaway stated that recommendations come through the departments and the Town Council decides. P. Robertson asked if the reserve accounts could be spent on other projects? Chairman Hathaway stated the monies in reserve accounts could only be used where they are appropriated but the interest goes to the general fund.
A comment was made in regards to the funds for the Ball field. Manager Reed said there is a need to get water to the ball field.
Public: What is the big jump in the Executive Department capital? Manager Reed explained the funds were for the computer network. The system desperately needs to be updated. The whole system went down that morning and additionally, by consolidating and joining the school system with the town system will eliminate duplication. Chairman Hathaway then asked if there were any more questions on the Municipal Budget. P. Robertson said she had heard that there was a $400,000 project at the Town Office and where was it in the budget? It was explained that there has been an evaluation done through an engineering firm on the building and upgrades are needed but that the town will be doing it piece meal. Currently the most important issues to address are the electrical, the front entrance and the air quality.
Supt. Perry then went through the revenues and the high points of the school budget. He gave the following breakdown of how the monies are spent. Because of rounding the total is exactly 100%
· 60% on K-8
· 24% on Secondary
· 8.74% Special Ed
· 1.38% other instructional and clubs, yearbook etc.
· .84% School lunch
· 5.8% functions
P. Robertson asked what the increase in the lunch program from $8,000 to $23,000. Supt. Perry explained that because there a few students taking advantage of the free and reduced lunch the government subsidy is much smaller than originally anticipated. He also state that it was a new program but that there is about 80% participation. Councilor Friedman stated it was a good program for the parents and the children. Chairman Hathaway asked if there were any other questions?
Chairman Hathaway stated it was the council’s goal to lower the mill rate and stabilize it. Public: What will the mill rate be? Manager Reed said with the current budget figures it would be 17.2. Public: I thought it would be 14 this year? Chairman Hathaway stated that for the Town to get the maximum benefit from the state income and sales taxes that citizens pay the right size budget has been prepared. Manager Reed pointed out that Executive Summaries available would explain the details. He also stated that the homes in Veazie are currently valuated at 80-85% not 100%. Chairman Hathaway explained that Manager Reed and Supt. Perry have been in touch with Augusta trying to figure out how to find the best rate that citizens could live with. Public: When we went into a TIF they told us that the mill rate would go down.
B. Hogan stated that what he got out of the TIF meeting was there would be a drop in the beginning but stabilize for the future. We are very fortunate to have some control over this issue.
Public: We moved here because the low mill rate and we are impressed with how the school and town office work together and the support of police and fire. It is nice to see a community work together it is so different compared to where we moved from.
Motion: Councilor Friedman—To reconvene to regular session Seconded: Councilor Cheney—Vote 5-0 in favor.
The Town Council made no revisions to the budget and asked the Manager to put it to print.
The council agreed to a five-minute recess.
The Town Council reconvened at 9:00.
ITEM 6c. Recreation Committee Appointment: Heard out of order. Motion: to appoint Mike Laferrier to the Parks and Recreation committee for a one-year term expiring in 2002 and to appoint Susan Laferrier to the Parks and Recreation Committee for a two-year term expiring in 2003. Seconded: Councilor Cheney Vote 5-0 in favor.
ITEM 6a. Conservation Commission Report: J. Manter reported on behalf of the Conservation Commission. The commission met with the town forester to walk the property T. Davis proposed swapping. It is their opinion that there is little benefit to the town to participate in a land swap with Tom Davis. The land in question would only act as a buffer to the cemetery, which is what it does currently. Councilor Friedman commented that he had walked the property and does not think the town is encroaching on the Davis property. The Town Attorney needs a square foot survey to show the Town is encroaching, which Davis had agreed to provide. Additionally, Councilor Friedman stated that he has yet to see a signed document that confirms Davis is the personal representative of the
property. It was also noted that this item would be brought to the agenda this evening and Davis has not appeared. There was a consensus among the Councilors that there is not an interest at this time in a land swap.
ITEM 6b. Town Forester Agreement: Manager Reed told the Council that Seven Island Land Company has split and that Carol Redelsheimer, the Town’s Forester’s new company, Two Trees Forestry would like to continue contracting with the town. The manager needs the council consent to sigh the new agreement.
Motion: Councilor Friedman—That the Town Manager be authorized to sign, on the councils behalf, the Town Forester retainer agreement to provide forest management services as required by the Conservation Commission. Seconded: Councilor Michaels vote 5-0 in favor.
ITEM 7. Manager’s Report: Manager went through the list of items on his Manager’s notes as follows:
7a. The Governor signed the Town sponsored bill LD 518 on May 2, 2001.
7b. The Manager noted that funds of $31,698.82 of investment funds have been received and that $91,257.00, the School Debt service reserve account funds have been received.
7c. Manager Reed outlined that CEO Thomas had sent letters regarding The Davis matter and RMP Motors matter.
7d. Manager Reed provided a copy of the notice of the break up of Seven Island Land Company.
7e. Manager Reed referred Councilors to the copy of the letter from Penquis CAP’s Attorney outlining their progress on the Senior Housing Project.
ITEM 8. Requests for Information/Council Comments: Councilor Kelly said he thought it was nice to see some people at the hearing and would like to see more people at meeting to get their perspective. It was concluded that the Town Council puts in a lot of time into issues and is committed to do what is in the best interest for Veazie.
P. Robertson stated that she did not feel welcome and does not believe others felt welcomed especially if there are negative comments involved. Councilor Kelly stated that the council works for the people and all questions are welcome.
Councilor Cheney had positive feedback on the Veazie website.
Councilor Kelley asked if others were able to see the cable channel 7. He said his never comes in. The Manager said that in the last newsletter there was a posting asking people to call Adelphia if they were experiencing ingress, the wave that moves across the screen.
Councilor Michaels made a comment about a recent letter from the Sewer District about increasing rates. He stated that it was a coincidence that the mill rate goes down but the sewer rates go up. In essences a one-mill decrease for a $100,000 home will be off set for the $100 increase in the sewer but for the $50,000 homes in the village it is equivalent to a 2-mill increase.
Manager Reed stated that when he contacted the state about what would happen if the mill rate were increased the state said that the numbers would be generated by using the reciprocal the figures so with a rate of 18.2 it would generate tax revenues of $168,000 and state estimated revenues of $300,000. Councilor Michaels outlined that it would be nice if the town could use the money to pay the sewer assessments and lower every ones sewer bills. Chairman Hathaway stated that goes back a few years ago when there was a drive to take over the sewer district. There is another retirement coming up and it may be time to put pressure on the trustees to let the town gain control for efficiency purposes. Mr. Suddy stated that what some districts do is when the town needs money, like
Orono, they up the sewer rates. Chairman Hathaway stated that it would be more efficient because the Town could do the accounting, billing and the Town already retains professionals like our attorney, and engineers. The Chairman noted that it may be time to do what is best for the community as a whole.
ITEM 9. Warrants: Town Warrant 22, Town Payroll Warrant 22, School Warrant 22, School Payroll Warrant 22, and School Lunch Warrant 22, were circulated and signed. Town Council then signed the Annual Town Meeting Warrant as presented during the Public Hearing for the Budget.
ITEM 10. Adjournment: Motion: Councilor Friedman-to adjourn May 21, 2001, Town Council Meeting. Seconded: Councilor Cheney, there was no further discussion. Voted 5-0. Meeting adjourned 10:10 PM.
Julie D. S. Reed
Deputy Town Clerk