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, Members of the Budget Committee: Bill Hogan, Joan Perkins, Suzanne Hart, Gene Staffiere and Marilynn Bishop; Town Attorney Richard Violette, Town Auditor Charemon Davis, Members of the Public.
ITEM 1. The March 15, 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 March 1, 2010 meeting minutes as written. Seconded: Councilor Hathaway, Voted 5-0 in favor.
ITEM 3. Consideration of the Agenda
Chairman Perkins stated that he would like to move item 5a to the top of the agenda and he would also like to add discussion on the possible creation of a committee or citizen involvement group.
Councilor Friedman stated that he would like to add an item to the agenda to discuss whether he and Councilor Hathaway could meet with several of the Bangor city councilors to explore regionalization. This was added as 5b.
ITEM 5a. Ordinance Revision Funding (taken out of order)
Manager Reed stated that he spoke with the Planning Board chair regarding doing some workshop sessions and having a facilitator or planning consultant help facilitate with the small groups. Manager Reed also went over the estimated budget for revising the Town’s ordinance. The cost is roughly $14,550 but he is in hopes that it will be less.
Councilor Friedman stated that he thought the legal fees were slightly high. Chairman Perkins stated that he would like to utilize Tom Russell more in this process and then run things by the Town Attorney afterward.
Manager Reed outlined that the Town’s ordinance has to be created itself by the Town and not imported from another community.
Councilor Friedman stated that he did not think it was appropriate to have a budget of $200 for food when the Council is asking department heads to cut their budget. He felt people could bring their own food for these meetings.
Budget Committee Member Bill Hogan outlined that the night the presentation was made by the State there was a lot of good input from the department heads stating the value of having this tower and he didn’t want people to forget that.
Town Attorney Richard Violette outlined that even if the State withdraws its application, it doesn’t make the problem go away. Some other entity could come along and want to put a tower in the same place. He also outlined in regards to Attorney Tom Russell that to rely significantly or solely on Mr. Russell’s advice would cause a problem because Mr. Russell lives on Buck Hill Drive and has a vested interest in the outcome. This would cause a conflict of interest.
Chairman Perkins inquired on how common it was to have an attorney present at a Planning Board meeting to guide them. Town Attorney Richard Violette stated that it depends on the complexity of the issue and the potential for litigation. He’s not sure how many do it without guidance of counsel. At the Planning Board meeting he strongly encouraged them to go into executive session because he saw them heading down a path that would have landed them in some legal difficulties.
Motion By: Councilor Hathaway—to approve the transfer of $14,350 from the Undesignated Fund to the Executive Government – Planning Board expense account. Seconded: Councilor Parker.
Budget Committee member Gene Staffiere wanted to clarify that the Town was indeed spending $14,350 to write one ordinance. It was outlined that it covered all costs associated with creating the ordinance and that is the maximum it will cost but hopefully it will be less. Chairman Perkins outlined that any unused funds will go back into the undesignated fund.
Voted 5-0 in favor.
ITEM 4a. Budget Committee – Audit Report
Marilynn Bishop outlined that she did not think the scheduling of the meeting between the Council and Budget Committee was handled very well and thought the Council owed the Committee an apology. Chairman Perkins outlined that the original meeting they were suppose to come to had a public hearing on the agenda and it would have been a very long night and apologized to the Budget Committee.
Charemon Davis, the Town’s auditor, passed out finalized copies of the audit and gave a brief overview. She outlined that the Town of Veazie has the best collection rate of all her clients on real estate taxes.
There was discussion on how much money will be transferred over to the RSU. On June 30th, 2009 there was a total of around $650,000 that needed to be transferred to the RSU.
There was discussion on the transfer of the school property over to the RSU. Manager Reed outlined that the asset cannot be transferred over because of the outstanding liability. Town Auditor Charemon Davis outlined that some municipalities have talked about doing a promissory note.
There was discussion on updating all policies and procedures. Manager Reed outlined that staff will be review internal control procedures over the course of the next several months.
Budget Committee member Joan Perkins outlined that she would like to hear some thoughts from the Council on what the Budget Committee should be looking for when doing the budget process.
Councilor Friedman stated that he would like to see the department heads think outside the box, what was good five years ago is not always good now. He would also like to see them look at different ways to work with other towns.
Chairman Perkins stated that he understands the municipal budget is a small part of the Town’s total budget but being frugal isn’t going to make a difference. The Town needs to try to deliver services in the most cost effective manner.
Town Auditor Charemon Davis outlined that the Town will want to keep in mind the County and the impact of the jails.
Councilor Hathaway stated that he felt the Town had dodged a “big bullet” this year but thinks things are coming to fruition. He would like to see a wage freeze for all employees. He outlined that municipalities are still in for tough times ahead, the shortfall has to be made up somewhere. Councilor Hathaway stated that he felt the Town should take a conservation approach for the next twelve months and wait for things to settle down.
Member of the public Todd Lynch inquired if the Town would be losing any more revenue. He added that he had heard about the dam removal and loss of tax revenue. Manager Reed outlined that as long as the River Restoration Trust was using the dam to produce electricity they will still pay taxes. They are estimating that the dam will be removed in 2014.
Manager Reed outlined that as of the week of March 8th, there is a loss of $60,000 in revenue sharing and a loss of $40,000 in investments. The total net loss however is $60,000 due to an increase of $40,000 in new tax revenue.
Budget Committee member Suzanne Hart outlined that the next budget meeting will be on April 6th and the Council is invited and encouraged to attend. They committee will be going over each departments budget. She outlined that the department heads have been pretty inventive and the Council would be very pleased to see how departments are saving money.
Chairman Perkins inquired on how many people from the public show up to their meetings. Budget Committee member Suzanne Hart stated that no one from the public comes to their meetings on a regular basis.
Councilor Hathaway stated that since eighty cents of every dollar goes to the school, county, sewer district, it might be a good idea to have those people come to a budget meeting. Budget Committee member Suzanne Hart stated that they do meet with the school officials.
Sewer District Superintendent Gary Brooks stated that it looks as though the sewer assessment will stay the same again this year.
ITEM 5b. Regionalization (taken out of order)
Councilor Friedman stated that he would like to meet along with Councilor Hathaway with the Bangor City Councilors to look into purchasing and services and see if any money can be saved.
It was the consensus of the Council for Councilor Friedman and Councilor Hathaway to meet with the Bangor City Councilors.
Budget Committee member Gene Staffiere inquired if the Town was involved in any regional purchasing programs. Manager Reed stated that salt and big commodities they try to do as much as they can.
Member of the Public Todd Lynch suggested all of the communities in the RSU going in together and buying office equipment and supplies. Manager Reed stated that the Superintendent’s new plan talked about doing that sort of thing. Member of the Public Todd Lynch stated that it is normally cheaper to buy in bulk.
ITEM 4b. Robert’s Rules, Town Charter and Obligations
Motion By: Councilor Hathaway—to move into executive session pursuant to 1 M.R.S.A. §405(6)(D) Consultation with Legal Counsel and 1 M.R.S.A. § 405(6)(A) to discuss personnel matters. Seconded: Councilor Friedman, Voted 5-0 in favor. It was noted that the personnel matter was at the Town Manager’s request.
Motion By: Councilor Friedman—to adjourn executive session and move back into regular session. Seconded: Councilor Hathaway, Voted 5-0 in favor.
ITEM 6. Comments from the Public
There were no comments from the public.
ITEM 7. Manager’s Report
The Town Council reviewed:
A copy of a letter from Councilor Hathaway as a citizen to the Governor regarding the proposed tower project.
A copy of the State’s testimonies from the Public Hearing on March 1st and a member of the public’s letter regarding the tower.
A copy of the Freedom of Access request from the State of Maine for materials related to the towers in the Town of Veazie.
A copy of a memo from Chief Leonard regarding a storage box that Public Works built for the Police Department’s SUV.
ITEM 8. Requests for Information and Town Council Comments
Councilor Parker stated he would like an update on the rent on the Community Center. Office Administrator Julie Reed stated that Mr. Kennedy was due in on March 18th to pay this rent. Councilor Parker also inquired whether he had provided a certificate of insurance yet. Mrs. Reed stated he had not. Councilor Parker inquired whether the Town was liable if he did not have insurance. Manager Reed stated that staff contacted MMA legal and they are going to check in on how that works.
ITEM 9. Warrants: Town Warrant 19, 19A and Town Payroll 19 were circulated foe signature.
ITEM 10. Adjournment: Motion: Councilor King—to adjourn the March 15, 2010 Town Council Meeting. Seconded: Councilor Hathaway—there was no further discussion. Voted 5-0. Meeting adjourned 9:54 pm.
A true record, Attest:
Town of Veazie