PRESENT: Chairman Friedman, Councilor Perkins, Councilor Olson, Councilor Parker, Councilor King, Town Manager J. Hayes, Deputy Clerk K. Morin, Office Administrator J. Reed, Police Chief M. Leonard, Recreation Director R. Young, Public Works Director B. Stoyell, Fire Chief G. Martin, Assessor B. Birch, Town Attorney T. Russell, Superintendent D. Smith, Veazie RSU Board Members T. Noyes, J. Hathaway and C. Dalton. Members of the Public.
ITEM 1. The January 30, 2012 Veazie Town Council meeting was called to order at 7:00PM.
ITEM 2. Roll Call
Councilor Olson, Councilor King, Chairman Friedman, Councilor Perkins and Councilor Parker were all present.
ITEM 3. Consideration of Agenda
There were no additions to the agenda.
ITEM 4. Consideration of the Minutes
Motion By: Councilor Perkins—to accept the January 18, 2012 meeting minutes as written. Seconded: Councilor King, Voted 5 -0 in favor.
ITEM 5. Meeting with Town Attorney Russell
This item was combined with item 7.
ITEM 6a. RSU Budget Projection and Discussions for FY 2012-2013
Susan O’Roak, Chair of the Finance Committee and member of the RSU #26 Board spoke to the Council about accepted reductions in the budget. 13% of the $1,507,288 in reductions is Veazie’s share. The committee has also accepted new revenue figures. The RSU would be requesting $49,171 in additional funds from Veazie. Susan O’Roak outlined that the State could still ‘short change’ them. The RSU will have to run the cost sharing formula for the amount above EPS. That formula includes using three variables: number of pupils, state valuation and cost per pupil.
Member of the public Leonard Ney inquired whether the State had sent out a preliminary 279 form to the RSU. Superintendent Doug Smith stated that they had not.
ITEM 6b. Withdrawal Petition Update
Manager Hayes outlined that petitions are being circulated around Town. He added that the procedure for withdrawal is included in their Council packet.
Julia Hathaway, Vice Chair of the RSU Board outlined that she had a great deal of concern on this process. She stated that Veazie has never been a stand alone school and she wondered if the people circulating the petition realize the cost of a superintendent or a special ed. teacher. She hoped that people understand that for a small town like Veazie what an undertaking a withdrawal would be.
ITEM 7. Discuss the Deeding of the Veazie School to RSU 26
Town Attorney Tom Russell outlined that the State statute calls for the conveyance of the school to the RSU. Glenburn and Orono have already conveyed theirs. In talking with the former manager, the manager had voiced his concern about the general obligation bond on the school. Attorney Russell placed four conditions in the release deed that if not met the Town can re-take the property. This includes the school ceasing to be used as a school as well as the RSU failing to pay the bond. The Town can also re-take the property if it withdraws from the RSU or if the entire RSU is dissolved.
Superintendent Smith outlined that there are insurance and liability issues with the property and that is another reason they would like the Town to convey over the school.
Chairman Friedman stated that he did not wish to convey the school over without the RSU accepting the debt. Attorney Russell stated that the statute is clear, the bond is the municipality’s responsibility. Chairman Friedman stated that he would like the Council to sit down with the RSU and see if the Town can go until June before signing over the school to see if the withdrawal is going to happen or not.
Superintendent Smith outlined that he wanted the Council to know the RSU has been quite patient the last two years. They are at a junction now and he is recommending they go to court if Veazie doesn’t sign over the school voluntarily. He added that it wasn’t a threat, just a fact, the law is clear. The RSU is not interested in a lease or any other arrangement they just wish to have the school conveyed like it is suppose to be. He outlined that the RSU will be respectful of the Town’s wishes, if it withdraws they will do what needs to be done to sign the school back over.
Member of the public Robert Rice inquired on the approximate amount of outstanding debt obligation.
Councilor Perkins wondered if the RSU would be patient enough to wait until June. Superintendent Smith stated that it would be up to the RSU Board.
Superintendent Smith stated that technically the insurance policy the RSU has deals with property owned. If something were to happen, perhaps a fire, he can’t give the Council a 100% guarantee that it would be covered.
Member of the public David Wardrop inquired whether the Town would be retaining the trail system behind the school. Principal Nichols thought it was being retained by the Town.
Allison Mitchell, Chair of the RSU Board outlined that if the Council has an idea it would like to express, they should put it in writing for their next meeting on February 15th. She added that the law is fairly clear, waiting until June is a little of a miss understanding of the process. She outlined that it is going to take until at least June 2013 or 2014 to get everything done.
It was outlined by Attorney Russell that the Town would be retaining the trail system.
Manager Hayes outlined that the general obligation bond had a balance of $1,884,050 on June 30, 2011.
Councilor King stated that if the Town is required by law to turn the property over he didn’t want to incur any legal fees trying to put it off. Councilor Perkins stated that he would hope the RSU would be patient enough to wait six months to see how the petition goes. Councilor Olson stated that it has been two years already, she doesn’t see why it can’t wait a little longer, at least until they can check on the trail system and the insurance. Councilor Parker stated that he would like to hold off a little longer before signing it over to see how the petition goes. Councilor Olson inquired whether there was a deadline for the petitions to be submitted to be on the June ballot. Manager Hayes stated that he did not know of one.
Motion By: Councilor Parker—to have Manager Hayes write a letter on behalf of the Council to the RSU Board requesting the Town have a slight extension until the end of the petition drive to see if it is going to move forward, the moment the petition fails, the Town will sign it over. Seconded: Councilor Olson, Voted 5-0 in favor.
Superintendent Smith requested that the letter to the RSU Board include a specific deadline.
ITEM 8. Authorize Town Manager to Sign a Business Association Agreement with the Town of Orono for EMS Services
Manager Hayes stated that there was a typo in the agreement the Council received. It has since been fixed.
Motion By: Councilor Perkins—to authorize Manager Hayes to enter into an agreement with the Orono Fire Department, business associate agreement, item 8 on docket. Seconded: Councilor Olson, Voted 5-0 in favor.
ITEM 9. Review & Discussion on Veazie Tree Forestor’s Report
Manager Hayes stated that the Town forester submitted a report of trees in the Town that are of concern. There are twenty two that are high risk. Councilor Perkins inquired whether the trees were in the Town’s right of way or could fall into the Town’s right of way. Manager Hayes stated that they could call into the town’s right of way, across a road or on a person’s home.
It was the consensus of the Council to have the Public Works Department look at the trees to see what they could cut down and get a price for the ones they can’t.
Councilor Parker inquired whether there was any money left in the Project Canopy Grant that could be used. Town Forester David Wardrop stated that if the Town applied it would probably be successful and it would cover half the cost.
Councilor Olson stated that the Town should look into liability issues in the event someone refuses to have a tree on their land removed.
ITEM 10. Consideration of the Poverty Abatement Request
Motion By: Councilor Olson—to deny the poverty abatement request that was discussed at the last meeting. Seconded: Councilor Perkins, Voted 5-0 in favor.
ITEM 11. To Act on the Assessor’s Recommendation on Town Wide Revaluation
Town Assessor Ben Birch stated that at the last meeting he gave a presentation on the “needs” and “whys” of the Town doing a revaluation. He outlined that the Town is in full compliance with the State, however, the record keeping is lacking.
Member of the public David Wardrop outlined that the Town already had a lot of expenses this year, perhaps it should hold off a couple years. Chairman Friedman stated that the Town hasn’t had a full valuation since 1981 and the tax cards and computer data need to be corrected.
Motion By: Councilor Perkins—to go forward with the collection of proposals then reevaluate whether the Town move forward with a revaluation. Seconded: Councilor King, Voted 5-0 in favor.
ITEM 12. Update on Code Enforcement Officers Rates
Manager Hayes provided the Council with the “going” rates for CEOs. They range from $17.30/hr to as high as $32.00/hr. He outlined that he put some “feelers” out there to see if there was any interest. One CEO could do one day a week at $30.00/hr. Manager Hayes also outlined that a new job description would have to be drafted up.
Motion By: Councilor Perkins—to offer position to John Larson for code enforcement officer for one day per week at $30.00/hr. Seconded: Councilor King. Councilor Parker questioned how the Council could hire a CEO they have never met, pay him higher than average and not have a job description for him. Voted 4-1 in favor. Councilor Parker was opposed.
ITEM 13. Additions by Council
Councilor Perkins stated that he was anxious to move forward with a fireworks ordinance. Manager Hayes stated that he needs to know what direction the Council wants to go before the Town’s ordinance can be changed. It was the consensus of the Council to ban the use of fireworks as well as the sale of them.
Motion By: Councilor Perkins—to move ahead to ban both the use and the sale of fireworks in the Town of Veazie. Seconded: Councilor Olson. Councilor Parker inquired whether this had been brought up to the Planning Board. Manager Hayes stated that now that they have a direction it will be brought to the board. Voted 4-1 in favor. Councilor Parker was opposed.
ITEM 14. Manager’s Report
The Council reviewed all of the items in the Manager’s Report. Manager Hayes outlined that last Friday during the ice/snow storm the Town’s plow truck damaged the side of the building by the police bay. It will be repaired for a price under $500.
ITEM 15. Comments from the Public
Member of the public Travis Noyes inquired on when the budget process would be started. Manager Hayes stated that he is currently working on the budget. He would like to set a meeting for February 15th but needs to make sure all of the budget committee members are available. Member of the public Travis Noyes outlined that it’s a new committee and they should at least get together and figure out how they are going to move forward.
Member of the public Rod Hathaway stated he would like to appeal to the Council for leadership on the RSU. There has yet to be an adequate answer on what happened to all of the money that each town brought to the RSU when it was created. He would also like the Council to take a stance on the RSU petition.
Member of the public Leonard Ney outlined that there use to be a $1.7 million carryforward and now there is a $900,000 deficit. Another item that troubles him is that all of the student information, state allocation, student cost, etc. is given district wide. He would like to see the numbers for just Veazie.
Member of the public Robert Rice inquired on whether the Town could include a request for that information in the letter the Town Manager is writing.
Councilor Olson suggested sending a request for information, specific statistics and numbers to the superintendent and a separate letter to the RSU Board on the deed.
Manager Hayes outlined that Jim Rier from the Department of Education offered to meet with representatives from Veazie. It was decided that Councilor Parker, RSU Board Director Travis Noyes and member of the public Leonard Ney(if he was available) would meet with Mr. Rier with Manager Hayes.
ITEM 16. Requests for Information and Town Council Comments
Councilor Olson outlined that she would like copies of contracts for plowing, mowing, auditor, etc.
Councilor Parker stated that he would like to have a discussion of audit services on the next agenda.
Councilor Perkins stated that he has received a number of calls on the animal control officer. The ACO is often unresponsive when he gets a call and doesn’t show up. Chief Leonard stated he was upset to be hearing that at a Council meeting. As far as the department is concerned the ACO has always responded when called. As far as in the community itself he did not know of any problems. He outlined that people should be contacting the police department or Penobscot Dispatch for animal issues.
ITEM 17. Warrants: Town Warrants 16 and Town Payroll 16 were circulated for signature.
ITEM 18. Executive Session
There was no executive session.
ITEM 19. Adjournment: Motion: King—to adjourn the January 30, 2012 Town Council Meeting. Seconded: Councilor Olson. There was no further discussion. Voted 5-0. Meeting adjourned 8:40pm.
A true record, Attest:
Town of Veazie