Minutes of the Chebeague Transition Committee April 15, 2007 at 8:00am at the Rec Center (Accepted xxxxx/07
The meeting was called to order at 8:20am.
Members present: Donna Damon, Mark Dyer, David Hill, John Martin (Chair), , Stephen Todd and Carol White. .
Absent: Leon Hamilton, Jim Phipps and Doug Ross
Beth Howe served as secretary.
1. Schedule for interviews: Donna Damon said she had talked to the two Town Administrator candidates about coming for a second interview on Thursday/Friday or both on Saturday. The issue is to have as many TC members present for both interviews as possible. Sunday is the public budget workshop.
At 8:25 Donna moved, seconded by David Hill to go into executive session pursuant to MRSA 405.6.A.1 – Title 1, Chapter 13, Section 405 to discuss personnel matters and contracts.
At 9:00 David Hill moved, seconded by Donna Damon to come out of executive session. Adopted unanimously.
David Hill moves, seconded by Stephen Todd to rescind the motion adopted at the April 11 meeting to borrow $50,000. Approved unanimously. David Hill moved, seconded by Donna Damon to adopt the memorandum of understanding as drafted between the Transition Committee and John Wilson regarding prepayment of taxes. Mark Dyer said that it would be important to give a clear explanation at the budget meeting about what the $50,000 town start-up money would be used for. He estimated:
$10,000 to $15,000 for renovating the firehouse space for the Town office
$25,000 for computer software
$10,000 to $15,000 for miscellaneous equipment
Donna also said that since the TC had said at a public meeting in the fall that the TC did not want to have to use prepayment of taxes to raise money for the Town start-up, it was important to explain that they have exhausted other options for raising this money and have checked with the attorneys about the legality of this one. She also asked how the money would be dispensed. David said that there will be an account at TDBankNorth for the Town of Chebeague Island. Expenditures would require two signatures – that of the Chair of the Finance Committee and the TC Chair. The Finance Committee would do the bookkeeping. The motion was adopted unanimously. John Martin signed the MOU and David Hill signed as witness.
2. Old Business:
To-Do Lists: John Martin reviewed items that have been covered for opening the Town office on July 2. Money for the start-up has been arranged. Donna Damon brought to this meeting three different options for plans for the space. Mark said that most of the renovation will focus on the main Town office room – framing, walls, lighting, wiring, meeting the safety code, ADA ramps, maybe a security system. In the Town Administrator╣s office the washer and dryer will be moved into the apartment. The apartment will only have cosmetic improvements. The work will be done by island volunteers. Carol White said that if there is work on a security system there, maybe it would make sense to do the wiring for a security system at the school at the same time. Donna will take the favored plan to the Cumberland Town Office on Tuesday and get a building permit.
Mark Dyer said that the Solid Waste Subcommittee would be making recommendations in the next month about contracts for barging and a contract for waste disposal including single-stream recycling. Donna said the Governmental Structure subcommittee has been talking about the importance of public education about getting as much as possible out of the waste stream through things like composting and bottle redemption now that Chebeague will pay directly for barging everything off. Mark said that Pine Tree Waste would send someone to make a presentation on the single-stream recycling.
Carol White asked how the negotiations with CTC over passenger service for the Town was going. Donna said that she, Peter Rice and Carol need to get this started. Carol also said that a contract will be needed with SAD 51 for the transportation they will provide to take children to and from school. The late boat is not covered by this contract and Carol thought that having CTC provide the late bus service might make the most sense. There were some state bureaucratic hassles about it but they might be able to be worked out.
Donna said that the T-Do list for the Governmental Structure Subcommittee was:
Hire the Administrator and Town Clerk
Create charges for Town committees
Formalize the organizational chart
Finish the ordinances on Town organization
Work out the renovation of the Town Office
Order equipment and supplies for all departments to have economies of scale.
Develop a car-use policy
Complete the essential parts of the Human Resources manual
Complete deciding about the nature of the telephone service for the Town Office.
Mark Dyer suggested having a Public Works Advisory Committee made up of citizens and people on the DPW crew to work with the Town Administrator. Donna suggested adding selectmen. She said the Town will need to have a capital improvements master plan for roads, access point to the shore and other things handled by Public Works. Stephen Todd agreed.
John Martin reported on the status of discussions over the cemetery. There was some confusion about the steps necessary to work out an agreement with the Cumberland Cemetery Association. Working with Dianne Calder, they have made a proposal for separation of the Chebeague Cemetery. Deb Bowman will prepare a recommendation for the TC on the proposal. She is to tell Bob Storey of the CCA that the TC will be taking it up.
Beth Howe said that the Land Use Subcommittee was mostly working or land use ordinances for the first Town Meeting. But there are many forms related to review applications that will be needed by the Town Office. John Martin and Donna said that if the subcommittee would provide initial copies of the forms, the printing would be arranged by the Town Office.
First Town Meeting and Election of School Board and Selectmen: John Martin laid out the choices proposed as legally viable by Peter Lowe,
Have a public meeting before July 1 to elect the Selectmen and School Board
members. Then have the first Town Meeting on July 1
Have both the election and the first Town Meeting on July 1
Have the election of officials before July 1, let them take office on July 1 and
immediately call a Town Meeting which, because of the 7-day notice requirement, would be held on July 8.
Donna said she favored doing both the election and the rest of the Town Meeting business on July 1. She thought that would encourage the maximum participation by residents. It is also what people have been expecting.
David Hill asked how long the elections would take. Donna said she thought only about an hour and a half. The election process will be the same as is used on Long Island and it is straight-forward. Each voter gets the same number of pieces of paper as there are seats to be filled. Nominations are made from the floor, though anyone who is interested in running can declare earlier and campaign beforehand (some island organization could organize a candidates╣ night if they wanted). Mark Dyer asked if there were nominatin papers. Donna said no, people are just nominated from the floor. In the meeting each voter then writes the name of each candidate they want on one of the pieces of paper. The ballot clerk can just sort them into piles for each candidate and see who gets the most votes. David asked whether candidates would have a chance to make statements to the Town Meeting. That would take a good deal of time. He thinks that having the election earlier than and separate from the policy part of the Town Meeting makes sense and would make the Town Meeting less lengthy. He is adamant about having the warrant part of the process on July 1. Donna said she thought working through the warrant articles would not take a lot of time since she thought there would not be much controversy over them. The Transition Committee would organize the process. Carol White said she thought that having the election and the warrants at separate meetings would make it more attractive. The election is likely to take more than a minimal amount of time since everyone in the process will be doing it for the first time. Also there would be a full complement of both municipal and school officials who could be involved in the meeting on the warrant articles. Stephen Todd agreed with Carol. Residents would be interested enough to go to two initial meetings. Stephen and Mark said that they had gotten some public feedback indicating that residents were willing to have two initial meetings. Mark Dyer indicated that he took Donna╣s comments seriously but he had been worried about getting through everything on July 1. Having two meetings would make this more manageable.
Donna agreed to having an initial election meeting in June and the first Town Meeting on July 1. She said she thought the election meeting should be just before the Town Meeting. She was worried that if the Selectmen and School Board members were elected several weeks ahead that they might want to change the recommendations from the Transition Committee. Carol said she thought the opposite; that if they had several weeks to get up to speed they would be more likely to buy into the recommendations. A question was raised about whether candidates for elected positions should be responsible for getting themselves │up to speed▓ or whether it was a responsibility of the TC to help them master the TC╣s recommendations. Stephen Todd said that the warrant articles and budget will have to be sent out to the public at the beginning of June, before the election. John Martin thought earlier was better. Mark Dyer suggested Saturday June 9th or 16th . Carol White suggested having an evening meeting for the election – it would be ok for the fishermen.
David Hill moved, seconded by John Martin that the election for the selectmen and the School Board be held on June 16 at 6:00 at the Rec Center. The doors would open at 5:00 for voters to sign in. David moved, seconded by Donna that Town Meeting be held on July 1 at 9:00 at the Rec Center. Sign-in would begin at 8:00. There will be a lunch break from 12:00 to 1:00. Mark called and reserved the Rec Center for both days. Carol asked who would run the election meeting. Donna suggested asking Nadeen Daniels since Chebeague will still be part of Cumberland. Nadeen might work with the new Town Clerk to organize and run this first election. Donna also asked whether the group would like to have Steve Moriarty be the moderator for the election meeting. This was agreed to. Donna was pleased to have the decision made for the July 1 Town Meeting. so she could plan for raising money and arranging the fireworks. David Hill suggested having a notice in the May Calendar about the dates of the meetings, the procedure for running for office and being elected. Donna said that her subcommittee would also put information in the library about the role of the selectmen and Town Meeting government in general for candidates and others to look at. She said that Maine Municipal Association also has training conferences for elected officials in June and December that candidates or elected selectmen could go to.
Carol White suggested having selectmen and school board members from Long Island come over for a public workshop on how Town Meeting and the elections work. Donna said she thought that Long Island╣s governmental structure may be less formally organized than Chebeague╣s would be. Stephen Todd said that the plans to have a mock Town Meeting had not materialized and this might be another way for people to learn more practically about how it works. Carol said she would set it up.
The Role of the Town Administrator: Peter Lowe had mistakenly assumed that Chebeague was planning to have a Town Meeting form of government with a │town manager▓. This form of organization would be adopted by adopting a the state╣s │Town Manager Plan (Title 30-A 737) under which the town manager has a lot of independent power to make final policy decisions and commit the Town to agreements. But the Governmental Structure Subcommittee did not intend to make such a broad grant of power to the Administrator. The administrator would not have any powers that were not granted by the Town Meeting and Selectmen. The Chebeague Administrator would not be a Bill Shane. Stephen asked whether in order to set up this │administrator▓ system Chebeague would need to have a Town Charter. Donna said that was not possible till the Town exists. Her committee has developed an ordinance, based in part on the Cumberland Charter, describing the Town Meeting/Selectmen/Administrator system that would be adopted by the first Town Meeting. David Hill said he thought it should be adopted as a warrant rather than an ordinance. A warrant remains in effect for a year until the next Town Meeting. An ordinance lasts indefinitely until it is abolished or amended. Carol White said she thought neither a warrant article nor an ordinance was necessary to adopt the Town Meeting/selectmen form. But Donna said she thought this would be too unstructured. Carol said that her concern was that if the structure of the government was to be specified in detail, it needed to be presented to and discussed with members of the public. Donna said that she had given the draft ordinance to TC members last Wednesday for detailed discussion at next Wednesday╣s meeting. But, she said, this draft ordinance only deals with some of the powers of the selectmen – not their powers as Road Commissioner or Overseer of the Poor. Also the Subcommittee has not yet worked out all of the specific powers of the Administrator.
Mark Dyer asked whether the Administrator would handle personnel. Donna said he could not hire and fire them without going to the selectmen. Mark said he did not want the selectmen micromanaging the Town government and thought the Administrator should have some independence of action.
Donna said the TC still has to get an answer from Peter Lowe about whether the way to set up the governmental structure would be through a warrant article or an ordinance. She was authorized to try to get that question answered before Wednesday╣s discussion.
David Hill said he also wanted Peter to revise the recommended articles for Town Meeting to reflect the fact that Chebeague would not have a formal Town Manager form of government but a less formal Town Meeting/Selectman/Administrator form. Beth Howe said she thought that many of the recommended articles would remain the same. The Land Use Subcommittee has been making a list of the warrant articles it will need to have taken to Town Meeting. Mark said he has a list of all the memoranda of understanding that would be required for setting up the solid waste disposal system. Carol White said most of the education warrant articles would involve employment.
Donna asked the group if the TC had made a formal decision about whether the Town Clerk would be the business manager for the school district. Carol said no. There was a discussion about what this would actually mean. Carol said she thought that the day to day accounting would be done by the superintendent who would send the data every few weeks to the Town bookkeeper. David Hill said the superintendent would give the Town Clerk information on accounts receivable, accounts payable and payroll. The superintendent would also be responsible for the financial oversight and reporting. She said she thought the job of the Town Clerk would not be broadened by this – it would just be the accounting of another department. Donna said that the information on accounts receivable would have to go to the Town Administrator/Treasurer, while the accunts payable and the payroll would go to the Town Clerk. The Governmental Structure Subcommittee thought that in a small government it was important to separate the paying out from the taking in of money. This seemed odd to David Hill. Carol and Stephen Todd both said that if it did not work it could be changed later.
Budget Workshop: Carol White said there were some things she wanted to clarify before the budget workshop. She wanted to know if a decision had been made on how to handle the fact that in the first year the debt payments would be lower than usual and then would bump up significantly in the second year. David Hill said that the group had decided to do a realistic budget for the coming year that would not include a reserve fund to smooth over the increase in the second year. The bump up would be somewhat offset because there would be start-up costs for the Town in the first year that would not be needed in the second year. It would be necessary to explain to residents that there would be some increase between the first and second years. Carol suggested asking residents at the budget workshop whether they would rather have or not have a reserve fund to smooth the increase. John Martin said he expected that residents would have opinions about things that should be cut. The budget for the first year should be really lean because next year it would be higher. David said that if it was too lean in the first year there would be no place to cut when the costs went up the second year. Also it would be fiscally irresponsible not to put away long-term capital reserves for things the Town will need in the future.
David said he would like to be able to compare the Chebeague mill rate with Cumberland╣s. However Donna and Carol said this was like trying to compare apples and oranges. Cumberland has had a reevaluation, raising their assessed value so that the mill rate does not need to be as high to raise the same amount of money.
Donna and Carol said it was important to have full disclosure of the budget workings at the workshop. They asked David if the full budget could be copied and given to everyone. David said it is 60 pages – cumbersome. But he agreed that the 30 page draft that the TC had worked from at its budget workshop would be possible to copy. The mailing will have a two-page summary and the meeting will go through the whole budget in detail Donna and Carol said residents should have copies to follow along as the workshop progressed. Carol said she would bring this up again on Wednesday to the full TC.
The meeting adjourned at 12:05.