PRESENT: Chairman Friedman, Councilor Kelly, Councilor Hathaway, Councilor Cheney and Councilor Hogan, Town Manager B. Reed, CEO Allan Thomas and Assistant Clerk K. Humphrey, Office Administrator Julie Reed, Fire Chief Gerry Martin, Superintendent Thomas Perry, Principal Scott Nichols, School Committee Members Rebecca Wetherbee, Hilary Stewart-Reed, Bangor Daily News Reporter Aimee Dolloff, Budget Committee Members John Manter, Joan Perkins, Scott Humphrey and Suzanne Hart; Members of the Public: Todd Lynch, Lindsey Delia, Jason Frederick, Freeland Jones and Ethel Champaco. School Committee
Chair Duska Haymay arrived late and was excused.
ITEM 1. The April 5, 2004 Veazie Town Council was called to order at 7:00 PM.
ITEM 2. Consideration of minutes: Motion: Councilor Cheney—to accept March 22, 2004 minutes as written. Seconded: Councilor Hogan, Voted 4-0-1 in favor. Councilor Hathaway abstained due to his absence from the March 22, 2004 Council meeting. However, Councilor Hathaway wanted to clarify that he was absent and Councilor Cheney was tardy. Councilor Hathaway also outlined that he did not ask to be “cc’ed” on the “additional rent” matter. Manager Reed outlined that he had spoken with Stephen Mooers and that Stephen thought that Councilor Hathaway was still the chair and that is why the letter was “cc’ed” to him.
ITEM 3. Consideration of the Agenda: There were no additions made to the agenda.
ITEM 4a. School Budget Presentation
Superintendent Perry stated that the proposed budget for the 2004-2005 fiscal year is $3,216,082 which is an increase of $194,546. There are seven areas of major budget increase. The largest increase is in secondary tuition. Superintendent Perry outlined that they are not projecting an increase in students but an increase in cost. There is a salary increase for existing teaching staff, salary and benefits to support an additional elementary teacher, an increase in insurance costs for existing teachers, increased support for the school lunch program and increased contracted repair to facilities.
Superintendent Perry outlined that the reason they are adding another elementary teacher is due to the projection of two kindergarten classes. An additional major budget increase is for the technology software and equipment that the school is required to have in place to assess students and make sure they are meeting standards. In order to manage that, Orono and Veazie have acquired some software to share. The total amount of these major areas of increase is $174,091 and represents 89% of the department’s increase. The other 11% is made up of all other lines.
Superintendent Perry explained that the Special Education line applies to Kindergarten through grade 12. Salaries are for the Veazie Community School in addition to 25% of the shared Special Education Director for Union 87 and their aide. The transportation line under Special Education is for any student that may require special transportation.
Superintendent Perry stated that ‘Other Instruction’ includes extra-curricular activities, athletics and non-athletics. This line only represents 1.4% of the budget.
Superintendent Perry stated that on the revenue side of the budget, for the second year in a row Veazie is losing a significant amount of state subsidy as a result of the increased community property value. Based on the Governor’s proposal for school funding, Veazie could lose $133,508 in state funding. If this occrus the Town will have 22.6% less State aid than it received in 2003-2004 and the proposed budget would require $422,836 in additional local support. Superintendent Perry outlined that it is Veazie’s community value not the number of students that is hurting it.
Superintendent Perry stated that last year Veazie received a hardship cushion of $119,893, however this year there is no indication of any hardship cushions. Right now everything is up in the air and the Department of Education has painted a very pessimistic revenue picture. However, nothing will be known until the State’s budget is passed.
Superintendent Perry outlined that he is not projecting a carryforward at the end of this year. Based on the financial statements at the end of March, he thinks they will have $40,000-50,000, however will be used to cover accrued teachers’ summer pay.
Chairman Friedman outlined that the School Department did an excellent job preparing the Council for the school’s budget. The extra meetings the Council and School Committee had together proved to be beneficial. He added that he appreciated the candid way Superintendent Perry presented the budget.
Councilor Cheney inquired on class sizes. Principal Nichols stated that 23 students have registered for kindergarten and it has been past history that the school has always had more children in September then at kindergarten registration. He also stated that they would like to split the 6th and 8th grades for half of the day, however they are at risk of not having enough staff.
Councilor Hathaway also expressed his appreciation to the School Committee and Superintendent. In looking at the numbers it is a little scary. Last year the Town depleted its secondary tuition reserve fund and this year if there is a large increase in secondary students it is going to fall back on the elementary budget where the Town still has control. He added that he noticed in the minutes that there was discussion on the regionalization approach. He wondered if there had been any discussion about having 4-5 person committee study the idea and see if it would save the Town money.
Superintendent Perry stated that there have been two studies and the School Committee has been reviewing the minutes and reports. He outlined that it is not that attractive for Veazie, where as it is for Orono. He explained that Veazie would lose governance over the school system. The system is based on one person, one vote so the majority of the School Board would be made up of Orono.
Councilor Hathaway stated that the Town owes it to the community to discuss all of its options and understand the pros and cons of regionalization.
Freeland Jones inquired why the School Department needed $28,000 for repairs for a new building. Superintendent Perry stated that a lot of it is preventative maintenance. He outlined that the school department regularly paints areas, makes sure the roof is leak free, the boilers are running properly, etc. Chairman Friedman pointed out that last year the School Department put repairs and maintenance on hold so this year it needs to catch up.
Councilor Cheney inquired on what percentage teachers paid for their insurance. Superintendent Perry outlined that they now pay about 5% whereas before they did not pay any portion. He added that the State average is 10% and the School Department wants to continue to move towards the State average.
Councilor Hathaway asked Superintendent Perry if there was any indication of where school funding is going next year since this is the first time for a two-year State budget. Superintendent Perry outlined that there will be a new funding model in place for the 2005-2006 school year. There will be more money going towards education but not to Veazie. He explained that fiscal capacity plays a key role and Veazie is 20+% above the state average.
Budget Committee Member Joan Perkins inquired about a note under Account #120 that read “80% of insured value factor comes back to the town as state subsidy two years later.” Superintendent Perry explained that the State allowed rate to be charged by a private high school is 10% more than the State rate and it is called the insured value factor which is to be used for facility repairs.
ITEM 5a. Manager’s Review
Councilor Hogan outlined that the Manager’s review was not ready yet. He is planning to meet with Manager Reed tomorrow, Tuesday, April 6th.
ITEM 5b. Seniors Dinner Discussion
Manager Reed outlined that the Seniors’ dinner will be on Wednesday, April 7th at 6:00 p.m. at the senior center. They will be preparing spaghetti and salad was well as a stew for the seniors.
ITEM 6. Public Comments: There were no comments from the public.
ITEM 7. Manager's Report
a. The Council reviewed a copy of the letter which was sent to Penquis C.A.P. regarding their absence from the Council’s last meeting and a future correspondence request.
b. The Council reviewed a copy of the Housing Foundation’s rate changes for residents of the Graham School Senior Housing facility.
c. The Council reviewed a copy of the Deputy Treasurer’s 3rd quarter report. Councilor Hogan stated that he appreciated the report and that it was very informative.
d. The Council reviewed an information packet on the West Old Town landfill.
e. The Council reviewed a copy of the Fire Department’s monthly report for February and March. Manager Reed outlined that they have changed their format.
f. The Council reviewed a copy of a brochure from Eastern Maine Development Corporation regarding community services offered by PVCOG.
g. The Council reviewed a copy of a thank you letter sent to Deputy Treasurer Julie Reed from a former resident.
h. The Council reviewed a copy of a letter from Town Forester Carol Redelsheimer regarding the McPhetre’s Farm lot.
i. The Council reviewed a copy of an article from the Bangor Daily News regarding state funding for education for the Town of Veazie.
j. The Council reviewed a copy of an article from the Bangor Daily News regarding the additional rent for the Graham School Senior Housing facility.
k. The Council reviewed a copy of an article from the Penobscot Times regarding the historical railroads in the area, one of which was the Veazie Railroad.
ITEM 8. Requests for Information/Council Comments:
Councilor Cheney outlined that she appreciated seeing some members of the community in the audience as the Town begins its budget process. She hopes that they will encourage others to attend Council meetings.
Member of the public, Freeland Jones, stated that there are a lot of all terrain vehicles traveling up through the Town forest behind Greystone Trailer Park. He outlined that this was not a good time of the year for them to be going through there due to the ground being soft. Manager Reed outlined that the Conservation Commission is looking over a park ordinance to determine what activities will be allowed in the Town forests. He added that currently the Town has posted the road.
Councilor Cheney stated that she would not be able to attend the PVCOG meeting and wondered if someone else could go in her place. No other Councilors were able to attend.
ITEM 9. Warrants: Town Warrant 20 & 20A, Town Payroll Warrant 20, School Warrant 20, School Payroll Warrant 20 and School Lunch Warrant 20 were circulated and signed.
ITEM 10. Adjournment: Motion: Councilor Hogan —to adjourn the April 5, 2004 Town Council Meeting. Seconded: Councilor Cheney—there was no further discussion. Voted 5-0, Meeting adjourned at 8:04 p.m.