2009-09-09 Select Board Meeting Minutes

Town of Bowdoinham
Select Board Meeting Minutes
September 9, 2009

Residents present: Dotty Baker, Ed Friedman, Seth Berry, George Christopher, and Kathy Durgin-Leighton
Nonresidents: Kat Fuller, Maine Department of Transportation

Item 1: Call the meeting to order – Chair Whittlesey called the meeting to order at 6:30 pm. Members present: Chair Whittlesey and Selectperson Hobart. Selectperson Ciembroniewicz was absent.

Item 2: Consideration of the minutes from August 26, 2009 meeting. The Board reviewed the minutes. Selectperson Hobart moved to approve the minutes of August 26, 2009 meeting, seconded by Chair Whittlesey. The vote was 2-0 in favor.

Item 3: Comments from the Public – Mr. Ed Friedman was in attendance and asked to speak regarding Abatement #7. The Board asked Mr. Friedman to hold his comments until the Board’s consideration of Abatement #7.

Item 4: New Business

a) Meeting with Maine Department of Transportation Representatives – Kat Fuller, Bureau of Planning Director. Ms Fuller was in attendance representing Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) Commissioner David Cole who was unable to attend the Select Board meeting due to a prior commitment. Chair Whittlesey thanked Ms. Fuller for meeting with the Board. He stated the Board’s concern over the current condition of Route 24 particularly with the announcement that is was on MDOT’s 2010 list of cancelled projects and with the Harward Bridge Project that requires the removal of considerable amounts of fill transported by heavy trucks over Route 24. He further stated that the condition of Route 24 has been a concern with the present Board as well as the previous Select Board. Representative Seth Berry stated that he too shares the Board’s concern and has heard concerns from many constituents as well. Ms. Fuller reported that MDOT is looking at the current Biennium Capital Work Plan and determining if any of the projects in the Plan can be postponed in order to free up monies to reinstate some of the cancelled projects. The Department’s goal is to pave approximately 600 miles of roads per year and this year it may reach 300 miles at best. The Department’s challenge is exacerbated by the fact that federal funding does not cover maintenance surface treatments. Ms. Fuller suggested that the Town may wish to participate in Enhanced Public Scoping. This is an opportunity for town staff and residents to work with MDOT to determine the priorities of the road and come up with a complete work plan. This may include such things as drainage, shoulders, sidewalks, etc. This also allows for an opportunity to have the work completed in different phases. The Town Manager stated that this approach is used by the Town in its road work. Chair Whittlesey asked if there was a downside to Enhanced Public Scoping. Ms. Fuller stated that there is no cost to the town and suggested that conducting a full scoping gives the community an opportunity to make its needs known. She further stated that the scoping process takes approximately 3 months to complete. Representative Berry expressed concern that residents are expecting that the road will be paved now and this may delay things. Ms. Fuller stated that given the Department’s financial situation there is no plan at this time to pave the road. She reiterated the Department’s fiscal constraints and stated that there are currently 300 bridges on the State’s watch list for safety reasons. Consequently, the State is being forced to prioritize its road projects like never before. More roads may have to be turned back to gravel and some roads, particularly minor collectors, may be given to the towns to maintain. Chair Whittlesey suggested that if the Harward Bridge Project comes in under budget, the money saved can be used for the repair of the road. Ms. Fuller said that she would look into this though many times the saved money is used to cover other projects with cost overruns. Selectperson Hobart stated that if work is to be done on Route 24, it should be something between surface maintenance and a full reconstruction. He maintained that doing only surface maintenance would be comparable to throwing money away. The Board agreed to begin the Enhanced Scoping Project for Route 24 with MDOT.

b) Consideration to accept the resignation of Richard Close from the Finance Committee effective September 9, 2009 – Selectperson Hobart moved to accept with regret the resignation of Richard Close from the Finance Advisory Committee, seconded by Chair Whittlesey. The vote was 2-0 in favor.

Item 5: Town Manager’s Report

a) Expenses and Revenues to date – The Town Manager presented the Board with a report of expenses and revenues to date.
b) Worker’s Compensation Rating Increase – The Manager reported that due to a work related injury at the Recycling Barn, the Town’s Worker’s Compensation rate is increasing by 29% or approximately $4,500 per year. The increase is likely to be in effect for the next three years. The Worker’s Compensation budget will not be enough to cover the cost. The Town Manager will attempt to save money in other administrative expense lines to cover the increase.

Item 6: Consideration of FY10 Treasurer’s Warrant #4 – The Board reviewed Treasurer’s Warrant #4. Selectperson Hobart moved to approve Treasurer’s Warrant #4, seconded by Chair Whittlesey. The vote was 2-0 in favor.

Item 7: Consent Items

A. Assessing Agent Property Tax Abatements for the following:

Abatements for FY2010

#7 Friedman, Ed, 42 Stevens Road, R10-014, No water frontage per survey - $584.60 – Chair Whittlesey moved to approve Abatement #7, seconded by Selectperson Hobart. The vote was 2-0 in favor. Discussion: The Town Manager presented to the Board a memo from Jim Phillips, Assessing Agent that he is recommending a tax abatement to Mr. Friedman for the FY2010 assessment due to an error in valuation. Mr. Phillips cites Maine Law Title 36 § 841 that neither the Assessors nor the Municipal Officers may make an abatement to correct an error in valuation after one year from the date of the commitment. Mr. Phillips agrees that the town has been assessing Mr. Friedman for 100 feet of frontage since at least the revaluation in FY1992 and that he does not own water frontage. This, he concludes is an error in valuation and not an error in Assessing. Mr. Friedman submitted a written request to the Board for a tax abatement/refund due to an error, irregularity or illegality and not due to an error in valuation. If the Board considers the error as an assessing error, the Board may therefore “make such reasonable abatement as they consider proper to correct any illegality, error or irregularity in assessment”. The Board agreed to take Mr. Friedman’s request into consideration and asked the Town Manager to seek legal opinion from both the Town’s attorney and Maine Municipal Association’s Legal Division.

#8 Ambrose, Doreen, 56 Hemlock Hill Lane, R03-011-001, Acreage Adjustment - $22.20 – Selectperson Hobart moved to approve Abatement #8, seconded by Chair Whittlesey. The vote was 2-0 in favor.

Supplements for FY2010

#4 Laroche, Robert A. & Nancy A., R05-026, Dangerous Building demolition Re: Bowdoinham vs. Laroche – Docket #RE-09-004 - $29,468.91 – Selectperson Hobart moved to approve Supplement #4, seconded by Chair Whittlesey. The vote was 2-0 in favor.

Item 8: Selectperson’s Request for Agenda Items for next meeting (September 23, 2009) – Tabor II and Excise Tax Initiatives on November ballot

Item 9: Announce Future Meetings, Workshops, Events

• September 11 & 12 – Celebrate Bowdoinham
• September 23 @ 6:30 pm – Regular Select Board Meeting
• September 24 – Finance Committee Meeting
• September 24 @ 7 pm – Planning Board Meeting
• September 28 & 29 – Financial Audit - FY09

Item 10: Adjourn – The Chair adjourned the meeting at 7:55 pm.