PRESENT: Chairman Hathaway, Councilor Cheney, Councilor Michaels, Councilor Friedman and Councilor Kelly, also present were Town Manager Reed, CEO Thomas, Deputy Clerk Reed, Penquis Community Action Team: Stephen Moores, Tom Lewis, Joseph Ponzetti, Dave Merritt, James Parker, and William Shanahan. Members of the Public included: Rodney, Judy, and Amanda Bragg, Casey Ryder, Tammy Cormier Kennett and one other person from the public.
ITEM 1. The January 29, 2001 Veazie Town Council was called to order at 7:00PM.
ITEM 2. Consideration of minutes: Motion: Councilor Friedman--to accept January 2, 2001 minutes as written. Seconded: Councilor Michaels,
Vote 5-0 in favor.
ITEM 3. Consideration of the Agenda: There were no additional items added to the agenda.
ITEM 4a. Public Comments: No comments from the Public
ITEM 4b. Community Service Presentation: Chairman Hathaway presented Certificates of Recognition to Amanda Bragg and Casey Rider for achieving the highest honor in girl scouting, the Silver Award. The girls explained the 40-hour project that they participated in to reach this accomplishment.
ITEM 5a. Audit Report follow-up: Charemon Willey explained to the council that many hours had been spent working on internal controls. Many of her recommendations had to do with changes involving the school. She suggests that the school budget be broken down in to more line items on the Town’s software reporting system. These changes would enable everyone to have access to more readable financial reports and make reconciliation easier.
Councilor Kelly inquired about the loss on the school lunch program. C. Willey stated that it was the first year and there wasn’t any historical data to compare it too. Councilor Kelley asked why the information from Orono’s Lunch Program was not used. Manager Reed explained that a baseline model was used but the cost deficit was created because of overestimates of free lunches that would be paid by reimbursement from the state. Original estimates were that 10- 20 free lunches a day would be issued. In reality, it is only a few lunches a day on average. This has created a .30 to .50-cent deficit per lunch. In order to breakeven the price of the lunches has been raised. Willey would also like to see the school lunch program separated from the Town’s general fund checking account. A separate checking
account, like the school construction project checking, should be created and the Town should adopt a better tracking system for lunch payments.
Chairman Hathaway stated the same problems arise year after year in regards to the school. He would like to see the council adopt a resolution to piece into place a transition so that work is not duplicated. He suggested appropriating funds to purchase the hardware, software and training that would eliminate the multiple steps it currently takes to pay a bill, often creating unnecessary late fees and duplication of processing. There should be a system, which allows for monthly reconciliation. Willey explained that the accounting package the Town of Veazie uses is designed for school system accounting in accordance with the State of Maine Regulations. Manager Reed outlined that a transition to a unified system will be more of an emotional issue than a hardware, software, and/or training problem due to the fact that all can
be purchased. Willey agreed and outlined that changing the way business is handled through the Superintendent’s office will be a challenge due to the fact that change is difficult. Councilor Kelly expressed a concern and asked if this is a power issue problem? Councilor Friedman expressed that the financial records and reporting should be done on Veazie’s Computer software system and not Orono’s. He expressed that the Town of Veazie should have control of the system. Councilor Michaels thought taking over the essentials would be a start. He also asked for a flow chart of the processes be made available for the council’s inspection and they can see what steps if any could be eliminated.
Much discussion ensued about the original intent of the School Union and that things today are very different from when the Union was first established. It was discussed that it may be time to look at a different way of doing business.
The Chairman outlined that his goal is to have unified hardware and software system in place by FY 2002-2003 and asked the other Councilors for their support. The Consensus was to proceed.
The Council asked if Auditor Willey and Manager Reed could put a flow chart together by the next Council meeting.
ITEM 5b. Kennett Property Discussion: The Manager outlined that Councilor Cheney asked that this issue be put back on the agenda for further discussion because the property is in the heart of the village and abuts Town owned properties. After the last meeting Manager Reed was contacted by the Kennett’s representative. He informed her of the discussion and that no vote was taken by the Council. He detailed that there was a deadlock on the issue. He explained further that the Town of Veazie would only be interested in the land so the building would have to be demolished costing the Town additional monies. The Manager outlined that Ms. Kennett wrote a letter to the Town, which in general also asked for the item to be brought back to the Council. In her letter she agreed
to have an appraisal done and expressed that she would like to work with the town to preserve the ledges for the children and families of Veazie.
Manager Reed supplied the Councilors with a copy of the Conservation Commission Code and recommended that the Commission should evaluate the property for its values to the community.
Councilor Friedman said he had spoken to 50 to 60 people that are opposed to spending the Town’s money on property and that they would rather see a reduction in property taxes. Councilor Cheney is interested in finding out what the opinions of the people are.
J. Parker commented that the Town of Hampden is using Transfer Development Rights to help develop an overall plan for open space.
Motion: Chairman Hathaway—to proceed further by contacting J. Manter and Conservation Commission to render an opinion on the property and report back at the next meeting. Seconded: Councilor Cheney, Vote 3-2 in favor.
ITEM 6a. Developer Presentation—Penquis Community Action Program: S. Moores, Director of Housing Services for Penquis CAP handed out information pertaining to the housing project they proposed to the Veazie Town Council. Their proposal is to build 20 affordable senior housing units on the site of the John R. Graham School; rents in the range of $350-495. There will be income guidelines. A one-person household will be $17,160 and $19,560 for a two-person household.
The original front of the building will be left intact to accommodate a community senior center for the whole community. The rest of the building will be demolished and replaced with a new two-story addition. This will allow for parking and outdoor gardening areas.
The Council asked questions pertaining to the quality of the building and it was stated that it would be of good quality, which could be compared to the Phillip Strickland House in Bangor.
Motion: Councilor Friedman—That the Town select Penquis C.A.P. Inc. (Penquis) as the designated developer of the proposed affordable senior housing project to be located at the former John R. Graham School for a period of six (6) months. Renewal of this designation will be contingent upon successful completion of certain milestones agreed upon by the Town and Penquis, It is also understood that the Town Manager, his staff or designee, will be authorized to work with Penquis to develop the following:
· A property tax incentive package (TIF) for the project following the Town’s established TIF policy, if it is deemed necessary to make the rental opportunities more affordable for senior citizen households;
· To evaluate the use of community investment funding for the proposed community use space to be located within the facility;
· To convey the subject property or any sub-unit of said parcel to Penquis (or a limited partnership to be formed by Penquis) for a nominal consideration once financing and permits are in place.
Seconded: Councilor Michaels, Vote 5-0 in favor.
ITEM 7. Manager’s Report: Before proceeding to the Manager’s report, Manager Reed took a moment to introduce Jerry Martin as the interim Fire Chief.
The following items were included in the Manager’s Report:
1. Copy of the Penobscot Downeast Cable Consortium agenda and minutes from the Annual Board Meeting.
2. A Memo from Butch Free regarding to the 1999 Ford 550.
3. The Planning Board Public Notice for the Buck Hill subdivision.
4. Draft of the Planning Board minutes from January 8, 2001.
5. A letter to Doug Morrell of the Bangor Hydro Electric.
ITEM 8. Request for information: Councilor Cheney asked Manager Reed if there had been any follow-up on the speeders on Thompson Road and Manager Reed said yes. He added that the Police Department had indicated that there had not been an accident at the School Street / Thompson Road intersection for over the past year.
ITEM 9. Warrants: Town Warrant 16, Town Payroll Warrant 16, School Warrant 16, School Payroll Warrant 16, and School Lunch Warrant 16, were circulated and signed.
ITEM 10. Adjournment: Motion: Chairman Hathaway --to adjourn January 29, 2001 Town Council Meeting. Seconded: Councilor Cheney, there was no further discussion. Voted 5-0. Meeting adjourned 9:35 pm.
Julie D. S. Reed
Deputy Town Clerk