PRESENT: Chairman Perkins, Councilor Hathaway, Councilor Friedman, Councilor King, Councilor Parker, Manager W. Reed, Deputy Clerk K. Humphrey, Office Administrator J. Reed, Parks & Recreation Director R. Young, Police Chief M. Leonard, Assessor/CEO A. Thomas, Fire Chief G. Martin, Captain P. Metcalf, Members of the Planning Board; Craig Hitchings, Shawn Romanoski and Jim Williams from the State of Maine; Jim Williams of Jacobs Engineering; Budget Committee Member Bill Hogan
ITEM 1. The February 1, 2010 Veazie Town Council meeting was called to order at 7:00PM.
ITEM 2. Consideration of the Minutes
Motion By: Councilor King —to accept the December 7, 2009 meeting minutes as amended. Seconded: Councilor Friedman, Voted 5-0 in favor.
Motion By: Councilor King—to accept the January 4, 2010 meeting minutes as written. Seconded: Councilor Hathaway, Voted 5-0 in favor.
ITEM 3. Consideration of the Agenda
Councilor Friedman wished to discuss starting a dialogue with the City of Bangor on sharing some services, this was added as 4f. Chairman Perkins wished to discuss the direction of the budget, this was added as item 4g. He also wished to discuss Mutton Lane, this was added as item 5c.
ITEM 4d. Communications Tower Discussion (taken out of order)
Craig Hitchings, Shawn Romanoski and Jim Williams were present from the Office of Information Technology and Phil Boness from Jacobs Engineering.
Mr. Hitchings outlined that the Maine State Communications Network Project has a team of eight people and their objective is to provide reliable essential public safety voice communications throughout Maine. They will be consolidating all networks of all public safety agencies into one. One of the major goals is to reduce operating costs. There is also an FCC requirement to be on narrowband before the December 2012 mandate. The scope is to have 43 sites, they will be building, upgrading, replacing 43 sites on State owned land and leased land.
This is the largest technology project the State has undertaken. They were fortunate to have received some Homeland Security grant money for the project, $4 million. Mr. Hitchings outlined that they have leased a parcel from the Orono/Veazie Water District and are looking to construct a 180 foot self supporting tower this year. There will be a shelter for radio equipment and a backup power system. They are hoping to submit an application in early March.
It was noted that they came across Buck Hill as a site because of its height and that in order to get over it the other towers would have had to have been built taller. This is what makes Buck Hill a prime spot.
Mr. Hitchings outlined that it is no coincidence that they would like to put a tower here in Veazie. There have been communication difficulties in this area and this is one of the first sites they have approached to get permitting. They are designing all of their sites with excess capacity on tower and in shelter to allow municipalities and counties to put local antennas and equipment. There will be a cost to do so.
CEO Allan Thomas stated that one of the reasons they have come to this meeting is because this tower exceeds the Town’s height limit of 35 feet, however they are not looking for any decision tonight they just wanted the Council to know that if the tower is to be constructed in Veazie the ordinance will have to be changed.
Chairman Perkins asked if the tower will resemble a cell tower in geometry. It was outlined that they will be very similar but you should be able to tell the difference.
Councilor Hathaway inquired on the kind of impact it will have on the neighborhood and how much notification is required and to whom.
There was discussion on having them submit an article for the newsletter. Manager Reed stated that staff could do a saturated mailing or to the whole Town. It was the consensus to do the whole Town.
Councilor Hathaway asked if there would be a beacon on it. It was stated that they try to keep the towers under 200 feet to avoid that but ultimately it is up to the FAA. Whether one is needed would be included in their application.
Chairman Perkins asked if there would be any tax revenue implications. Manager Reed said no.
Councilor Parker asked if they would be responsible for paying for the Town mass mailings. CEO Allan Thomas stated they would pay for those.
It was outlined that they would probably come before the Planning Board in April and then there would be a Public Hearing in May.
Fire Chief Gerry Martin outlined that he has brought the problems with transmitting to the Council in the past. There are some areas in Town where the Fire Department cannot communicate with dispatch. This tower has extreme value from a public safety standpoint. It was outlined that there are have been incidents where Veazie Fire has been responding to a fire call and have not been able to communicate with the necessary people.
Captain Metcalf outlined that this tower would be a great benefit for the corridor that reaches from the hospital all the way up to Milford. This tower would eliminate any communication problems the Town currently has including eliminating the dead spot out on Stillwater Avenue. Captain Metcalf gave an example of a grass fire where they had trouble communicating with dispatch and on scene. He outlined that the repeater they use is on top of Hilltop Commons at the University which is a long distance away and makes it difficult.
Chairman Perkins hoped that this kind of information would be included in the newsletter.
The consensus was to do an informational newsletter and then have an informational meeting ahead of time, before the public hearing. Councilor Hathaway outlined that people will ask why here in Veazie not somewhere else, the Council/staff should have an answer for that. He also noted that there are other towers around this area, why couldn’t they put one next to one of the already existing towers in Orono or Bangor. It was noted again that Buck Hill was a prime spot because it was a problem to get over and again would have to have taller towers elsewhere.
Councilor King asked if the tower would have a guide. It was explained the tower would be self-supporting and have no guide.
Councilor Hathaway inquired whether a ‘Photoshopped’ image could be created to show what the landscape would look like with the tower. CEO Allan Thomas stated he would like to see one for the interstate and Jackson Drive and Councilor Hathaway stated he would like to see one from the Chase Road by the Davis Farm.
Councilor King asked what color the tower will be. It will be grayish unless the FAA wants it painted orange and white, but typically they are not painted.
Planning Board member Kent Tableman asked if there was a cost for Veazie Police and Fire to put their antenna on the tower. It was outlined that there is security fencing, air conditioning, generator, and labor so there are costs associated with the tower. He added that it would be around $99 a month for municipalities and counties to use the tower. Mr. Tableman inquired whether it was a non-profit agency overseeing this project. Mr. Hitchings outlined that they are definitely non-profit as they are a department of the State.
There was discussion on changing the ordinance or getting a variance from the Board of Appeals on the height limit. CEO Allan Thomas outlined that the Town can do it either way.
ITEM 4a. Planning Board Discussion
Planning Board Chair Chris Cronan stated that 10-12 towns worked together and got a green print done of the lower Penobscot River Valley. The Planning Board has its current Comprehensive Plan and is looking at potential revisions to the Land Use Ordinance that are due to start taking place in the next year. The Planning Board has been looking at open space, since the Comprehensive Plan calls for it and they are having a difficult time with it.
Councilor Hathaway asked if the board has had any discussions around the reuse of Gagne since it has changed hands. CEO Allan Thomas stated that Qualey Granite has pretty much moved in and he is rebuilding the store front. Allan added that they have addressed one of the big issues already and that was Gagne was using part of someone elses land, they have moved things off that land.
Councilor Hathaway inquired whether there had been any discussion on the village center. Chris Cronan stated that the board hasn’t really looked at it however John Manter has talked about changing the zoning so as to focus on a village “feel”.
Councilor Hathaway mentioned the land by the river that the River Restoration Trust is purchasing and how it is green space and a beautiful spot for trails and perhaps even a boat launch. He added that Laura Rose Day had outlined that there are monies the Town can apply for it has a plan. He was curious if the Planning Board endorsed that or would like to see it revitalized.
Manager Reed outlined that the Community Center Redevelopment Advisory Committee will be looking at that area along with the community center and will come forward to the Planning Board with any ideas. He also added that it is still unknown what will be down there until FERC says what needs to come down.
It was outlined that a tour of the facility is trying to be facilitated.
Councilor Hathaway asked the Planning Board what their self-assessment is on ordinances, processes and procedures on commercial and business development. He wondered how Veazie ranked compared to other municipalities and whether the Town is too stringent, too lenient, too conservative or not proactive enough in getting new business.
Chris Cronan outlined that by in large they deal with residential mostly, the Town’s commercial land is limited. He added though that when Collabric wanted to expand the process went very smoothly. There was discussion on past experiences and their outcomes.
John Manter pointed out that Veazie has contract zoning and he didn’t think a lot of other municipalities have that.
Chris Cronan stated that their process seems to work pretty smoothly.
ITEM 4b. Cemetery Working Group Discussion
There was discussion on the formation of a committee to help with cemetery. It was decided that it would not be anything formal but more of a sounding board for the Superintendent of Public Works to discuss thoughts, ideas and concerns with. Currently there are a couple people interested in participating and some names were given for additional possibilities.
ITEM 4c. Organizational Chart Update
The Council reviewed an updated organizational chart. The new chart no longer has the school department listed now that a RSU has been formed and it is no longer part of the Town.
Chairman Perkins inquired whether Parks & Rec. Director Rob Young had a recreation committee. Director Young stated that he does not have one but is hoping to have one soon. He has had a couple people that are interested and he is looking to get more.
ITEM 4e. Waste Management Proposed Extension
There was discussion on Bangor currently looking at doing single stream recycling. Like Councilor Friedman suggested, perhaps this is one of those things the Town could do regionally with Bangor. Manager Reed suggested entering into a one year extension with Waste Management and then see whether the Town could work with the City of Bangor in the coming year.
Motion By: Councilor Hathaway—to extend the contract with Waste Management for one year ending December 31, 2010 with the understanding that the contract price will be adjusted by 2.0% effective January 1, 2010 and with the stipulation that the Council come back and have discussions on usage, pricing, how much trucking is involved and a little policing. Seconded: Councilor Parker. Councilor Friedman stated he thought the Waste Management Representative was suppose to provide the Council with a report a while back but they never received anything. Councilor Hathaway outlined he’d like to look at whether people are having excessive amounts of trash and not recycling. Chairman Perkins stated that nothing crossed him more that trying really hard to recycle and compost and put
his one bag out a week and then just watch people just throw bag after bag and some of his neighbors just pile it up. When people can’t take the time to breakdown cardboard for recycling, they need to be educated. There was no further discussion. Voted 5-0 in favor.
ITEM 4f. City of Bangor Council
Councilor Friedman outlined that Bangor and Brewer were meeting together to discuss the possibility of regionalizing and suggested Veazie do the same with Bangor.
Councilor Parker stated that he thought the Town should look at meeting with Orono as well. Councilor Friedman agreed but suggested starting with Bangor first.
It was decided to send a letter to the Bangor City Council from the Council.
There was discussion on talking with Old Town, Orono and Milford down the road as well.
Councilor Friedman outlined that he would like to talk about RFPs for audit, legal and whatever else we contract out for down the road when it comes time.
Manager Reed outlined that the Town does not contract legal services because it would be too costly, however they can definitely look at doing an RFP for audit services.
ITEM 4g. Budget Discussion
Chairman Perkins outlined that he thought the Budget Committee should be given some directive on the budget. He wanted to see what the consensus was of the Council for a directive, he himself sees a need to cut back significantly.
Chairman Perkins outlined that he hasn’t seen any details yet, although he noted that Manager Reed stated it would be hundreds of pages, but he would like to start somewhere and look at the details of the budget and would the Budget Committee to be able to do the same.
He added that he hasn’t seen details about compensation packages as well. Manager Reed outlined that in the past packet was a spreadsheet that outlined compensation packages and if they want additional details all they have to do is request it and Julie cant print it out. He outlined that he spoke with the Budget Committee about what they would like to receive and told them they could have whatever level of detail they wished to have.
Manager Reed outlined that there are a lot of unknowns right now with the dam and revenue sharing. Department heads are aware that they need to have contingency plans for worst case scenarios. They are looking at what they can cut and still maintain services and worst case what they can cut whether it be personnel or services.
Councilor Friedman stated that if it comes to cutting services that he would like to be in on that conversation.
Councilor Friedman stated that residents have made it very clear to him that they do not want to see any increase on the municipal side of the budget.
Chairman Perkins voiced his frustration with the budget process. He didn’t understand why the Town had a Budget Committee when they are given no directive.
Councilor Hathaway stated that the board always took a position at the beginning of the budgetary cycle on where it wanted to end up or what their end goal was. Their job was not to get into specifics and quite frankly he felt a little uncomfortable talking about the people that work for this community - that is not his job. He does not want to have any discussion or appear to be having any discussion about any of the employees that work for the community, that’s the manager’s job. The board should relay their goal to the manager and give him clear direction. His feeling is that there should be no increases, no new spending and cut back unnecessary spending. The message to the manager should be cut “X” amount of money and come back to the board with a plan to do so. He outlined that sometimes the board goes too far because it is a close knit group and they know everyone but from the other side’s perspective this is their employment, their livelihood, the board has the
responsibility to be respectful and considerate and above board and give a clear message to the manager.
Manager Reed stated that as of that morning, worst case scenario is a $164,000 loss in revenue.
Chairman Perkins stated he like to see more investment in capital. He outlined that he signed a warrant that had a massage therapy bill in it and that’s why he would like to see more detail because if he is signing a warrant for this what else could he be signing for. Manager Reed stated that Councilors should ask him if they have concerns. He explained that it is part of the employee incentive program, the Town had gone through several months of no employee losses, so staff tries to come up with different things. They have had pizza days, barbacues, this time people wanted something different, so for about the same cost, they had chair massages. Manager Reed also outlined that the monies used to pay for these things are actually unused funds of employees from
their cafeteria plans. When an employee does not use all of their funds they are returned to the employer at the end of the plan year.
Councilor Hathaway asked that they revisit this issue next meeting and have more discussion. We need to be making key fundamental decisions now rather than May.
ITEM 5a. Purchasing Policy Discussion
Manager Reed provided a revised purchase policy. Councilor Hathaway stated that he is more interested in one time capital expenditures then he is the day to day purchases. He stated he has to believe and have confidence that staff is going out and selecting the best price for those commodities. Anything over $5,000 he’d like to have the opportunity to say yes or no to. Councilor Friedman concurred.
Chairman Perkins stated that when it comes time to contract services out he thought it was time to talk about bidding out the auditing services.
Manager Reed will revise the policy and bring it back to the next meeting for approval.
ITEM 5b. Community Center Informational Update
It was outlined that Mr. Kennedy had only come in and paid $350 on his outstanding debt. He also provided a spreadsheet of work done, about $7,000 worth of work to offset his rent. More detail was requested however he has not provided it to date. Councilor Parker stated that he was under the impression from discussions with Mr. Kennedy at the last Council meeting that he was going to pay a substantial amount.
Manager Reed stated that the Town can work with him, do a new lease and try to get caught up on amount owed or the Town can demand the money owed and he has to vacate the building.
Councilor Friedman outlined that the Town has to heat the building whether he is there or not and if the children didn’t have that facility to go to, where would they go.
Donald MacKay outlined that the Community Center Redevelopment Advisory Committee has submitted for a grant and should hear back on that in April. Currently they are trying to figure out what kind of different uses should be there.
Parks & Recreation Director Rob Young stated that he has classes and activities that could utilize that space. CEO Allan Thomas pointed out that it is not accessible and the current business there is grandfathered.
Councilor Hathaway outlined that there needs to be a firm commitment on Mr. Kennedy’s part. There needs to be a signed lease in writing and he has to pay the Town monthly. Councilor Hathaway suggested finding out what the going rental rate is for similar places and the monthly cost to keep the building going and come back to the next meeting to discuss this more.
Chairman Perkins outlined that the example lease agreement provided was a bit toomuch and perhaps have it month to month as to not tie the community center up.
ITEM 5c. Mutton Lane
Councilor Perkins outlined that the Town owns Mutton Lane, it owns the right of way, it has to use Mutton Lane to access the city forest and it has paid for improvements on it, so why not plow it.
Manager Reed outlined that the Town Attorney has advised staff not to plow Mutton Lane anymore due to the fact that the Town does not have a use that occurs up there in the winter time. The only time the Town should plow it is if there is an active fire and the Fire Chief says he cannot get the fire truck up there. Since it is a non-accepted way he also advised that the only time the Town should maintain it is when the Town is actively doing work up there. Manager Reed reiterated that the road is a non-accepted roadway, it does not meet Town guidelines.
ITEM 6. Comments from the Public
There were no comments from the public.
ITEM 7. Manager’s Report
Manager Reed outlined that enclosed in the packet was a copy of the final resolution to the Department of Labor’s review. Staff worked to reduce the original fines of around $6,000 down to a $700 penalty.
A copy of the Budget Committee’s meeting schedule was included.
A copy of the Penobscot River Loop Trail Conceptual Plan was included. It was developed by BACTS and EMDC.
A municipal calendar was provided to each Councilor.
ITEM 8. Requests for Information and Town Council Comments
There was discussion on Bangor Hydro fixing street lights. It seemed that the light would be repaired faster if a resident called or emailed rather than the Town contacting them.
Councilor Hathaway inquired on whether there was any chance of getting Don McNiel from the BAT at a meeting as well as our legislative delegate.
Manager Reed sated that the Town’s State Representative and Senator will be coming to a future meeting.
Chairman Perkins suggested putting something in the newsletter about residents contacting Bangor Hydro for street lights.
ITEM 9. Warrants: Town Warrant 15, 15A, 15B, 16, Town Payroll Warrant 15 & 16 were circulated for signature.
ITEM 10. Adjournment: Motion: Councilor Friedman —to adjourn the February 1, 2010 Town Council Meeting. Seconded: Councilor Hathaway —there was no further discussion. Voted 5-0. Meeting adjourned 9:31 pm.
A true record, Attest:
Town of Veazie