PRESENT: Chairman Friedman, Councilor Kelly, 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, Assistant Fire Chief Carl Tenney, Police Chief Mark Leonard, Public Works Superintendent Butch Free, Parks & Recreation Director Rosemary Freese; Budget Committee Members John Manter, Joan Perkins, David King, Scott Humphrey and Suzanne Hart; Ray Corson of James W. Sewall Company; Members of the Public: Todd Lynch and Chris Cronan. Councilor Hathaway was absent and excused.
ITEM 1. The April 19, 2004 Veazie Town Council was called to order at 7:00 PM.
ITEM 2. Consideration of minutes: Motion: Councilor Cheney—to accept April 5, 2004 minutes as written. Seconded: Councilor Hogan, Voted 4-0 in favor.
ITEM 3. Consideration of the Agenda: Chairman Friedman stated that Ray Corson from James W. Sewall Company was present to talk about the implementation of GIS and website addition. This was added as item 3a.
ITEM 3a. GIS Presentation
Ray Corson was present to discuss the implementation of GIS and discuss what the Town will be able to do with it. He outlined that the Town has many different kinds of data and GIS takes all of that information and puts it together. For instance it overlaps sewer lines, water lines, property lines, telephone poles, man holes, etc. It allows you to click on a parcel and find out who the abutters are, who owns the property and all of the tax information. GIS also allows you to see such things as shut off valves and what parcels and buildings would be affected if that shut off valve were shut down. GIS can also be used for crime analysis and fire response zones. Floor plans can be tied into the system as well as pictures.
Ray Corson outlined that the system is just a couple of weeks away from going online. Budget Committee member Suzanne Hart inquired how and who will update the information. Ray Corson outlined that every couple of years the company will do ‘flyovers’ for new pictures. Also, when new water lines or sewer lines are added the Town is notified of this by each district. Tax information will be updated by the Assessor. He outlined that he will be contacting each department to meet with them so he can get an idea of their needs and what they will need online.
CEO Allan Thomas stated that the Planning Board has hired Terrance Dewan to work on a community master plan. Currently they are generating planning maps and tentative build-out maps for an area near Highview Terrace. Terrance Dewan has met with the major landowners in Veazie and he has also met with Gary Brooks of the Sewer District and Dennis Cross of the Water District.
CEO Allan Thomas then detailed where things were currently with the Federal and State NPDES requirements. There will be four weeks of television ads, a radio campaign and then ads in print. He along with other surrounding communities have formed a regional group. CEO Allan Thomas outlined that this should help alleviate some of the cost by sharing it with other communities.
ITEM 4a. Municipal Budget Presentation
Manager Reed stated that Town staff wanted to ensure that even with the $450,000 structural deficit that the School Department is facing, all is not as bleak as one would think. He outlined that in past fiscal years it has been discussed that having a very low mil rate would impact the community’s state reported value in a negative fashion. A lower tax rate increases the value of the CBEC facility which in turn increases Veazie’s community assessment and thus decreases our perceived need for State Aid to Education. A slow progression of Veazie’s tax rate should occur annually in order to maximize the Town’s TIF sheltered value factor.
Manager Reed outlined that Veazie’s tax rate is very low when compared with other regional communities that provide “like or similar” services. He added that Veazie’s tax rate has declined six consecutive years. Manager Reed showed the Town Council a chart showing Veazie’s tax rate compared to the regional tax mean. The wider the gap between Veazie’s tax rate and the regional tax mean the “wealthier” Veazie looks due to its low tax rate and above average median family income, $54,583 vs. the U.S. median of $50,946.
Manager Reed stated that in light of the situation the following items should be noted:
1. In the coming year, the Town as an estimated $2.5-3.0 million in new construction value.
2. The Town will capture some $4 million in market valuation in FY 03-04 via revised CBEC “out of district” values.
3. Casco Bay Energy’s TIF payment will increase by $150,000 per the planned credit enhancement agreement.
4. The Town still has $50,000 in the Student Reserve Account.
5. The Town still has $50,000 in the Municipal Credit Reserve.
6. The Town will review market conditions and capture increased residential market value for FY 04-05 – per State recommendation.
Manager Reed showed the Town Council a pie chart showing what percentage of funds go where. Councilor Cheney inquired if the Town’s county tax went up because of its value. Manager Reed stated that it did.
Chairman Friedman stated that last year one mil was worth around $100,000 and here it is April and one mil is worth around $200,000. He wondered whether it would change again. Manager Reed stated that currently a mil is between $202,000 and $207,000 and it should stay the same. Veazie’s projected community value is roughly $200 million.
Manager Reed stated that revenues for the 2004-2005 fiscal year look good. The Town’s investment income however has decreased due to extremely low FED Funds rates which affects the Town’s bond holdings.
Executive Department Summary
Manager Reed stated that the personnel services subsection is projected to increase due to projected benefit cost increases. The operations subsection will see a decrease due largely from a projected decrease in costs for personnel training. Having no staff turnover in FY 2003-2004 has reduced the need for required classes or schooling of office staff.
The service costs section will see a slight increase due to projected increase in the annual report line. The professional costs subsection will see an increase due to increased costs of licensing fees and association dues. The total increase is roughly 4% from last year.
The Executive Capital Account funding request is the estimated cost of the wide area accounting software package licensing fee, which is roughly $6,000. The additional $4,000 will be used for general office replacement capital items and to credit toward the Town’s computer hardware replacement fund. The Capital Building Maintenance will be used to address immediate maintenance needs of the municipal building. There is no change in the amount requested from last year.
Budget Committee member Scott Humphrey asked if the $10,000 for capital maintenance is money that is just set aside. Manager Reed stated that it is just set aside but there are times when it is needed for maintenance, otherwise the account is built up to afford any major costs in the future.
Fire Chief Gerry Martin was present to go over his proposed budget. He outlined that there is an $8,294 increase in the Firefighter – Day Coverage line due to the Council approved annual merit raise that the firefighters will receive effective July 1, 2004. This increase is also due to an increase in call volume after normal duty hours and overnight storm coverage creating additional overtime costs. There is also a $2,000 increase in the Call Firefighters line due to the same reasons. Those were the largest increases. All other lines had minimal increases/decreases or no change at all.
Chief Martin stated that this year the department is requesting $20,000 for their capital account. This is due to the age of the department’s primary and reserve pumper. As mentioned last year, the department needs to start adding to its truck reserve account.
Chief Martin stated that the department is applying for an $81,000 grant that would be used to purchase new gear for all of the firefighters as well as some other equipment.
Councilor Cheney inquired on the age of the oldest pumper. Chief Martin stated it was a 1980. Councilor Cheney inquired when it would need to be replaced. Chief Martin stated that it should have been replaced five years ago.
Chairman Friedman inquired on what the Fire Department will do if they do not get the $81,000 grant. Chief Martin stated that he is hoping to have a carryforward at the end of the fiscal year to apply to the cost.
Superintendent Butch Free was present to discuss his proposed budget for the 2004-2005 fiscal year. The increase in the personnel line is due to a 3% merit increase, overtime for winter plowing and an increase in benefits. Overall, it is an increase of 8.37% from last year. Superintendent Free went over the various capital accounts. This year he has eliminated sidewalk projects and drainage projects.
Councilor Cheney inquired how many people were covered under the payroll amount of $118,295. Superintendent Free stated it was for four employees; 3 Public Works employees (1 of which is himself) and 1 janitorial/cemetery worker. Chairman Friedman pointed out that it also included the amount budgeted in for overtime. Superintendent Free outlined that he tries to take the first shift on weekends and nights for snow plowing to help cut back on overtime because he is on salary.
Councilor Cheney inquired whether he thought the elimination of spring cleanup was a good idea. Superintendent Free stated he thought so. He outlined that he has not received any complaints yet, although he knows that the Town Office has. Councilor Cheney outlined that the Council should review the issue again. Councilor Hogan stated that residents are in a “training period” right now, adjusting to the elimination of spring cleanup. The Town would not want to go changing things again.
Parks & Recreation
Director Rosemary Freese was present to discuss her proposed budget with the Town Council. She outlined that she has a 2.75% increase which amounts to less than a $2,200 increase. She was happy to answer any questions the Town Council or Budget Committee may have.
Chairman Friedman stated that he continuously receives positive comments on the Parks & Recreation program. He added that the Parks & Recreation department has done an excellent job.
Manager Reed outlined that the ball field capital program has been added to the Parks & Recreation Department. The upkeep of the field will be split between the Town and the school and makes the Town’s cost a reasonable $2,500.
Chairman Friedman called for a short recess of ten minutes.
Police Chief Mark Leonard was present to discuss his proposed budget with the Town Council. He outlined that there is a 3% increase in the personnel section due to the new pay scale which was implemented by the Town Council as a part of the employee retention program. It also includes the normal increases for FICA, Medicare and Workers Compensation and health insurance.
The major increase in the operations section is due in part to the regional computer line which the department has no control over. He outlined that the line item should be eliminated in the FY 2005-2006 budget due to it becoming a county service. In the future it will be included in the county tax. The total budget increase is roughly $10,000.
Chief Leonard stated that this year he is requesting $10,000 for the Cruiser Reserve. He is not planning on purchasing a new cruiser this year but would like to have the funds available just in case one does need to be purchased. He noted that the oldest cruiser has around 80,000 miles or so.
Chief Leonard outlined that this year there is a new Police Safety Equipment Capital account. This will fund the purchase of new vests for officers.
Councilor Cheney inquired whether Chief Leonard’s staff was up to par. Chief Leonard stated that there is a growing concern with the number of officers the department currently has. In the near future, perhaps next year, he would like to bring an additional full-time officer on board. Chief Leonard outlined that sometimes when a complex decision needs to be made the on-duty officer has to call a supervisor which consumes time. Currently there are two supervisors, Sgt. Robert Gould for the full-time officers and Cpl. John Dall for the part-time officers.
Budget Committee Member Suzanne Hart stated that she noticed the amount for gasoline was less than last years. With the current price of gasoline she wondered why. Chief Leonard stated that he has looked over the past three years and they have consistently over budgeted each year so he decided to lower the requested amount this fiscal year.
Budget Committee Member John Manter asked if the department’s secretary was included in the salary budget line. Chief Leonard stated that she was.
Manager Reed outlined that the lines for the hydrants, heating fuel, diesel fuel and the streetlights have not changed. He is in hopes that the conversion to LED lights will lead to savings that will offset any rate increases. The Street Lining Account has increased $400, an 11% increase. The Solid Waste account has increased .78% and will fund the household curbside trash pickup and the hazardous waste collection in October. A new capital line has been added for the network system in the amount of $4,000 and will pay for the private vendors to provide support and maintenance to the wide area network. Public transportation has increased $250 to fund the Town’s portion of the Bangor Area Transportation system.
Manager Reed reviewed the various community investment accounts. The Conservation Commission line will remain unchanged as well as the Historical Society line. He outlined that the Community Planning line has increased back to its former funding level of $10,000. This fund will assist the Planning Board with studies and the hiring of consultants. Manager Reed stated that he is requesting $5,000 for community programs. This will be used for the senior center and any other programs. The last request is for Economic Development. This will fund the Town’s website vendor hosting fee, software licensing and support as well as the portion of the fractured T-1 and GIS interaction.
Manager Reed reviewed the reserve accounts with the Council and Budget Committee. The VEMA Reserve will be used to defray the cost of the installation of the new backup power system for the municipal building. The Traffic Light Reserve of $1,000 will be used for repairing the traffic light system when required.
Manager Reed outlined that the municipal building reserve remains unchanged this year at $10,000. This will be used for repairs that the municipal building will require in the coming year, for example repairs to doors, windows and garage doors.
Councilor Cheney stated she thought there was already an account for this in the municipal budget. Manager Reed stated that the Capital Building Maintenance account is for regularly scheduled maintenance. This reserve account is for any unscheduled repairs that come up, for instance if the boiler breaks down and the Town needs a new one.
Manager Reed outlined that the Community Center Reserve will remain unchanged this year at $5,000. This reserve fund is used to address problems that may arise at the former community center. He noted that in the coming year the Town is looking to redevelop the parking lot into a more structure lot to prevent drive thru traffic.
The Unemployment Reserve will remain unchanged at $2,000 and the Insurance Reserve will increase from $28,000 to $34,000. Manager Reed outlined that the insurance reserve is used to pay the Town’s portion of the insurance risk pool. A portion of the increase is due to the Town’s participation in the University of Maine’s Employee Assistance Program.
Budget Committee Member Scott Humphrey asked if the $10,000 for the Municipal Building Reserve was a ‘one time’ budget item. Manager Reed stated that it is an ongoing budget item, funds are put in the reserve each year. He recalled the modifications that were done to the municipal building due to code requirements and stated that the fund is built up for large repairs.
Budget Committee Member Joan Perkins inquired how much spring cleanup cost last year. Manager Reed stated it costs roughly $8,000. He noted that last year the solid waste account went over budget $16,000. Manager Reed outlined that there are increased costs in the training required for spring cleanup and increased costs in the disposal of the items. He added that it would have cost roughly $12,000 to $13,000 to hold spring cleanup this year.
Chairman Friedman asked for each department to print out their budgets line by line and show the increases/decreases.
ITEM 6. Public Comments: (Taken out of order)
Member of the public Todd Lynch inquired whether the Town was looking to increase property values this year. Assessor Allan Thomas noted that values are increasing .5% to 1% each month. Veazie will probably have a property value increase between 5-10%. Member of the public Todd Lynch also inquired on the mil rate. Manager Reed stated that currently it is looking as though it will be around 17.3 or 17.5.
ITEM 7. Manager’s Report:
a. The Council reviewed a copy of the assessor’s quarterly report.
b. The Council reviewed a copy of the Town’s investment summary.
c. The Council reviewed a copy of a Bangor Daily News article on the school budget.
d. The Council reviewed a copy of the Police Department’s quarterly report.
e. The Council reviewed a copy of a letter of thanks from the seniors regarding the dinner the Council put on for them.
f. The Council reviewed a copy of the estimated Town by Town Impact of the Citizens Initiated School Finance and Tax Reform Act.
g. The Council reviewed a copy of the School Committee’s agenda and minutes.
ITEM 8. Requests for Information/Council Comments: There were no requests for information or comments.
ITEM 9. Warrants: Town Warrant 21 & 21A, Town Payroll Warrant 21, School Warrant 21, School Payroll Warrant 21 and School Lunch Warrant 21 were circulated and signed.
ITEM 5a. Manager’s Review (Taken out of order)
Motion By: Councilor Hogan—to adjourn into executive session. Seconded: Councilor Cheney, Voted 4-0 in favor.
Motion By: Councilor Hogan—to adjourn out of executive session and resume regular session. Seconded: Councilor Cheney, Voted 4-0 in favor.
Chairman Friedman stated that the Town Council would offer Manager Reed a 3.5% salary increase and a three year contract to coincide with the Superintendent of Schools and the Veazie Community School Principal. Manager Reed thanked the Town Council for their support and looked forward to working with them in the coming years.
ITEM 10. Adjournment: Motion: Councilor Hogan—to adjourn the April 19, 2004 Town Council Meeting. Seconded: Councilor Cheney—there was no further discussion. Voted 4-0, Meeting adjourned at 10:15 p.m.