PRESENT: Chairman Friedman, Councilor Hogan, Councilor Perkins, Councilor Cheney, and Councilor Champaco; Budget Committee Members S. Hart, J. Manter, J. Perkins, D. King; School Committee Members D. Hayman, L. Janicki, K. Dagher; Superintendent of Schools K. Clenchy; Principal S. Nichols; Town Manager B. Reed; Assistant Clerk J. Raye; Office Manager J. Reed; Police Chief M. Leonard; Fire Chief G. Martin; Assistant Fire Chief C. Tenney; Public Works Superintendent G. Free; Code Enforcement Officer/Tax Assessor A. Thomas; Recreation Director R. Freese; ten people from the public.
ITEM 1. The May 16, 2005 Veazie Town Council was called to order at 7:00PM.
ITEM 2. Consideration of minutes: Motion By: Councilor Hogan —to accept the May 2, 2005 minutes as written. Seconded: Councilor Cheney. There was no more discussion. Voted 5-0 in favor.
ITEM 3. Consideration of the Agenda:
There were no additions to the Agenda.
ITEM 4. New Business
a. Public Hearing
Councilor Cheney made a motion to move into a public hearing session. Seconded: Councilor Champaco. There was no further discussion. Voted 5-0 in favor.
Manager Reed briefed the handouts made available to the public, including the Bangor Daily News article about market ratios, the newsletter inserts about EPS (Essential Programs and Services), Municipal Spending Limitations, and Homestead Exemptions, and the Amended Budget Summary sheet.
Resident Frank St. Louis asked Manager Reed about the Net Cost pie chart. Manager Reed detailed that Net Costs are total costs minus uncontrollable assessments. The pie chart shows that 30% of net costs are Municipal and 70% are School Department costs.
Mr. St. Louis then inquired how much the School Department budget increased over the 2004-2005 Fiscal Year. Superintendent Clenchy informed all that the increase is $239,445 or 7.4%. He also went on to note that approximately $54,000 of this increase is secondary tuition cost-related.
Resident Ray Lynch noted that he had found numerous newspaper articles about other Towns receiving State monies and he asked why Veazie wasn’t receiving any. Superintendent Clenchy noted that EPS is kind of a “one size fits all” philosophy and that Veazie Community School would have to enroll 110 more students with no additional staffing or service changes in order to break even with EPS.
Resident Harold Smith commented that Veazie School is over-staffed anyway. Resident Suzanne Malis-Anderson then asked why the third and seventh grade classes are broken into two classes. Superintendent Clenchy noted that the decision was based on policies. Superintendent Clenchy also noted the need for increased qualifications of teachers after President Bush passed the No Child Left Behind Act. That legislation made it hard for educators to be certified in more than 2 subjects.
Resident Terry Studley requested information on the cost of education per student in Veazie and how that cost compares to other Towns. Superintendent Clenchy noted that according to the 2003 data, the cost per student in Veazie was $7,675, which was 35th highest out of 86 schools. He noted that the other data was not necessarily Towns comparable in size to Veazie. He also mentioned that, generally, tuition costs and per student costs increase 5-7% every year.
Mr. St. Louis noted that when he was on the Town Council, teachers did not have to pay any of their health insurance costs and was wondering if they have to do so now because that could be an avenue to approach. Superintendent Clenchy noted that yes, teachers do pay a portion of their insurance.
Councilor Champaco asked what the 100% allocation for EPS is. Superintendent Clenchy informed her it is $2,572,281 for Fiscal Year 2005-2006. The total School Department budget is $3,455,527, which is approximately $500,000 over EPS.
Chairman Friedman requested a 10-minute recess at this point. Councilor Champaco made a motion to take a 10-minute recess. Seconded: Councilor Hogan. Voted 5-0 in favor.
At 7:45 p.m., the hearing was reconvened after the 10-minute recess, by the Chair.
Ms. Malis-Anderson then commented on the large increase in the technology line of the School Department budget. Superintendent Clenchy took the liberty of explaining that, overall, the change in the technology line is only $2500 because there is a decrease in software costs. He noted that there is going to be 15 new computers in the lab, five new laptops for teachers, and a new server to replace the one that is currently being used.
Ms. Malis-Anderson then questioned the need for a full-time library aide. Principal Nichols informed everyone that it is very efficient to staff the library with aide instead of a professional librarian. The tech at the Veazie School plays a big role: she catalogs the books, does the grade 8 yearbook, helps with the children, is a resource for many teachers, and opens the library in the summer.
Resident Dick Leonard inquired about the surplus for this year. Superintendent Clenchy said he anticipates it will be approximately $70,000. Mr. Leonard asked if that is more or less than previous years. Superintendent Clenchy responded that is a bit less. Mr. Leonard noted that $70,000 is a lot of money to carry over on a yearly basis. Manager Reed explained that they have to have that money because of the accrued teacher’s salary liability. Teachers have the option of collecting their summer pay in one lump sum and the School Department has to have the cash on hand at the end of every Fiscal Year to pay for that liability if the teachers choose that option or not.
Councilor Hogan noted that he understands that there are a lot of things we can’t control, but something has to be done. He commented many townspeople are asking if there is a way to reduce staff. He noted that the School is a Department just like other Town Departments and there are some other things in Town that need to be taken care of soon.
Resident Gary Brooks mentioned that he believed the School budget was just fine as is because Veazie is doing a great job educating its children.
Superintendent Clenchy noted that cutting staff could be harmful to the children because there are children with needs that a teacher could have a hard time attending to if his or her class size is too large.
Councilor Hogan motioned to close the public hearing session. Second: Councilor Perkins. There was no further discussion. Voted 5-0 in favor.
Councilor Perkins made a motion to have a 10 minute recess in order for the Budget Committee to deliberate the presented budgets. Seconded: Councilor Cheney. Voted 5-0 in favor.
b. Recommendation of the Budget Committee
Budget Committee Chairperson Hart spoke on behalf of the Committee, who decided that “the Budget Committee cannot now endorse the budget as written. Consistent with the sentiment expressed tonight, in addition to our own reservations, we recommend that the Council direct a close examination of the entire Budget, with special attention to those parts of the School budget that are within local control, with the intent of reducing the total budget.”
Council Chairman Friedman noted that there should be another workshop Wednesday, May 18 with the Department Heads, Budget Committee, School Committee, and Town Council.
Councilor Cheney noted that the School Department budget is fine as is because there are so many new mandates and no money to fund them.
Manager Reed recommended that Item 4b, the Budget Committee Recommendation, be tabled until Wednesday’s meeting.
Councilor Perkins made a motion to table the recommendation until Wednesday, May 18. Seconded: Councilor Hogan. Voted 4-0-1. Councilor Cheney abstained because she is unable to attend the Wednesday meeting.
ITEM 5. Old Business
a. Town Warrant
The signing of the Town Warrant will be tabled until Wednesday, May 18th.
b. Council Workshop Discussion
The Town Attorney, Rick Violette, made a proposal for Town employees, Town Council members, and School and Budget Committee members to take part in Boardmanship Training. This training would help educate incoming Committee members and Department Heads, and be a refresher for veterans, in the areas of General Boardmanship. There are 3 components to the Training that are essential and could be very useful to the Town’s employees.
The Council was very receptive to the proposal, but there were some concerns about the cost of one on one time with Mr. Violette. He let them know that while important and effective, the one on one sessions are not a necessity.
The Council decided to take part in Item 1 of the proposal, General Boardmanship, after the budget process is over. General Boardmanship will cover the official duties and responsibilities, authority, liability, ethics, and legal issues of being a Department Head or on a Committee.
c. Maine State Retirement System Fire Department Authorization
Manager Reed detailed that under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the two full-time Firefighters are allowed to participate in the Maine State Retirement System’s Special Plan 3C, which the Police Department takes part in. Manager Reed requested that he be authorized to sign any documents necessary to allow the Firefighters’ participation on behalf of the Town.
Councilor Cheney made a motion to authorize the Town manager to sign and execute any and all documents required to be signed to allow the Town of Veazie’s full time Fire Department employees to participate in the Maine State Retirement System’s Special Plan 3C for full time firefighters as detailed and agreed to in the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Town of Veazie and the Orono Firefighters Assocation, International Association of Firegighters, Local 3106, AFL-CIO-CLC July 1, 2005 thought June 30, 2008. Seconded: Councilor Champaco. There was no further discussion. Voted 5-0 in favor.
ITEM 6. Public Comments:
There were no comments from the public at this point.
ITEM 7. Manager’s Report:
Due to time constraints, Manager Reed did not discuss the Manager’s Report.
ITEM 8. Requests for Information/Council Comments:
There were no requests for information or Council comments.
ITEM 9. Warrants: Town Warrant 23 and 23A, Town Payroll Warrant 23, School Warrant 23,School Lunch Warrant 23, and School Payroll Warrant 23 were circulated and signed.
ITEM 10. Adjournment: Motion: Councilor Cheney—to adjourn the May 16, 2005 Town Council Meeting. Seconded: Councilor Champaco—there was no further discussion. Voted 5-0 in favor. Meeting adjourned at 9:20p.m.