PRESENT: Chairman Hathaway, Councilor Cheney, Councilor Friedman, Councilor Kelly, and Councilor Hogan; Manager Reed, Assistant Clerk K. Gifford, CEO A. Thomas, Deputy CEO John Ellis, Deputy Clerk B. Woods, Assistant Chief Carl Tenney, Police Chief Mark Leonard, Superintendent of Public Works Butch Free, Parks & Recreation Director Rosemary Freese, Superintendent Thomas Perry, Principal Scott Nichols, School Committee Members Rebecca Wetherbee, Duska Haymay and Hilary Stewart-Reed, Budget Committee Members Suzanne Hart, John Manter and David King, CBEC Plant Manager Ganzalo Garcia and Lucia Garcia, Members of the Public Brian Perkins and Scott Humphrey.
ITEM 1. The May 5, 2003 Veazie Town Council was called to order at 7:00 PM.
ITEM 2. Consideration of minutes: Motion By: Councilor Friedman—to accept April 21, 2003 minutes as written. Seconded: Councilor Cheney, Voted 4-0-1 in favor. Chairman Hathaway abstained due to his absence from the April 21, 2003 Council meeting.
ITEM 3. Consideration of the Agenda: Councilor Friedman stated he would like to discuss a few things under new business and old business.
ITEM 4. Public Comments: There were no comments from the public.
ITEM 5a. Casco Bay Energy
CBEC Plant Manager Gonzalo Garcia was present to introduce himself and let the Council know how everything was going at the plant. Gonzalo Garcia stated his last assignment was in New Mexico. The plant has spent close to six months preparing for the shut down that occurred back in March. Originally the plant was to be shut down for ten days but instead if was twenty days. All of the generators and machinery were inspected and everything went very well. There were only a few minor problems. Gonzalo Garcia stated he would like to try sending out a quarterly letter to the community to keep residents informed.
Councilor Cheney inquired whether the plant was for sale. Gonzalo Garcia stated that it was for sale last year and there is a possibility that it may go up for sale once again. Councilor Cheney also inquired on how many people the plant employed. Gonzalo Garcia stated it employs twenty two employees.
Gonzalo Garcia thanked the Council and stated that if the Council would like a presentation or more information on the plant he would be happy to do so.
ITEM 8. Manager’s Report (Taken out of order)
a. Manager Reed outlined that in the Council’s packet was a letter from Scott Humphrey requesting appointment to the Budget Committee.
Motion By: Councilor Cheney—to appoint Scott Humphrey to the Budget Committee. Seconded: Councilor Hogan, Voted 5-0 in favor.
ITEM 6. Workshop – Municipal Budget / School Department (Taken out of order)
Manager Reed outlined that Assessor Thomas has more or less confirmed the community value figure. The computed mill rate is still above the current mill rate. The value of the TIF District needs to be recalculated. Chairman Hathaway inquired on how much additional value has been added this year. Assessor Thomas stated that there are three new subdivisions with an approximate value of $750,000, American Concrete has built an addition but he has not placed a value on it yet as well as the new Senior Center. Assessor Thomas stated that overall there is no more than $1.5 million in new value.
School Committee Chair Rebecca Wetherbee stated that on May 1, 2003 the committee had a budget workshop. The board has come up with some suggestions on budget decreases but they are only tentative. She would like to wait until May 6, 2003 when the School Committee meets to have a full board and make them official.
Superintendent Perry stated that they have looked at the expenditure side as well as the revenue side. He outlined that the School Committee could live with some additional staff reductions, they have come up with $56,000 in reductions. Superintendent Perry stated that he is also projecting an additional $20,000 in revenue from the carryforward balance. This gives a net reduction of $76,000 in additional local funds needed. Superintendent Perry stated that the School Committee had originally requested $2,021,907 in local funds, with these changes it revises the figure to $1,945,927. That is of course if the School Committee approves them. The total budget increase is $175,090 over the current year of which $140,017 is for secondary tuition.
Chairman Hathaway inquired whether the Town would be making any contribution from the reserve. Manager Reed stated that it is proposed to take $50,000 from the Education Reserve and another $50,000 from the Municipal Reserve account. Chairman Hathaway inquired what the balance of the Education Reserve was. Manager Reed stated that it has a balance of $100,000.
Manager Reed stated that if the Town uses too much of the reserves now it will just create a bigger tax rate next year. He outlined that there won’t be a savings on the educational side of the budget for about three years because of enrollment numbers.
Councilor Friedman asked what the State standard was for class sizes per teacher. Superintendent Perry stated that there is no single figure for all grades. Usually there is a low figure for grades Kindergarten through second grade and higher figures after that. Based on staffing the school is projecting that only the first grade will be split all day into two classes.
Councilor Friedman inquired whether the school was still in contract negotiations. Superintendent Perry stated that they are. Councilor Friedman pointed out that a large cost is the health insurance. He outlined that he supports the school, however residents are going to have a hard time swallowing a 3 mill increase. In the near future the school should start considering paying more for healthcare. It was discussed that since1993 municipal employees pay 50% of family coverage and the school department pays 3%.
Manager Reed outlined that tax increases are inevitable, the Town’s tax rate is so much lower than the area’s tax mean based on similar services. Next year if the tax rate is low the school will be hurt again with additional cuts in State aid.
Councilor Hogan stated that he has been reading articles in the newspaper about what other towns are going through in regards to their budget. He outlined that department heads have done a good job of “holding the line” on their budgets. He also agrees with Councilor Friedman that a lot of employees have to pay a portion for their health insurance. Health insurance has increased dramatically and that is one area that is important to look at for savings.
The Councilors inquired on how many days a week the school has the curriculum coordinator from Orono, a school nurse and a guidance counselor. The curriculum coordinator is at the school 1.25 days a week, the school nurse is at the school for about 35% of the day and the guidance counselor is there 80% of the day.
Motion By: Chairman Hathaway—to reduce the Town’s expenditures in the amount of $122,000 by cutting $15,000 from the tree fund, $2,000 from VEMA, $16,000 from Economic Development, $25,000 from the 150th Celebration, $4,000 from Historical Society, $10,000 from Community Planning, a reduction of $10,000 from the Solid Waste Account and $40,000 from Highway Maintenance; add this to the $76,000 the school has proposed as well as reducing two full time high school students by $14,000 in hopes that the School Committee could take another look and cut an additional $10,000. Seconded: Councilor Cheney, Voted 2-3, not in favor.
Manager Reed outlined that if $16,000 is cut from the economic development account that the Town would have to eliminate the website and it would lose the use of the T1 and half of the phone system.
Chief Leonard stated that he has recently been appointed as the director of VEMA and the Town has to have a disaster mitigation plan in affect by November of 2004 in order to receive VEMA approved funds. Chief Leonard outlined that he has applied for a grant to help with the process, however it requires matching funds. Without the matching funds the Town would not be eligible for the grant.
Manager Reed stated that before ideas for budget cuts are thrown out he needs to check with department heads and management so that they may make recommendations. Councilor Kelly inquired whether Manager Reed would be able to meet with department heads to go over the budget before the next budget workshop. Manager Reed stated he would be able to.
Chairman Hathaway made a recommendation of requesting an assistant from a State agency to come in and give the Town some advice. Manager Reed outlined that the models the Town uses in the budget process are all State implemented. Manager Reed added that when the Town’s tax rate is some 20 to 30% below the region mean the Town is going to be hit hard. The tax mean for the area is going up again this coming year so a 19.5 mill rate would still be a good deal below the mean.
Councilor Friedman stated he liked the idea of meeting in July to see if the Town is on task and that everything is going alright.
Chairman Hathaway recommended that the school and the Town each go back and look things over again and come back on May 12th instead of the 14th for another workshop. The school will try to minimize their requested increase and the Town will aim to reduce its budget an additional $60,000 on top of the already proposed $100,000 reduction to help with the school budget gap.
ITEM 5b. Preservation Program Update
Deputy Clerk Beckie Woods was present to show the Council the historical books the Town had preserved. One included the minutes for meetings held starting on the date of incorporation, March 25, 1853. Deputy Clerk Beckie Woods stated she is going to apply for a grant to help with the process. She outlined that she would like to see all of the books preserved as they are a part of the Town’s history.
ITEM 5c. GIS Project - Presentation
Manager Reed outlined that currently the Town has the GIS data working on the Town’s ArcView System. In the coming year the Town would like to make the data available via the Internet and the Town’s website. At the present time it is planned for authorized users to be able to gain access to the information with a fee structure applying. Town employees will be given access codes as well. The service will be provided by the third party vendor Virtual Town Hall and they will have a prepared program which avoids complicated programming.
ITEM 5d. Motion by: Councilor Friedman—to adjourn into executive session. Seconded: Councilor Hogan, Voted 5-0 in favor.
Motion By: Councilor Cheney—to come out of executive session. Seconded: Councilor Hogan, Voted 5-0 in favor.
Motion By: Councilor Cheney—to renew the Manager’s two year contract with a 3% raise and annual reviews. Seconded: Councilor Hogan, Voted 5-0 in favor.
ITEM 7a. Spring Cleanup Follow-up
Manager Reed stated that he had sent out a packet earlier this week regarding a couple of complaints. A resident had come into the Town Office and was upset that his brush pile was not taken. Included in the packet were photos of four brush piles that were tagged and not picked up. Manager Reed outlined that Superintendent of Public Works Butch Free is working with the Town Forester and harvester to get rid of the piles. Next year the Town will need to set a very specific limit on the volume of brush that will be picked up. Manager Reed stated that another resident was upset when her flower pots that were set beside the road were picked up during spring cleanup. By the time she had notified the Town the flower pots had already been discarded at the Waste Management facility.
Manager Reed outlined that he wrote her a letter telling her to bring in a receipt for the replaced items and it would be reviewed.
Superintendent Free stated that the Town doesn’t have a State approved dump site therefore we should not be picking up brush. Most towns are dealing with Waste Management and others like Hermon and Glenburn have their own landfill.
Superintendent Free stated that many people disregard the newsletter sent to them or they disregard what is written in it. This year he saw a lot of propane tanks, paint and florescent bulbs out beside the road as well as refrigerators that didn’t have permits.
Superintendent Free stated that he strongly believes that the Town is in desperate need of a new compost area and he believes that the best area for one is beside the Sewer District.
Councilor Cheney stated she thought the Town use to have a compost pile by the river. Manager Reed outlined that it got abused so it had to be shut down. Councilor Cheney asked what would be different about the new proposed site. Superintendent Free stated that unlike the first site this one would be gated and fenced and only open on certain days. Manager Reed outlined that the old compost site wasn’t on Town owned property therefore the Town couldn’t close it off effectively or fence it off. Councilor Hogan stated that you will still have people who will leave their trash at the gate. It was the consensus to come back at a future meeting and discuss the Town’s options.
ITEM 8. Manager’s Report
b. The Council reviewed a memo from Manager Reed regarding a resident’s drainage concern.
c. The Council reviewed a copy of a letter from Manager Reed to Warren Smith pertaining to the Dang property matter.
d. The Council reviewed a copy of the Fire Department’s April report.
e. The Council reviewed a copy of a letter from a local business thanking the Fire Department for their help on a training program.
f. The Council reviewed a copy of a letter from Congressman Michaud outlining his support for funds for first responders and homeland security.
g. The Council reviewed a memo from Deputy Clerk Beckie Woods regarding the motor vehicle registration reminder notice program.
ITEM 9. Requests for Information/Council Comments: There were no requests for information or comments from the Council.
ITEM 10. Warrants: Town Warrant 22, Town Payroll Warrant 22, School Warrant 22, and School Payroll Warrant 22 were circulated and signed.
ITEM 11. Adjournment: Motion: Councilor Friedman—to adjourn May 5, 2003, Town Council Meeting. Seconded: Councilor Hogan, Voted 5-0 in favor. There was no further discussion. Meeting adjourned at 10:09p.m.