PRESENT: Chairman Hathaway, Councilor Michaels, and Councilor Kelly; Town Manager B. Reed, Assistant Clerk K. Gifford. Planning Board Members: Chris Cronan and John Manter, Water District Trustee James Parker, Fire Chief Gerry Martin, Lt. Scott Kigas, and the Town Auditor Charemon Willey- Staples. Councilor Cheney and Councilor Friedman were excused.
ITEM 1. The February 25, 2002 Veazie Town Council was called to order at 7:00 PM.
ITEM 2. Consideration of minutes:
Motion By: Councilor Kelly--to accept January 28, 2002 minutes as amended. Seconded: Councilor Michaels, Vote 3-0 in favor.
ITEM 3. Consideration of the Agenda: Manager Reed asked that the Council address Item 6a first and leave Item 5a for the end of the meeting. Manager Reed also requested to add Water District Trustee James Parker to the agenda to give an update on the municipal projects. This was added as Item 5b.
ITEM 4a. Public Comments: There were no comments from the public.
ITEM 5a. Audit Report
Charemon Willey-Staples was in attendance to give an audit report to the Council. Charemon Willey-Staples started by reviewing the Management Report with the Council.
School lunch deficit
Charemon Willey-Staples stated for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2001 the school lunch program showed a deficit of a significant amount. She further stated that the program is not going to be self-supportive. The current lunch rates are just about maxed out, they cannot be raised a whole lot more. Also, the Town isn't going to get much more funding from the State. Charemon Willey-Staples stated that the program needs to be more monitored due to the fact that it is not self-supportive.
Councilor Kelly pointed out that there is also the problem where children don't like the menu for a certain day. Therefore, many do not eat and there is a lot of food that goes to waste because the cafeteria is producing the same amount of food each day. Chairman Hathaway asked if the cost of the lunch program is going to be $45,000, does the Town need to set aside $45,000 in the budget. Charemon Willey-Staples stated yes.
Charemon Willey-Staples stated currently the Town maintains several cash accounts in one general ledger account. She recommended that the Town consider separating these accounts on the general ledger and utilize the computer reconciliation program. This would reduce the amount of voided checks on the bank reconciliation.
Bank / other reconciliations
Charemon Willey-Staples stated that bank and other month reconciliations had not being performed on a timely basis. She outlined that it was currently being addressed.
Designated and capital projects revenues / expenditures
Charemon Willey-Staples stated that the Town had a significant amount of revenues and expenditures in designated and capital projects accounts which made it difficult to analyze and produce financial statements. She recommended that the Town record all revenue and expenditures in revenue and expenditure accounts and not on the general ledger.
Staff retention / training
Charemon Willey-Staples stated that the Town has made some improvements in this area with certain functions being cross trained so when someone leaves or takes vacation time someone is there to perform the duties.
Charemon Willey-Staples stated that the Town has experienced a large amount of turnover in staff in recent months. She recommended that the Town consider addressing the area of staff retention and training and office policies in general.
Councilor Michaels inquired on whether there is a receiving process for bills. Charemon Willey-Staples stated that Deputy Clerk Beckie Woods receives the invoices and disperses them to each appropriate department head to be reviewed and approved. Charemon Willey-Staples stated she believed the departments were given their invoices on a Monday and had until Thursday to get them back to Deputy Clerk Beckie Woods.
Charemon Willey-Staples added that she is working with the office staff to get everything down on paper like a checklist. She stated that there is a lot of duplication and had something been documented the duplication would have never taken place.
Charemon Willey-Staples stated that GASB34 was already addressed in the prior year's audit. The Town's financial staff will meet with the auditor to discuss the changes required by the implementation of GASB 34 and how it will affect financial accounting and reporting in the future.
Charemon Willey-Staples stated that the fixed asset listing needed to be addressed. Certain items had to be deleted or moved. Charemon Willey-Staples recommended that the Town consider obtaining an accurate listing to comply with future reporting requirements.
Chairman Hathaway asked if the Town needed a policy to implement this. Charemon Willey-Staples stated yes.
Councilor Michaels commented that he thought a more accurate value of the Town would affect the amount of State aid it received as far as school funding went. Manager Reed stated that it would not affect it.
Charemon Willey-Staples stated that the Town's current account structure does not properly present the accounts in a manner which allows for preparation of a balance sheet and revenue and appropriation reports. The Town now has a new account structure that was implemented under the new Deputy Treasurer, Julie Reed.
Warrants / Invoices
Charemon Willey-Staples stated the department heads are getting involved to improve the invoice process.
Chairman Hathaway stated he would like to see a credit card or purchase card system where each employee has a card prepaid with a certain amount of money for the month. Manager Reed stated he was looking into the purchase cards concept.
Councilor Michaels asked if the Town had a control to deal with the issues of invoices not matching the checks. Charemon Willey-Staples stated someone other than the person who does the warrants and checks should verify the warrants. Councilor Kelly stated that the person batching the warrants should not be the one printing the checks. Manager Reed stated the Town use to have one person who did it all, but now one person batches the warrants, a separate person prints the checks and a third person reviews the warrants.
Councilor Kelly inquired on the invoice process. He asked whether the department heads just authorize it or if they code it as well. Charemon Willey-Staples stated that each department head writes the appropriate codes on the invoices and authorizes them. Councilor Kelly then asked if when the invoices are returned whether they are ready to be paid. Charemon Willey-Staples stated yes.
Fire Chief Gerry Martin stated he has found bills that have been paid two or three times due to the departments personnel transition and he has yet to catch up on bills. He stated he is willing to work with Charemon Willey-Staples to set up a better process system.
Councilor Michaels inquired on why each department head didn't have a general ledger. Charemon Willey-Staples stated that most of the department heads already keep somewhat of a general ledger on their computer. Chairman Hathaway stated that the Town is making the department heads more account managers then department heads. Charemon Willey-Staples stated that the department heads are responsible for there budgets and most have a control system in place now.
Chairman Hathaway stated that the Town needs the most help with developing policies and procedures in booklet form. This would eliminate a lot of the issues that the Town is experiencing from personnel transitions.
Proper authorization of accounting journal / other entries
Charemon Willey-Staples stated that there were many entries and postings in the financial statements that did not have any supporting documentation attached. Finding the documentation after the fact took additional time. A control checklist was recommended.
Payroll / other reimbursements
Charemon Willey-Staples recommended that all reimbursements, payroll and otherwise be supported by appropriate and uniform documentation.
Charemon Willey-Staples stated the Town needs to maintain proper internal controls, for example issues with the school like the lunch program. Councilor Michaels asked if the Town is provided with information such as how many lunches are served each day. Charemon Willey-Staples stated the Town is provided with this information.
Chairman Hathaway stated he would like to have Charemon Willey-Staples come back and discuss these issues more. He would also like to have her and Manager Reed walk the Council through the process of how the Town buys something and pays for it. Chairman Hathaway would also like to discuss the purchase cards further.
ITEM 5B. Municipal Project Update
James Parker was in attendance to give an update on a couple municipal projects. The first project was the acquisition of a piece of lot 25 on Ridgeview Drive where landscaping and a screening would be placed. The screening would be the planting of 4'-6'ft. or 6'-8'ft. Canadian Hemlocks and perhaps putting a few red maples in between to break it up. The trees will have to be watered periodically at first to make sure they take . James Parker distributed a budget for two separate options. The only difference between the two options was the selection of either 4'-6' ft. trees or 6'-8' ft. trees. James Parker pointed out though that right now Canadian
hemlocks are not allowed to be imported into the country because of the hemlock bug. He also recommended putting a curb in on the road, this would help keep water in for the trees. James Parker pointed out that he did not put any information in on the cost of the land acquisition, he does not have any information on that yet. Chairman Hathaway asked Manager Reed if he had any idea on the cost of the acquisition. Manager Reed stated no and that more work on this project would be required.
The other project James Parker had to update on was the Municipal Building. He brought in a draft of the proposed changes to the building. They included increasing the area of the pavement to allow for a larger turning radius for the new fire truck and more parking spaces. A 12' PVC storm drain would be installed as well as a catch basin and rim. As far as the repavement of the parking lot, the turning radius can be done on asphalt instead of concrete. James Parker pointed out that this is only the first draft. He is going to get together with Fire Chief Martin, Police Chief Leonard and Public Works Supt. Butch Free to see what they think.
Councilor Michaels asked about putting a garage door on the front side of the building. James Parker stated that if that were done the generator and electrical panels and boxes would have to be moved. He also added that Fire Chief Martin felt more room would be needed to fit all the equipment so another bay would have to be put on the side.
ITEM 6a. Final Draft of Comprehensive Plan
Manager Reed stated the comprehensive plan has been sent to the state for review. Chris Cronan explained that the process started out with a survey back in 1999 that provided quite a bit of information on priorities of citizens in Town which were taken into consideration of the production of the comprehensive plan. Robert Freeman was a consultant that helped organize the plan and worked with certain groups such as the seniors, business people, Parks & Rec. Committee, School Committee and interest groups.
John Manter stated essentially there are several sections divided into five subsections. The goal statement is an outline of where the Town wants to be when everything is done and accomplished. The policy statement answers the question of how the Town gets there. Each section covers a functional area and is followed up in a second part with implementations. John Manter also pointed out that there is mapping in the back of the plan provided by Sewell Corporation.
John Manter stated the plan itself was begun working on back in 1995, there was a rough outline by 1997. The public hearing was closed back in December, 2001. At the last Planning Board meeting it was passed and approved.
Chairman Hathaway asked if the Town was leaning away from the aspect of set-asides in future subdivisions in the comprehensive plan. John Manter stated that the plan has it in both directions, the Town has the option of funding open space and it will also continue with some form of set aside.
Chairman Hathaway inquired on who would make the decision on these things. Chris Cronan stated that the Planning Board is hoping to work with a consultant that will help them develop a master plan and develop ordinances that give guidance on this. Manager Reed stated that he received a list of consultants from the State and CEO Allan Thomas has contacted them to see if they would work with the Town on the master plan. Manager Reed added that GIS disks and letters were sent to consultants asking them to come to a Planning Board meeting and discuss what they think. Manager Reed stated that one consultant stated they did not want to put too much time into it until the State approves it. Hunter Blue was interested in the plan. Manager Reed stated that hopefully two or
three consultants will get back to the Town to see what services can be provided.
Chairman Hathaway stated that the Town needs to try to purchase valuable parcels of property and keep them preserved or the Town will be challenged with small subdivisions. He added that he would like to see the Town develop some sort of funding mechanism that would allow the Town to go out and purchase land. Chris Cronan stated that he thought the Town Council should think about putting aside no less then $100,000 for acquiring open space.
Jim Parker expressed the need that a developer should be able to give money towards open space and recreation reserves instead of being required to have a 40% set a side requirement. Manager Reed expressed that he could see Jim Parkers point but he expressed that building capitation with density was key to prevent extra house lots or market saturation. There was then discussion pertaining to TDRs, developer's rights, building credits, minimum house lots sizes, rates of return for developers, and strategic set a sides.
Chairman Hathaway stated that this is a small town and he would like to see some sort of fund built up so when parcels become available, for instance lots adjacent to the school property, the Town can take advantage of it. Chris Cronan pointed out that it is up to the Council to take the leadership on this, the Planning Board doesn't have the necessary economic management. The Planning Board has been trying to use ordinances to acquire open space since it doesn't have a budget to work with.
Manager Reed outlined that from preliminary census information that Veazie ranked within the top 10%, of communities in the State, on density of housing units per acre of land in the State of Maine. The Town is one of most densely populated communities with 597 persons and 262.5 housing units per square mile. Veazie has roughly 2.8 usable square miles out of 3 - 4 square miles. Manager Reed outlined that officials in State Planning Office never thought of Veazie of having urban type issues.
Chris Cronan expressed that the Planning Board had to try to get some open space using ordinances since they had no to money budget to work with.
Councilor Michaels asked if the plan was approved by the State. Manager Reed stated that the Town had once submitted the plan to the State, the State sent it back requesting revisions be made. Manager Reed outlined that the revisions have been done and once the Council approves it, it will then be sent back to the State for approval. Manager Reed pointed out that one of the revisions that had to be done was on affordable housing. The goal statement was revised. John Manter added that some changes had to be down with census information as well.
Manager Reed stated that we have to keep a certain percentage of affordable housing units, in the Town's case, 10%. Currently the Town is at 20%. Manager Reed pointed out that currently the Town has 50 units of low cost housing and 80 units of affordable housing units out of approximately 700 or so total housing units.
Councilor Michaels inquired on whether this plan was binding or not. James Parker stated it is not binding, however, you can be found to have ordinances that aren't compliant or consistent with the approved comprehensive plan.
Councilor Michaels inquired on how specific the plan was, for instance would it allow the Town to say where roads can be placed. Manager Reed explained that the plan is just a foundation. It is left vague to allow for flexibility now and in the future. The plan will defend the Town's current ordinances and provide backing for future ordinances. Some ordinances will have to be revised or rescinded.
Councilor Michaels also had concerns over people purchasing houses and wanting to convert it to a business. Manager Reed stated that it would have to go through a site plan review before it could be done. There would also have to be a public hearing. There is also a land use ordinance book that covers every type of activity imaginable.
Chairman Hathaway closed by reiterating that the Town and Council needs to develop some sort of fund mechanism to acquire available parcels in Town to preserve open space.
Motion By: Councilor Michaels--to approve the 2002 Veazie Comprehensive Plan as updated and finalized on January 9, 2002. Seconded: Councilor Kelly, Voted 3-0 in favor.
ITEM 7. Manager's Report:
7a. A copy of a check received from CBEC to put towards the grant that we received from the Department of Public Safety for the purchase of three tough books.
7b. A copy of our entire investment funds annual rate of return. As you can see from the report the Town did fairly well when compared to other conventional or standard investment instruments that many towns use.
7c. A copy of the School Committee's minutes and agenda
7d. A copy of the Water District's minutes
7e. A letter sent to Gary Brooks at the Sewer District. This is the letter inviting the Sewer District to tonight's Town Council meeting. Gary Brooks, the Sewer District Superintendent, had informed Beckie Woods, Deputy Town Clerk, earlier this week that they would not be able to attend and were not ready for the discussion. Please also refer back to Allan Thomas letter in the last Town Council packet also. As you recall they were looking to acquire land from the Town that is located by the Sewer District. I believe that a land for equity or user capacity trade might be possible so that funds might not have to trade hands.
7f. A copy of a letter sent to Duska Hayman, resident and School Committee member. The letter pertains to several on-going questions or concerns that she wished the Recreation Committee to address. The original letter also included Rosemary's signature.
ITEM 8. Requests for Information/Council Comments:
Chairman Hathaway would like to talk about the Sewer District and possible proposals in the near future with the district.
ITEM 9. Warrants: Town Warrant 17, 17A, 18 & 18A, Town Payroll Warrant 17 & 18, School Warrant 15 & 16, School Payroll Warrant 15 & 16, and School Lunch Warrant 15 & 16, were circulated and signed.
ITEM 10. Adjournment: Motion: Councilor Kelly--to adjourn February 25, 2002, Town Council Meeting. Seconded: Councilor Michaels, Voted 3-0 in favor. There was no further discussion. Meeting adjourned.