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, Town Attorney R. Violette, Members of the Public
ITEM 1. The March 29, 2010 Veazie Town Council meeting was called to order at 7:00PM.
ITEM 2. Consideration of the Minutes
Motion By: Councilor Friedman—to accept the March 15, 2010 meeting minutes as written. Seconded: Councilor King, Voted 5-0 in favor.
ITEM 3. Consideration of the Agenda
James Parker wished to give an update on the Water District, this was added as item 4c. Chairman Perkins stated he would like to discuss the communications tower briefly, this was added as item 5c.
ITEM 4c. Water District Update (taken out of order)
James Parker stated that as the Council knows the Water District is upgrading its treatment plant which is required in order to get their water quality up where it should be and to produce the water it needs. They are spending around $3.6 million for the upgrade, however there are funds that will offset it and the true cost will be $2.6 million. The upgrade is going to impact rates. The District just hired an independent person to go through and evaluate its rate structure and to come up with a new proposed rate structure. The average single family home will see a 20% increase in water rates which works out to a $3 to $5 increase per quarter. Due to this upgrade hydrant rentals will have to be addressed a little different. A specific amount of income has to come from fire protection
(hydrants). Mr. Parker outlined that he didn’t think that there would be an increase and if there was he didn’t think it would significant. The new rate structure will become effective in January 2011.
Mr. Parker also added that he is running for State Representative for District 18.
ITEM 4a. Email Discussion
Councilor Friedman stated that he had requested this be added to the agenda. He outlined that he thought at the last meeting it was mentioned that the Council was going to do less emails. He added that emails tend to cross the line and even though it has not been tried in court, if three of them reply to an email it might be considered a meeting. Councilor Friedman stated that the emails need to slow down or the Council needs to be careful what they are sending out.
Councilor Hathaway outlined that he thought it was a strategy or policy regarding emails and the nature of emails that he had mentioned at the last meeting.
Manager Reed outlined that he thought there was consensus that the volume of emails would be reduced.
Chairman Perkins stated that sometimes he thinks a phone call would be more appropriate than an email.
ITEM 4b. Public Works Update
Superintendent Butch Free gave the Council an update on the Public Works department. On a good note, the Town has almost 100 ton of salt left over for next year. The last time the department had to plow was January 20th.
The department however, did have some heavy breakdowns and 90% were repaired in house. With all of the breakdowns he will be over budget this year, but he did point out that by doing most of the work in-house they saved money.
Councilor Friedman stated that he thought this kind of information should go before the Budget Committee. Manager Reed outlined that this has to do with the current year’s budget not the FY 2010-2011 budget the Budget Committee is working on.
ITEM 5a. Executive Session 1 M.S.R.A. 405(6)(E) – Consultation with Legal Counsel
Manager Reed stated that this item was a request from Councilor Hathaway to follow up on some additional questions from last meetings executive session.
Councilor Friedman outlined that he thought it was a good idea, however, he has never seen a copy of the manager’s contract and would like a copy and time to review it before going in to executive session.
Councilor Friedman also inquired if the Town had a contract with the Town auditor or attorney because he would also like to look at those two services as well. Manager Reed stated that they did not have contracts.
Councilor Hathaway explained that he wanted the Council to have discussion amongst themselves and the Town Attorney on the procedure and not on the contract itself. This way the Council will know its obligations, the process and the procedure so they are clear on what they can and can’t do. He does not want to discuss any one person’s contract.
Councilor Friedman reiterated that he did not want to go into executive session until he received a copy of the manager’s contract. He also did not want to use anymore taxpayer’s money for legal consultation.
Councilor Friedman added that after he has had a chance to look over the contract then he wouldn’t mind discussing it. He outlined that he thought just the Council could discuss it in an intelligent way without bringing in a lawyer at this time. Town Attorney Richard Violette pointed out that if they do that they would be in violation of the law unless they have the employee present.
Chairman Perkins stated that he agreed with Councilor Friedman.
ITEM 5b. Municipal Roads Study Report
Travis Noyes of CES, Inc. was present to give an update on the municipal roads study. He outlined that a year ago the firm put some roads through the design process, previous to that they had prioritized the roads in Town. Mr. Noyes outlined that from that they developed some recommendations for all the roads. The study is now complete and all the roads have design plans for when the Council is ready to move ahead.
Councilor Friedman outlined that the Town did not have a budget put together yet and it would be moot for the Council to think about it. He added that the Town does need to do something about roads but it needs to have a budget first.
Mr. Noyes outlined that the Council may want to keep in mind that there are some competitive prices out there right now.
Councilor King inquired if the price of pavement is up or down right now. Mr. Noyes stated that the price is down.
Chairman Perkins inquired what the top three projects were in Town. Mr. Noyes stated that Wedgewood Drive and Sunset Drive are in rough shape. Oak Grove and Main Street are in rough shape as well. The biggest issue is with drainage on Wedgewood and Sunset.
It was the consensus of the Council to have Mr. Noyes keep in contact with Manager Reed.
ITEM 5c. Communication Tower
Chairman Perkins stated that the Council has not done a thorough job of listening to its two chiefs regarding the communications tower. He would like to discuss setting aside some of the $14,000 (that was transferred last meeting for the ordinance revision) so that the Chiefs can do study to identify dead spots in Town.
Councilor Friedman asked the other Councilors if they had read the article in the Maine Townsman. He outlined that the State is still having problems with the system.
Water District Trustee James Parker outlined that there is an antenna on top of the Water District that the Public Works, Fire and Police could utilize. He stated that the water district communicates from up on Buck Hill quite frequently.
Councilor Hathaway outlined that he got a response from the Governor on the letter he sent. Manager Reed stated that a copy of the response had been placed in the Council packet.
Chairman Perkins asked what the consensus was to allow Chief Martin to work with someone and do an inexpensive study on dead spots.
Councilor Parker stated he would rather have the Chief come in and tell the Council what his needs are.
ITEM 6. Comments from the Public
Budget Committee Member Gene Staffiere inquired on whether the municipal road study was put out to bid. Manager Reed stated it was not. Mr. Staffiere also inquired on the cost of the study. Manager Reed stated that he did not know the cost of the project off the top of his head. Mr. Staffiere inquired on whether there was a dollar amount that goes out to bid. Manager Reed stated that there is not. Mr. Staffiere asked if there was a reason the Council decided not to put the project out to bid. Manager Reed stated that CES, Inc. has had all of the Town’s road data since 1978. Mr. Staffiere stated that as a taxpayer he did not find that answer acceptable.
Member of the public Patrick Joyce asked the Council if they were looking at the bigger picture in considering the budget and looking down the road five years. ‘Bigger picture’ meaning that times are tough and the fact that the State and federal government are not going to be side avenues for funding or partially funding things.
Chairman Perkins stated that he can’t speak for the Council but he himself is thinking of those things. Councilor Friedman stated that he was mindful of it as well. He added that they have talked to the department heads about being innovative and doing “more with less”.
Councilor Hathaway stated that he made it quite clear when the Council met with the Budget Committee that he thought the Town had dodged a big bullet this year and even called for a wage freeze.
A member of the public inquired about the Wedgewood/Sunset Drive problem and whether just addressing the drainage would solve the problem rather than doing full construction. Town Engineer Travis Noyes stated that fixing drainage issues pretty much tears up the road and in this case it would be better to do everything all at once.
There was discussion on why a newsletter had not gone out yet on communication towers. CEO Allan Thomas stated that the only information staff has so far is what the State put together. Manager Reed added that as soon as staff has information that isn’t “one-sided” and has the process the Planning Board will use a newsletter will go out.
Member of the public Kathy Brooks stated that she was under the impression that if the Town didn’t get the ordinance into place and the State made a proposal that there was nothing the Town could do about it.
CEO Allan Thomas stated that the moratorium was passed and will go into effect on March 31st and as far as he knows the process is stopped. The moratorium will expire in six months and the Town has that long to get their ordinance in place. However, if the six months expire and the ordinance is not in place yet, the Council could extend the moratorium they are proceeding with the ordinance.
Councilor Hathaway outlined that the Town should look at different things and take steps to be proactive to regulate things of this nature. He gave an example of outdoor boiler furnaces and how they are becoming more common in Maine and yet Veazie has no ordinance to regulate them.
ITEM 7. Manager’s Report
The Town Council reviewed a copy of the follow-up to Councilor Hathaway’s letter to the Governor’s office pertaining to the communications tower matter.
Manager Reed outlined that there was a very interesting article pertaining to towers and MSCommNet system in the Maine Townsman.
Manager Reed stated that Cary Weston from the City of Bangor will be in to meet with him and Allan Thomas to discuss regional economic development issues.
The Town Council reviewed copies of thank you letters to the Veazie Police Department.
ITEM 8. Requests for Information and Town Council Comments
There were no requests for information or Town Council comments.
ITEM 9. Warrants: Town Warrant 20, 20A and Town Payroll 20 were circulated for signature.
ITEM 10. Adjournment: Motion: Councilor King —to adjourn the March 29, 2010 Town Council Meeting. Seconded: Councilor Friedman —there was no further discussion. Voted 5-0. Meeting adjourned 7:58 pm.
A true record, Attest:
Town of Veazie