PRESENT: Chairman Hathaway, Councilor Cheney, Councilor Michaels--School Committee members K. Carr, R. Wetherbee, A. Ostrofsky and Principal Nichols, Peggy Lewis and Supt. Perry were excused--Budget Committee members J. Lord, G. Greenwood, and J. Manter. Also present were Town Manager B. Reed, Police Chief R. O’Halloran, Interim Fire Chief G. Martin, Public Works Supt. B. Free, CEO A. Thomas, Deputy Treasure G. Downing, Auditor C. Willey, and Deputy Clerk J. Reed--Councilor Friedman and
Councilor Kelly were excused.
ITEM 1. The March 26, 2001 Veazie Town Council was called to order at 7:00.
ITEM 2. Consideration of minutes: Motion: Councilor Cheney--to accept March 12, 2001 minutes as written. Seconded: Councilor Michaels
Vote 3-0 in favor.
ITEM 3. Consideration of the Agenda: There were not any items added to the agenda.
ITEM 4a. Public Comments: No comments from the Public
ITEM 5. Budget Meeting-Round Table Session: Chairman Hathaway opened the discussion by stating that this is the first year that a full tax payment will be made on behalf of Casco Bay Energy. He said he thought he was speaking on behalf of the entire council when he said the number one priority is to lower taxes. He would also like to save for capital improvements and special projects that may be needed in the future.
Manager Reed suggested going around the room with introductions so that those involved in the budget could become acquainted. The schedule of the Budget Meeting was verified and each department head was asked to give a brief overview of their upcoming budget.
B. Free stated that his budget would remain similar to last year’s budget. Although there would be a new line added for storm drain cleaning, the cleaning line may be moved from Administration to Public Works for simplicity reasons. The department anticipates an increase in materials.
Chairman Hathaway commented on the overdrawn overtime and B. Free reminded him that most of the storms this year have been in the evenings and on weekends.
Chief O’Halloran stated that he did not have a formal presentation at this time but that the major issue of his budget concerns wages. Chairman Hathaway asked about the COPS grant status and the availability if any other grants available. Chief O’Halloran stated that the COPS grant money has been exhausted. There are federal grants for school resource officers. That officer would have to complete training and his/her primary position would be for the school. There are some small grants for equipment, like the vest grant received this past year and the seatbelt awareness campaign has expanded and there may be monies for extra seatbelt enforcement. As for grants like the highway grant, the smaller towns are being phased out by the change in requirements.
Council Cheney asked him about staffing and asked if positions were being advertised. Chief O’Halloran stated that in the past they have participated with the regional pool for applicants but currently word of mouth has produced the most results. Part of the retention problem is wage competition of the surrounding departments. The Chief outlined that he and Manager Reed have put together a wage/pay study, which is later on the agenda.
Chief Martin of the Fire Department stated that he has been working with Manager Reed to get familiar with the budget process. L. Leighton has been promoted and rehired as the full-time Lieutenant and the department has received 6 applications for the other full-time position, created from Leighton’s promotion, by word of mouth. Advertising for the replacement position will run in the weekend and Monday edition of the Bangor Daily News. Martin stated that there is federal grant monies coming out soon and the lieutenants would be working on a list of needed equipment because a grant money request must be for certain items. There was also discussion about recruitment of new firefighters and what could be done. Councilor Cheney suggested a Fireman’s Muster. Chairman Hathaway asked why jobs could not be specific
and Chief Martin said because the State requires minimum training standards for anyone on a fire department. Manager Reed stated that this is attributed to limiting liability. Martin said that the Fire Chief’s association has hired a lobbyist to work with the legislature.
J. Lord mentioned the Fire Study, a few years ago that was to address regional fire issues must have been put on the shelf; although Bangor has the water rescue specialist and Orono has taken over Hazmat. Manager Reed said the controversy was with service delivery. When an attempt was made to contract service delivery, problems arose between Orono and Bangor. If Veazie contracted with one department the other department would likely not extend mutual aid. Council Cheney recommended allowing money in the budget for recruitment and training. Martin said there is a need for more public awareness about the shortage and there should be more communication with the legislature.
K. Carr stated that the School Board has met twice and another meeting was scheduled. They are looking to add two additional positions and monies for special Ed and out-of-district placement. They have increased the utility line in anticipation of increased energy costs and more money to the lunch subsidy given the shortfall in the past budget. Another significant increase is that they would like to see a second bus run in the afternoon to minimize the amount of children on the playground after school waiting for the bus, which requires additional staff supervision. Now that there is a full day of kindergarten it makes for a long day when a child does not arrive home until 4:00PM. The School wants to continue the French program to better prepare the children for foreign language in high school. Councilor Cheney praised
the French program. Chairman Hathaway asked questions about the 30-year capital plan. Councilor Michaels asked if the school has security concerns, how the issue is being addressed and if risk assessments are being done. Principal Nichols said the safety committee, school staff, police chief, and VEMA director, have been working diligently on a plan in the event of an emergency but as far as risk assessment that is not something that can be predicted.
Principal Nichols said he has been working on the budget since January and the majority of costs are fixed. There is also a long-range plan that is being updated every year. He stated they would be prepared at the next meeting on April 9, 2001.
ITEM 6a. Network System Update: Manager Reed reported on his meeting with the Superintendents office about software for financial reporting. During the meeting he announced that the town would be upgrading and retraining on the ADS. The superintendent’s office expressed concerns pertaining to possible increase in workload. G. Downing stated that she believes software program is not that complicated and is very similar to what is currently being used and does not believe additional time would be needed. C. Willey agreed that with the proper training, learning the new software should not be a problem with any of the staff; either town or school. She said using the new software program is not designed to create an increased workload but to make reporting better for
all parties. The new software will be available fall of 2001 so training should begin in the spring 2002. Everyone will be trained from scratch the only remaining issue is connectivity. The cost is estimated at $24,000, which includes software and training. Additionally, ADS will provide the windows upgrade at half the cost. The Manager outlined that a total budget of $40,000 would be required. Chairman Hathaway stated there are three issues: software, training, and implementation. It was agreed that change can be difficult but that technology is always evolving with the intention to reduce workloads and the Town of Veazie should keep up with current technologies.
Item 6b. Manger’s Review: This item was postponed until the next meeting when all of the council members are present. There is a draft proposal for a new contract. The council will go into executive session at the next council meeting.
ITEM 7a. Retention Plan--Police Wage/Pay Review: The Police Department has persistently had a problem with personnel retention. Two Police Academy Graduates have resigned in under a year to take higher paying positions in surrounding communities. Those departments also offer overtime for extra curricular community activities. In an effort to retain officers, Manager Reed and Chief O’Halloran prepared a wage study. Reed explained the methodology he used to conduct the study for the police department. The current structure of the department when fully staffed is 5 full-time and 5 reserve officers. With the strict current standards for training it is necessary to keep officers training up-to-date. Manager Reed passed out a flyer the City of Westbrook is using as a
marketing strategy to recruit.
Councilor Michaels said the Town of Veazie should consider raising wages to retain officers, additionally; he would like to see an officer at the school. Chairman Hathaway agreed that we have to be competitive to retain good officers and this should be reflected in the budget.
ITEM 7b. Ten Year Capital Plan: Manager Reed presented a draft of a ten-year capital plan for the Town of Veazie. Manager Reed pointed out that the study was done in today’s dollars. This plan will be examined more thoroughly at the April 23, 2001 meeting. Chairman Hathaway had questions as to why certain items i.e. uniforms, (body armor) were in the capital budget and not just put in the regular budget. Manager Reed explained that because the items are considered capital and has a life of 3 years it is appropriate to put those items in the capital plan.
Chairman Hathaway commented that there were additional items he would like to see in the budget.
1. 2003 would mark 150 years for the Town of Veazie and would like to put monies in the budget to celebrate and show community pride.
2. Because of mandates for special Ed there should be $100,000 in a student reserve account.
3. A Technology Reserve Account
4. Growth Management should have a $100,000 reserve account.
5. A reserve account for land purchases
Councilor Michaels stated that the council and the planning board should have a joint meeting to discuss the future development of the Town of Veazie.
ITEM 7c. Budget Committee Appointment: Manager Reed told the council that John Manter had written to the council and is interested in being part of the budget committee. Councilor Cheney Motioned: to appoint John Manter to the Budget Committee, Seconded: Councilor Michaels Vote 3-0 in favor
ITEM 8. Manager’s Report: The following items were included:
a. A copy of the School Department’s 30-year Facilities Maintenance and Capital Replacement Plan.
b. A. Thomas met with Tom Davis and Davis requested his issue to be placed on the agenda. Manager Reed stated the council had expressed that the issue should be discussed only when all of the council members are present. Additionally, Mr. Davis has provided some paperwork regarding the issue but still lacks the information the council requested. CEO Thomas has mailed a letter reiterating the specific items needed for the council to discuss the matter in further detail.
c. The memo from Chief O’Halloran with information pertaining to a new Veazie resident. The resident has been convicted of a new crime. The crime is categorized as a sexually based crime but does not fall under the Sexual Offender Law, which requires registration of the offender.
d. A letter from House of Representative Mary Ellen Ledwin.
e. Copy of the current Budget report.
ITEM 9. Requests for Information/Council Comments: Councilor Michaels commented on the amount of sand on the roads and inquired about street sweeping. Manager Reed stated some towns are going to straight salt because of the sand complaints. Reed also said Public Works would be coming out with a Spring Clean-Up Memo soon.
ITEM 10 Warrants: Town Warrant 18, Town Payroll Warrant 18, School Warrant 18, School Payroll Warrant 18, and School Lunch Warrant 18, were circulated and signed.
ITEM 11. Adjournment: Motion: Councilor Cheney--to adjourn March 26, 2001, 2001 Town Council Meeting. Seconded: Councilor Michaels, there was no further discussion. Voted 3-0. Meeting adjourned 10:21 PM.
Julie D. S. Reed
Deputy Town Clerk