2009-10-13 Select Board Meeting Minutes

Town of Bowdoinham
Select Board Meeting Minutes
October 13, 2009

Residents in attendance: Dan Billings, Dotty Baker, and Kathy Durgin-Leighton

Item 1: Call the meeting to order – Chair Whittlesey called the meeting to order. All members were present: Chair Whittlesey, Selectperson Ciembroniewicz, and Selectperson Hobart

Item 2: Consideration of the minutes from September 23, 2009 meeting – The Board reviewed the minutes. Selectperson Hobart moved to approve the minutes, seconded by Chair Whittlesey. The vote was 2-0 in favor. Selectperson Ciembroniewicz abstained.

Item 3: Comments from the Public – There were no comments from the public.

Item 4: New Business

1. Tax Abatement Hearing - request from Ed Friedman for tax abatement due to Error, Irregularity or Illegality regarding parcel R010, Lot 14 per 36 M.R.S.A. §841 – Mr. Friedman requested that the Board grant an abatement as they seem proper and reasonable on the basis that he has been taxed for a number of years for 100 feet of waterfront property for which he does not own. Mr. Friedman maintains that this constitutes an Error, Irregularity or Illegality in Assessment which gives the Board of Selectmen authority to grant an abatement for up to 3 years. Chair Whittlesey responded that the Town has received opinions from the Maine Municipal Association’s Legal Division and Bergen & Parkinson, LLC, the Town’s legal counsel that the error was an error in valuation and therefore the Select Board does not have jurisdiction to grant an abatement after one year from the commitment date. Since the Board granted an abatement for the current year, according to the legal opinion, no further abatement may be given. Mr. Friedman asked the Board to give him time to seek his own legal opinion. Selectperson Hobart agreed stating that he does not feel as if the opinions from MMA and the town’s legal counsel are fair and that it also limits the Board’s authority to correct a wrong. The Board agreed to give Mr. Friedman opportunity to consult legal advice before deciding on his abatement request. This item was therefore tabled until a November meeting.

2. Consideration of the impact on municipal functions and finances of the November 3rd Referendums Tabor II and Excise Tax – Chair Whittlesey began the discussion by stating that two questions on the November 3 ballot have a direct impact on the town’s finances and that it was the Board’s obligation to inform the citizens of the impacts before going to vote. He further noted that many town Select Boards have issued positions regarding the two ballot questions and questioned if the Bowdoinham Board should as well. Selectperson Hobart commented that it would be appropriate to inform residents of the impacts but that he did not feel comfortable telling residents how to vote. Selectperson Ciembroniewicz agreed that the Board had an obligation to give residents the facts on how the two initiatives would impact the town’s finances but did not believe that the Board should take a position on a state initiative. Chair Whittlesey stated that it was the Board’s obligation to assure that factual material was given to residents on the potential impacts and cited a resolution passed by the City of Bangor Council that succeeded in doing that. Mr. Dan Billings, a resident in attendance, spoke against the Board taking a formal position on the two ballot questions. He acknowledged that he does do legal work for the two organizations that are behind the two ballot questions but that he was speaking as a concerned citizen. He stated that the decrease in excise tax would be offset by a property tax increase that would tax nonresidents as well. He maintained that the excise tax is a resident tax only and that non residents use the state’s roads and should contribute to the costs. He also suggested that the Select Board did not have authority to tell residents how to vote since the Board does not serve as the legislative body. Chair Whittlesey said that while he agreed that the Board should not “tell voters how to vote”, he disagreed with Mr. Billings on the Board taking a position on such referendum issues that have a direct impact on the Town’s budget preparations which was very appropriate, and that both the excise tax and Tabor II question would create a sizeable burden to the Town of Bowdoinham. Chair Whittlesey moved that the Select Board take a position on both the Excise Tax and Tabor II ballot questions. There was no second to the motion. Motion failed. The Board decided to include an article in the next Bowdoinham News on the potential impacts to the Town’s finances.

3. Consideration to apply for an Energy Efficiency Grant – The Town Manager briefed the Board on the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant opportunity. The Manager stated that she was looking for approval to apply for a grant of up to $10,000 to be used in developing a Town Energy Planning Committee and Carbon Footprint Study as well as recommendation and implementation strategies for the town. The town is seeking the assistance from resident Ben Long of Essential Grant Writing to assist town staff. Selectperson Ciembroniewicz moved to approve a Letter of Agreement with Ben Long of Essential Grant Writing to assist the Town in the grant process at the cost of up to $1,500, seconded by Selectperson Hobart. The vote was 3-0 in favor.

4. General Assistance Ordinance – schedule public hearing to adopt the MMA Model Ordinance GA Appendices (A-C for the period of October 1, 2009 – October 1, 2010 and Appendix F (Maximum for Personal Care & Household Supplies) as revised September 2009 – The Board approved the public hearing date of November 3, 2009 at 6:30 pm.

5. Consideration to accept a gift of used guardrail (approx. 300 feet) from Country Fare Excavation from the Harward Bridge Project. Selectperson Hobart moved to accept the gift of used guardrail from Country Fare Excavation, seconded by Selectperson Ciembroniewicz. The vote was 3-0 in favor.

6. Request for Approval of Private Road Name – Sedgely Field Lane. Selectperson Hobart moved to approve the private road name of Sedgely Field Lane, seconded by Selectperson Ciembroniewicz. The vote was 3-0 in favor.

Item 5: Town Manager’s Report

1. Quarterly Expense and Revenue Reports – The Manager presented the 1st quarter expense and revenue reports to the Board for review.
2. Old Fire Station update – The Manager reported that due to her concern over the degree of black mold present in the station, all contents have been removed. She submitted a letter from realtor Kathy Gallant indicating that the present structure reduces the value of the property. Ms. Gallant recommended that if the Town decided to sell the property, she would list it with building at $25,000 and without building at $45,000. The Board decided to table this discussion until the next meeting and in the interim contact persons who have expressed interest in the property to determine how much they might be willing to purchase the property for.
3. Pratt Road – The Manager showed the Board a map of the Pratt Road where the plow trucks currently stop and where the road was discontinued. Currently, the town falls short of maintaining the town owned portion of the road by approximately 100-150 feet. Consequently, the town will begin plowing and maintaining this portion of the road beginning this winter. This will require that the town construct a turnaround for the town vehicles.
4. Solid Waste Committee tasks – tabled until next meeting – October 20, 2009.

Item 6: Consent Items – There were no consent items.

Item 7: Consideration of FY10 Treasurer’s Warrant #6 - Payroll - $17,797.71, Payroll – $17,285.71, Accounts Payable - $255,927.03. Total Warrant: $291,010.45. The Board reviewed Warrant #6. Selectperson Hobart moved to approve Treasurer’s Warrant #6, seconded by Selectperson Ciembroniewicz. The vote was 3-0 in favor.

Item 8: Selectperson’s Request for Agenda Items for next meeting (October 20, 2009)

Item 9: Announce Future Meetings, Workshops, Events

• October 14 @ 6:30 pm – Public Forum to Discuss Sidewalks – Town Hall
• October 15 @ 5 pm – 8 pm – MBBA Annual Meeting & Dinner – Town Hall
• October 20 @ 6:30 pm – Regular Select Board Meeting
• October 22 @ 6:30 pm – Finance Advisory Meeting
• October 24 @ 9 am to noon – Rabies Clinic – Town Hall
• October 26 @ 4 pm – 7 pm – Seasonal Flu Clinic – Town Hall

Item 10: Adjourn – The Chair adjourned the meeting at 8:55 pm