Minutes of the Chebeague Transition Committee March 14, 2007 at 7:00 at the Parish House. (Accepted 3/28/07)
The meeting was called to order by Steve Moriarty at 7:12.
Members present: Donna Damon, Mark Dyer, Leon Hamilton, David Hill, (Chair), Jim Phipps, Doug Ross and Stephen Todd and Carol White. Steve Moriarty served as invited chair. Beth Howe served as secretary.
Absent: John Martin
Steve Moriarty called for motions on the minutes of previous meetings. Donna Damon moved, seconded by David Hill to approve the minutes of the March 4 meeting. Passed unanimously. Leon Hamilton moved, seconded by Jim Phipps to approve the amended minutes of March 7. 7 in favor, 1 abstention (Carol White). The meeting of March 11 was a public workshop on the budget. Beth Howe had handed out notes about questions to be answered and issues still to be settled.
Public comments: none.
Report of the Marine Issues Subcommittee. Leon Hamilton
Leon said his committee had nothing to report. Beth Howe asked if his committee or the Finance Subcommittee had considered the budgetary implications of state current use taxation of shore land used for fishing. Leon said his subcommittee had not. He thought this was a land use issue. Beth said her committee could look at it but they are working on other issues at the moment. There was a discussion about whether there would be state reimbursement for it and whether it was mandatory. Jim Phipps said that after April 1 it would be appropriate to ask Bill Healey if any applications have been made for it and how it works. Leon moved, seconded by Donna Damon that some subcommittee look into this issue. The vote was seven to one (Jim Phipps) who said there was no point to asking until April 1. David Hill said he would put it on the list of questions for Bill Shane next Sunday.
Leon Hamilton said he will be talking with Bill Shane about having the harbormasterıs boat towed to a mechanic for work on the engine.
Report from Waste Management Subcommittee: Mark Dyer
Mark said he had been working with Pine Tree Waste, the current hauler. Pine tree has just sent him an updated quote to provide (1) municipal solid waste services, (2) disposal of construction waste (3) single-stream recycling and (4) special and universal waste such as computer monitors. The quote covers all of this. It would change the budget a little. Cumberland now pays $158 per ton for the municipal waste to EcoMaine. Pine Tree can do it for $84/ton. If Mark wants, Pine Tree will send someone to Chebeague to make a presentation on the single-stream recycling. It might reduce the present rejection of some of the recycling for which the Town is charged money. Pine Tree would continue to take the metal waste. Tomorrow Leon Hamilton and Mark will meet with someone from Pine Tree Waste to see whether the CTC barge could be used for the waste. Mark said he was trying to be sure that the budget is accurate and that there is a commitment to service in the contracts. David Hill asked if there were any changes in the Transfer Station budget since Sunday. Mark said not yet.
David Hill asked everyone to let him know about any changes in their budgets. He passed out a new draft of the budget and asked TC members to get comments to him about any problems. He apologized for not passing it out to the public but said it was still in too early and incomplete a draft to be made public.
David Hill reported on the budget. Next Sunday morning there will be a meeting at 8:30 on the School Budget at the Rec Center. From 3 to 4:30 in the Firehouse there will be a meeting with Bill Shane to get his reactions to the budget. Jim Phipps asked whether Cumberland had set its mill rate yet. Steve Moriarty said it would not be set until July or August. The Town did a statistical reevaluation this year and the higher overall valuation would make the mill rate lower. Leon asked how the valuation could go up since real estate is going down. David and Bette Tellinghuisen said that assessors have a lot of leeway in determining values and that comparing across towns may not be useful. Bob Earnest said that in addition, property values on Chebeague continued to rise after the 2002 reevaluation, and that now they have not come back down that far. Donna Damon said that Chebeague is putting money in its capital budget for a comprehensive reevaluation in a few years. Long Island is just doing their first one since becoming a town. David Hill said that the state cannot require towns to reassess their property. The only pressure they can bring to bear is to withhold reimbursement for the Tree Growth Program. Jim said that residents of a community can sue the Town to force a reevaluation. Ken Hamilton asked how Chebeagueıs valuation could be only 60 percent of full value when the last reassessment was only done in 2002. Donna said that the sale of even a few properties for high prices will drive up the assessments. Stephen Todd said that the TC needs to stress that we control the spending side of the equation. When reevaluation comes the tax rate will go down as long as spending is controlled.
Hiring: Donna Damon
She suggested that if this meeting ends early the questions for applicants might be discussed this evening rather than tomorrow. She said there are 13 applicants for the administrator position. They will continue to accept applications until the end of this week. Mark Dyer asked whether the applications are being kept secure to protect confidentiality. Donna said that she, David Hill and Leon Hamilton are the only people who have seen the applications. No copies have been made yet. Carol White said that the education applications are being kept in a locked filing cabinet in the Library and committee members have to sign them in and out. They also donıt share information about them on the internet.
Mark said that people had come to him with concerns about whether TC members would be involved in hiring for jobs for which their relatives have applied. Donna said there is a state law that determines the degree of relationship that requires someone to recuse him/herself. She has made out a chart of all the TC members and their relationship to applicants that determines whether they can or cannot be involved in a specific hiring process. She needs to talk with Peter Lowe about how in-laws are treated by the state law. Leon Hamilton commented, to general laughter, that the problem with Chebeagueıs family tree is that it is like a telephone pole. Mark said he knows how he will handle any conflicts: he wonıt participate if something doesnıt seem right to him. He also thinks that some people are concerned that John Martin isnıt the head of the hiring process. Donna said she is doing it because no one else would and John does not check his mailbox more than once a week.
Leon Hamilton said that a prospective applicant had called him to ask about the salary ranges of jobs. He didnıt know what was the proper way to answer. David Hill suggested telling people that this will be discussed at the interview stage. Steve Moriarty said it would be possible to say whatever had been in the ad. Carol White and Doug Ross said that in the case of some of the jobs the salaries had been quite explicit in the public discussion.
Steve Moriarty asked whether the administrator would be hired first and everyone else later? Would it be useful to have a single point-person for applicants to talk to? David Hill said he thought each TC member could field questions adequately. Carol White asked if Donna was sending letters acknowledging receipt of applications. Donna said yes. Carol said that as a citizen group the TC needs to be very careful about the integrity of the process, especially in such a small community. On the Education Subcommittee there are people applying for some of the jobs and this has made them create separate subcommittees for each job so that those people are not involved in hiring for a job they are applying for. She said Peter Lowe had advised that they keep only one set of combined notes from each interview. Bob Earnest asked if there will be a standard set of questions for all candidates for a job. The answer was yes, and each member of the TC will ask questions in turn. Donna said that Nadeen Daniels had said that if a new question comes up in one of the interviews, the other candidates have to be asked that question as well.
Carol White said that the Education Subcommittee will be screening three superintendent candidates tomorrow. She said she hoped to bring more than one recommended candidate to be interviewed by the TC. After the superintendent they will do the full-time teachers and then do the part-time teachers at the end. Jamie Calthorpe asked whether there was a formal hiring committee for education. Donna Damon said that the entire TC will be the committee for the Superintendent and the Town Administrator. Then for other positions there will be subsets of the TC, depending on who has conflicts of interest and who knows about the job being filled. Jamie asked if the subcommittees will be involved. Donna said that hadnıt been decided yet.
Report on School Consolidation Proposals: Carol White
Carol said that last week the Education Committee had made its proposal, much watered down from the Governorıs. It would require districts to have at least 1200 students and would encourage voluntary consolidation and saving of money. The Appropriations Committee was not impressed. The Governor rejected the Education Committee proposal. Peter Mills has made his own proposal mandating consolidation. The unorganized territories would be exempt but islands would be included. He and some others from poor districts are unhappy with the idea that the islands and towns with lakes which have such high valuation and are ³minimum receivers² might be exempt. Carol said that the State may take part of the school funding money and tell local communities that they cannot have it unless they consolidate. From the Stateıs point of view, if the islands donıt consolidate, it doesnıt cost the State much money since they get so little anyway. Carol said that the whole issue is a moving target and now things could begin to happen fast.
Carol said she and Peter Lowe, who is working not only for Chebeague but for the Island Institute as well, have been spending days in Augusta. Peter has been doing some specific Chebeague-related work which the TC will be billed for. But he has been exceptionally helpful. If Chebeague does end up in a consolidated district he will have to develop bills to make sure that we get back the money that secession would cost us.
Steve Moriarty raised a proposal from John Martin that the TC hold executive sessions at Wednesday as well as Sunday meetings. There are fewer reports at the Wednesday meetings now. It would be a more efficient use of time. Leon Hamilton said he thought it was a bad idea to have executive sessions on Wednesdays because people are very tired by the end of the meeting.
Governmental Structure: Donna Damon
Donna said they had met at the Firehouse last night and were fleshing out ideas about the Town Office. Tad Runge has told them that the place where he is storing the office furniture on the mainland will have to be vacated by June at the latest. She reported on her committeeıs research on telephones. Binkie Boxer has been helping them. A centrex system has an initial installation cost but then can have many lines and extensions. It is cheaper than single phones with their own numbers. It would be possible to connect the school to the Town phone system. That way if either the Town Office or the school were closed for some emergency, the other could answer any phone calls. Jim Phipps said that any system the Town gets should be able to be enlarged in case the phone usage has been underestimated. Bette Tellinghuisen said it would be.
Stephen Todd announced that Mark Dyer, Leon Hamilton, and probably himself from the Public Works Subcommittee would be the committee to work on negotiating the barging transportation.
Stephen Moriarty and Leon Hamilton left.
Jim Phipps said that Peter Rice will be appointed to the Passenger transportation committee by the Mainland Access Subcommittee. Carol White said that she or Donna Colbeth will be appointed from Education. Donna Damon said she has forgotten to ask her committee and will serve until they have nominated someone.
At 9:35 Jim Phipps moved, seconded by David Hill to move into executive session pursuant to Title 1, Chapter 13 MRSA section 405.6.1, to discuss personnel matters. Approved unanimously.
At 10:05 Jim Phipps moved, seconded by David Hill to come out of executive session. Approved unanimously.
The meeting adjourned at 10:07