PRESENT: Chairman Hathaway, Councilor Michaels, Councilor Cheney and Councilor Kelly; Town Manager B. Reed, Assistant Clerk K. Gifford. Police Chief Mark Leonard, Fire Chief Gerry Martin, Supt. Of Public Works Butch Free, Parks & Recreation Director Rosemary Freese, Water District Trustee James Parker, Budget Committee Members; Suzanne Hart, John Manter, George Greenwood. School Committee members; Duska Hayman, Mark Janicki, Peggy Lewis, and Rebecca Wetherbee,
Superintendent of Schools Thomas Perry, Principal Scott Nichols. Councilor Friedman was excused.
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 18, 2002 minutes as written. Seconded: Councilor Cheney, Vote 2-0-1 in favor. Chairman Hathaway abstained from voting due to being absent at the meeting.
ITEM 3. Consideration of the Agenda: There were no additions made to the agenda.
ITEM 4. Public Comments: On behalf of the staff at the school, Principal Scott Nichols wanted to thank the Councilors and the Manager for stopping by during the workshop and providing gifts and coffee to the staff. It was very much appreciated by the school departmen's staff.
ITEM 5. Budget Workshop
Chairman Hathaway explained that this was the pre-budget meeting where the Town and the departments could share where they are at as far as budgets, new programs and capital programs.
Water District Trustee James Parker stated that there would be no increase in rates for the next two or three years. However, there are some well problems, as the water table is drawn down due to use, it draws more manganese and iron. They plan to drill another well also. It is all within capital budget to mend this problem. James Parker stated the Water District does not need more money and will not be asking for more money in their budget this year. He pointed out that there are still a couple problems in Town with water. They will be replacing a piece of water line on Oak Grove. James Parker outlined that there are no new capital plans in Town at all.
Chairman Hathaway inquired on whether there was enough water. James Parker stated there was plenty. There are three wells and the Water District may have to drill a fourth but not because of low water levels, buy to address the metals issue. Councilor Cheney inquired on where the wells were located. James Parker stated they are located on the Bennoch Road. Councilor Cheney stated she thought they might be located in Veazie.
Superintendent Tom Perry stated over the last two months they have spent time putting together a budget draft. Starting this week the school board will start having workshops with the school committee to work on the draft. Superintendent Perry stated that the budget has increased from last year. The biggest area is salary and benefits. The school wanted to be competitive salary wise and benefits have also gone up. Superintendent Perry stated the other increase that the school had no control over was secondary tuition costs. It went up 5% between last year and this year and it is expected to go up the same percentage next year.
Superintendent Perry stated in terms of capital they are watching growth. Two professional enrollment projections/studies were done and they both showed enrollment peaking. Kindergarten is higher than what the studies predicted. There is also concern about the possibility of building an expansion. Some preliminary work is being done so a design will be ready to go forward with if it is needed. The other area is maintenance and replacement of things in the facility. Superintendent Perry stated the school board is dedicated to keeping the facility kept up. As the building gets older there will be capital projects to make improvements.
Superintendent Perry stated there are many increases in a variety of places. The final figures on state subsidy have not been determined yet. The proposal that came out of the appropriation committee showed Veazie not losing as much State aid as he anticipated which is good news.
Councilor Michaels mentioned the study for an engineering plan for a school expansion. He thought that there was money left over in the budget that could be used to fund it. Councilor Michaels also stated that after looking through the audit for the Town and school it was made notice that the school lunch program is spending more then it is taking in. It has a $42,000 deficit. He inquired on if there is an excess budget amount could it be used to put into the lunch program to straighten it out.
Superintendent Perry stated he feels that expenses can be taken out of this year's budget for the engineering project. Concerning the school lunch program, a lot of things have been tried to make it a breakeven proposition, but it will never be that. It is a small system with a lot of people participating in it and a lot of reduced lunches. In this current school year there was a substantial increase in the monies being used to fund the program. Prices were also raised and may have to be raised again in the future.
Chairman Hathaway asked about the carry forward. Manager Reed stated it was $110,000 from last year and the year before. Superintendent Perry stated in the first draft of the budget he used the figure of $130,000 as the fund balance. Chairman Hathaway stated he does not want the school to incur more capital expenses. He would like to use the Town mechanism so that monies can be appropriated, $200,000 can be set aside to offset these kinds of activities.
Chairman Hathaway inquired on how the Town and school could put together a time line that says when this happens this is what we need to do. It needs to be communicated to the community where the Town and school are at, why the Town builds what it builds and such.
Principal Scott Nichols stated the school had two reputable studies completed, however it had not given information the school is believing. Principal Scott Nichols asked if there was any way the Council or Manager Reed could get numbers of projected students for Veazie based on potential housing starts and such. Possibly a way to project out these numbers locally.
Manager Reed stated that he has talked with Superintendent Perry about the model the consultants used to project enrollment. It is a model based on the current housing stock and past trends. However, this is a problem with the village because of the turnover of housing stock with younger families. Manager Reed stated that this isn't an older community anymore, the medium age looks to be decreasing from the recent 2000 census figures.
Superintendent Perry noted that the school agrees and is very mindful of the need of a clear presentation of what the need is and the factors that are going to tell us that. He added that he knows there is a need to get the information out in a logical and presentable way to the community.
Councilor Michaels brought up the idea of using the old vacant and commercial building next to the school for perhaps an arts and music building. Councilor Michaels stated he would prefer to add on to the existing structure but if it is more economical to use an already standing structure then it should be considered at the time for decision on an expansion.
Chairman Hathaway inquired on the school population for next year.. Superintendent Perry stated it would be about the same as this year, 205. The projected figure is at 190 which was the same amount last year which shows you that the projections were not accurate. Chairman Hathaway also inquired on high school enrollment. Principal Scott Nichols stated he thought it was around thirty eighth graders who will be moving on to high school.
James Parker stated the Town has to go beyond the thinking that it is only "new housing" which is causing the school aged children population influx problem. He pointed out that on his street thirty years ago he and his wife were the only one with children. Now there are numerous families with children. James Parker outlined that in another thirty years it could be back to one family having children again. With or without new housing there is a problem. A life cycle on housing units would give the Town a better handle on this.
Councilor Michaels stated that maybe the Town needs to make the community attractive to seniors as well where as the Town has built the new school to make it more attractive for children. Perhaps this would balance out the school enrollment.
Orono-Veazie Water District
Water District Trustee James Parker added that he forgot to mention the Orono-Veazie Water District will be joining in with other regional water districts, Bangor, Old Town, Brewer and Hampden. They will be conducting a study of what happens if someone sabotages the water or it is inadvertently contaminated, for example by a gas truck that rolls over and spills. The study will answer the question of how to get water to these communities when something like this happens. The result might be the installation of additional piping.
Fire Chief Gerry Martin stated over the last year or so there has been a substantial increase in need for services so special training has increased. The biggest issue has been recruitment and retention which was addressed with the salary and wage adjustment. Chief Martin pointed out that 95% of the personnel he has now stays for an average of seven or eight years. EMS runs make up 75% of the calls and with the older population and the new senior housing project it may cause more calls in the coming year.
The biggest increase has been in mandatory training and the hours put it for it. Chief Martin stated he has applied for a fire grant. Communications is the biggest problem, the department would like to put in new radios and such which would be $24,000 to $28,000. The department would also like an image camera which is around $18,000.
Chairman Hathaway inquired on whether the department can communicate with the Bangor fire department when it goes to a call in Bangor. Chief Martin stated yes. He pointed out that American Concrete is a dead spot and down by the plant as well because radios don't have repeaters. To have better reception all of the radios bought would be the same so they would be compatible. Chief Martin added that the communication grant would not cover the cost of a new antenna.
Chief Martin stated the department did get a 50/50 forestry grant. At the present time the department does not have any forestry tools and after the fire the Town had (railroad/wild fire) the department should get some new equipment.
Police Chief Mark Leonard stated that there were a few increases but they were State mandated. One increase was the academy line, the reason for the increase is the length of the academy increasing to eighteen weeks from twelve weeks. A second increase was uniforms. They are approximately three years old and starting to wear out. A third increase was for psychological evaluations which are State mandated now during the hiring process. The cost of an evaluation is $350.
Chief Leonard stated that one thing that he would like to get this year is a crossing guard for the school in the mornings and afternoons. Unfortunately a police officer can not be at the Chase Rd and School Street intersection every morning. It could be for as little as one hour a day. Citizens have already expressed their interest in doing it. As far as the rest of the budget, Chief Leonard stated he is trying to keep everything else where it was last year.
Chief Leonard stated that the department has applied for a 50/50 grant for new vests. The vests would need to be replaced every five years.
Chief Leonard stated he is working with the Hampden police department on acquiring fitness equipment. He would like to implement a physical fitness test for officers in the future.
Councilor Cheney inquired on where the crossing guard would be. Chief Leonard stated at the Chase Road and School Street intersection. Chief Leonard stated he has to sit down with Principal Nichols and figure the number of days the children are in school.
Councilor Cheney inquired on where things were at with the DARE program. Chief Leonard stated both officers he had talked with turned down the offer. However, he has a full time officer who had already shown interest in doing it. He doesn't have the academy requirement but will be going in June so he will possibly be able to fill the position next year.
Councilor Cheney also inquired on the problems with the police cruiser. Chief Leonard stated that there has been problems with the transmission, heater, computer and other electrical problems. Councilor Cheney asked what would be done with it. Chief Leonard stated the department is in the process of negotiating right now with Ford on a price. Cab companies are also being looked into as far as how much they would offer to buy it. Councilor Cheney asked where the car was acquired from. Chief Leonard stated Whited Ford.
Chairman Hathaway inquired on whether the Intrepid was offering a police package now. Chief Leonard stated yes.
Councilor Michaels asked about front wheel drive compared to rear wheel drive as far as training went. Chief Leonard stated at the academy they still do rear wheel drive training and no front.
Councilor Cheney inquired on the average life of a cruiser. Chairman Hathaway stated it is around eighteen months. Manager Reed stated when it gets up to 100,000 miles it becomes a secondary car and when it gets 120,000 miles the car is distinguished of.
Superintendent of Public Works Butch Free stated that with the new housing developments going into Town, one more truck would be needed. The department will also be selling two older smaller trucks to offset the new purchase.
Superintendent of Public Works Butch Free stated that over all there is one or two areas of concern where there is a slight increase. One is on the capital side. Superintendent Free stated he is looking at a used 450 bulldozer for approximately $40,000. Also, a ten ton trailer to haul the bulldozer. Superintendent Free stated he would like to replace the Ford plow truck with an International the same size as he has. He added that he has three bids/proposals on them already which comes to around $94,000.
Butch Free stated he has received one offer on the white truck which was for $11,500. He stated he will be asking $20,000 for the Ford plow truck and that will include the plow and sander. This will bring the cost of the new International down to $62,000 approximately.
Butch Free stated that the last increase will be a slight increase in salary depending on the plan that he and Manager Reed are looking at. Other than that the budget will stay the same.
Councilor Cheney commented that the sweeper the department acquired was the best investment. Butch Free stated that he is behind on sweeping the streets but would like to continue to finish sweeping himself instead of outsourcing. The savings will more then cover the salary of the part-time employee that he has recently hired.
Councilor Cheney inquired on whether you can recycle the sand. Butch Free stated it is recycled and reused again next year. Councilor Cheney inquired on the Town investing in a street sweeper. Butch Free stated they are high maintenance and Manager Reed added that they run for around $100,000.
Chairman Hathaway inquired on capital paving. Butch Free stated he is going to sit down with Manager Reed and look at the survey done by BACTS. He is hoping to get three or four streets done this year.
Chairman Hathaway inquired on going from sand to salt. Butch Free stated he thinks salt is best and if he could put down 100% salt there wouldn't be any street sweeping. However, he is reluctant to do it and say it will work. If you put pure salt out behind the municipal building it has to be housed and that is another expense.
Councilor Cheney inquired on whether the Town was doing spring cleanup this year. Butch Free stated it would be the middle of April. He added that he would like to keep the part time employee on until the end of spring cleanup and he will be hiring another full time person in a few weeks.
Parks & Recreation Department
Parks and Recreation Director Rosemary Freese stated the Parks and Rec. Department is still working on their budget. The department would like to add some new programs that were recommended on the survey the department sent out to citizens. Two of those were a CPR class and a self-defense class.
Councilor Cheney inquired on where the department would get a CPR instructor. Rosemary Freese stated that they would like to see Assistant Fire Chief Carl Tenney. Manager Reed added that Firefighter Michael Azevedo is also qualified to teach CPR as well.
Councilor Cheney asked how the Spring Extravaganza went. Rosemary Freese stated that it went really well. This was the second year they had games.
Chairman Hathaway inquired on the after school program. Rosemary Freese stated it is very successful. The program is maintaining about the same amount of kids everyday.
Councilor Cheney inquired on whether the after school program was self-sufficient. Manager Reed stated that last year it made a profit it was the summer program that had a downfall. Duska Hayman stated she would like to have the program expanded during the vacations for instance February and April vacation.
Manager Reed stated that the Parks and Recreation Committee had looked at that issue in the past and there are personnel conflicts. It would be hard to get people who could work a whole day limited on special weeks. Right now the department has college students who take classes in the morning. The department would have to different personnel to cover an all day shift.
Duska Hayman stated that parents probably wouldn't mind paying extra for it. There are also teachers and techs that are on vacation that could work. Chairman Hathaway stated he thought the Town was trying to stay away from this sort of program. He added that it would be taking the place of a Y daycare and the Town is just trying to offer an after school program.
Manager Reed stated that the county assessment is up approximately $50,000 or 22%. The sewer assessment went up as well some $25,000 or 33%. As far as revenue projections the Town is right on target for excise and real estate is also right up on target as well. Manager Reed stated that he would like to see the mill rate held at a 25-35% differential. Currently the mill rate is at 17.2 and the valuation is 80% which equals roughly 13.7 mils at 100%.
Chairman Hathaway asked if there was a reason the Town didn't move to a 90% valuation. Manager Reed stated that if the valuation is increased, mill rate decreases, the value of the Tiff District skyrockets, therefore county taxes increase and state school funding decreases. CEO Thomas cannot put the valuation below 70%.
Councilor Cheney inquired on who the members of the budget committee were. Manager Reed stated they are John Manter, George Greenwood, William Hogan and Suzanne Hart. One more is needed.
ITEM 6. Manager's Report:
6a. Manager Reed outlined that Councilor Friedman requested that the proposal for a public safety director be withdrawn due to the cost of the review and the lack of consensus. It was discussed that more workshops might be helpful to resolve management and administrative issues. Councilor Cheney stated she thought it was good, the workshops brought up some good issues. Manager Reed stated that hopefully more communication between departments will resolve some of the issues. He also added that he thinks it has been productive having workshop meetings.
6b. A copy of the revised budget schedule was reviewed.
6c. Please find enclosed a copy of a letter from Lucas Meservey thanking Manager Reed for his participation at the School and Community Issues Seminar
6d. Manager Reed discussed a position on project graduation requests. Manager Reed made a recommendation: that the Town Council authorize the Manager to issue donations to project graduations based on the number of Veazie students enrolled in the school in the amount of $10 per student.
Chairman Hathaway stated he was under the impression that the Town was going to shy away from this sort of thing and let project graduations rely on private fund raising. He pointed out that if the Town gives to project graduations it opens it up for other groups like boy scouts and girl scouts to ask for money. Councilor Cheney inquired on whether the school committee makes donations to project graduation. Manager Reed stated he would inquire with Superintendent Perry.
ITEM 7. Requests for Information/Council Comments:
Chairman Hathaway stated he called two people, Arthur Stockus and Guy Baker on the Chase Road overpass. It is still being determined who owns the bridge. Councilor Cheney inquired on whether Veazie's Public Works could fix it. Manager Reed stated they couldn't because it is not within our legal jurisdiction.
Chairman Hathaway stated that the Manager's evaluation needed to be dealt with. At the prior council meeting it had been discussed that the Manager have a three year contract. Chairman Hathaway stated that it was his understanding that it wasn't a contract. He also added that he thought there should still be a yearly evaluation. It was the consensus of the Council that Chairman Hathaway would review the evaluations and sit and discuss it with Manager Reed.
ITEM 8. 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 9. Adjournment: Motion: Councilor Kelly--to adjourn March 25, 2002, Town Council Meeting. Seconded: Councilor Michaels, Voted 3-0 in favor. There was no further discussion. Meeting adjourned.