PRESENT: Chairman Hathaway, Councilor Michaels, Councilor Cheney, Councilor Friedman and Councilor Kelly; Town Manager B. Reed, CEO A. Thomas, Assistant Clerk K. Gifford. Police Chief Mark Leonard, Supt. of Public Works Butch Free, Budget Committee Members; Suzanne Hart, John Manter, George Greenwood. School Committee members; Duska Hayman, Andrea Ostrofsky, Peggy Lewis, and Rebecca Wetherbee; Superintendent of Schools Thomas Perry, Principal Scott Nichols and
members of the public Albert and Anna Suddy.
ITEM 1. The March 25, 2002 Veazie Town Council was called to order at 7:00 PM.
ITEM 2. Consideration of minutes:
Motion By: Councilor Michaels--to accept March 25, 2002 minutes as written. Seconded: Councilor Kelly, Vote 4-0-1 in favor. Councilor Friedman abstained from voting due to being absent.
ITEM 3. Consideration of the Agenda: There were no additions made to the agenda.
ITEM 4. Public Comments:
School Committee Chair Peggy Lewis informed the Council and others attending the Council meeting that there will be a free program at the Veazie Community School which will include a DARE officer. It will be from 6:30PM to 9:30PM on Wednesday April 10th. The presentation will review what is being said in today's popular music.
Members of the public Albert Suddy and Anna Suddy stated they were under the impression that the public safety director was a dead issue, however from reading past minutes it seemed to still be on the table. Chairman Hathaway stated that the issue is dead until the consensus of the Council decides to bring it back on the table. Councilor Cheney added that there were a lot of productive meetings with the departments and a lot of constructive work was completed. A lot of issues were brought up and there were still unanswered questions so it was decided to let the topic die. Manager Reed pointed out that in Item 6a of the Manager's Report section of the last Council
meeting it was reported that Councilor Friedman requested it be canceled due to costs and lack of consensus.
Members of the public Albert and Anna Suddy also had concerns over the spending of money to send Manager Reed to a conference. Albert Suddy stated that $99 a night for a room, $800 for the conference and $400 for a ticket was expensive. Chairman Hathaway stated it is part of management enrichment. Members of the public Albert and Anna Suddy inquired on where the conference was. Manager Reed stated it was in Las Vegas. Chairman Hathaway pointed out that in past years the Maine Municipal Association had paid for Manager Reed's trainings.
Member of the public Albert Suddy also stated he noticed consultants have been called in for numerous projects and purchases and felt that the people of the Town should be deciding issues not a consultant. Members of the public Albert and Anna Suddy inquired on whether the Town had to have the new fire truck. Chairman Hathaway stated that the truck was necessary. Chairman Hathaway also added that the residents are not paying for it, it is coming out of the CBEC TIF Fund. Member of the public Anna Suddy asked whether Duke is paying for the garage renovation. Chairman Hathaway stated no that it would be a capital cost. Manager Reed outlined that the fire truck will fit in the current garage however there is only a few inches of clearance.
Members of the public Albert and Anna Suddy also stated they thought taxes were going to be decreasing. Chairman Hathaway explained that when a resident has a house valued at $150,000 at a 80% valuation and 17.2 mill rate, they will pay $2,064 in taxes. A house at the same value but at a 100% valuation, the mill rate will be 13.2 but the taxes still remain at $2,064. By generating less assessed value the Town still will receive State funding to support the school. Manager Reed outlined that community value plays a big role in the amount of funding the Town receives from the State. If the Town valuation increases the State will think this is a wealthy/valuable
community and will decrease the State funding for the school which will increases taxes in the future years.
Manager Reed went back to the topic of the conference he will be attending. He stated that the cost will be charged back as an administrative cost to the CBEC TIF District Fund because he is the investment manager for the TIF account and all Town funds. Manager Reed stated he manages some $7.6 million a year and this conference is to ensure that he knows what he is doing. It is also to keep himself kept up to date on new trends or requirements in the investment fields.
ITEM 5. Budget Workshop
School Committee Chair Rebecca Wetherbee stated the school committee has been meeting over the last couple months on the budget. To guide them in preparing it they have been looking at three areas; the five year plan, the capital replacement plan and the school enrollment analysis. Rebecca Wetherbee stated they are pleased to bring forward a budget that they feel is reasonable.
Superintendent Tom Perry stated he thought the Town would be getting a good budget for an educational program. First he would like to highlight information in the cover memo included in the budget packets distributed to the Council and Budget Committee. Second he would like to go over the budget summary and thirdly go over the revenue side of the budget. If time permits perhaps go into more detail.
Superintendent Perry stated that the total amount of the budget would be $2,893,376, which is a $157,698 increase from last year. It is a lower increase in percentage and in dollars then last year compared to the year before. Superintendent Perry stated he knew there would be a decrease in State aid, $50,000 was lost from the State. It is going to cost $231,000 more local tax dollars to support the $157,698 budget increase due to the loss of State revenue.
Superintendent Perry stated that the areas of major increase involve personnel. In order to meet salary requirements of existing personnel it is going to cost $63,000 more next year then it did last year. In order to meet benefits for existing personnel it is going to cost $22,000 more this year then it did last year.
Superintendent Perry stated another area is staff changes. There is an increase of $45,121 and that comes from adding an additional staff member. This is a teacher in response to the projected increasing enrollments. A technician will also be moved from ¾ time to full time. A foreign language position is also being reduced to half time from ¾ time. Also an instrumental/music position is being increased half a day a week.
Superintendent Perry stated that the third increase, which is not going to be an expenditure, is due to the switching of the use of funds. Currently federal funds are being used to pay salaries for the special education technicians. The School Committee would like to use the funds to pay for evaluations and such to make more effective use of the funds. This would entail an increase in the budget to pay for these salaries.
Superintendent Perry stated that the School Committee is projecting to spend additional money in secondary tuition. He outlined that there is no control over it, but the committee tries to project it. There is an estimated increase of $36,000 in tuition.
Another area of increase has to do with the sharing of the curriculum coordinator. Currently, the school is sharing the Orono coordinator. The committee would like to purchase 25% of the time of the coordinator.
Superintendent Perry went over the summary of the budget with the Council. He outlined that expenditures over the last two years are identified as well to compare with this years budget. The summary is broken up into several different sections. The first section is Elementary Education, which includes accounts for all expenditures for kindergarten through eighth grade. The second section is Secondary Education. The third section is Special Education. This section provides support services for Veazie students whether they are in the Veazie Community School or at another high school. The fourth section is Other Instruction. The last section is undesignated costs, which is for the school committee and superintendent's office. Superintendent Perry pointed
out that the greatest expenditure is in the elementary lines. The secondary portion of the budget makes up about 24% of the budget. That is an increase of 4% from last year. Special education makes up 9% of total budget and is increasing 10.48%. Other instruction for curricular activity makes up about 1.5% and is increasing 9%. Undistributed cost is increasing 6.5%.
Superintendent Perry stated that the revenue projection is information the committee can be fairly sure of. Legislature has already acted on the school budget. It is $772,000 compared to $828,000 from the prior year. Superintendent Perry outlined that fiscal capacity and enrollment affect the amount of State revenue. This year 42.5% of total revenue will come from the State.
Councilor Michaels inquired on whether the school committee had a value per student. Superintendent Perry stated that State is projecting the Town's fiscal capacity, which is property value divided by number of students, to be around $350,000 of property value behind each student. He also added that a small percentage of the formula is based on how the Town compares to the State average on median family income. Superintendent Perry stated that 85% is based on property value and 15% is based on the comparison of median family income.
Superintendent Perry stated that the local revenue is made up of the debt service. In order to get a share of the State's debt service the school has to raise local debt service. All local revenue represents about 52% of total revenue. Superintendent Perry stated that the other area of revenue is carry-forward.
Superintendent Perry stated that also included is a sheet showing the budget history, which includes the amount of increase each year. The sheet shows where this year's budget compares historically to other years. The dollar amount of increase is lower this year then for the last two years. The dollar increase to the Town has increased however due to the decrease in State funding.
Superintendent Perry stated there are a couple things not carved in stone. There is now a requirement that there be an official enrollment count on April 1st. Right now the school is waiting for the report back on enrollment. The secondary costs allow for the estimated students and an additional 2 students on the public side and 2 students on the private side. The numbers are not expected to go up.
Superintendent Perry passed out a summary on where they project to be in terms of teachers. If you count every person that works for the school department there are 40 people. Superintendent outlined that there are actually 47 but 7 don't come through the school budget they are paid by State funding or non-budgetary funds.
Chairman Hathaway inquired on the projected fund balance whether it was still unclear. Superintendent Perry stated that there is always an element of estimation in that figure. Some lines in the budget cannot be predicted at this time, however he feels that the current figure is realistic but not predicted to the penny.
Chairman Hathaway inquired on what figure would be remaining at the end of the year. Superintendent Perry stated that the balance showed $190,000 on June 30, 2001 of which $60,000 is committed in liability payable on July 1st. Superintendent Perry stated he thinks it will be around where he is predicting which is $130,000 plus the $60,000 for salaries. The State would have allowed the school to use the $190,000 because many communities do not hold out summer accrued earnings like Veazie does.
Manager Reed outlined that since the school is a department and not a SAD, the Town s accounting standard is modified accrual and the Town follows GASB which requires the accrual of earnings and other liabilities.
Councilor Michaels inquired on whether there was a nurse available at the school everyday. Principal Scott Nichols stated that there is a part-time nurse who tries to be in school as many noontime spots as possible. She also tries to be in a couple mornings a week. Principal Nichols outlined that there are some days when there isn't a nurse in the building. Superintendent Perry stated that a State law does allow unlicensed personnel to administer medicine to the children. There are two employees who have been trained and do this.
Councilor Cheney inquired on a guidance counselor. Superintendent Perry stated that there are two individuals working half-time sharing responsibilities this year. Councilor Cheney also inquired on the music and instrumental section going up. Superintendent Perry stated that the amount of time the music teacher has with students isn't enough. This additional amount of time is to provide instrumental instruction.
Budget Committee member John Manter inquired on where the custodial staff stands as far as the budget. Superintendent Perry stated they are a contract service not employees of the school. The budget line for contracting services contains that cost under 'Operation of building'. Councilor Cheney inquired on whether the school department bids out for that service. Superintendent Perry stated the school has in the past, however the school negotiated an extension that is favorable with their current provider. Superintendent Perry outlined that the school department is very happy with the service they have received.
Superintendent Perry stated that most issues from a year ago have been resolved. This includes the tiles in the cafeteria, which the contractor removed and laid a new concrete slab done, and then retiled. Superintendent Perry outlined that the heating system is working well also. He pointed out that one issue still remains and that is with the snow situation on the roof where snow comes off the roof in large quantities.
Councilor Cheney inquired on the food service and how it was doing. Superintendent Perry stated that there is a budget line that supports it and it receives revenue from the State and the sale of product. It has yet to result in a breakeven profit, however the position has improved. Prices have been raised and local support has increased but there is still a long ways to go. Superintendent Perry stated that there are a lot of students participating and the per-meal cost is pretty average. He pointed out that the school department is significantly hurt by the small percentage of students who get free or subsidized lunches. Superintendent Perry stated that prices may need to be increased again. Councilor Cheney inquired on the current cost of lunch.
Principal Nichols stated that the cost is $1.40.
Superintendent Perry stated that the committee is hoping that the increase they put in this year s budget will put the school in a better position. He pointed out that additional experience is needed with the program. It was noted that the lunch program had suffered a deficit of some $45,000 over the last several years.
Councilor Friedman commented on the possible decrease in participating students by raising the price of lunch. There may be kids that don't want to ask their parents for additional money for lunch. Superintendent Perry stated that 80% of the students are participating in the school lunch program and after the recent increase in price there was no change in percentage. Superintendent Perry stated that there could be a point where participation could be affected but currently the school is not at that point.
Member of the public Albert Suddy commented that he has heard that children were being hurried to eat. Principal Nichols stated it varies day to day. Time to time there are some kids who feel hurried but for the most part kids are allowed to finish their meals. He outlined that some kids see their friends finishing their lunch and hurrying outside for recess and they want to hurry up and get outside as well.
Councilor Michaels commented on some parents being surprised to get a bill for lunches, he wondered if the same thing was going to happen this year. Principal Nichols stated that the school tries to notify families on a regular basis, however for some reason or another there have been surprises at the end of the school year. He outlined that they are working with people in the lunchroom so these surprises don't occur. Superintendent Perry stated the school is looking at the possibility of an electronic system. There is one woman who keeps track of the kids who are prepaid, who are paying and who forgot their money. A swipe card might work better, however it may not be in the budget.
Chairman Hathaway inquired on the total budget increase overall. Superintendent Perry stated it was 5.76%. He outlined that the school lost 7% in state allocation and increased 18% in local allocation (taxes). Chairman Hathaway inquired on whether it could be projected where the school was heading in the future. Superintendent Perry stated that if legislation stays the same and enrollment changes as anticipated they can make some assumption and come up with a figure. It is always in comparison to what is happening in other parts of the State.
Chairman Hathaway inquired on enrollment. Principal Nichols stated it was 168 at the John Graham School and now it is 208. School Committee Chair Rebecca Wetherbee stated she was surprised to hear that if the Greystone Trailer Park came up to code that there would be 20 more properties available and that could bring in 20-40 more kids. Councilor Friedman added that on top of that there will be houses opening up because of the senior housing project. It is difficult to get a handle on enrollment.
Manager Reed outlined that a number of communities in Southern Maine are no longer waiting for State funding for projects and have more or less broken away from the constraints of State controls on projects such as new school construction. Which has in turned freed up funds for other projects in the State. In general, a community's income and property value are very important when vying for State funds. The taxable community value per student has a great affect on potential changes to a community's future State Aid. Even though Veazie's tax value per student increased, there are and will be other places that increase substantially too. Mainly in the past several years
shoreland values have increased value in a number of communities which minimized our increases. The game is ensuring that Veazie's community value does not balloon or over inflate too quickly.
Councilor Hathaway expressed concern that the Town just faced an 18% shift when it was 50% State Aid last year. He expressed that the Town needs to take a look at the figures and models to see where things are going. There was then discussion that maybe the real issue is the Greystone trailer park or the change in housing stock in village. It was noted that there are a number of registered sites in park that are empty and could be filled someday when improvements are made at the park.
Budget Committee member Suzanne Hart inquired on what portion of the increase in budget was due to the increase in the cost of health insurance. Superintendent Perry stated that if there were no additions make in staff that it would be about $22,500 increase in the health premium. This is based on the actual cost of who is enrolled. Superintendent Perry stated that they take the current level of coverage and anticipate rate increase.
Councilor Cheney inquired on whether the school was anticipating two kindergartens next year. Principal Nichols stated the school is looking at it. Councilor Cheney also asked whether they were full time. Principal Nichols stated they are full time. Councilor Cheney inquired on whether there would be other classes that would need to be split. Principal Nichols stated it was too soon to assume. There is no way to tell what classes would be impacted by kids moving in and out. Superintendent Perry outlined that the information that motivated the need for an additional teacher to be added to the budget was because of the kindergarten.
It was decided to move the May 14th meeting to Wednesday, May 15th at 7pm. School Committee member Andrea Ostrofsky inquired on who should attend the meeting. Manager Reed stated it was for the Budget Committee, School Committee and department heads.
ITEM 6. Manager's Review
Chairman Hathaway stated he hasn't had a chance to schedule a meeting with Manager Reed but will do so and report back at the next council meeting.
ITEM 7a. Public Works - Truck Replacement
Manager Reed outlined that Superintendent of Public Works Butch Free has found a purchaser for the two Town trucks, the old International and the 1999 Ford F550. The goal is sell these two trucks and purchase a new International with CBEC TIF investment income Funds.
Manager Reed outlined that Public Works had been given authorization to sell the old 1991 white International last fall, but Superintendent Free decided to keep the truck over the winter due to the fact that the little Ford had been out of service of and on all year. Manager Reed pointed out that this was a correct call due to the fact that the Ford blew another transmission during the plowing season and was out of service for several weeks while the parts and the rebuild were taking place.
Manager Reed stated that at the present time the Town is holding a certified check in the amount of $11,500 from Herbert Comeau for the white 1991 International.
Manager Reed stated that the department would also like to line up the sale of the Ford F550. At the present time the Town has discussed selling the Ford to Silvers Construction for the sum of at least $20,000 with the understanding that we would not sell the truck or release the truck until the department received the replacement vehicle. The $20,000 would be held in an escrow account that would be used to offset part of the cost of the new truck.
Councilor Michaels inquired on Herbert Comeau and whether he was the neighbor to the municipal building. Manager Reed stated he was indeed the neighbor. Councilor Michaels inquired on whether the Town wanted to consider a land swap in this deal. Manager Reed stated that it hasn't been talked about and the Town would like to keep that separate from the deal proposed.
Superintendent Free stated the truck the department is negotiating on is another International the same size as the current one. Superintendent Free outlined that it is a different model, model 7300, which is still considered a five-ton. It will have a shorter wheelbase and has 20 less horsepower than the current one. It will also be a 2003 model. The price includes just the cab and chassis and not the equipment that goes on it. Superintendent Free stated that he and Gary Hammond will be going to Portland to look at another manufacturer.
Manager Reed stated that the truck will not be financed that it will be taken from income proceeds from the TIF District. The $20,000 and $11,500 will go towards the truck and the difference will come from the TIF district fund.
Chairman Hathaway inquired on the track record of the current vendor. Superintendent Free stated it is excellent. He outlined that on a Friday during the winter the truck had broken down and the vendor came and towed it at no charge to the Town. That Sunday a snowstorm was coming and the vendor called early Sunday morning to say it was ready. Superintendent Free outlined that their service department is open 24 hours a day.
Superintendent Free stated that in the past week the department has located another equipment vendor and would like to go see what they have to offer before giving the Council numbers on equipment. Councilor Cheney wanted to clarify that they would be buying the cab and chassis from the current vendor and buying the equipment somewhere else. Superintendent Free verified this. He added that at the other distributor the equipment is suppose to be a little better and if he can get the better equipment for about the same amount of money or less he would like to do so.
Superintendent Free stated that he took all the specifications on the current International and will apply them to the new truck. The only difference is the truck is shorter. He stated the department went with a shorter truck because there are a lot of cul de sacs, sharp corners and dead ends streets in the portion of Town it will be used for.
Motion by: Councilor Friedman--to authorize the Town Manager to transfer ownership of the Town's white and black 1991 International to Herbert Comeau in 'as is, where is' condition with no warrantees expressed or implied. Seconded: Councilor Michaels, Vote 5-0 in favor.
Motion By: Councilor Friedman--to authorize the Town Manager to negotiate the sale of the Ford F-550 under any necessary terms and conditions as he may deem necessary and appropriate and that the sale of the vehicle generate at least $20,000 in revenue and it be held in escrow for the purchase of Public Work's new truck. Seconded: Councilor Cheney, Vote 5-0 in favor.
Motion By: Councilor Friedman--to authorize the Public Works Superintendent to execute an order for an International 7300 with Colwell Diesel for the price of $51,668, less escrow of $11,500 for the black and white international and a minimum of $20,000 from the Ford F-550 with a balance of $20,168 coming from the CBEC TIF fund. Seconded: Chairman Hathaway, Vote 5-0 in favor.
Superintendent Free stated that it would be a minimum of two months to get the cab and chassis and then it goes to the vendor to get the plow and other equipment for another month. It would approximately around July that the new truck would be delivered.
Member of the public Albert Suddy pointed out that the Town use to only have one truck in the past. Chairman Hathaway outlined that the Town has added on five more miles of road since then. Gary Hammond stated that without a second truck they would not be able to keep up with a snowstorm. Also, if something happens to the one truck, there is no backup to fill its place. Chairman Hathaway pointed out that everything has a replacement schedule, the trucks, police cruisers, fire trucks, even the traffic lights. He outlined that the Town tries to spread that over a 10-year schedule so the Town doesn't get hit all at once in one year.
ITEM 7b. Uncollectible Taxes Discussion
Manager Reed outlined that in the council packets was a memo from Deputy Treasurer Julie Reed pertaining to the negotiated tax settlement on the former Whitty property. The Town would like to deem the personal equipment property taxes owed by the Whitty's as non-collectible. Councilor Cheney inquired on what property this was, whether it was the 'old diaper place'. Manager Reed confirmed that it was indeed. Manager Reed outlined that no one knows where the taxable personal property / business equipment is located. Chairman Hathaway inquired on what the equipment was. CEO Thomas stated it was washers, dryers, etc. Manager Reed stated that the people who had debt on the equipment probably came and got them at some point in time.
Chairman Hathaway inquired on whether this was the only option left to the Town. Manager Reed stated the Town has already collected their property tax and this personal property / business equipment tax is pretty much uncollectible, the whereabouts of the personal property is unknown. Manager Reed added that it would be difficult for the Town to collect tax on something that isn't there. The Town can either write it off now, or the auditor will instruct the Town to write it off at the end of the year.
Motion By: Councilor Friedman--to authorize the Town's Treasurer to write off the personal property taxes due on account # 79 in the amount of $865.02. The Town Council further deems the personal property / equipment taxes as being non-collectible. Seconded: Councilor Kelly, Voted 5-0 in favor.
ITEM 8. Manager's Report:
8a. A copy of the action plan. Manager Reed outlined that it included the activity and the person responsible. Every item is ongoing, it has been implemented or being implemented. Manager Reed stated that the auditor had been given a copy of the action plan and was happy with it. Councilor Michaels stated he would like a quarterly update on it.
8b. A copy of the Veazie School Committee's minutes was reviewed
8c. A copy of the Orono - Veazie Water District's minutes was reviewed
8d. The Fire Department's monthly report was reviewed
8e. A copy of Lt. Powers certificate of completion of the 4 day national Child Passenger Safety Technicians Certification Training was reviewed
8f. A copy of the Police Department's quarterly report was reviewed
8g. A copy of the response to the January 2002 letter that the Town sent to the Sewer District was reviewed
Chairman Hathaway expressed his discouragement that the Sewer District increased their assessment and didn't say what it was for. Manager Reed stated the question he posed to the district was 'where is the money going'? He was informed that they had projects but details were not refined at that point in time. The Council asked Manager Reed to draft a letter up outlining their concerns of not getting an explanation for their increase with the new annual assessment.
Councilor Friedman stated he did not think it was good management to increase an assessment and not give an explanation with the assessment.
8h. The Town's insurer's response to the Topliff's property damage claim at their rental property located on 1010 Olive Street was reviewed by the Council.
8i. A memo from Deputy Treasurer Julie Reed on the outstanding foreclosed property list was reviewed.
8j. A memo from Deputy Treasurer Julie Reed on an overpayment of taxes for 20 Jackson Drive was reviewed.
Manager Reed concluded with the information that the Town has recently hired Brian Stoyell. Brian comes from the Sewer District. He brings with him sewer facilities certifications and a great deal of knowledge pertaining to public works and sewer infrastructure.
ITEM 9. Requests for Information/Council Comments:
Councilor Michaels requested that Adelphia be addressed at a future meeting. He noted that they are a monopoly provider of cable. Councilor Michaels stated perhaps someone from Adelphia could join the Council at a future meeting.
Councilor Kelly noted that in the minutes of March 25th it was noted that he was 'not present', however, he was present and had arrived late.
Councilor Friedman mentioned leaving the school one day around 4:00pm when children were getting out of a rehearsal/practice and two Bangor Hydro trucks went right through a stop sign. Councilor Friedman recommended putting yellow flashing lights on School Street for the school area. Manager Reed stated he will speak with Police Chief Leonard to see what can be done.
Councilor Cheney stated she went for a walk in the Davis fields and noted that some major damage had been done from four wheelers riding through there from the Bangor end. She inquired on whether it could be blockaded. Manager Reed outlined that it was private property and didn't think we could do that, however he stated that perhaps Chief Leonard could talk with Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to see what could be done.
ITEM 10. Warrants: Town Warrant 21, 21A, Town Payroll Warrant 21, School Warrant 19, School Payroll Warrant 19, and School Lunch Warrant 19, were circulated and signed.
ITEM 11. Adjournment: Motion: Councilor Friedman--to adjourn March 25, 2002, Town Council Meeting. Seconded: Councilor Cheney, Voted 5-0 in favor. There was no further discussion. Meeting adjourned.