PRESENT: Councilor Hogan, Councilor Perkins, Councilor Cheney and Councilor Champaco; Town Manager B. Reed, Assistant Clerk J. Raye, Code Enforcement Officer A. Thomas, Office Manager J. Reed, Police Chief M. Leonard, Superintendent Kelly Clenchy, Principal Scott Nichols, School Committee Members Lisa Janicki, Duska Hayman, Budget Committee Member(s) Suzanne Hart and Scott Humphrey
ITEM 1. The April 4, 2005 Veazie Town Council was called to order at 7:05 PM.
ITEM 2. Consideration of minutes: Motion By: Councilor Cheney —to accept the March 21, 2005 minutes as amended. Seconded: Councilor Perkins. There was no more discussion. Voted 4-0 in favor.
ITEM 3. Consideration of the Agenda: Manager Reed stated that Code Enforcement Officer Allan Thomas had a brief presentation to be made about the expansion of the local business Fabric Craftsman. This was added as Item 4b.
ITEM 4a. LD #1 Discussion
Manager Reed briefed the recent issue of the “Maine Townsman,” discussing the new legislation LD 1. LD 1 is the law that says education is to be funded 55% by the State and which establishes municipal and county spending caps. Manager Reed detailed that it is not as easy as it sounds, though. LD 1 and EPS (Essential Programs and Services) put caps on the amount of money, based on a per pupil rate, each municipality can receive for education.
Manager Reed also noted that there are other unintended consequences, including that Tax Assessor Allan Thomas will have to re-assess all properties in Veazie from the 2004-2005 fiscal year, as well as do the assessments for the 2005-2006 fiscal year. LD 1 will shift the tax burden to higher-income properties from those of lower-income causing changes in the tax bills for this year. Trailer owners may not even receive a tax bill for the upcoming fiscal year.
Tax Assessor Allan Thomas discussed the confusing parts of the Circuit Breaker legislation and how it affects the elderly people in Town, but also that it is not overseen by the Town.
Councilor Hogan asked if the Budget Process will be able to continue smoothly without the mil rate for the coming fiscal year.
Manager Reed responded that yes, the process will continue, with an estimate for an increase in the mil rate to be projected.
Item 4b. Addition to Agenda: Fabric Craftsman
Code Enforcement Officer Allan Thomas explained what and where Fabric Craftsman is and let the Council know that the company is looking to do a 30,000 square foot expansion of their business. He noted that there would have to be a zone change which would require a review of the ordinances. Mr. Thomas mentioned that Fabric Craftsman wanted to start the expansion in June or July and that this presentation was just to inform the Council—nothing was needed from them at this point.
ITEM 5a. School Department Budget
Councilor Hogan thanked the School Committee, Principal Nichols, and Superintendent Clenchy for attending the meeting.
Superintendent Clenchy decided not to discuss LD 1 again and opted to go directly to the Budget. He noted that, right now, funding for education is based on programming. These funds are allocated by the State and by local funds. He noted that through LD 1, funds dispersion would be on a per-pupil basis. However, for small schools where the pupil to educator ratio is lower, per-pupil funding is not helpful.
Councilor Perkins asked what the student to teacher ratio is at the Veazie Community School. Superintendent Clenchy responded that the ratio is 11.84:1 based on all teachers, including art, music, et cetera, who are not at the Veazie school full time.
Superintendent Clenchy further noted that at 100% EPS funding, Veazie will receive approximately $299,000 more from the State because right now, Veazie School is at 84% EPS funding. This means that we are funded at 47.5% from the State, instead of the mandatory 55% under the new law.
Superintendent Clenchy then noted that he is looking for a 7.5% Budget increase for the 2005-2006 Fiscal Year.
Councilor Hogan responded that he understands that we need to provide the best possible education, but that a 7.5% Budget increase will put a big delay on Town maintenance and other things that need attention. Councilor Hogan pointed out that the other departments (Fire, Police, Public Works, etc) are equally important to the Town as the School. He also stated that the infrastructure of the Town needed to be worked on now.
Superintendent Clenchy pointed out that the actual increase is only 5% because Veazie has to pay tuition for its high school students, and the cost of tuition has increased. He also noted that the budget he was presenting did not include any frills—everything in the budget is necessary. Some of the increases are State mandated; for example, the State requires that schools have a Gifted & Talented Program. Furthermore, Superintendent Clenchy noted that 95% of the school budget increases are caused by State mandates.
Councilor Champaco noticed that EPS is less than the school budget so the budget will have to go to referendum. That the school budget is more than what will be funded by EPS causes an increase in property taxes to make up for the difference.
Councilor Hogan mentioned that the Town Office staff should try to put together an informational packet about LD 1 and EPS in terms that the average citizen could understand for the next Newsletter.
ITEM 6. Public Comments: Code Enforcement Officer Allan Thomas stated that there will be a Stormwater display at the Bangor Garden Show this weekend, Friday April 8 through Sunday April 10.
Budget Committee member Suzanne Hart stated that it is important to educate the residents of Veazie about the implications of LD1 and EPS. Councilor Champaco suggested that the Town staff condense and simplify the information received in the current issue of the Maine Townsman and put it in a newsletter.
Manager Reed stated that some amendments needed to be made on the Budget Meeting Schedule due to school vacation and a school concert.
ITEM 7. Manager’s Report:
a. Manager Reed reviewed that it was not the administrative assistant position that was cut, like it said in the Bangor Daily News, but an assistant position.
b. Manager Reed informed the Council about the Chestnut Tree farm that will be located on the Buck Hill/Jones property. Manager Reed then asked Conservation Commission Member John Manter to talk a little about the farm.
Conservation Commission Member John Manter informed the Council that the chestnut trees will be a breed mix of American and Asian trees and will grow approximately 30 inches per year for the first 7 years. He also noted that this farm will help re-develop hardwood growth in the area.
c. Manager Reed noted that the minutes were included with the report from the most recent Penobscot River Restoration Steering Committee meeting.
d. Manager Reed discussed the Employee Health profiles and that the summary sheet.
e. The Bangor Sub-Committee on Recreation sent Manager Reed a letter requesting support for a Bangor Area Recreational Facility. Manager Reed discussed this briefly and then moved on.
f. Manager Reed noted that the Hammond Street Senior Facility in Bangor requested funding again this year. As in past years, the Town declined because there is a senior facility in Veazie. The Council vote 4-0 in favor of the rejection.
g. Manager Reed reviewed the article from the Bangor Daily News about the photo restoration project at the Bangor Public Library. The photos were of General Veazie and his wife.
h. Manager Reed noted that a citizen had emailed that she was very happy with the website and that the Church Supper was posted.
i. In the Weekly Legislative Report, Manager Reed noted that there are many bills going through the Legislature right now, as the State is going through the Budget process as well.
ITEM 8. Requests for Information/Council Comments: Councilor Cheney reminded the Council that it is time to do the Town Manager Evaluation. It was decided that the forms will be filled out individually, then the Councilors will have a round-table discussion. The forms will be dropped off at Councilor Cheney’s house by April 11. The results of the evaluation will be presented at the Council Meeting on April 25.
Councilor Hogan will contact Chairman Friedman about the deadline change.
ITEM 9. Warrants: Town Warrant 20 & 20A, Town Payroll Warrant 20, School Warrant 20, School Lunch Warrant 20 and School Payroll Warrant 20 were circulated and signed.
ITEM 10. Adjournment: Motion: Councilor Champaco —to adjourn the March 21, 2005 Town Council Meeting. Seconded: Councilor Cheney —there was no further discussion. Voted 4-0. Meeting adjourned at 8:55p.m.