Minutes of the meeting of the Town of Chebeague Transition Committee, October 11, 2006 at 7:15 at the Parish House (Accepted 10/18/06)
Members present: Donna Damon, Mark Dyer, Leon Hamilton, David Hill, John Martin (Chair), Jim Phipps, Doug Ross, and Carol White
Absent: Stephen Todd
John welcomed our distinguished visitors Steve Moriarty and Bill Shane, who offered to work with us at this meeting.
1. Minutes: A motion to accept the minutes of 10/4/06 was made by Leon, seconded by David; discussion: Doug Ross mentioned that we had agreed item #7 from the Public Safety committee report should be dropped; after that change the minutes were passed unanimously (two abstentions: members who were absent last week). Note: we also agreed that if a committee member has not received draft by Sunday night they should contact John at home and check on the status of the draft minutes.
2. Questions and comments from the public: none at this time.
Carol offered that Carla had mentioned to her, and asked that we pass on, that a hearing for a shoreland permit hearing that has been postponed to November 21 (notices are on the boat). There are also notices to be posted regarding a site walk (date to be advised) regarding this issue with the Coastal Commission. The permit regards a proposed private pier.
Carol also offered that we have just heard that we did not receive the planning grant; Bill mentioned that there is a an appeal process should Carol and others want to follow up.
3. Communications: Jim mentioned that he received a nice note from Kitty Freeman regarding what a nice meeting we had last week.
4. Review purpose/charge for each subcommittee with Bill Shane and Steve Moriarty – are we on the right track? David asked for a general discussion of the process that we are adopting. He stated that we took the organizational chart of the Town and created a committee for each department, plus two that are germane to Chebeague (Marine Issues and Mainland Access/Transportation). Davidıs thought is that each subcommittee would produce a warrant article that would be brought forward in July 07. Bill and Steve agreed that this approach makes sense. John added that each subcommittee will offer recommendations to the Transition Committee – on a progressive/periodic basis (as opposed to the subcommittee waiting till the end of the process to offer their recommendations). Donna added that, as we come to consensus on some of these issues, that we come together as a community at the Hall to check in and insure that weıre on the right track.
Donna then asked if she could offer her report on Governmental Structure (since she was absent last week). She would like to make sure that everyone who wants to be on a subcommittee has been given that opportunity. Donna listed her committee members: Peter Rice, Deb Hall, Ruth Slagle, Martha Hamilton, Cheryl Buxbaum, Betty Tellinghuisen, Jane Frizzell, Herb Maine, and Pam Curran. Donna also offered the thought that the charges are already evolving, as the work reveals overlap, etc.
Donna then asked a question: is there a process or a flowchart that tells the subcommittees to whom they should address questions on a given topic? John replied that a decision had been made that communications would flow originally thru the Chair of the Transition Committee to Bill Shane, and that they might expand later to subcommittee chairs; but that for now, itıs thru John to Bill. Bill offered his thoughts that the fastest way would be for Bill (and Nadeen and Steve) to act as our resources; and, his belief that we should focus on the actual work at hand as opposed to months of analysis, as we only have 10 months left. John asked Bill if itıs ok for subcommittee chairs to contact Bill; Bill replied absolutely it is ok for subcommittee chairs to contact Bill, Nadeen, or Steve. David then added that if other subcommittees had a question regarding finance, that they route it through our Finance subcommittee who would then go to Bill, Nadeen, or Steve (to keep the finance questions coordinated). Bill reiterated the need for speed in terms of the Transition Committee and subcommittee chairs to getting into the actual issues asap. David and Bill agreed that a Saturday meeting on Finance may well be in order.
Ken Hamilton then asked that he could speak to issues that have come up with the Marine Issues subcommittee. First: can existing regulations and ordinances from Cumberland in this area be made available? Bill: absolutely. Second question: how do we issue clam licenses in January for 2 towns so that July shows a smooth transition. Leon offered that we should not go into too much detail at this meeting. Donna then offered that there are two or three ways to accomplish the goal that Chebeague residents be permitted to clam on the mainland, and vice versa; but that each town should issue its own regulations. Bill and Donna agreed that the issue of reciprocity regarding commercial clamming remains to be worked out. Leon asked how a North Yarmouth resident currently obtains a commercial clam license; Donna offered that they apply through Cumberland. Leon offered that the language in the secession agreement states that Chebeaguers have equal rights on Cumberland, and vice versa; Bill agreed. Leon added that Chebeague gets to sell its own licenses regarding the sale of commercial licenses on Chebeague; Bill agreed and added that we need to talk about it more, to insure that the resource remains viable. Jim offered that what is on the table here is that Chebeague is being asked by Cumberland to help work out the details of clam license sales for January 2, 2007; and, that itıs incumbent on us to help as we can. Leon added that we should not try to work out the details tonight.
Ken asked how the ordinance that Marine Issues writes relates to Governmentıs work with ordinances; Donna said that her subcommitteeıs job is to collate such proposed ordinances. Jim added that we agreed two weeks ago that a task force would be established to review Cumberlandıs ordinances in order to divvy up the work amongst the 10 subcommittees. Donna agreed, and added that her committeeıs work on collation would occur at the end of that process – collating whatıs been proposed.
Carol asked to focus back on questions for Steve and Bill: on what things should we get moving immediately (such as debt, waste management, etc – what are the hot button issues?). Bill: waste management is not that tough to crack – get your quotes then make your decision (a dayıs work to decide, per Bill). Regarding the debt issue, Bill went back to the Saturday meeting, conference room at Town Hall so that banks could be brought in as needed Carol: what kind of time line? Bill: that work should start within two weeks. Bill suggested that he and Dave get together, make a plan, then call in some banks for exploratory meetings with Bill, Dave, Cumberlandıs finance director, and whomever else from Daveıs subcommittee should be there. Bill added that after these meetings with the bank, the Town of Cumberland has software that would facilitate calculations of tax rates, millage, etc.
David said that his subcommittee has agreed to offer one member to each of the other 9 subcommittees that would liaison financial issues and numbers from that subcommittee back into Finance. David also asked that we decide ³are we building a bare bones budget, or middle of the road, or no holds barred² as advice to the subcommittee members as they build their proposals. Mark asked for more detail on how that liaison would work. John Wilson said that originally we used a derivative budget (derived from Cumberlandıs budget). John offered that this is a nice starting point, but that itıs important for each subcommittee to build a zero based budget. What are we trying to accomplish? Then, determine what that will cost. Example: we want to maintain status quo on the roads; what will that cost, and how will it be done, on a zero based approach.
Bill reminded us of how close the secession finance budget numbers were to his numbers, as a reminder of how well we understand each other and how much both sides agreed on what the actual costs of the Town of Chebeague will be. Leon asked Bill if his earlier comment regarding ³the need for speed² could be detailed out at the subcommittee level. Bill said that his big concerns are the Joint Standing Committee with the Town of Yarmouth; wharf issues; and finance. Carol asked for details on the wharf issues and Yarmouthıs take on the Blanchard lot. Bill said there is no new news; that what the abutting land owner wants is for the road to be moved so that her lot will be more valuable. Bill sees no momentum on this issue from Yarmouth or the state. Joint Standing Committee: floats at the Yarmouth dock; there are people who want those docks extended, but Yarmouth doesnıt see the need (they want people to buy moorings instead). These are representative issues, but there is, per Bill, the need to stay on top of such issues. Cumberland is working the engineering for Wharf Road improvements, with the intent of getting in line for funding (perhaps the 2009/2010 cycle). Again, nothing has changed – itıs still the hammerhead, sidewalk, and lighting; but the Transition Committee needs to get up to speed and be involved on such critical issues.
Herb Maine asked if there is a clear process for the resolution of legal questions that may arise? John replied that we donıt yet have such a process in place. Donna asked what is our access to the town attorney? Bill Shane stated ³none² – he wonıt return your calls, you have to go through me. Donna clarified her question with an example of a property issue that the Town of Chebeague identifies; Bill said no to that example, that the town attorneyıs work would be focused on transition issues only. Carol asked how the land will transfer from Cumberland to Chebeague; Bill said that he believes it would be handled through the Register of Deeds. John and Donna commented that initiating the paperwork would probably be handled by the Governmental Structure subcommittee. Jim offered the thought that Cumberland should direct Ken Cole to work on the specifics of the land transfer. But, back to Herbıs question: Mark offered that we (ie CICA) employed legal counsel throughout the secession process; are we pointing back towards that? Bill Shane offered that any questions for Maine Municipal Association can be asked through him, at no charge. Carol asked if we could get them out to the Island? Not clear, but Bill is happy to ask any such questions on our behalf. Donna reported that Nadeen informed her that MMA would probably visit us on a ³sales call² about a month before we become a town – not before – and Nadeen at that time also mentioned that Bill could help. Bill believes that they will answer legal questions, but that they probably wonıt do legal work for us.
Sam Ballard asked a question regarding aquaculture; Sam had previously spoken with Senator Damon, and would like to again, in order to get some of our homework on this issue. Samıs belief is that we may need to change the procedure for how aquaculture leases are done in our waters. Steve Moriarty offered that a better path might be to go to our state legislators (after the current election tells us who they are). John added that such conversations, as weıve previously discussed, would first go through the Transition Committee, in order to maintain coordination. Jim added that he agrees with John – that if a subcommittee wants to represent the Town of Chebeague in asking the Legislature to make a change, that it should first go through the Transition Committee; but, that a private individual always has the right to contact their legislators on their own behalf. The key issue is ³on whose behalf am I making the contact?²
Carol asked of Bill and Steve: if TABOR passes, what does that mean for the Town of Chebeague? And, if you look down our list of subcommittees, do you see major changes that weıll have to make in order to maintain status quo, and in what areas might this lead to a logical interlocal agreement with the Town of Cumberland? Steve: TABOR limits the growth of your current budget; in your case, you would likely be capped on your second budget – based on your first budget, whatever it might be. Jim asked a followup question on TABOR – Bill, would you think that would be a good question for you to ask of MMA on behalf of the Town of Chebeague? Bill – absolutely.
Regarding Carolıs question on interlocal agreements – Bill said that is Chebeagueıs call. His first thought, though, is on tax commitment; do we want Cumberlandıs help (software, expertise, etc) to help on this process? Assessing (after the April 1 determination of tax) is the next question (ie do we assess on our own, or contract it, or do we ask Cumberland for an interlocal on this work?). A detailed discussion ensued regarding the payment of taxes and how it relates to Cumberlandıs revenues versus the revenues of the new Town of Chebeague; the answer is that the spring and fall tax payments are progress payments during the current year, and since the Cumberland budget year ends June 30, they will owe us $0 as of July 1, 2007.
David asked a question regarding the processing of warrants at our first town meeting. Bill replied that you could have a long meeting – there could be over 100 warrants. David asked what happens if, for example, public safety does not pass? Bill stated that, as best he remembers, you could require a second town meeting; but, it could be that reductions (but not increases) in the dollar amount are allowed during the meeting. Donna added that, per LD1735, itıs up or down votes on warrants; but that we could at the first town meeting change this. Steve Moriarty read through LD1735; his quick analysis is that, once we enter our first town meeting, we would then be governed by LD30 (which sets the general rules for Town Meeting). Herb Maine added that we could decide to divide the warrants into two groups, some of which have to be dealt with at the first town meeting, and others that could be dealt with later at a separate town meeting – to avoid burnout on warrants. Herb suggested that the Transition Committee consider such alternatives; John offered that it sounds like work for Government Structure. John added that we do have to post notices, warrants, etc for a set number of days before the first town meeting, which dictates our work deadlines.
Jim asked of Bill and Steve: are there topics that you wanted / expected us to ask that we have not? Bill: a very sensitive issue is that you need to deal with the fire and rescue issue sooner as opposed to later. Does the community of Chebeague want to go the route of combined services? It is very sensitive and it does have large financial implications, and it will potentially have implications on volunteerism. There are pluses and minuses on each, but this is a big issue that, in Billıs opinion, needs to be addressed quickly. Licensing and training of the Rescue Department is another such issue – with whom will you work with for transfer / transport (ie, will you deliver rescue clients to Yarmouth or Portland or - ?). John asked Bill if itıs ok for the Transition Committee to speak with current employees of the Town of Cumberland? Bill: absolutely. Doug: we have been working on these very issues, and we have been speaking with department heads in the Public Safety area. It sounds, though, like we should go through you first? Bill: yes, it would work well for each subcommittee head to contact me first on such issues (and, he assumes that these contacts and meetings will also be covered at your weekly Transition Committee meetings, so that the entire Committee is kept up to speed and has the opportunity to participate). Mark: I would like to reiterate that the Joint Standing Committee is a critical topic; Jim, I assume that this in your subcommitteeıs area? Jim: agreed, and we are on it!
Bill: I also want to encourage you to contact the County; there are probably areas in which the County can provide interlocal services more cost effectively than the Town of Cumberland, so donıt discount them – call them too!
Jim: is Cumberland considering changes to their fire and rescue strategy in the next 9 months? Bill: there are no changes being discussed, nor do I expect any such conversations in the near future. Jim: what does Yarmouth do for rescue? Bill: we provide it for them through a regional paramedic program. You might want to participate on an on-call basis for the first year, and then perhaps later consider an annual contact. Donna: what if TABOR passes, and we set up an on-call program for, say, $500 per call; then Cumberland decides it really costs $600; would we have to go to referendum? Bill: if TABOR passes, then first, 2/3 of Town Meeting would have to approve sending it to referendum; then 50% plus 1 would have to approve (in his opinion, a complicated process).
Donna: asked that we go back to a discussion of the ³up or down² nature of the vote on warrants at Town Meeting, and the nature of the timing of the first elections, from LD1735, Donna had questions regarding vesting of authority; Jim answered the legal question that the vesting occurs after they are elected, not on a previously stipulated date.
John: I plan to follow up with Bill, Steve, and Nadine regarding their views on the Community Services charge. But, as of this time, it looks like weıve exhausted the questions. There was another agenda item that was intended for discussion with Steve and Bill; see item #6 on the agenda ³identify and list the outstanding Town of Cumberland negotiation items.² But, we may not have time to discuss this sufficiently tonight. Bill: are there issues you see that need to be resolved? Mark: one that sticks out for me is the Rt 1 parking lot. Bill: itıs not an issue; itıs a 45 year lease to CTC on land that Cumberland was given by the State to the Town of Cumberland. If we were to try to sell it, the State would probably react the way they did when a private individual tried to take the Blanchard Lot from CTC (ie, they would likely step in and maintain transportation). John Wilson offered to review the matrix of discussion topics from secession and trace how each item has been resolved – and are there any remaining issues to be resolved – and to cover this with Bill.
Donna: how will we copy town records? Donna has spoken with Nadeen on a joint grant for a microfilm setup. Donna also has thoughts regarding volunteers to do this. Bill: itıs not a problem; in the winter months, if you have some committee members who want to come in and help copy, itıs a good time (ie before we get into tax season). There are, though, older documents that are in such fragile condition that it may be years before we can properly address them. Jim pointed out that they are, and will remain, public documents; we will continue to have access to them whether we have our own copies or not.
John: is there anything else you can think of? Bill: the Finance work should get moving. David and Bill agreed to meet in a Saturday workshop format – Cumberland and Finance - on Saturday October 27.
Donna raised an issue regarding parking problems and enforcement at the Stone Pier.
5. Old Business. Leon mentioned that the issue of how fishermen are taxed on their properties is an issue that should not be on the Marine Issues subcommittee; that it should be moved perhaps to Land Use subcommittee. To be discussed when next the chair of Land Use (ie Beth) is at the meeting. Carol mentioned that, while we should expect some level of work on such topics, we might not be able to (for example) provide an inventory of such properties by July 1. Carol also mentioned that it might be an issue for Assessment.
John: any other old business? Donna: just to reiterate the earlier point that the charges for each subcommittee are fluid. John – absolutely; we used the term ³empowerment² in this context. David: insurance is a good example – the school will need it, as will other departments Carol: it should be in Finance. Consensus was in agreement on this decision.
Donna asked about insurance, and payroll, in the context of multiple departments – should we have one insurance, one payroll? Consensus: the question is on the table.
6. Status of subcommittee organization. How are we doing? Do we need minutes? Or, how will we keep each other in the loop on subcommittee work? Jim: we need minutes. And we need to have a conversation with all 9 of us, regarding each committee – but we should move that to next week, as itıs a bigger discussion. Carol: perhaps we need to hire an administrative assistant to collect, maintain, and distribute such info; perhaps using the Public Safety office as a location? We have $5k from CICA. Jim: Iım not ready to spend that yet. Leon: what about copies? Carol: we need to maintain good distribution and probably we need to discuss this further at the next meeting. Mark: do we now assume that weıll see minutes from each subcommittee? Donna: all 9 should receive them. David: letıs simplify things – letıs put such minutes on the internet so that theyıre available to all. Carol: thatıs fine, but who is the official record keeper for the minutes and the distribution of subcommittee minutes? John Ash: I suggest that each subcommittee assign a person to post their minutes to the electronic folder. Carol: but who will police it? David: I can set up the process. Jim: itıs up to each subcommittee chair to make sure that their work is reported to the Transition Committee, and the electronic folder is the cheapest process. David: I will volunteer to setup guidelines. Donna: we need to maintain hard copies. We need a file cabinet.
Carol: there is also a larger question: how should subcommittees provide notice of meeting and agenda? Jim: I move that each subcommittee post a notice and agenda 3 days before the meeting, stating the location and agenda of the meeting. Leon: I thought the subcommittees would do their work, report it to the Transition Committee, and then what was reported would get posted to the public via the minutes of the Transition Committee. John: what if we put, say, two subcommittee reports on each Transition Committee agenda? Herb: maybe a ³working document² that is kept up to date by each subcommittee is a better approach (instead of having to refer back to reams of minutes). No second to Jimıs motion. Consensus: to continue this conversation next week.
Motion to adjourn; seconded; unanimous.