PRESENT: Chairman Hathaway, Councilor Cheney, Councilor Kelly, and Councilor Hogan; Manager Reed, Assistant Clerk K. Gifford, Police Chief Mark Leonard, CEO A. Thomas, Principal Scott Nichols, Superintendent Tom Perry, School Committee Members Julianne Simone, Rebecca Wetherbee, Hilary Stewart-Reed, Mark Janicki and Duska Hayman, Budget Committee Members John Manter and Suzanne Hart. Councilor Friedman was absent and excused.
ITEM 1. The April 7, 2003 Veazie Town Council was called to order at 7:00 PM.
ITEM 2. Consideration of minutes: Motion By: Councilor Cheney —to accept March 24, 2003 minutes as written. Seconded: Councilor Hogan, Voted 3-0-1 in favor. Councilor Kelly abstained due to his absence.
ITEM 3. Consideration of the Agenda: Manager Reed stated that Member of the Public Raymond Michaels would like to be added to the agenda to talk about his science program. This was added as item 6b.
ITEM 4. Public Comments: There were no comments from the public.
ITEM 5a. School Budget Presentation
Superintendent Perry distributed budget books to the Council and the School Committee introduced themselves. School Committee Chair Rebecca Wetherbee stated that so far the committee has had two budget workshops to prepare for the 2003-2004 budget year. The committee believes it is very reasonable and they were not moving forward to implement some programs discussed in the past. An area of major increase is in secondary enrollment and salaries. One major area of decrease is in State Aid. The school system will be receiving $202,000 less from the State because of the increased community value.
Superintendent Perry stated that the committee had gone through several variations of the budget. He would like to review the budget with the Council starting at the memo to the Council and Budget Committee.
Superintendent Perry stated that State Aid is determined by two factors, number of students and community value. The School Department was not hurt by enrollment, it was hurt by fiscal capacity of Veazie. This is calculated by dividing the community value determined by the State by the number of students. The proposed budget for the 2003-2004 budget year is $3,124,509 which reflects an increase of 7.89% or $231,133 over the 2002-2003 budget. Superintendent Perry stated that the single area of biggest increase is in secondary tuition. This is the result of 13 additional students and a projected tuition rate increase of 5%. That equals a $140,792 increase over the 2002-2003 budget. The total budget increase excluding secondary tuition is $90,341 or a modest 3.12%. In arriving
at this budget proposal he and the School Committee are projecting a one teacher reduction in the staff.
Superintendent Perry expressed that the School Department’s largest concern is the decrease in State Aid to Education. There is a 16.52% reduction in State revenue and the School Board is predicting a carryforward amount less than they had last fiscal year. Therefore, this proposed budget will require $512,169 in additional local support.
Superintendent Perry stated they are projecting a $60,000 budget balance at the end of this fiscal year. The School Board always budgets for extra students and this year there is no balance in the secondary education account.
Superintendent Perry stated that the expenditures are in four categories, elementary, secondary, special services and undistributed costs.
He outlined that the figure for secondary tuition was calculated by using a 5% increase considering that each year tuition goes up 3-5%. Costs for tuition are not known until December of the school year being billed.
Costs for special education include services that Veazie students receive for high school and elementary students. This includes salary, health insurance, contracted services, occupational therapy, physical therapy and out of district placement. Superintendent Perry explained that out of district placement is when a student’s needs require the School Department to send them to a facility out of this district. These costs represent 9% of the total budget and has an increase of approximately 6% from last year.
Superintendent Perry stated that the school lunch program represents less than 12% of the total budget and an increase of slightly under 6% from last year. The program is also improving.
Budget Committee member Suzanne Hart inquired whether the School Board had any idea if the closing of the mill in Old Town is going to have any affect on anything to do with the school such as school lunch or transportation.
Superintendent Perry stated that if more youngsters qualify for free and reduced lunch it is actually a gain for the School Department. Overall it is a hard question to answer, but it will certainly impact the area in all sorts of ways.
Chairman Hathaway inquired about the School Board’s view stating he is concerned whether the tight budget and lack of funding is what the Town may be looking at over the next year and so on. If so, maybe the Town should raise the mill rate to accommodate the costs.
Superintendent Perry stated that the citizens elected a governor that says he is proactive and wants to honor education and he was elected during a bad economic time. Even with the budget deficit he provided more money for next year than this year. The State is lucky to have a governor and legislature that want to support education.
Superintendent Perry outlined that the Town of Veazie had the biggest increase percentage wise in community value, but he doesn’t imagine that the Town would have the biggest increase again next year.
Councilor Cheney inquired whether contracting with a high school rather then allowing the choice of high school would save the school system any money. Superintendent Perry stated that the savings are minimal considering that high schools can only charge the State average for tuition and private schools can charge 10% more.
Councilor Kelly pointed out that out of the total increase in the budget 21% is health insurance. Superintendent Perry stated that this reflects an 18% increase in rates. Councilor Kelly inquired on what percentage the school employees pay. Superintendent Perry stated that they pay 3% and in the past they never use to pay anything. Councilor Hogan stated that everyone needs to be ready to contribute more to their health insurance with the way rates have been going up.
Chairman Hathaway stated that the Town has $100,000 put away in a reserve to use towards school funding however the Town won’t have that next year.
There was discussion on student projections. This year’s increase in secondary tuition should be the largest, there shouldn’t be a large increase like this again. Principal Scott Nichols stated that it is very hard to project student enrollment. CEO Thomas added that he has issued nine building permits for single family homes this spring.
Councilor Cheney inquired whether the school was looking into portables. Superintendent Perry stated that there are no plans for portables however there is a plan for a four classroom expansion for when the time comes that the school does need to expand. Obviously, the School Board isn’t moving forward with the expansion because of the current conditions.
ITEM 5b. CEO/Assessor’s Report
CEO Thomas stated that the computer network has been set up. The TRIO software is running great, however, the ADS software is still being worked on. Manager Reed outlined that there have been technical support and formatting issues with ADS. He added that they are going to make some changes in the software, however, turnaround time on technical support has not been good. Chairman Hathaway asked if the owner had been contacted. Manager Reed stated that the owner had been contacted and he has not heard back from him.
CEO Thomas outlined that he has issued six building permits in Sylvain Heights. Chairman Hathaway inquired about the flooded lots in the subdivision. CEO Thomas stated that building permits would not be issued until the flooding is taken care of.
CEO Thomas stated that houses are still selling at prices considerably higher than their assessed value. As soon as the weather improves he will be pushing to complete the revaluation. CEO Thomas stated he has hired an intern to help with the process.
CEO Thomas outlined that Denis St. Peter of CES filed the Notice of Intent: Part A by the due date for NPDES Phase II (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System). The six minimum control measures that the Town will be required to take are: public education, public involvement and participation, illicit discharge detection and elimination, construction site storm water runoff control, post-construction storm water management in new development and redevelopment, and pollution prevention and good housekeeping for municipal operations.
CEO Thomas stated that there haven’t been many code enforcement issues. There have been a number of problems with the plans and the construction and the site has had to be visited numerous times. Problems included an incorrect site location plan, sheathing not nailed correctly and an inadequate header. Deputy CEO John Ellis has been working on numerous violations of unregistered and non-serviceably vehicles on properties.
Greystone Trailer Park will most likely being changing hands this summer. CEO Thomas added that he believes a total of three mobile home parks are for sale. He has met with possible buyers of both the Hobson Avenue mobile home park and the Main Street park.
The former Tiny Tot Diaper property is still for sale. CEO Thomas outlined that he has meet with several potential purchasers of the property.
ITEM 5c. Discussion of Community Fees
Manager Reed outlined that included in the Council packets was a fee schedule for Orrington’s spring cleanup. There are two things the Town should consider: Town fees such as building permits and other municipal fees and cleanup fees for solid waste and universal waste. If surrounding communities start charging fees members of that community will start dumping their items curbside here in Veazie to avoid fees. Also, Veazie’s building permit fee is significantly less expensive then surrounding communities. Superintendent of Public Works, Butch Free, is going to gather some information on clean-up fees.
Chairman Hathaway stated that the Town needs to take a serious look at the fee structure because it does not want people coming into Town dropping off things because the Town’s cleanup is free. Manager Reed outlined that disposal costs are getting too high, there are more regulations on how things need to be disposed off and items that were once non-hazardous are now hazardous.
ITEM 6a. Manager’s Reviews
Manager Reed stated that included with the Council packets was an action list for the fiscal year 2002-2003.
ITEM 6b. Science Club Discussion
Raymond Michaels was present to discuss the Viking Science Club. Currently, they have six members and they have been building LEGO robots. Currently, the space they are using isn’t large enough and he would like to use the vacant community space at the Community Center. Raymond Michaels outlined that they meet once a week and they are slowly getting to where he wants to be. Some items and funds have been donated.
Councilor Cheney inquired whether there would be any liability issues with Mr. Michaels using the Community Center. Manager Reed outlined that as long as he isn’t renting from the Town there shouldn’t be a problem. However, if there is ever an ADA claim he would have to move back to an ADA approved facility.
Chairman Hathaway recommended that Mr. Michaels approach the school for funding since it is a school club, however, if the school is unable to fund the program due to budget constrictions he should reapproach the Council. Perhaps it could be placed under the Parks & Recreation Program.
ITEM 7. Manager’s Report
a. The Council reviewed a copy of David King’s request to be appointed to the budget committee.
Motion By: Chairman Hathaway—to appoint David King to the Budget Committee. Seconded: Councilor Cheney, Voted 4-0 in favor.
b. The Council reviewed a copy of a letter from MDOT outlining that the Town has received a grant for the traffic light. The traffic light will be converted from a bulb systems to an LED system. It is projected that it will decrease the monthly electric bill by some 60%.
c. The Council reviewed a copy of a FERC notice for the Veazie Dam.
d. The Council reviewed a copy of the School Committee’s minutes and agenda.
e. The Council reviewed a copy of the Police Chief’s replacement cruiser CIP.
f. The Council reviewed a notice from MDOT outlining that the Town did not get the second grant it applied for; this grant was for the community gateway or local signs grant.
g. The Council reviewed the Fire Department’s monthly report.
ITEM 8. Requests for Information/Council Comments:
Councilor Cheney mentioned that she noticed that the number one police cruiser was out of use. Manager Reed outlined that the radiator was overheating so it is in the shop being repaired.
Councilor Cheney also inquired on what the status was with the Dang property. Manager Reed outlined that he had spoken with Mr. Dang’s daughter and she informed him that her father had some health issues. However, she is going to talk to their attorney and realtor again and inquired whether the Town would consider a counteroffer made by her. Manager Reed stated he would let her know that the issue has been tabled at the moment. It was the consensus of the Council to have all members present before making a decision. It was decided to add it to the agenda for the next Council meeting.
ITEM 9. Warrants: Town Warrant 20 & 20A, Town Payroll Warrant 20, School Warrant 20, School Lunch Warrant 20 and School Payroll Warrant 20 were circulated and signed.
ITEM 10. Adjournment: Motion: Councilor Hathaway—to adjourn April 7, 2003, Town Council Meeting. Seconded: Councilor Hogan, Voted 4-0 in favor. There was no further discussion. Meeting adjourned 8:55 pm.