PRESENT: Councilor Hathaway, Councilor Cheney, Councilor Kelly, and Councilor Hogan, Town Manager B. Reed, CEO A. Thomas, Office Administrator Julie Reed, Assistant Clerk K. Humphrey, Fire Chief Gerry Martin, CEO Allan Thomas, Budget Committee Members John Manter and Suzanne Hart; Town Auditor Charemon Willey-Staples, Members of the Public John Bunker and Kerri Maxwell. Chairman Friedman was absent and excsued.
ITEM 1. The November 17, 2003 Veazie Town Council was called to order at 7:00 PM.
Motion By: Councilor Cheney—to nominate Councilor Hathaway as acting Chair. Seconded: Councilor Kelly, Voted 3-0-1 in favor.
ITEM 2. Consideration of minutes: Motion: Councilor Hogan—to accept October 20, 2003 minutes as written. Seconded: Councilor Cheney, Voted 3-0-1 in favor. Councilor Hathaway abstained due to his absence from the meeting.
ITEM 3. Consideration of the Agenda: There were no additions made to the agenda.
ITEM 4a. Tax Matters
Manager Reed outlined that Julie Reed and Allan Thomas had researched the two accounts in question. Dead River’s propane tanks cannot be taxed because they are in Veazie. They must be taxed in the town in which the owner is located.
The other account in question is the GE Corp. of which Julie Reed outlined that she cannot find any information for. There is no address, location or description of the property. It is a possibility that the information was lost during the software conversion. She outlined that she could not find a property card for the property either.
Motion By: Councilor Hogan—to authorize the Town’s Treasurer to write off personal property account #93 GE Capitals Corp. for the year 2001 and personal property account #66 Dead River Corp. for the years 2000 and 2001. Seconded: Councilor Cheney, Voted 4-0 in favor.
It was noted by Assessor Allan Thomas that he has been speaking with the Bureau of Taxation and TRIO Software regarding a $25,000 mistake in the tax commitment. Two accounts he had attempted to remove did not in fact get removed. He outlined that he must redo the commitment papers and commitment book and the commitment day can stay the same due to the fact that the software error did not impact individual tax bills or the tax rate.
Manager Reed outlined that Deputy Treasurer Julie Reed had sent out pre-notices on foreclosures. Attorney John Bunker and his client were present to assert their claim on one of the properties being reviewed for tax foreclosure. If the foreclosure date passes his client would like to acquire the property because of a legal claim or interest. It was the consensus of the Council to proceed with foreclosure notices and after the redemption period expires the Town will give Attorney John Bunker and his client priority in acquiring the lien on the property.
Councilor Hathaway inquired about legal costs reimbursement. Manager Reed explained that all customary management and collection costs would be included in the final quit claim deed issuing price.
ITEM 4b. Finance / General Office Workshop
Office Administrator Julie Reed stated that all the staff in the Town Office are cross-trained to do all the duties necessary to ensure the office can run when short staffed due to trainings, sickness or vacations. The separation of duties has also been implemented as required due to the volume of money that flows through the office annually. It was noted that the Town office handles and produces all warrants both municipal and school departments.
There have been a great number of conversions with software to Windows upgrades. The software companies have been working very well with the staff on resolving issues.
Office Administrator Julie Reed outlined that there has been a larger than normal number of general assistance applicants this year, of course not all are found eligible.
Office Administrator Julie Reed discussed the call time graphs included in the Council packets. She outlined the type of calls the Town Office staff takes on a regular basis. Calls regarding whether trash is going to be picked up during holiday weeks seems to be common.
Councilor Hathaway suggested putting an automated message on the phone line that would remind residents that trash will be picked up. Councilor Cheney noted that she thought hearing a human voice on the phone would be better; an automated system is too impersonal.
Councilor Hogan noted that he thought the “transfer analysis” was an excellent idea. The analysis shows a customer how much it would cost to transfer plates from one vehicle to another or to do a whole new registration.
Town Auditor Charemon Willey-Staples was present to give an update on the audit. She distributed a draft to the Councilors. She outlined that even with the building project the Town’s fund equity did not decrease much. Taxable receivables increased slightly, however Veazie has the best percentage collection rate then any of her other clients.
Charemon Willey-Staples stated that the Council will need to discuss how to handle the school lunch program. The program had a loss again this year. The Council will need to decide whether to put it under operating expenses or to increase the current appropriation.
She outlined that only two departments were overspent; Public Works mostly because of overtime, which has been addressed, and Special Assessments. The solid waste account had some unanticipated costs which should level out this year. All other departments came in under budget.
Charemon Willey-Staples outlined that the Town has made some positive strides. Everyone is working well together, the purchase order system is working well and the school is online now with the new accounting software.
Councilor Hathaway recommended having the auditor back at the next meeting so they would have time to go over the draft audit and come back with any questions or concerns they may have.
Councilor Cheney recommended providing the budget committee with copies of the audit. Manager Reed stated that they will be provided with a copy.
ITEM 4c. Authorization of Roadway Acceptance
Manager Reed stated that the Buck Hill Drive subdivision is complete and he has met with town engineers on this project and com up with an escrow list. Currently the Town attorney is waiting for some paper work from Phil Buckley but everything else looks good.
Councilor Cheney inquired what the name of the road will be. CEO Allan Thomas stated that it will be a continuation of Buck Hill Drive. She noted that she had taken a ride up to the subdivision and that it ends in a cul-de-sac. CEO Allan Thomas stated that the cul-de-sac is temporary. No houses will be allowed to be built around it. The Planning Board will be meeting with Community Master Planner, Terrance Dewan, to establish how future growth will stem.
Motion By: Councilor Cheney—to authorize the Town Manager to negotiate, accept and sign on the Town Council’s behalf any and all documents deemed necessary and appropriate to secure the Town’s interest in accepting the Buck Hill Drive subdivision after securing legal and engineering approvals from the Town’s consultants. Seconded: Councilor Hogan, Voted 4-0 in favor.
ITEM 4d. School Committee Member Appointment
Manager Reed outlined that only one person submitted a letter of interest for the vacant position on the school committee. That letter of interest is included in the Council packets. He noted that a few people called him inquiring on the duties of the position.
Motion By: Councilor Cheney—to appoint Lisa Janicki to the School Committee to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of School Committee member Katie Watt. The appointment shall be valid until the next municipal election per Town Charter Section 04.23-c. Seconded: Councilor Hogan, Voted 4-0 in favor.
ITEM 5a. Revision to Organization Chart
Manager Reed outlined that the IT position had been moved from Community Development to its own division. The new formation will be made up with assigned personnel to work with a committee made up with department representatives and Town software and hardware consultants. Allan Thomas will still be working with the committee, but this will allow him more time to work with taxes and code enforcement.
ITEM 5b. Communication Consolidation
Manager Reed stated that over the past week he consolidated the Town’s communications responsibilities from two separate positions to one. This will ensure that communications are relayed to a centralized location and ensure that the common approved “community theme” or message is transmitted effectively by all of the Town’s media sources. Manager Reed outlined that the Town will be purchasing software that will allow the Town to edit the website itself. There will also be a quarterly report done by each department of their site to ensure that information is up to date. The Town will also be purchasing a few items to improve the T.V. station. The Town’s telephone system is being enhanced, there is now music when someone is on hold. Voice mail has also been
expanded – two messages can be left on a single voice mail at once.
ITEM 5c. Discussion of LEED Program
Manager Reed outlined that he and Superintendent Perry had been sent a letter from Doug Richmond regarding the LEED Program. There were various cost saving strategies under the program that the Veazie Community School could take advantage of. Doug Richmond has put together a proposal for the school and where the school is fairly new he thought the Town could maximize what we have and make it more efficient to save money.
Councilor Hogan commented on the statement “this relatively high electrical usage is a result, in part, of a lack of occupancy based lighting control” that was made in the proposal. He noted that the school should try having people turn lights off when leaving a room before spending money on having sensor lights installed.
Councilor Hathaway asked if there were any grants available for this program. Manager Reed outlined that down in southern Maine Central Power is offering grants. Bangor Gas has outlined that they would run the gas line to the school and do the conversion at no cost.
Councilor Hathaway noted that there is no need to pay Doug Richmond to become involved when places like Bangor Gas are offering to do the conversion for free.
ITEM 6. Public Comments:
Fire Chief Gerry Martin outlined that the department has purchased the thermal imaging camera and they have also obtained another grant, this one from Maine Municipal Association.
ITEM 7a. Manager’s Report:
a. Manager Reed outlined that the tree removal line in the budget is over spent due to all of the recent windstorms. The Public Works director will give an update in the future once the tree service finishes all of the damage cleanup. Councilor Cheney noted that there was a tree on the corner of Wedgewood Drive that blocks your view to turn out into the road. Manager Reed stated he would have someone look into it.
b. Manager Reed stated that currently the Town has had its Comprehensive Plan approved and now it needs to pursue a growth management plan. He has acquired the community growth plans from three or four other communities and they have been given to the Planning Board to see if any are applicable to the Town.
c. The Council reviewed a copy of a letter from the State Planning Office regarding the Caribou Bog.
d. The Council reviewed a copy of the proposed 2004 State valuations of municipalities in Penobscot County.
e. The Council reviewed a copy of the Police Department’s quarterly report.
f. The Council reviewed a copy of a thank-you letter from Fire Chief Martin to the Veazie Senior Citizens Club. The club had donated $100 towards the purchase of a thermal imaging camera.
g. The Council reviewed a copy of a letter from Maine Municipal Association regarding a safety grant.
h. The Council reviewed the Fire Department’s monthly report.
i. The Council reviewed the School Committee’s meeting minutes.
j. The Council reviewed two citizen comment cards.
k. The Council reviewed a copy of a letter from Adelphia informing the Town that they will be offering High Definition Television in the community.
Manager Reed also noted that he has resigned as Chairman of the Cable Consortium, but was elected Treasurer.
Manager Reed outlined that MMA had nominated him to serve on the Legislative Policy Committee due to Lee Umphrey’s resignation from the Committee.
ITEM 8. Requests for Information/Council Comments:
Councilor Cheney stated that she has RSVP’d for the PVCOG luncheon however she cannot attend. She also wanted to thank the budget committee for attending the meeting.
Manager Reed outlined that he and Councilor Hogan had attended a Senior Citizens dinner. He told them the Council would be putting on spaghetti dinner for them.
Councilor Kelly stated that he would not be able to attend the next two meetings due to business travel.
Councilor Hathaway noted that Adelphia will not service any new areas of Town and he is wondering what the Cable Consortium is doing about this. Manager Reed stated that the Operations Manager from Bangor is making an effort to change that but it is the person at the home office is “holding all the strings” so to speak. Manager Reed stated that he will speak with Shelley Winchenbach.
ITEM 9. Warrants: Town Warrant 10 & 10A, Town Payroll Warrant 10, School Warrant 10, School Payroll Warrant 10, and School Lunch Warrant 10 were circulated and signed.
ITEM 10. Adjournment: Motion: Councilor Cheney—to adjourn the November 17, 2003 Town Council Meeting. Seconded: Councilor Kelly—there was no further discussion. Voted 4-0 Meeting adjourned at 8:38p.m.