PRESENT: Chairman Hathaway, Councilor Cheney, Councilor Friedman and Councilor Hogan; Manager Reed, Assistant Clerk K. Gifford, CEO Thomas, Deputy Treasurer Julie Reed, Town Auditor Charemon Willey-Staples, Police Chief Mark Leonard, Fire Chief Gerry Martin, Member of the Public Raymond Michaels. Councilor Kelly was absent and excused.
ITEM 1. The November 18, 2002 Veazie Town Council was called to order at 7:00 PM.
ITEM 2. Consideration of minutes: Motion By: Councilor Cheney—to accept November 4, 2002 minutes as written. Seconded: Councilor Hogan, Voted 3-0-1 in favor. Councilor Friedman abstained from voting due to being absent from the meeting.
ITEM 3. Consideration of the Agenda: Chairman Hathaway stated he would like to discuss the Dang property located on the corner of State Street and Main Street and see if the there is any interest to acquire the property. This topic was added as item 5c.
ITEM 4. Public Comments: There were no comments from the public.
ITEM 5a. Audit Report
Town Auditor Charemon Willey-Staples was present to review the management letter. Various matters were outlined in the letter as well as suggestions. Charemon Willey-Staples noted that for the year ending June 30, 2002 the Town had overdrafts in several accounts. They were the result of expenditures that were difficult to predict such as overtime for Public Works and academy training for the Police Department. Charemon Willey-Staples suggested increasing the budget for overtime or setting up a reserve which could be funded on an as needed basis.
Councilor Cheney inquired on whether the Town has resolved the issue with gas for Public Works. Manager Reed stated that they are keeping track of their mileage and at the end of the quarter they will submit their summary and reconcile.
Chairman Hathaway inquired whether the Town could create an overtime fund for all departments. Charemon Willey-Staples stated that creating such a reserve would be fine.
The Town maintains several cash and investment accounts that have frequent transfers. Charemon Willey-Staples recommended that the Town use a predefined numbered form for all transfers and that these forms be approved and given to the financial officer to be entered on a timely basis.
Manager Reed outlined that currently the Town uses a fax form for transfers. He added that on occasion he will make a transfer via phone and there is no form to provide Deputy Treasurer Julie Reed. A bank verification does come via fax and mail.
Charemon Willey-Staples pointed out that the Town has increased the number of reserves, capital outlay and designated accounts over the past several years. She recommended that the Town set up a schedule to show how these accounts were established and for what purpose.
Currently the Town can only access the accounting software from one computer. This is sometimes very inconvenient and inefficient. Charemon Willey-Staples stated it is important to get access to the accounting software on another computer as soon as possible.
Councilor Friedman stated it was his understanding that a year ago the Town was moving forward with this. CEO Thomas stated that two of the firms were not ready, TRIO and Advanced Data Systems did not have the Windows version of their software ready yet. He also outlined that the Town has hired a consultant to come in and help with the process. Chairman Hathaway requested that CEO Thomas report back at the next Council meeting with a timeline of when it will be done.
Charemon Willey-Staples stated that the Town has numerous contracts, leases and debt schedules and signed copies of all should be kept in one place.
She added that the purchase order system implemented a few months ago appears to be working well. It has cut down on a lot of the invoices being passed around and hopefully has made it easier for the department heads as well.
Lastly, it was recommended that the Town consider establishing an account to pay for separation of service type expenditures when employees leave Town employment. This would eliminate the items being charged to payroll lines, which can overstate these items by a significant amount.
Chairman Hathaway stated he still has concerns over the signing of school warrants, he outlined that they still are not being signed in a timely manner. The school makes up 60% of the budget and yet there doesn’t seem to be any responsibility on signing off on the school warrants. Deputy Treasurer Julie Reed stated that the she is receiving a signed sheet in the mail but it is days after the Town Council meeting.
Charemon Willey-Staples stated that she will be back at the next Council meeting and will have the audit report to the Council next week so there will be ample time to look it over.
ITEM 5b. Police Department Recognition
Chairman Hathaway stated that the Council wished to recognize Chief of Police Mark Leonard and Detective Andrew Whitehouse for their professionalism and negotiating skills during an incident that occurred on October 31, 2002. They kept an event from becoming tragic. Detective Whitehouse was absent from the meeting but Chairman Hathaway asked Chief Leonard to convey to him their appreciation for their outstanding work and service to the community.
ITEM 5c. Dang Property
Chairman Hathaway outlined that he asked Manager Reed to put together some information on the Dang property for the Council meeting so it could be discussed whether the Town would like to take a proactive interest in the property. CEO Thomas outlined that the property is residentially zoned but there is no room for a house. He valued the property at $12,000.
Councilor Hogan suggested coming up with an offer and seeing where it goes. Councilor Cheney inquired on where the money would come from. Chairman Hathaway stated it would come from an economic development reserve. There was discussion on how much to offer for the piece of property.
Motion By: Councilor Hogan—to offer $13,000 for the property located at 1413 State Street and to afford the legal fees. Seconded: Councilor Cheney, Voted 4-0 in favor.
ITEM 6. Manager’s Report
a. Enclosed was a memo from Assessor Allan Thomas pertaining to the release of the State’s 2003 community value. Veazie saw a very large increase (45%+). Manager Reed stated that there appears to be no advantage in appealing the figure. In general, the lower mill rate pushed up the Town’s value.
b. Enclosed was a memo from Assessor Allan Thomas pertaining to an adjustment of the 2001 commitment. It seems that Assessor Thomas overstated the TIF reimbursement by some $169,254.00 which translates that the overlay was understated. Assessor Allan Thomas stated that he used the full value of Casco Bay instead of the TIF value. The mistake only affected the amount the Town returned to CBEC TIF District and the amount the Town kept for overlay. Councilor Cheney inquired on what would have happened if the mistake did not get discovered. Assessor Allan Thomas stated that the Town auditor would have discovered it.
c. The Town Council reviewed the final copy of the Town of Veazie – Request for Proposals for the community building located on Olive Street. Councilor Friedman stated he would like to see the idea of moving the administrative offices to the community building revisited. Manager Reed stated that if there aren’t any proposals received it is something that can be discussed by the Town Council.
d. The Council received a binder titled ‘Tax Policy and Economic Development in Maine: A Survey of the Issues published by the Margaret Chase Smith Center.
e. The Council reviewed a letter from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles thanking the Town for hosting the Bureau of Motor Vehicle’s Municipal Fall Workshop.
f. The School Committee’s minutes from their November 5, 2002 meeting was reviewed
g. The Orono-Veazie Water District’s October 2, 2002 meeting minutes was reviewed
ITEM 7. Requests for Information/Council Comments: Manager Reed stated the meetings with the Sewer District are going well. The two are meeting every two weeks.
Councilor Cheney asked how things were going with the crossing guard. Police Chief Mark Leonard stated things are going very well and they have even received compliments. He recommends continuing it.
Councilor Hogan stated he had a couple residents ask him about the Town using calcium and salt instead of sand during the winter. Manager Reed stated that the idea has been visited the only problem is a building to house the salt and calcium. CEO Thomas stated that the Town office lies in a flood zone and he can’t allow putting a building in. He added that other spots are being looked at.
ITEM 8. Warrants: Town Warrant 10 & 10A, Town Payroll Warrant 10, School Warrant 10, School Lunch Warrant 10 and School Payroll Warrant 10 were circulated and signed.
ITEM 9. Adjournment: Motion: Councilor Friedman—to adjourn November 18, 2002, Town Council Meeting. Seconded: Councilor Cheney, Voted 4-0 in favor. There was no further discussion. Meeting adjourned.