PRESENT: Chairman Friedman, Councilor Hogan, Councilor Cheney, Councilor Perkins and Councilor Champaco; Town Manager B. Reed, Assistant Clerk K. Humphrey, CEO Allan Thomas, Office Administrator Julie Reed, Assistant Fire Chief Carl Tenney, Police Chief Mark Leonard, Officer Jeff Gotreau, Officer Kevin Dionne, Sergeant Keith Emery; State Senate Candidate Elizabeth Schneider.
ITEM 1. The October 18, 2004 Veazie Town Council was called to order at 7:00 PM.
ITEM 2. Consideration of minutes: Motion By: Councilor Cheney —to accept the October 4, 2004 minutes as written. Seconded: Councilor Hogan. Councilor Hogan inquired on whether the Town marker that had sunken into the ground had been fixed yet. Assessor Allan Thomas stated that it had not been fixed yet but will be. Councilor Hogan also inquired on whether the deed work for the Oak Ridge subdivision had been taken care of. Assessor Allan Thomas stated that it has not been completed but it has been followed up on.
Councilor Hogan asked whether the flooding issue and easements had been taken care of with the two Longmeadow Drive residents. Manager Reed stated that the Town engineer has given a preliminary plan for the work to be done. Councilor Hogan inquired whether Code Enforcement Officers Allan Thomas and John Ellis had met with Tom Davis yet regarding the stormwater issues. Allan Thomas stated that they had not but will be.
Chairman Friedman, due to his absence at the meeting, inquired on why Planning Board Chair Chris Cronan felt the way he did about the whole process involving the land use change. Code Enforcement Officer Allan Thomas explained that there is a timeline for holding a public hearing and the Planning Board was unaware of the required timeline.
Councilor Cheney asked whether Code Enforcement Officer Allan Thomas had checked on the garbage behind the Stonehouse Cafe. He stated he had spoken with the owner there but nothing had been cleaned up yet.
There was no more discussion. Voted 4-0-1 in favor. Chairman Friedman abstained due to his absence.
ITEM 3. Consideration of the Agenda: Councilor Cheney stated she would like to discuss the street lights and what the Town is going to do about all the lights that are out. This was added under new business as item 4d.
ITEM 4a. State Senate Candidate
State Senate Candidate Elizabeth Schneider was present to meet the new councilors and be available for questions regarding political issues, etc. She stated that she has been campaigning to sway people to vote no on Question #1. She outlined that she had spoken with people who had lived in California under Proposition 13, both Democrats and Republicans, about the havoc that it wreaked in their lives and now they live in this area.
Councilor Cheney stated that the government seems to be discouraging senior citizens from going to Canada to get their prescription drugs, however she read that the government is hoping that Canada will bail us out of the flu vaccine shortage.
Councilor Cheney stated that she is very disappointed with the outsourcing that is going on. She outlined that her husband lost his job due to outsourcing. Elizabeth Schneider stated that there are three big issues on everyone’s minds that she will be working on: taxes, health care and prescription drugs and outsourcing.
Councilor Hogan stated that everyone is very interested in health care, however he doesn’t see people having the clout themselves to speak out. The young are going to be faced with harder footing than those approaching it now. He outlined that he is sick of all the ‘lip service’, with everyone saying we’ll do this and do that, but yet nothing is being done. He is looking for productivity and results. Elizabeth Schneider stated that she agreed with him and wants to see results as well, not just as a member of the Senate but as a citizen.
ITEM 4b. Police Department Update
Chief Leonard stated that the entire department’s staff has changed with the exception of his secretary, Detective Ralph Bridges and himself. Officer Chris Greeley was unable to attend but Chief Leonard outlined that he thought most of the Councilors had already met him. He brings 15 years of experience and has worked here in the past under Chief Frank Crowley and for the Brewer Police Department as well. He will be doing the D.A.R.E. program and will be serving as the Senior Advocate. Communication relations is his main goal and objective.
Officer Jeff Gotreau comes with five years experience. He worked for the Sheriff’s Department and the Brewer Police Department. Chief Leonard outlined that hopefully he will be going to the academy next August. He is the only non-academy grad that was hired full-time.
Chief Leonard stated that Officer Kevin Dionne started out in Veazie many years ago. He brings 15 years of experience with him. He has worked for the Penobscot and Hancock Sheriff’s Departments and the Indian Island Police Department. Currently he works full-time for the Charleston Correctional Facility and works part-time here.
Sergeant Keith Emery brings 16 years of experience with him. He has worked for numerous police departments, Old Town, Brewer and the Penobscot County Sheriff. He came here from the Department of Homeland Security. He was promoted to Sergeant after Sergeant Robert Gould left the department.
Councilor Cheney stated that she heard that Chief Leonard had been doing a lot of recruiting and she outlined that he has done a great job trying to recruit people with experience.
Chief Leonard stated that the last five weeks have been extremely busy with car burglaries and such. Tomorrow there will be an article in the paper about the officers breaking up a big burglary ring.
Councilor Champaco inquired how many officers the department had. Chief Leonard stated that there are four full-time officers, 3 part-time officers and one contracted officer which the Town is reimbursed for through the MDEA.
Chief Leonard talked about a new program the department is undertaking which is popular in the southern and northern parts of the State. It is citizen recognition coins. The department will be handing one out to an employee at Veazie Variety for helping them with apprehending a burglar. The coins are for citizens who go above and beyond the call of duty. One other coin had been handed out to a lady in Silvers Trailer Park who called the police when her neighbor’s trailer was being robbed and the burglar was caught. Chief Leonard presented each of the Councilors with a coin.
Councilor Perkins stated that it was great to have people with experience.
ITEM 4c. Board of Appeals Appointments
Manager Reed outlined that the board is suppose to have five members. He has had two residents outline that they would like to be appointed. Both were unable to attend tonight. Assessor Allan Thomas outlined that it has been over ten years since the board has met and that is why there are currently no members, everyone’s term has expired.
Councilor Champaco asked what a Board of Appeals function was. Code Enforcement Officer Allan Thomas stated that they hear appeals to the Planning Board’s decisions and code enforcement issues. They also hear challenges to tax assessments.
Councilor Hogan stated he would like to see the members have staggered terms. Manager Reed stated that he agreed and he would like to have the first two members serve three year terms, the second two serve two year terms and the last member serve for one year. He would also like to have an alternate that would serve for one year.
Manager Reed gave the Council an overview of the two residents who would like to be appointed. Travis Noyes was the former Town engineer when he worked for CES Inc. Suzanne Hart currently serves on the Budget Committee.
Motion By: Councilor Hogan—to appoint Suzanne Hart and Travis Noyes to the Board of Appeals for a term of three years. Second: Councilor Perkins, Voted 5-0 in favor.
Manager Reed stated he had another appointment he would like considered. This was not for an appointment to the Board of Appeals but as an Alternate Shoreland Zoning Officer. Code Enforcement Officer Allan Thomas explained that in the past the Council has appointed John Manter as the Alternate Shoreland Zoning Officer so that he could attend certain classes. He outlined that John was a member of the Planning Board and Conservation Commission.
Motion By: Councilor Hogan—to appoint John Manter as an Alternate Shoreland Zoning Officer for a term of one year. Seconded: Councilor Perkins, Voted 5-0 in favor.
ITEM 4d. Street Lights
Councilor Cheney stated that there are a lot of street lights that are not working and not getting fixed in a timely manner. Code Enforcement Officer Allan Thomas stated that usually he sends a monthly report to Bangor Hydro reporting the lights that are not working properly, however this time he will send a more forceful message attached and will also call them. Councilor Cheney outlined that it is an issue of safety and money. He added that her neighborhood is so dark that she leaves her outside light on all the time.
Councilor Hogan asked if it would help if residents called in to complain as well. Office Administrator Julie Reed stated that she thought it would help due to her own experience with a street light out in her neighborhood.
Chairman Friedman recommended not paying for street lights that aren’t working. He added that perhaps the Town should send a letter to Bangor Hydro stating that it will not pay for street lights that aren’t working.
ITEM 5a. Technology Update
Manager Reed stated that Office Administrator Julie Reed had issued a report on the use of the Rapid Renewal. He outlined that use of the program has started to increase and staff will review usage in the coming months to see what savings are being generated.
Manager Reed passed out printouts from the Town’s preliminary property/Assessor’s information website. The public will now be able to look up tax information on properties in Veazie and get information such as tax amounts, map and lots numbers, assessed value, etc. A person can look a property up by map and lot number, street name or by putting in the first few letters of their last name. Pictures of the property will also be available in the future.
Councilor Champaco outlined that she was aware this information was public, however she felt this was allowing criminals to find where people live. Se stated that she would prefer if the names were not on the website.
Chairman Friedman and Councilor Cheney asked if other towns put this information on their websites. Manager Reed stated that they do and that most towns will have it in two years if they don’t already.
Councilor Hogan outlined that if they couldn’t find the name on the Town’s website they would find it somewhere else. He gave the example of the website Mapquest. He stated that the Town is doing this for the betterment. The should not penalize the good that this will do because of the few people that might abuse the system.
Councilor Perkins stated that he would fully support this website if it didn’t have the names.
Manager Reed outlined that if the names aren’t present that people like real estate agents, bankers and mortgage companies would not use it. Assessor Allan Thomas added that part of verifying information on a house is the owner’s name.
Motion By: Councilor Hogan—to endorse this project for the Town’s website in its entirety as is presented.
There was more discussion on the topic of name seaches. It was the consensus of the Council to ask residents in Town their opinion and to come back at the next meeting and make a decision.
Councilor Hogan withdrew this motion.
ITEM 6. Public Comments: There were no comments from the public.
ITEM 7. Manager’s Report:
a. Manager Reed outlined that he had met with Jim Parker, Town Engineer and Water District Trustee regarding the water line project on State Street in front of Greystone Trailer Park. The Water District had several projects that had come up that will delay the water project schedule until the end of the month. Manager Reed stated that the Town looked to see what the costs would be if the District’s personnel did not participate on the project and it would have increased by 30%. All parties involved have agreed to move forward on the project as planned at the end of the month.
b. The Council reviewed a copy of the draft 2005 State Valuation Report and Assessment Review. Manager Reed outlined that the State review went very well. The Town’s assessment rate is an 8; assessment ratios below 10 are considered to be a good assessment rating. Manager Reed stated that the average residential ratio was found to be 91%. The Assesssor was aiming at 100%, however, his valuation adjustment kept the Town above the 90% required in order to maintain the full homestead exemption.
c. The Council reviewed a copy of the Fire Department’s monthly report.
d. The Council reviewed a copy of the School Committee’s minutes and agenda.
e. The Council reviewed a copy of a response letter sent to a resident regarding property taxes.
f. The Council reviewed a copy of a thank you letter that Manager Reed had received for his service on the Maine Municipal Employees Health Trust Board.
Councilor Hogan asked how things looked coming into the new budget year. He wondered if assessment values would have to be increased again. Assessor Allan Thomas stated that it will be based on market values but values will probably have to go up again due to the fact that homes and properties continue to sell well beyond assessed values. He added that the Town most likely won’t have to raise as much for education though.
Manager Reed distributed handouts on State and federal mandates that are not funded, in which case the municipality must afford the cost.
Manager Reed stated that Public Works will be putting a tarp building out behind the municipal building to store salt. The department purchased recycled asphalt pavement to pave an area for the shed.
ITEM 8. Requests for Information/Council Comments:
Councilor Cheney stated that she has been unable to attend a lot of the PVCOG meetings and wondered if another Councilor would be interested in attending.
ITEM 9. Warrants: Town Warrant 8 & 8A, Town Payroll Warrant 8, School Warrant 8, School Lunch Warrant 8 and School Payroll Warrant 8 were circulated and signed.
ITEM 10. Adjournment: Motion: Councilor Hogan—to adjourn the October 18, 2004 Town Council Meeting. Seconded: Councilor Cheney —there was no further discussion. Voted 5-0, Meeting adjourned at 8:29 p.m.