Minutes of the Chebeague Transition Committee December 20, 2006 at 7:15 at the Parish House. (Accepted 1/3/07)
Members present: Donna Damon, Mark Dyer, David Hill, John Martin (Chair), Jim Phipps, Doug Ross, Stephen Todd, and Carol White
Absent: Leon Hamilton,
1. Acceptance of the minutes of December 13 was moved by Doug Ross and seconded by Jim Phipps. Donna Damon suggested one change. Passed unanimously.
2. Questions and Comments – None.
3. Old Business
Stephen Todd handed out a notice he has prepared to post on the island (attached) that is intended to see if there are people on the island interested in subcontracting with Chebeague Public Works. This is just an effort to gauge interest, so proposals for doing the subcontracting detailing qualifications and equipment are not necessary. The deadline for responses is January 5. Donna Damon moved, seconded by Carol White that the be approved. Approved unanimously.
4. Recommendations for action from the Land Use Subcommittee
Beth Howe listed the members of the committee and its meeting time: Thursdays at 7:15 at her house. She reviewed the charge of the subcommittee and said that it had started with the │easy▓ part of its task: researching what construction codes the town should adopt. This turned out not to be so simple. Cumberland has had plumbing, electrical and building codes for many years. The State requires that towns use the state internal and wastewater plumbing codes, but it does not require towns to adopt building or electrical codes. Many small towns including North Haven and Islesboro do not have building and electrical codes. This does not appear to pose problems with insurance or mortgage companies. The central issue is that while these codes insure safe and healthful construction they can involve costs to builders and owners in terms of inspections, permit fees and the need to hire design or construction professionals in order to be sure of meeting the code requirements. The subcommittee decided to survey the 18 builders who work regularly on Chebeague. Interviews with 11 indicated that one was not affected by the codes, one thought Chebeague should not adopt the building and electrical codes initially, and nine thought the Town should adopt all of the codes. This support did not preclude the builders from seeing problems with using the codes. They especially emphasized that a good code enforcement system depends as much on having a good and evenhanded inspector as on the codes themselves.
David Hill moved approval of the subcommittee╣s recommendation to adopt all of the codes (attached), seconded by Doug Ross. There was discussion of enforcement of the Life Safety Code by the Fire Department. Also whether the Code Enforcement Officer should be someone from off the island to try to insure impartiality. Jim Phipps asked whether the subcommittee was recommending adoption of the amendments to the standard code in the Yarmouth Ordinance in the packet. Beth Howe said no – it was just an example of the kind of local ordinance needed to adopt the codes. The motion passed unanimously.
The Land Use Subcommittee recommended that the new town hire a Code Enforcement Officer(recommendation attached) and provided a job description, a draft RFP for soliciting candidates and low and high budget estimates for the cost of the service. The subcommittee estimates that we would need a CEO who would be on the island one day per week. About half of the cost of the CEO╣s office would be paid for by the permitting fees for construction. It would be possible to raise the fees to cover more of the cost. John Martin said that the subcommittee╣s budget is close to the numbers developed by the secession group and submitted to the Legislature. Several people suggested that the RFP state some minimum requirements for the CEO position, for example, at least one or two visits to the island per week or inspections on three days notice. There was discussion of whether the CEO should be a municipal employee or a contract employee, and of whether one person could cover all of the codes.. Carol White said that the person╣s personality may be the most important factor. David Hill, seconded by Carol White moved that the Committee adopt the subcommittee╣s recommendation on hiring a Code Enforcement Officer. Passed unanimously. Donna Damon said that now the recommendation would go to the Governmental Structure Committee which is collecting all the personnel recommendations to see if there may be possibilities for job sharing.
Beth Howe presented the Subcommittee╣s third recommendation (attached) to establish a Zoning Board of Appeals elected by the Town Meeting. The subcommittee has submitted ordinance language based on the Cumberland Ordinance. It changes the language about the │Town Council▓ and │Town Manager▓ to │Town Meeting▓, │Selectmen▓ and │Town Administrator▓, adds one provision related approval of variances for facilities for handicapped access, and removes several decision criteria that are redundant and more detailed than would be useful for Chebeague. John Martin said that he was not prepared to vote for any changes in the Cumberland Ordinance. Jim Phipps moved, seconded by David Hill that the ZBA recommendation be tabled until January 10 when everyone will have had time to read the ordinance language. Donna Damon said that the Governmental Structure Subcommittee was recommending that town committees like the ZBA be appointed by the Selectmen not elected by the Town Meeting, so that would need to be discussed more. Motion passed unanimously.
5. Recommendations by the Governmental Structure Subcommittee
Donna Damon presented the first recommendation (attached) that the Transition Committee develop a process for developing memoranda of understanding between the Town of Chebeague and potential service providers, including individuals such as possible employees, businesses such as TD BankNorth, other governments for inter-local agreements or other entities for other purposes. John Wilson said it would not be possible to develop a uniform │model▓ MOU form since each one would be unique to the service being contracted for, but that it would be useful to spell out the process – who is responsible for developing the MOUs and for negotiating with the service providers. Sam asked whether the TC has any more power to do this than the subcommittees. John Martin read from the secession legislation language giving the TC the power to enter into MOUs. David Hill moved, seconded by Mark, that the Transition Committee set a time in the near future for a separate meeting to discuss this process. Passed unanimously.
Donna Damon presented the second recommendation (attached) that │The Town of Chebeague will be financed, staffed with trained personnel, equipped, operational and open for business on July 2, 2007.▓ This takes up again the recommendation made by the Finance Committee at the last meeting and tabled until the January 13 public meeting. She said that the discussion at the last meeting about whether the Town would be open for business on July 2 had generated a lot of discussion on the island. She thought this would be a difficult issue to discuss at the January public meeting. Carol White said she had the same view as last week that the Town should be open, particularly to provide public safety services, but it was not necessary to have everything, down to dog licensing, up and running. She thought it was inappropriate to make large financial commitments, for example for expensive software or equipment, before the first Town Meeting. Stephen Todd said that the question was posed in too broad a fashion. The question should not be whether the Town will be open on July 2 but how open. Donna Damon said she wanted criteria for how much commitment could be made before the first Town Meeting. Cumberland is willing to help train our personnel before July 1 but that requires initial expenditures. Donna Colbeth said that in Town Meeting government the Town is not allowed to spend tax money without a vote of the Town Meeting. Doug Ross said that the whole process of setting up the Town is a │leap of faith▓, he agreed with the recommendation and it did not imply the Town would be │fully▓ funded, staffed, etc. Jim Phipps said it is the job of the TC to set up the Town operations. John Wilson said that the Town of Chebeague is already in debt as a result of the secession agreement, without a vote of Town Meeting. There was a budget submitted to the Legislature as part of the secession process and the subcommittees are sticking to that. The people of the Town voted to elect the nine Transition Committee members to decide on things like how much the town will be running on July 2. It is a business and has to be up and running. Carol White disagreed about whether we know that subcommittees are sticking to the secession budget – we don╣t know that yet. Mark Dyer said the TC owed it to the community to provide a good estimate of the cost of setting up the town office. Donna Damon asked where the Town will get money before July 1? Jim Phipps said this is the job of the Finance Committee. David Hill said it probably would be possible to get an unsecured note from the bank, but why borrow if there will be no expenditures before July 2? The question is whether or not any money gets spent before Town Meeting. Carol White said it is not either-or but a matter of how much money it was appropriate to spend before Town Meeting votes on a budget. Vail Traina asked whether it was possible to have a Town Meeting before July 1. Jim Phipps said that the TC can hold public meetings to discuss things like spending, but that the real/legal Town Meeting after July 1 could not be bound by those decisions.
Mark Dyer moved, seconded by Jim Phipps, that the Finance and Governmental Structure Committees be tasked with the job of estimating the cost of organizing an operational Town Office, focusing on equipment (hard and soft), furnishings and renovations. The motion passed unanimously. Jane Frizzell said the thought that everyone had decided already to have the town office at the public safety building and to have volunteers do much of the work of renovation. The Governmental Structure Subcommittee had been asking when would personnel be hired. Carol said it would be possible to for the TC to enter into MOUs before July 2 and for staff to be trained before July 2. Staff would bear some risk that the first Town Meeting might not reimburse them for the time spent on the training. Jane asked whether there was any uncertainty about being operational on July 1 on the TC. The answer was no. Ernie Burgess said that people who voted for secession understood that not everything would be ready on the first day. Cheryl Buxbaum said that despite that, summer people will be expecting services.
John Martin called for a vote on the subcommittee╣s original motion on being │open for business July 2▓. Jim Phipps moved that the motion be adopted, seconded by Carol White. Passed unanimously.
6. Next public meeting.
Carol said that the Education Subcommittee has an important meeting on January 13 which had been the day scheduled for the next public meeting. Alternate dates were discussed and January 21 at 1:00 was decided upon. It will not be a mock Town Meeting but an informational meeting on the status of the budget. Carol White said that if the TC moves to having two meetings a week she would prefer that one of them not be at night.
7. Jim Phipps, seconded by David Hill, moved to put off the TC╣s Executive Committee meeting. Passed unanimously.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:20.