PRESENT: Chairman Friedman, Councilor Champaco, Councilor Cheney and Councilor Perkins; Manager W. Reed; Office Administrator J. Reed, Deputy Clerk K. Humphrey; Tax Assessor A. Thomas; Police Chief M. Leonard, Assistant Fire Chief C. Tenney, Joe McNiel of the BAT and Member of the Public Joan Perkins. Councilor Hathaway was absent and excused.
ITEM 1. The January 23, 2006 Veazie Town Council was called to order at 7:00PM.
ITEM 2. Consideration of the Minutes
Motion By: Councilor Cheney—to accept the January 9, 2006 minutes as written. Seconded: Councilor Champaco, Voted 4-0 in favor.
ITEM 3. Consideration of the Agenda
Discussion on police car bids was added to the agenda as well as discussion on the Parks & Recreation Committee resignations.
ITEM 5a. The Bangor Area Transportation Community Connector (taken out of order)
Joe McNeil from the BAT was present to give an update on the bus service and other improvements that have occurred recently.
Joe McNeil outlined that overall ridership is up 20%. The price of gas has contributed to this. The University of Maine has made the service available to students at no cost. They paid a user fee of $15,000 this past year.
Joe McNeil stated that the BAT has asked BACTS to do a study to see how the runs are working. In the past, the schedules had 5-10 minutes built in for drivers to pick up a wheelchair or for busy traffic. Currently, they are not able to keep on schedule even with those 5-10 minutes built in. This is more so on the Bangor routes than the VOOT (Veazie-Orono-Old Town) route.
Councilor Champaco outlined that she rides the bus three times a week. She was curious to know why the seating was configured the way it was. It didn’t seem like the bus could fit many riders.
Joe McNeil stated that a 30 foot bus will typically have 30 seats. The reason there is peripheral seating (people facing one another) is to allow for more aisle space for handicapped riders.
Chairman Friedman stated that he has rode the bus and they are clean and the drivers are courteous, which speaks volumes for the organization. He also commented on the convenient schedules and the widespread routes that allow riders to go virtually anywhere.
Councilor Perkins inquired on how many of the buses carry bikes. Joe McNeil stated that all of the current buses can carry two bikes, however the new buses can carry three.
Councilor Cheney inquired on the stability of the rates. Joe McNeil stated that the rates are the lowest in the state.
ITEM 4b Bid For Cruisers (taken out of order)
Police Chief Mark Leonard stated that he sent out bid requests to seven dealers. He received four back. Bangor Chrysler Dodge returned the best price of $28,889 which includes all equipment and accessories as well.
Councilor Cheney noted that with previous vehicles the department has had some problems. She wondered whether it has learned from that what the department wants or doesn’t want.
Chief Leonard first outlined that one problem is that the department is purchasing a new cruiser every two years. The current cruiser the department has now is no longer made. Area departments have the Ford Crown Victorias, however he has had problems with them. The car the department is looking at right now tested well for a police cruiser in a testing program.
Councilor Cheney asked how many cruisers the department currently had. Chief Leonard stated that the department has one working cruiser, which is a 2003 and has 105,000 miles. There is a second cruiser which is out of service with a blown motor. There is also an unmarked car.
Chairman Friedman inquired on how much the Chief had in his budget for the purchase of a cruiser. Chief Leonard stated that he had about $30,000.
Councilor Champaco asked what the life of a cruiser was. Chief Leonard stated that it was common practice for the front line cruiser to be replaced every year. That front line cruiser then becomes the ‘number 2’ car.
Chief Leonard outlined that one of two things is going to have to be done: go back to buying a cruiser every year or drastically increase the cruiser repair line.
Councilor Perkins asked how many miles are put on a cruiser each year. Chief Leonard stated about 60,000 miles.
Motion By: Councilor Cheney—to authorize the Police Chief to award the bid to Bangor Chrysler Dodge as recommended in the department’s recommendation. Seconded: Councilor Champaco, Voted 4-0 in favor.
ITEM 4c. Parks & Recreation Committee Resignation (taken out of order)
Manager Reed provided the Council with a copy of the committee’s resignation letter as well as a memo from him. Councilor Perkins outlined that he thought there were a lot of mistruths in the memo and thought former Committee Chair Joan Perkins should be entitled to read it before commenting. The Council took a five minute recess to allow for this.
Manager Reed outlined that when Parks & Recreation Director Lisa Janicki came on board the Town was evaluating how boards interacted with department heads. A department head meeting was held where it was outlined how department heads should work with their board or committee.
Manager Reed stated that before it was cancelled, he suppose to be attending the next scheduled Parks & Recreation meeting to discuss the role of the committee. He noted that with the prior director things were more informal and the committee also did more physical work than what is required.
Councilor Perkins stated that he has seen the hours the committee has put in, they have dedicated themselves. The new director has big shoes to fill. In a position like hers you have to have a connection with your committee.
Joan Perkins stated that she had been on the committee for six years, Sherrie Patterson has been doing this for over twenty years and the Laferriers have been on the committee for five years. She outlined that none of the committee members have children that are in the program. They do it because they love the kids, they love Veazie and they love the program.
Joan Perkins outlined that Manager Reed has only attended one meeting since the new director took over. If there were certain rules that the committee should go by, the department head nor Manager Reed told the committee. She pointed out that this was a big “disconnect”. She added that no one has told the committee what their role is.
There was discussion about complaints and them being brought to the committee members and not the director since the new director took over. Joan Perkins outlined that people do address her and the other committee members because they know that they are involved with Parks & Recreation. She stated that the committee’s role has been decreased so they can’t do anything about the complaints.
Joan Perkins outlined that change is hard, it has been hard for the committee and hard for the new director, this has been the frustration. The committee also had differences in how the after-school program is run. She outlined that she has heard from various people that it has changed from an after-school program to a babysitting service.
Councilor Perkins outlined that he is concerned that people won’t complain to the source. Joan Perkins added that when people come up to the committee members and complain that they tell them to address it directly, however those people don’t want to. She recommends doing a survey for people that they could hand in anonymously.
Chairman Friedman asked if there were major changes in the program. Joan Perkins stated that there weren’t major changes, however one change is that seniors are not being offered services from the Parks & Recreation Department any longer. She added that one thing she has heard about the after-school program is that children are being allowed to bring Gameboys and play them.
Councilor Cheney asked if the department was still doing the adult programs. Joan Perkins stated they were. Councilor Cheney also asked if participation had dropped in the programs. Joan Perkins stated that only participation in walking had dropped since most of the walkers were seniors.
Manager Reed outlined that he has visited the after-school program to spot check and because his son uses it. The only difference he has noticed is that his son doesn’t bring home as many arts and crafts projects. He noted that he has spoken to the director regarding Gameboy usage.
Councilor Cheney stated that as a member of the Town Council for seven years she has encouraged the creation of the Parks & Recreation Committee and the development of the after-school program. She outlined that communication should have been expressed a little better so this issue could have been dealt with step by step. She added that she didn’t feel that Manager Reed should have to attend the committee meetings because that is what the department head is for. There should also be a channel for complaints so that they can be addressed. Councilor Cheney outlined that change is hard, especially for mothers who want the best for their children. She respected Joan Perkins’ honesty and sincerity.
Councilor Champaco stated that she utilized the after-school program and adult volleyball and the resignation letter took her by surprise. She outlined that she has noticed quality improvements. For instance, her daughter had learned to crochet in the after-school program.
Councilor Champaco outlined that change is hard, this is a small community where people really care about the children. She expressed the Town’s need for the committee and its experience to help the new director. She added that she’d hate to lose the Halloween Carnival or the Spring Extravaganza.
Councilor Cheney outlined that the committee members should be recognized. She also noted that new members of the committee should be explained their role when they are appointed so there are no misunderstanding or any communication breakdowns.
Motion By: Councilor Cheney—to table the discussion on the Parks & Recreation Committee’s resignation. Seconded: Councilor Champaco, Voted 4-0 in favor.
ITEM 4a. Discussion of “TABOR”
Manager Reed outlined that he is on the Legislative Policy Committee that is looking at TABOR (Taxpayers’s Bill of Rights). The TABOR proposal was brought forward by Mary Adams of Garland and the Maine Heritage Foundations a citizen initiative. The TABOR system was instituted in Colorado in 1992. It was found that the two TABOR systems are not similar at all. One difference is that this law would not affect state government as it does in Colorado. Under TABOR Veazie’s growth allowance would only be .97% where under LD1 the Town has a growth allowance of approximately 3.5%. The School Department would also have a (-8%) growth allowance as calculated by an MMA review.
ITEM 6. Comments from the Public
There were no comments from the public.
ITEM 7. Manager’s Report
a. The Council reviewed a copy of the financials and investment reports that will be distributed at the next budget meeting.
b. The Council reviewed a copy of Bangor Hydro Electric’s Pine Tree Zone-Reduced Electrical Rates Notice. Since Veazie now has approved the creation of the Pine Tree Zone, businesses located in one are eligible for the reduced rates.
c. The Council reviewed a copy of PVCOG’s agenda and minutes.
d. The Council reviewed a copy of an informational pamphlet pertaining to the municipal responsibility regarding the disposal of household TVs and computer monitors.
Chairman Friedman asked about the audit. Manager Reed stated that staff received the audit today, however they only received ten. The auditor is going to have ten more printed and sent up. He outlined that the auditor is going to try to be at the next meeting.
There was discussion on the list of taxpayers that still owe money. Chairman Friedman expressed his frustration that the list consists of the same people every year.
ITEM 8. Requests for Information and Town Council Comments
Councilor Champaco outlined that she had run into Superintendent Gary Brooks from the Sewer District and he was very appreciative of CEO Allan Thomas. He realized the owner of a newly constructed home in town had not paid their sewer connection fee and did not issue the certificate of occupancy until it was paid.
ITEM 9. Town Warrant 15, Town Payroll 15, School Warrant 15, School Lunch Warrant 15 and School Payroll 15 were circulated and signed.
ITEM 10. Adjournment: Motion: Councilor Champaco—to adjourn the January 23, 2006 Town Council Meeting. Seconded: Councilor Perkins—there was no further discussion. Voted 4-0. Meeting adjourned at 8:50 p.m.