PRESENT: Chairman Friedman, Councilor Hathaway, Councilor Parker, Councilor Perkins, Manager W. Reed, Deputy Clerk K. Humphrey, CEO A. Thomas, Police Chief M. Leonard, Fire Chief G. Martin, Parks & Recreation Director R. Young, State Rep. James Martin, Jim Parker, Joe King, Tammy from Sewer District, Gary Brooks, Steven Thebarge, Cheryl Daigle and Jeff Reardon. Councilor King arrived late and was excused.
ITEM 1. The March 16, 2009 Veazie Town Council meeting was called to order at 7:00PM.
ITEM 2. Consideration of the Minutes
Motion By: Councilor Hathaway—to accept the February 2, 2009 meeting minutes as written. Seconded: Councilor Perkins, Voted 4-0 in favor.
ITEM 3. Consideration of the Agenda
James Parker asked to be added to give an update on the Water District. This was added as Item 4d.
ITEM 4a. Penobscot River Restoration Trust Presentation
Jeff Reardon gave a presentation on the Penobscot River Restoration Project for the new Councilors that were not present in years past when they had visited to discuss the project.
The project includes the purchase of three dams for approximately $25 million and the removal of the two lowermost dams (Veazie & Great Works) on the river and decommissioning of the third dam (Howland) with proposed construction of an innovative fish passage-way around the dam.
Jeff outlined that very few fish are getting above the Veazie dam, this project will help improve that. Energy wise, they will get more power from less damns. Turbines from the removed dams will be recycled and placed elsewhere.
Member of the public Gary Brooks inquired on how the river will look after the dam is removed. Jeff outlined that the first transect 150-200 feet below the dam, there will be minor changes, plus or minus 6 inches. Basically below the dam, what you see today is what you’ll see after the dam is removed. Upstream of the dam there will be significant changes.
Member of the public Joe King Jr. outlined that removing the dam does not serve the Town of Veazie. The Town will lose $139,000 in real estate taxes. He also can’t see how taking the dam out will change the amount of fish all that much. He added that by also removing the dam the fish will go up stream and a lot of people like to fish right here in Veazie, not upstream.
Assessor Allan Thomas inquired on whether the Trust was considering a payment in lieu of taxes to make up for the lost taxes. Jeff Reardon outlined that obviously the value of the property would decrease when the dam is removed however they did not plan on continuing to pay taxes on the value that it is now set at.
Member of the Public Joe King Jr. disputed the idea that they are going to be moving generators to other places and making the same amount of power. He outlined that moving the generators will cost a lot of money not to mention that those turbines are no longer made.
Councilor Hathaway inquired on who will have control of the building. Jeff Reardon outlined that the Trust will own it. He outlined that it is the Board of Director’s intention to find a beneficial reuse of the property. Assessor Allan Thomas outlined that the building may not be able to be used due to possibly being in the flood zone.
There was discussion on taxes and what the Councilors should tell their taxpayers about the shortfall in taxes. James Parker outlined that if the Trust is going to raise $25 million to purchase the dams and tear them down why not raise an extra $2 million to escrow and offset the tax loss for communities. When you are talking about $25 million, what is an additional $2 million. James Parker stated that it would be good public relations and would gain enthusiastic support from the community – a win-win situation for everyone.
ITEM 4d. Water District Update
James Parker gave the councilors a packet. It’s the results for our preliminary evaluation for a water treatment plant. We need to do some upgrades and will be receiving a $3.7 million loan. Construction will be this summer and hopefully they will be online before college starts in the fall. He also wanted to give the Council a heads up that fee for hydrant rentals will be going up fairly significantly for the next budget cycle. Unfortunately it is nothing the district has control over, it’s mandated.
The Sewer District was present as well and was curious to know what the Town had planned for construction projects this year. They outlined that its important for them to be kept current on paving projects so that they can plan accordingly for their assessment and own budget. Manager Reed outlined that Town Engineer Travis Noyes should have been in contact with Superintendent Gary Brooks to go over what the Town is possibly planning. Manager Reed stated that currently the Town is not sure what it is doing for projects because it has not received a final plan with costs back. Until the final plan comes back it is difficult to say what we are going to do.
ITEM 4b. State Representative James Martin
State Representative James Martin was present to meet the Council and address any questions or concerns they may have. There was discussion on municipal revenue sharing and the possibility that the Town could lose $140,000 in revenue sharing if ‘revenue 2’ was eliminated.
State Representative James Martin stated that he thinks the excise tax referendum is going to pass. He outlined that people are tired of taxes, however, he doesn’t think they realize the ramifications of their actions. Veazie would lose an estimated $120,000 in excise revenue if it passes and that loss would have to be made up in property taxes.
Councilor Hathaway inquired on the county status on state funding of the fails. State Representative James Martin stated he would have to get back to Councilor Hathaway on that subject.
ITEM 4c. G.A. Ordinance – Revised Appendix B – Public Hearing
Motion By: Councilor King—to open public hearing to receive comments on G.A. Ordinance Appendix B. Seconded: Councilor Hathaway, Voted 5-0 in favor.
Motion by: Councilor King—to close the public hearing. Seconded: Councilor Hathaway, Voted 5-0 in favor.
Motion by: Councilor Hathaway—that the Town of Veazie formally adopt the MMA Model Ordinance GA Appendix B for General Assistance for the period of April 1st, 2009 through September 30th, 2009. Seconded: Councilor Perkins, Voted 5-0 in favor.
ITEM 5a. Fire Truck Update
Fire Chief Gerry Martin stated that the radio and television stations were contacted to help in getting the word out on the department’s pumper. Thirty six letters were sent out to inquiring towns. The deadline for receiving request letters is March 27th.
Member of the public James Parker inquired on whether the Town truly had enough money to give away assets and whether the Council even had that authority to give assets away.
Manager Reed outlined that the Council did have the authority to transfer assets and that the Town tried to sell the pumper unsuccessfully.
Member of the public James Parker outlined that the truck could have been sold as parts. Councilor Perkins outlined that the Council wanted to sell the truck as a whole not as parts.
Member of the public James Parker stated that there was no guarantee that the Town the pumper was given to wouldn’t turn around and sell it themselves. This could be addressed by an agreement or stipulation with the receiving community.
ITEM 6. Comments From The Public
There were no comments from the public.
ITEM 7. Manager’s Report
Manager Reed stated that there has been a little confusion on whether there will still be a school committee and whether members can serve on both the school committee and the RSU committee. There is also questions on how everything will be transferred over to the school on July 1st.
The Town Council reviewed a copy of:
· the School Committee’s meeting minutes and agenda
· the specification sheet on the pumper that was provided to interested parties
· a letter from the Sewer District
· a copy of a thank you note to Officer Haslam
· a copy of a memo regarding the revised budget meeting schedule
ITEM 8. Requests for Information and Town Council Comments
Councilor Perkins asked if the Town received assessments after Town Meeting, how it would vote on EPS. Manager Reed stated that the Town no longer has to vote on that due to the new RSU.
ITEM 9. Warrants: Town Warrant 19 & 19A, Town Payroll Warrant 19, School Lunch Warrant 19, School Warrant 19 and School Payroll Warrant 19 were circulated and signed.
ITEM 10. Adjournment: Motion: Councilor Hathaway —to adjourn the March 16, 2009 Town Council Meeting. Seconded: Councilor King—there was no further discussion. Voted 5-0. Meeting adjourned 9:02 pm.
A true record, Attest:
Town of Veazie