PRESENT: Chairman Friedman, Councilor Cheney, Councilor Kelly, and Councilor Hogan, Town Manager B. Reed, CEO A. Thomas, Office Administrator Julie Reed, Assistant Clerk K. Humphrey, Budget Committee Members John Manter and Suzanne Hart; Principal Scott Nichols, Superintendent Tom Perry, School Committee Members Hilary Stewart-Reed, Kimberly Dagher, Rebecca Wetherbee, Sergeant Rob Gould. School Committee Member Duska Hayman arrived late and Councilor Hathaway was absent and excused.
ITEM 1. The October 20, 2003 Veazie Town Council was called to order at 7:00 PM.
ITEM 2. Consideration of minutes: Motion: Councilor Kelly—to accept October 6, 2003 minutes as written. Seconded: Councilor Hogan, Voted 4-0 in favor.
ITEM 3. Consideration of the Agenda: Manager Reed outlined that the audit update would not be taking place due to the auditor being ill. The auditor will however be sending a draft copy of the audit in the mail for the Council.
Manager Reed explained the additional handouts the Council received were a follow-up to a legal matter with tax issues on one property.
Chairman Friedman asked to add a discussion on canceling the November 3rd Council meeting. This was added as item 4b.
ITEM 4a. School Department & Committee Workshop
Superintendent Perry stated that one commitment of the school was communication and keeping each other informed. Included in the Council packets were the 2003-2004 goals and the department’s long-range plan. At the beginning of each year the committee works on these and revises them. They are more specific early on and less specific farther out. Superintendent Perry outlined that the school values long range planning. Also included in the Council packets was a copy of the school’s 2002-2003 Maine Educational Assessment. The MEA’s are required assessments which are given in 4th, 8th and 11th grade. Veazie’s 4th graders scored above State averages in all areas as did the 8th graders.
Principal Nichols stated that information such as scores and students’ performances on major testing will become much more public. MEA scores are already printed in the newspaper and it will become much more noticeable. Principal Nichols outlined that in a small school with a small number of students, if a few children don’t do well it can drag the overall score down of the whole school.
Councilor Cheney inquired on how MEA scores have been over the years. Principal Nichols stated that the school’s MEA scores have been solid at the 4th grade level and very good at the 8th grade level.
Superintendent Perry outlined that the school ended the fiscal year about where they thought they would and the department had a little more carryforward than estimated. Last year the school was very concerned with high school enrollment. As of October 1st, the school has more students in high school then it budgeted for. The school budgeted for 112 students and currently it has 116 students. That results in about a $30,000 expenditure the school did not plan for. Superintendent Perry outlined that the school also has more K-8 students than anticipated. Originally the school anticipated 188 students but it currently has 206 as of October 15th. The community is growing in terms of student population. Principal Nichols pointed out that a large factor is that families
move here for the school of their choice.
Chairman Friedman pointed out that during the budget process the Council stated it would make sure the school had everything it needed. For instance, if there were more high school students enrolled then planned the Town would make sure the school had the funds to pay for the additional students. The school is going to keep an eye on high school enrollment and at the end of January will see if additional funds are necessary.
Superintendent Perry stated the referendum question is complicated and hard to understand. For Veazie, it is pretty simple, 1a is more attractive than 1b. He outlined that Veazie will have the most negative impact in the State if 1b passes.
Manager Reed stated that a newsletter will be going out supporting the Citizen’s Initiative. He outlined that community value is not slowing down. In the State’s perspective Veazie is worth more per square mile and per capita than Old Town and Orono. The Town has more than $200 million in community value not counting the full value of the TIF District. Manager Reed stated that all other surrounding communities have significantly higher mill rates except for Orrington which the Town is tied with.
Councilor Hogan stated the information in the newsletters should be inbullet style. If the newsletter is crowded with information people will not read it.
Superintendent Perry stated that the School Committee did not take a formal vote on the referendum question, however, they are comfortable saying that they support Question 1a and it may be included in the newsletter.
ITEM 4b. Cancellation of November 3rd Meeting
It was the consensus of the Council to cancel the November 3rd meeting to allow the Town Office staff to set up the Council Chambers for the State election.
ITEM 5a. Audit Overview
Town Auditor Charemon Willey-Staples was not able to attend the Council meeting. Manager Reed outlined that she would be sending a draft copy of the audit in the mail before the next Council meeting.
ITEM 5b. Property Taxes – Outstanding
Office Administrator Julie Reed provided a copy of property owners with property taxes outstanding to the Council in their packets. There is one property owner with a balance due from 1997 and there are two property owners that owe taxes as far back as 1998. An individual wishing to purchase one of the properties has entered into an agreement to pay $75 a month on the owed taxes. Manager Reed stated he received a letter from John Bunker regarding the other property. Legally, an interested party represented by John Bunker would like to purchase the tax liens from the Town. The Council would like to invite John Bunker to come meet with them at a future meeting. Manager Reed will send a letter to John Bunker inviting him to a Council meeting.
ITEM 5c. Signage Update
Manager Reed stated that Superintendent of Public Works Butch Free, CEO Allan Thomas and White Sign have been working together to come up with a design for a Town sign. Included in the Council packets were three designs. One referred to the building as the Veazie Municipal Offices, another as the Veazie Town Office and the last one as the Veazie Municipal Complex. It was the consensus of the Council to go with the Veazie Town Office. Councilor Cheney inquired whether the department signs would be free swinging as they appear on the design. Manager Reed stated they would be anchored on the bottom. Manager Reed stated that he would like to also put a white sign next to one of the lighting fixtures with letters so the Town can display messages about upcoming meetings and such.
ITEM 6. Public Comments: Manager Reed outlined that while Police Chief Leonard is on leave Officer Rob Gould has been promoted to Sergeant and he will be in charge of the department.
ITEM 7a. Manager’s Report:
a. The Council reviewed a copy of the Town’s third quarter investment portfolio standings. It was noted that interest rates had plunged over the past year and that several of the callable bonds had been called way and sold.
b. The Council reviewed a copy of a letter from the Legal Services of the Maine Municipal Association thanking Manager Reed for participating as a speaker in the “Cable Television Franchise Issues” Program.
c. The Council reviewed a copy of a card from Ruth Woodsum thanking the Town for removing a tree that could have inflicted damage to her property as well as the Town’s property.
d. The Council reviewed a copy of the School Committee’s most recent minutes and agenda.
e. The Council reviewed a copy of Beckie Woods’ Certified Clerk Certificate.
f. The Council reviewed a copy of a letter regarding the County Commissioner District caucuses.
Manager Reed outlined that on Wednesday, October 15th the Town Office was without power for some eight hours during the wind and rain storm. The office was kept open, however, the Town has found that the facility’s power consumption has increased a great deal from when the backup generator was originally purchased in 1999. Currently the facility draws too much for the generator to handle. The VEMA Committee will be reviewing the situation and looking for grants to put towards the purchase of a larger generator. Fortunately the Town’s current generator is in excellent condition and can be sold for a very good return.
ITEM 8. Requests for Information/Council Comments: There were no requests or comments from the Council.
ITEM 9. Warrants: Town Warrant 8, Town Payroll Warrant 8, School Warrant 8 & 8A, School Payroll Warrant 8, and School Lunch Warrant 8 were circulated and signed.
ITEM 10. Adjournment: Motion: Councilor Kelly—to adjourn the October 20, 2003 Town Council Meeting. Seconded: Councilor Cheney—there was no further discussion. Voted 4-0 Meeting adjourned at 8:26 p.m.