PRESENT: Councilor Friedman, Councilor Cheney, Councilor Kelly, and Councilor Hogan; Manager Reed, Assistant Clerk K. Gifford, Fire Chief Gerry Martin, Assistant Chief Carl Tenney, Police Chief Mark Leonard, Superintendent of Public Works Butch Free, Parks & Recreation Director Rosemary Freese, Parks & Recreation Committee Member Joan Perkins, Budget Committee Members: John Manter, Suzanne Hart, and David King, School Committee Chair Rebecca Wetherbee, Members of the Public. Chairman Hathaway was absent and excused.
ITEM 1. The April 21, 2003 Veazie Town Council was called to order at 7:00 PM.
ITEM 2. Consideration of minutes: Motion By: Councilor Hogan —to accept April 7, 2003 minutes as written. Seconded: Councilor Kelly, Voted 3-1-0 in favor. Councilor Friedman abstained due to his absence from the meeting.
ITEM 3. Consideration of the Agenda: There were no additions made to the agenda.
ITEM 4. Public Comments: There were no comments from the public.
ITEM 5a. Casco Bay Energy
Manager Reed outlined that Gonzalo Garcia could not be present but would like to reschedule for the May 5, 2003 Council meeting.
ITEM 5b. Business Support Letter
Manager Reed stated that this was a letter that was drafted up to send to businesses to purchase advertising space in the circular insert that will go in the Bangor Daily News in July for the Veazie 150th celebration. Manager Reed outlined that a letter can be sent signed by all Councilors or one can be sent signed by the Veazie 150th Committee. It was the consensus of the Council to all sign the letter. Councilor Hogan stated he was glad to see that the letter would be going out with all of the Councilors signatures on it.
ITEM 6. Workshop – Municipal Budget
Manager Reed outlined that the consolidated school budget and the municipal budget presented tonight represents an estimated mill rate of 19.5, which is a 3-mill increase or 19% from the Town’s current fiscal year’s rate. In the coming year the Town is faced with dealing with a higher community value and the loss of State Aid to Education and minimal or no growth in Maine State Revenue Sharing. Manager Reed stated that the Town’s county tax assessment also increased tremendously for the fiscal year 2003-2004. He outlined that the current mill rate of 16.5 is some 40-50% less than the region’s property tax mean (23-25). Manager Reed stated that the 2002-2003 municipal budget was decreased by some $180,000 to make up for the $250,000 increased tax cost of the
school budget for this current year. In the coming fiscal year 2003-2004 the municipal budget has decreased by another $100,000 plus dollars to help with the School Department’s $500,000 tax cost shortfall.
Manager Reed stated that the Town staff has decided to leave all projected municipal revenue lines to last year’s levels. It looks like there is a 6% increase but it is actually a change in accounting methodology due to the implementation of new accounting standards. In the coming months Town staff will propose a new fee structure for a number of Town issued permits but these new figures have not been used in this revenue summary.
Councilor Friedman reviewed that currently the Town has a 16.5 mill rate and if this budget passes “as is” the mill rate will increase to 19.5. He outlined that this increase is unacceptable.
Councilor Hogan stated that the Town’s newsletter needs to go out more and should keep residents up to date on what is going on. Residents need to be kept informed on the issues the Town is dealing with.
Manager Reed stated the personnel services subsection will increase a proposed 6%, the majority of the increase is related to wage increases and the cost of benefits. The operations subsection will decrease in the coming fiscal year by 5% mostly due to the fact that the Town’s risk pool coverage will combine policies. The insurance reserve figure was adjusted upward to reflect the transition.
The professional services subsection will increase by 13% and the building and utilities subsection will decrease by 16% due to the transfer of the Community Center’s heating costs to the fixed cost group.
Manager Reed outlined that he is requesting the same amount of capital as last year to maintain the Town’s computer network with additional costs associated for software purchases and licensing. He is also requesting the same amount for capital building maintenance to address miscellaneous breakdowns, furnace related issues and drippage issues.
Fire Chief Gerry Martin stated that the total requested budget for the fire department is $188,609.63. The personnel services section includes increases for wages and standard increases in the cost of benefits. The operations section includes such increases in gasoline, dues and publications and communications.
Councilor Cheney inquired on how old the oldest fire truck is. Chief Martin stated it is an 1980 or 1981. The Mack should have been replaced two years ago but it works fine so why replace it.
Councilor Hogan inquired on the number of firefighters and whether there were a lot of new people in the department. Chief Martin outlined that the individuals the department has lost is due to new job locations but most that have come on stay on. The department is down four or five members but the department has hired two within the last month.
Chief Leonard stated he tried to keep his budget within means as best as he could. His personnel section had its standard increase due to wage increases and the cost of benefits. The training and tuition line increased due to the academy increasing their tuition fee. The communications line has been increased to cover the cost of the phone bill which the department now pays. PCLES, the regional law enforcement computer system, had an increase in user fees by the PCLES Board of Directors.
A new line has been added for the D.A.R.E. program. A list of items needed for the program was included with the department’s budget summary.
Councilor Friedman inquired where funds went that each department received. For instance, if the police department had a drug bust on a car and down the road the department sold the car or if the fire department received cash donations. Manager Reed stated the funds would go into the general fund and the Council would decide where to allocate it.
Chief Leonard stated he is cutting the cruiser reserve in half. It is his intention to go from buying a new cruiser every year to buying a new cruiser every other year.
Councilor Kelly wanted to clarify that office supplies are now coming out of the police department’s budget where as before they were coming from the Town Office. He asked if this was the same for the fire department. Chief Martin stated yes. Councilor Kelly asked why there wasn’t a decrease in the supply line for the executive department. Manager Reed stated that color cartridges are expensive and the office goes through a lot when printing graphs, presentations and other documents.
Parks & Recreation
Parks and Recreation Director Rosemary Freese stated the department tried to keep the budget basically the same. She outlined that the department will maintain the services it is providing and hopefully more children will take advantage of the programs.
Manager Reed stated there was a slight increase in the hydrant rental due to the fact that two more will need to be deployed for the new subdivisions. There was an increase in streetlining, the Town has decided to do it annually now. The bright lines aid drivers who may have poor vision at night and in inclement weather. Manager Reed outlined that there was a 10% increase in Solid Waste. This is due to the new universal waste laws. The budget line for the street lights will remain the same. The Town will be converting its traffic lighting system over to an LED via a grant received in FY 2002-2003. Manager Reed stated that the cost for “The Bat” (formally The Bus) has decreased due to increased ridership. Diesel and heating fuel should mirror this past
fiscal year’s usage.
Superintendent of Public Works Butch Free stated that his personnel section had its standard increase. The only other increase was a new line added to the budget for liquid calcium. Councilor Cheney inquired whether Public Works was using more salt and less sand. Superintendent Free stated that he is using less sand but this year we had a lot more storms.
Superintendent Free stated that his capital account has decreased by 84%. Cemetery projects, equipment rehab., highway maintenance, drainage projects and the backhoe capital accounts all remain the same. A cemetery mower will be purchased for $5,500 and cul-de-sac repair has been decreased by 50%.
Councilor Hogan stated that with all the cutbacks in the budget the Town should make sure that it doesn’t set itself back too far. Superintendent Free stated that he cut back on equipment and tools because he has all the tools and equipment he needs right now. There will come a point in time where the department will have to start replacing things.
Councilor Friedman stated that he was glad to see department heads recognizing one another and working together.
Manager Reed stated that the community planning and historical society lines remained the same. The community planning line is to fund the second phase of the comprehensive plan. Community Programs was added as a new line item to support a science club and to support the senior’s use of the new facility. There was discussion regarding what the Town should do if other clubs approach the Town for money. It was the consensus of the Council to have Manager Reed speak with Superintendent Perry about putting the club under the school budget. The Veazie 150th celebration fund was increased by $5,000. Member of the public Gary Brooks inquired on what the total cost for the 150th celebration was. Manager Reed stated it was around $57,000. Councilor Hogan
inquired whether the Town would have any income coming in to fund the event. Manager Reed stated probably around $3,000-6,000. The Economic Development line was increased by 218%. This will fund the website upkeep and the T-1 cost for the new network and GIS interaction.
Councilor Friedman stated that he, and if it was the consensus of the Council, would like to direct Manager Reed to contact Superintendent Perry and have the school board ready when they come back for the next budget workshop to anticipate changes.
ITEM 7a Dang Matter
Manager Reed outlined that there hadn’t been any new developments with the Dang property. It was the consensus of the Council that based on economic conditions and budget constraints the Town should no longer pursue it.
Motion By: Councilor Hogan—to not accept the Dang’s counteroffer and to withdraw the Town’s interest in the Dang property. Seconded: Councilor Kelly, Voted 4-0 in favor.
ITEM 7b. Manager’s Review
Councilor Friedman recommended addressing items 8 through 10 before adjourning into executive session for the manager’s review.
ITEM 8. Manager’s Report
a. The Council reviewed a copy of David King’s request to be appointed to the budget committee.
Motion By: Councilor Hogan—to appoint David King to the Budget Committee. Seconded By: 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 system to an LED system. It is projected that this will decrease the monthly electric bill by some 60%.
c. The Council reviewed a copy of a FERC notice for the basin mills projected and 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 9. Requests for Information/Council Comments:
Councilor Cheney inquired on when street sweeping would occur. Superintendent Free stated it will be the first of May. The department tries to get as much as it can with its own equipment then contracts out for the rest.
ITEM 10. Warrants: Town Warrant 21 & 21A, Town Payroll Warrant 21, School Warrant 21, School Lunch Warrant 21 and School Payroll Warrant 21 were circulated and signed.
ITEM 7b. Manager’s Review (out of order)
Motion By: Councilor Hogan—to adjourn into executive session. Seconded By: Councilor Cheney, Voted 4-0 in favor. Adjourned at 8:54 p.m.
Motion By: Councilor Kelly—to adjourn out of executive session. Seconded By: Councilor Hogan, Voted 4-0 in favor.
ITEM 11. Adjournment: Motion: Councilor Kelly—to adjourn April 21, 2003, Town Council Meeting. Seconded: Councilor Hogan, Voted 4-0 in favor. There was no further discussion. Meeting adjourned at 9:20p.m.