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Most Recent Minutes are at the bottom of this page

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
January 8, 2013
Present: Steve McCormick, Lester Sheaffer, Tom Colpitt, Frank Ober, and Dennis Merrill
Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller
Select Board actions
1. The minutes of the January 2 meeting were approved 5-0.
2. Roads. David Boynton came in to discuss needs for Townhouse Road to prepare it for paving. The necessary work includes seven new culverts and ditching for about two miles. David estimated that the work would cost $14,750. Subsequently, the Board decided to add an amount to next year’s budget to cover this.
3. Budget. The Board continued its discussion of the 2013 – 2014 municipal budget. A few adjustments were made in preparation for meeting with the Budget Committee. Overall, the draft budget is down about $5,000 from last year. There are a couple of remaining questions to be resolved: the heating costs and truck maintenance items for the fire department.
4. Aaron reported to the Board on the Animal Control Officer’s recent activities on East River Road. Several pigs and goats were seized and taken to a shelter. This was done with the guidance of the State animal welfare authorities and pursuant to a court order. The ACO, the State animal welfare staff and the sheriff’s office were present. The owner of the animals is to appear in court on January 30. Until that time, the Town is responsible for the animals’ care. One pig was found to be sick and had to be taken to a vet.
5. Budget Committee. The Budget Committee convened at 7 PM with Tony Marple, Erik Ekholm, David Hayden, Sue McKeen, Charlene Donahue, Malinda Caron, Barry Tibbetts, and Carl Ribeiro present. All were sworn in. Sue McKeen will serve as the Budget Committee’s chair and Malinda Caron will act as secretary. They will meet on Tuesdays 7 to 9 PM. During this first meeting the Select Board went through its proposed budget, discussing various issues and considerations going into preparation of its draft. Next week, the Road Commissioner and the Fire Department will be invited to attend the meeting.
Assessors’ Actions
1. Sam Bartlett came in to inquire about the status of combining two of his lots and the removal of a base lot for the land on which his garage is located. The Assessor’s Agent will be asked to follow up.
2. A request from Fred Woodbury to combine two lots off Hilton Road was received. One of the lots is less than the 5 acres minimum set by State law. However, that lot has no base lot so the financial consequence of not combining the lots is minimal. The matter will be given to the Assessor’s Agent for further review.

 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
January 13, 2013
Present: Lester Sheaffer, Tom Colpitt, and Dennis Merrill
Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller
Select Board actions
1. The minutes of the January 8 meeting were approved 3-0.
2. Two warrants were signed.
3. A quit claim deed for Gary and Rachel Tibbetts to clear some old liens was signed.
4. Aaron reported that on Monday the matter of animals seized from the Barnes property on East River Road was heard in District Court. The hearing resulted in the seized animals being awarded to the Town. There is a 21-day appeal period so no final disposition will occur until that time has expired. Also on Monday, a summons for animal cruelty was issued to Mr. Barnes. The animals are currently in the custody of the Lincoln County Animal Shelter and being housed at a local farm.
5. Property foreclosures. Aaron reported that notices are to be sent to property owners informing them that automatic foreclosure of liens on their property will occur on Feb 26 unless tax payments are received. This action is for overdue 2011 tax bills and involves 68 accounts for a total of $68,733.22 in taxes.
6. Office computers. Aaron reported that one computer in the Town Office has been replaced with a new one. The new machine has Windows 8 on it and that created some problems and expense to get coordinated with other existing equipment and programs. The new computer is in service and is much faster. There are some minor remaining glitches yet to be resolved.
7. General assistance administrators. The Board voted 3-0 to appoint the office staff as Deputy General Assistance Administrators. This allows them to receive applications and process payments and other paperwork with the proper confidentiality.
8. Budget Committee. The Budget Committee met at 7 PM for its second session. All members except Sue McKeen were present. Also present were the Road Commissioner and representatives of the Fire and Rescue Department. Each explained budget needs for next year. On roads, the proposal is to pave segments of Cookson and Townhouse Roads and continuing a rotating program of resurfacing gravel roads. The Committee expressed some concern with the fact repaving of roads continues to fall behind. It was suggested that the Select Board consider developing a 5 or 10 year plan for bringing roads up to acceptable standards. The Fire Chief and EMS Director explained their budget proposals and answered questions from the Committee. Both Scott and Lynn noted they are “on duty” every day and their duties include a variety of administrative and maintenance tasks. These positions are essentially second jobs. Finally, the Committee discussed the Comprehensive Plan developed in 2003. It was suggested that this be used to guide the Town and place on the web for public access. The Committee will meet with charitable organizations next week and discuss the budget line by line. The plan to vote on the budget the following week
Assessors’ Actions
1. The Board signed a letter to Mr. and Mrs. Peters inviting them to file an abatement request for their property off Doyle Road. New information regarding other parcels in the area raises some question about the size of the Peters’ lot.
2. Assessor’s Agent Tom Hayes was present to discuss some abatement requests.
a. An abatement for map 12, lot 19-B on Acorn Lane was approved 3-0. The dwelling grade and condition were lowered.
b. An abatement for map 22, lot 28 was approved 3-0. The condition of the dwelling was downgraded to reflect its current state.
c. A supplemental assessment for map 11, lot 19-A was approved 3-0. The parcel actually has more acreage than previously reflected in the record.
d. A request to combine map 17, lots 17, 30-C and 30 was approved 3-0.
e. Action on a request to combine lot less than 5 acres was deferred pending further investigation of the law in such circumstances.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
January 22, 2013

Present: Steve McCormick, Frank Ober Lester Sheaffer, Tom Colpitt, and Dennis Merrill
               Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

1.      The minutes of the January 15 meeting were approved 3-0-2. 

2.      Auditor’s report.  The Board briefly discussed the draft auditor’s report we have received.  This will be discussed in more detail next week.  Aaron reported that we ended the last fiscal year with a surplus of about $150,000.  He noted that we could use a shorter version of the auditor’s report in the town report and meet the legal requirements while making a less confusing presentation.

3.      Fire station.  Scott Higgins and Lynn Talacko were present to discuss some concerns about the station building.  There is a significant condensation problem in the equipment bay.  Truck washing contributes to this.  Steve noted that an air exchanger is the only real answer.  Temporarily, we will try a dehumidifier to see if that helps.  Also, attention will be given to truck washing procedures, and we will contact other towns with similar stations to see how they handle moisture problems.  Regulating the building temperature in the office area has been problematic.  The radiant heat in the floor does not respond to quickly and turning the heat up and down is not energy efficient.  We set the thermostat at a constant 62 degrees to see how that works. 

4.       Budget vote.  The Board voted on its proposed budget for next year.  By a vote of 5-0 it voted the following amounts.

01 Administration $132,262               02 Insurance $12,250              03 Town Roads  $165,000
04 Snow and Ice  $232,000                05 General Gov’t $48,527      06 Town Office $20,255
07 Townhouse $1,000                         08 Tax Note Interest $3,800   09 Loans $51,357
10 Fire Department $92,000               11 General Assistance $5,000 12 Miscellaneous $69,948
13-50 Food Bank $3,000

Additionally, the Board voted to make no recommendations for certain requests from outside groups including the Whitefield Cemetery and requests in 13 Other Miscellaneous, except the Food  Bank.  This action will put the requests on the warrant to allow the voters to decide.

5.      Budget Committee.  The Budget Committee met at 7 PM, with all members present except Carl Ribeiro; Malinda Caron left early.  The Committee heard from Christine Salois, Midcoast Community Action; George Myers, Kennebec Behavioral Health; Tim Chase, Spectrum Generation; and Phil Russell, Whitefield Cemetery.  After discussions, the Committee voted to recommend the same amounts as the Select Board for areas 01 through 12, above.  In addition, the Committee voted to recommend the following amounts.

12-50 Whitefield Cemetery, $3,000                           13-01 Red Cross $100
13-15 Midcoast Community Action $1,000               13-35 Kennebec Behavioral Health $$1,000
13-40 New Hope for Women $290                                        13-45 Spectrum Generation $500
13-55 Young at Heart $0                                                        Healthy Kids $0
Children’s Center $250
Assessors’ Actions

Two previously approved abatements were signed.

 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
January 29, 2013
Present: Steve McCormick, Frank Ober Lester Sheaffer, and Dennis Merrill
Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

1. The minutes of the January 22 meeting were approved 4-0.

2. Two warrants were signed.

3. Auditor’s report. After some discussion, the Board voted 4-0 to accept the independent auditor’s report for FY 12. Aaron has spoken with the auditor and determined what information must be printed in the town report. This includes the balance sheets on pp. 10-11, and any significant findings and recommendations (none were found for us). Also recommended is the management and analysis on pp. 2-8.

4. Fire Department. Scott Higgins briefly reported on the recent structure in Sommerville. Due to the cold, this was a very difficult fire and many departments responding had damaged equipment. Whitefield faired well in that regard. Scott pointed out that the hydrant in Coopers Mills was the only effective water source in the region. There are some rocks in the road near the hydrant that make plowing difficult. Some fill is needed. Since the area is near the Sheepscot River, a DEP permit may be needed; Steve will follow up.

5. Proposed warrant articles. The Board reviewed and discussed a list of possible warrant articles for the town meeting. Several of these are recommendations from MMA to make sure we are following State law. Othesr were variations of existing articles. Some are new ideas. No final decisions were made and not votes were taken; more discussion to follow.

6. File cabinets. The Board voted 4-0 to dispose of two fire resistant file cabinets in the Town Office. These have been in the storage room for many years and never used. They have little or no value.

7. Broadband. Dennis reported that the next round of State grants for expanding broadband is coming up. He has contacted Time Warner and FairPoint to see if either company has any interest in working with the Town.

8. General Assistance hours. The Board voted 4-0 to set new hours for accepting General Assistance applications. Applications will be accepted on Mondays 7 AM-Noon and 4-8 PM, and Fridays 7 – 10 AM.

9. Auto graveyard permit. The Board voted 4-0 to approve an auto graveyard permit for Whitefield Auto Recycling.

10. Executive session. The Board voted 4-0 to go into executive session to discuss a poverty abatement application pursuant to 36 MRSA §841. Following the session, the Board voted 4-0 to grant an abatement for the current year’s interest until June 1, 2013.

Assessors’ Actions

1. The Board voted 4-0 to grant an abatement to Ruth Ellen Cushing for property on Townhouse Road. The property is owner by her family but not by her. Dennis Binns will be responsible for the taxes and he will be issued a supplemental assessment.

2. The Board signed supplemental tax assessments for three properties previously voted on: Grady, McGuire and Tupper.

 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
February 5, 2013
Present: Steve McCormick, Frank Ober Lester Sheaffer, Tom Colpitt and Dennis Merrill
Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

1. The minutes of the January 29 meeting were approved 4-0-1.

2. Fire Department. Scott Higgins reported that the last two weeks have been busy with a mutual aid structure fire, a storm and chimney fires. The Department received 18-20 calls. The moisture problem in the equipment bay is much better; a dehumidifier, ceiling fans and a warmer thermostat setting contributed to this. The Department has received about $3,100 from the now defunct North Whitefield Fire Association. This money was reported to be from the Association’s fund raising. Possible uses for the money include audio visual equipment for training purposes, acoustic ceiling tiles in the station meeting room, uniforms and a contribution to the flag pole fund.

3. Drug policy. The Board and Chief Higgins discussed revisions to the existing drug policy to include advice from Maine Municipal Association (MMA). In general, it was thought that any use of drugs legal or illegal that impair a person’s physical or mental capacities should be prohibited for persons on duty for the Town.

4. Proposed warrant articles. The final list of warrant articles will be needed for next week. Steve and Dennis will work to finalize a draft to be voted on. Steve reported that he has received a verbal request on behalf of residents of Moosehead Lane to have that lane accepted by the Town for winter maintenance. The lane is paved and meets Town standards. After some discussion, it was decided to solicit a written request from the residents as the basis of a warrant article for the voter’s consideration. Also, we will need an estimate of how much the additional plowing would cost.

5. Excise tax. The Board voted 5-0 to propose using $300,000 in excise taxes to reduce property taxes next year.

6. Poverty abatement application. Dennis reported he is working on updating the poverty abatement application form. He has received some advice from MMA and will e-mail the present draft to other Board members.

7. Repaving. Aaron reported that the Maine DOT has sent a notice that it plans to repave Route 126 from the Pittston town line East for a distance of 5.6 miles. We will contact the DOT with concerns about improving the intersection of Rooney Road to improve the line of sight.

Assessors’ Actions

1. The Board signed an abatement previously approved for the Cushing property.

2. The Board heard from Terry Brann regarding her unimproved parcel on Sennott Road. The Town has the lot size at 5 acres, where the deed says 4.41 acres. Also, she reported that much of the land is wetland. Assessor’s Agent Tom Hayes said he has visited the property and found some wet areas; the parcel does have a developable base lot. Tom will develop a recommendation for consideration by the Board.

3. Dennis reported on this investigation of when lots can be combined. He has received advice from MMA and will circulate the email from MMA to other Board members and Tom Hayes. The issue is not straightforward or clear cut; a Town policy is probably in order.

 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
February 12, 2013
Present: Frank Ober Lester Sheaffer, and Dennis Merrill
               Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller
 Select Board actions
 1.      The minutes of the February 5 meeting were approved 3-0.
 2.      Two warrants were signed.
 3.      Town meeting warrant.  A draft warrant for town meeting was reviewed.  Formal consideration will be next week.  Aaron will obtain from the State the maximum allowable interest rate for overdue taxes.
 4.      Fire Department.  Scott Higgins and Lynn Talacko came in to address various issues:
 a.       The alarm system was serviced following a false alarm.  Northeast Security could not find a specific problem but suggests it may be a “blip” between their equipment and phone service provided by Time-Warner.  More discussion with the companies is needed and Aaron is facilitating this.
b.      Tim Chase has requested a letter from the Town stating it no longer uses the former fire station in North Whitefield.  Aaron will handle.
c.       Scott said he has received a note from the Brann family thanking the department for its work on the fire in Sommerville.
d.      There was discussion about handling donations to the department to ensure they are properly accounted for and used.
 5.      Donations to the Town.  The Board voted 3-0 to instruct the Treasurer to maintain separate, dedicated accounts for money donated to the Town.  Money will be disbursed by regular warrant with concurrence by the officials involved with the donation / activity, such as the Fire and Rescue Department.
 6.      Moosehead Lane.  A letter has been received from Greg Farris, a resident of Moosehad Lane, requesting that the lane be accepted as a town road.  This would involve both winter and summer maintenance, and would require action by the town meeting.  We will seek comments of the Road Commissioner and plowing contractor.
 7.      Seized animals.  Mr. Barnes has not appealed the court decision regarding the seizure of animals from his property.  Accordingly, the animals have become property of the Town.  On a vote of 3-0, the Board awarded ownership to the Lincoln County animal shelter.  Aaron will write a letter to the shelter.
 8.      Broadband expansion.  On a vote of 3-0 the Board endorsed a proposal by Time-Warner to apply for a ConnectME grant for extension of cable service down Wiscasset Road to the Alna town line.
 9.      County tax bill.  The Board voted 3-0 to send a letter to the County Commissioners requesting restructuring of Whitefield’s payments.  Currently, the bill is due in October and tax payments are due November 30.  Thus, the County taxes are due when the Town’s coffers are at about their low point.  This contributes to the Town having to take out a tax anticipation note.  By having the County taxes due December 15 and May 15, the situation would be much better, as they would follow local tax payments. 
 10.  Selectman’s report.  The Board voted 3-0 to approve a draft Selectmen’s Report prepared by Frank for inclusion in the town report.
 11.  DOT request.  The Board discussed a request from MeDOT to allow overweight construction vehicles on Town roads during the repaving of Rt. 126 next summer.  We will consult with the Road Commissioner.
 12.  Proposed legislation.  After a brief discussion, the Board voted 3-0 to support LD 136 that would require that State property tax “circuit breaker” payments be paid jointly to the applicant and town when back taxes are owed.  Also, we will invite our Representative and Senator to attend a Board meeting to discuss our concerns with State reductions to revenue sharing, school payments, etc.  Frank will follow up.
 Assessors’ Actions
 1.                  The Board signed a supplemental assessment for the Binns property.
 2.                  The Board approved an abatement for Terry Brann regarding her unimproved parcel on Sennott Road.  The Town has the lot size at 5 acres, where the deed says 4.41 acres.  Also, there is wetland on the parcel.  Assessor’s Agent Tom Hayes reported he visited the property and found the parcel does have a developable base lot.
 3.                  Tom Hayes said he is holding some requests for combining parcels pending development of a policy.
 4.                  Tom reported the schedule currently in use for assessing the value of outbuildings gives values that are too low.  Since all buildings are treated the same, no inequities are created but he will be looking at improving the schedule to more fairly represent true value.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
February 19, 2013
Present: Steve McCormick, Tom Colpitt, Frank Ober Lester Sheaffer, and Dennis Merrill
               Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

1.      The minutes of the February 12 meeting were approved 3-0.

2.      County tax.  Aaron reported that the County Administrator has informed him the due date for county taxes is set by law and cannot be adjusted.

3.      Mooshead Lane.  The Board voted 5-0 to not place a citizen request for town acceptance of Moosehead Lane on the warrant for Town Meeting.

4.      Fire Department.  Scott Higgins, Richard Parlin and Lynn Talacko came in to address various issues:

a.       EMA Director Parlin received a request from the County for a damage estimate resulting from the recent blizzard.  In Whitefield, no damages have been identified.
b.      The EMA program needs a laptop computer for record keeping and on-scene use. A suitable one is on sale for less than $300 and the Board authorized the purchase.
c.       There was a lengthy discussion about handling of donations to the Department.  For several years there has been a saving account for donations to the Rescue program, current balance about $3,400.  Recently, about $3,100 in donations to the former N. Whitefield association were transferred to the Town.  It was decided (4-0-1) to use the Rescue account for the money, with separate accounting and disbursement by regular warrant. 
d.      The Board voted 5-0 to authorize purchase of a television and DVD player for the Department.  This will be used for training purposes.  This will be paid for using donated money.  Total cost $591.13.

5.      Office computers.  Aaron reported that the old computers are acting up and not fully compatible with the new Windows 8 software on the newer computer.  It was decided 5-0 to purchase 3 computers at $350 each.  Additionally, we will lease Microsoft Office software for $100 per year to cover up to 5 computers.  This is cheaper than direct purchase and keeps up with future changes and updates.  With set up, the entire package will be about $1,500.

6.      Liquor license.  The Board voted 5-0 to return an application from Sheepscot Links for a renewal of its liquor license since the application was incomplete.

7.      Town meeting warrant.  The Board voted 5-0 to approve the proposed warrant for town meeting.  In doing so, it decided to propose using $30,000 in unspent appropriations from FY 12 to reduce next year’s taxes. 

8.      Town report.  Aaron said the town report is nearly completed and is being processed by the printers.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
February 26, 2013
Present: Steve McCormick, Tom Colpitt, Frank Ober Lester Sheaffer, and Dennis Merrill
               Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

1.      The minutes of the February 19 meeting were approved 5-0.

2.      Two warrants were signed.

3.      Plowing payments.  To be more uniform in making payments to the plowing contractor, the Board voted 5-0 to use the last warrant of the month and disperse the check the first of each month.

4.      Road sand.  Steve reported there have been more problems with metal in the sand used for the roads.  The metal appears to be part of the equipment use to screen the sand.  The metal has caused damage to the contractor’s equipment.  The pit owner – Frasier – needs to be contacted.

5.      Fire Department.  Scott Higgins reported that things have been pretty quiet, just a few calls.

6.      Time-Warner.  Aaron reported that Time-Warner has made payment of its 2012 franchise fee: $2,1542.67 for about 390 subscribers in Town.

7.      Tax acquired property.  Aaron reported the Town has foreclosed on 28 properties for non-payment of the 2010 tax bills.  The total owed is about $45,000.  Of these, four are in bankruptcy and any collection will have to be through the courts.  Aaron said he has contacted other towns and found that most take a more active role in pursuing delinquent accounts.  Some use formal payment contracts, although these can be problematic as the town becomes more deeply involved legally than may be advisable.  Others use their town lawyer to pursue payment.  Poverty abatements may be useful for some taxpayers who have had temporary problems such as illness or job loss.  In other cases, people may be in living situations that are beyond their long term means.  These are the most difficult situations.  Aaron noted some towns have policies or ordinances that set procedures addressing clearing foreclosed accounts.  After discussion, the Board agreed that we should look at some of these policies.  Also, we need to move forward to replace our town lawyer, Cliff Goodall, who has retired.

8.      Computers.  Aaron reported that new computers have been purchased and will be set up on Thursday.  Also, he will purchase a five computer license for Microsoft Office on a lease basis:  about $100 for a year.  This covers up dates and looks to be more economical that direct purchase.

Assessors’ Actions

1.                  The Board signed an abatement previously approved for the Brann property.

2.                  The Board met with a taxpayer who is having paying her taxes.  After some discussion, she was asked to review her financial situation and come back to the Board with a proposal for getting caught up.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
March 5, 2013

Present: Steve McCormick, Tom Colpitt, Frank Ober Lester Sheaffer, and Dennis Merrill
               Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

1.      The minutes of the February 26 meeting were approved 4-0.
2.      One warrant was signed.
3.      Town meeting.  The Board signed the official warrant setting Town Meeting and voting for March 16.  The 2012 Town Reports are in.
4.      Clary Lake dam.  The Town has received a letter from DEP stating the appeal by the dam owners to dismiss the water level petition has been denied.  Data collected on lake depths and characteristics will be made available to the parties for review and comment.  A decision may come this summer?
5.      Fire Department.  Scott Higgins reported that records of physicals for firefighters have been located and are on file.
6.      Tax acquired property.  Aaron reported the number of tax acquired properties has dropped to 23, excluding the four in bankruptcy.  He will be seeking advice from MMA on how to work on these issues.  It was noted that carrying properties as tax acquired results in the mil rate for others going up sli ghtly to cover them since they are effectively removed from the tax roles.
7.      Computers.  Aaron reported that new computers have been installed and are working well.  The new Windows 8 operating system caused some difficulties in getting everything set up and coordinated.  We have installed automatic virus scans and back-up in the cloud.
8.      Animal control.  The County has set up a meeting to discuss regional ACO services.  This will be on March 14 and Frank and Dennis will try to attend.
9.      Poultry processor.  The Board noted receipt of information from local residents of plans to set up a poultry slaughter operation on East River Road.  Wastewater from this would be spread on local fields.  This will require Planning Board approval.
10.  General assistance.  The Board noted receipt of a notice on reimbursement rates from the State.  No action is required as this does not appear to affect Whitefield.
11.  Office beautification.  Aaron reported a general clean up of the office is proceeding.  He is making arrangements to have the offices painted using county jail inmates for the labor. 
12.  Route 126 repaving.  The Board voted 5-0 to allow DOT contractors to use Town roads for over-weight equipment in conjunction with repaving of Route 126.  The DOT will have a bond posted in the event of damage.  It is unlikely the Town roads will actually be used.
13.  Worker compensation.  The MMA staff conducted an annual audit of Town records as part of its workers compensation insurance program.  No major issues were found.  We do need to verify that contracted workers are covered for workers compensations by their employers.

Assessors’ Actions

The Board voted 5-0 to abate back taxes on a tax acquired, totally dilapidated mobile home on Howe Road.  A quit claim deed will be issued back to the former owner.  The Assessor’s Agent will be asked to reduce the assessed value going

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
March 12, 2013
Present: Tom Colpitt, Frank Ober Lester Sheaffer, and Dennis Merrill
               Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

1.      The minutes of the March 5 meeting were approved 4-0.

2.      Two warrants were signed.

3.      Roads.  David Boynton reported that some gravel has been put on Piper Lane.  He has had calls on the condition of Jewett Lane and will go down there tomorrow.

4.      Deeds.  Quit claim deeds were signed for McEvoy (2), McCormick, Duncan and Solomon.

5.      Tax acquired property.  The Board had a general discussion about what to do with tax acquired properties.  Aaron has spoken with MMA about liability for these properties.  Generally, we have good immunity for occupied properties, but would need to review coverage if a property is unoccupied for more than 60 days.

Currently, we have 23 acquired properties with a total of about $91,000 in taxes owed. 

Aaron has copies of policies that other towns use to handle acquired properties.  The most common approach in these is to sell the property soon after foreclosure.  Other options include retaining the property for town use, repayment agreements with the former owner, charging rent, deferring action and using poverty abatements.  In discussing these options, the Board agreed that consistency and certainty are important for any policy while retaining some flexibility to address unique individual situations.  The Board’s goal is to develop a policy for Whitefield in the next 2-3 months.  In implementing a policy, it would be important to hold a public meeting on any proposal and to allow an implementation period for existing acquired properties.  Lester will review the other town’s policies.

6.      Office painting.  Aaron reported that he has arranged for county jail inmates to paint the interior of the Town Office.  This work will be done March 21 to 24 and the Town will only have to pay for materials and snacks for the workers.

7.      Map cases.  The Board agreed that the map case in the office can be replaced with a cabinet that will hold rolled maps.  Doing this will save a lot of space in the office.  Many of the maps now stored in the cases are outdated or incomplete.  The Historical Society would like to use the metal map case; the wooden one will need to find a good home.

8.      Liquor license.  The Board voted 4-0 to sign a liquor license renewal for Sheepscot Links.

9.      Photocopies.  The Board agreed to modify practices on charging for photocopies to allow residents to get a limited number of free copies of official documents that pertain to them, for example copies of their property tax cards.  The office staff should use good judgement in administering this.

10.  Late day customers.  Aaron noted that sometimes a person will come in with a lengthy transaction, such as a new car registration, right at closing time.  This seems to be especially so on Fridays.  While providing good customer service is important, sometimes the office staff has personnel commitments and they cannot stay, and overtime would need to be paid.  The office staff will use its judgement in handling these situations on a case by case basis.

11.  Maine Revenue Service review.  Dennis noted that the Maine Revenue Service was in the office today to review our property tax records and information.  Everything was in good order, with only a few recommendations for improvements.  The Town’s valuation based on comparison of assessed values to sales was 97%, as it was last year.  This allows the Town to use a valuation factor of 100% in getting State payments, etc.  It was noted that there have not been very many open market sales to evaluate.  Also, the State compares actual sales to assessed values that are based on replacement values, so something of a mismatch is created.

Assessors’ Actions

1.      The Board signed an abatement for the Solomon mobile home on Howe Road.

2.      The Board voted 4-0 to approve the following abatements.

a.       Peters property off Doyle Road to reduce the acreage of the parcel.
b.      The Sacks property to reduce the value of a porch.
 _______________________              ______________________    ________________________
Steven C. McCormick, Chair              Lester Sheaffer                       Franklin A. Ober

________________________            ______________________
Thomas Colpitt                                   Dennis Merrill

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
March 19, 2013

Present: Steve McCormick, Frank Ober, Lester Sheaffer and Dennis Merrill

Select Board actions

1.      The minutes of the March 13 meeting were approved 3-0-1. 

2.      Board Chair.  Steve McCormick was elected Chair of the Board for the ensuing year.

3.      RSU representative.  Lester was a RSU Board member but with his election as Selectman, he cannot serve out his term that expires on June 30.  Malinda Caron was elected to the RSU for the term beginning July 1.  The Board voted 4-0 to appoint Malinda to fill out the balance of Lester’s term.

4.      Roads.  David Boynton came in and reported he is in the process of grading gravel roads.  On Mar 21 he will be filling potholes with cold patch. 

5.      Informational request.  Lore Ford came in to get some information about tax commitments.  The process was explained generally and he was invited to look at the actual commitment papers at the town office. 

6.      Rescue calls.  Lynn Talacko came in and reported that the last weekend as a busy one for the first responders.  They had three heart attack calls.  Sadly, one of the persons had passed away before the crew arrived.

7.      Fire station use policy.  The Board reviewed the draft policy and questions came up about liability coverage what the station is used for non-town functions.  Dennis will check with MMA.

8.      Recycling job description.  The Board voted 4-0 to approve the draft job description for the recycling attendant.  The language was amended to emphasize clean up of the grounds and around the building.

9.      MMA property and causality pool.  MMA is requesting information for its property causality risk pool.  This pertains to the Fire Department so the request was passed on to the Fire Chief.

10.  FEMA meeting.  Information on a FEMA meeting in Lincoln County was passed on to the Emergency Response Director.

 

Assessors’ Actions

1.      Tom Hayes came in and reported all is going well.  He is finalizing information on the fair market value for CMP and gravel pit lands.
2.         Matt Floge came in to inquire about combining his contiguous lot.  The Board signed the appropriate paperwork to allow this.  He also asked about assessment of his land a shorefront.  Tom Hayes will follow up on this.  Matt can file for an abatement for this year if he wants to.

 

_______________________              ______________________    ________________________
Steven C. McCormick, Chair              Lester Sheaffer                       Franklin A. Ober

________________________            ______________________
Thomas Colpitt                                   Dennis Merrill

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
March 26, 2013
Present: Steve McCormick, Tom Colpitt, Lester Sheaffer and Dennis Merrill

Select Board actions

1.      The minutes of the March 20 meeting were approved 3-0-1. 

2.      Land question.  Scott Miller of Chelsea came in to inquire about a small parcel on Cooper Road he wants to buy.  Since the parcel is less than 1.5 acres, it is nonconformin.  The Board will send a letter to Mr. Miller saying it has no objection to the sale with that understanding.

3.      Roads.  David Boynton came in and reported things have been quiet.  On the budget, it appears that, including carry over form last year, there is about $4-5,000 remaining in the roads account.  David said there is no pending work. 

4.      The Board signed two warrants. 

5.      Boston Post Cane.  Libby Harmon came in and provided the Board with a proposed policy for awarding the Boston Post Cane.  The Board did not suggest changes, and she will finalize the draft with the Historical Society and come back with a policy for adoption.

6.      Fire station use policy.  Dennis got some clarification from MMA regarding liability coverage and has made some changes in the draft policy.  This will be circulated to Board members and the Fire Chief as a draft.

7.      Fire and Rescue.  Scott Higgins, Tim Pellerin and Lynn Talacko were present to discuss recent calls and concerns.  Chief Pellerin expressed his pride in the professional way Department personnel performed on a very difficult rescue call recently.  On March 27 there was a mid-morning auto accident on Town House Road.  Initially, no one was available from Whitefield.  Jefferson was called but had no one either.  Alna was able to respond.   The driver was not seriously injured and was removed from the vehicle by Louis Sell.  Also, on March 27 in the afternoon a chicken coop fire was reported on Hunts Meadow Road.  Pittston was first on the scene and did a great job in containing the fire on a very dry and windy day.  Whitefield, Alna, Jefferson and Somerville all responded.

These two calls on March 27 point out a serious problem with availability of personnel during weekdays.  Since most firefighters work out of town, this is not an easy problem to address.  Chief Pellerin noted that in some areas towns have combined resources to have a first response team that can cover several towns. 

It was noted that the amount of paperwork needed for the fire and rescue is very significant and under appreciated.  The hours required for this are far greater than that covered by stipends and salaries.  Someday, consideration could be give to a paid administrator to assume the paperwork duties and free up Department officers for fire and rescue duties.  The Board suggested that a record be kept to document the hours spend on records.

Finally, there was a general discussion on how to better inform the public about the amount of effort and activities of the fire and rescue personnel. 

 

Assessors’ Actions

1.      The Board reviewed a list of the older tax acquired properties.

2.      The Board discussed briefly discussed the situation with two parcels of land that are tax acquired but were subsequently sold by the party to another person.  Dennis will prepare a chronology of events in preparation for the parties coming in next week.

 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
April 2, 2013
Present: Steve McCormick, Frank Ober Lester Sheaffer, and Dennis Merrill
               Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

1.      The minutes of the March 26 meeting were approved 4-0.

2.      Fire Department.  Chief Higgins came in to discuss the lease for the Kings Mills and Coopers Mills stations.  The initial leases expired last fall but each has an automatic renewal clause so they are still in effect.

3.      Clary Lake.  Paul Kelley of Pleasant Pond Mill LLC (PPM) and George Fergusson of Clary Lake Association were present.  PPM is initiating a proceeding with the State DEP to relinquish ownership of the dam impounding Clary Lake.  This is a complex process with multiple steps.  The Town will be involved in a number of ways.  To get a better understanding of the process, the Town will arrange a meeting with the DEP. 

4.      Executive session.  Pursuant to 1 MRSA §405(6)(A), the Board voted to go into executive session to discuss a personnel matter.  Following the session, the Board voted 4-0 to hire Kyle Emerson as Animal Control Officer. 

5.      Executive session.  Pursuant to 1 MRSA §405(6)(A), the Board voted to go into executive session to discuss a personnel matter.  Following the session, the Board voted 4-0 to appoint Dorothy (Dolly) Burns as an alternate attendant at the Recycling Center.

6.      Tax acquired property.  The Board continued its discussion of how to handle tax acquired property.  Lester is working on a policy, with the major concern on those properties with occupied buildings.  Frank and Dennis reported on their recent visits to those properties and their general findings.  The Board decided to move forward with the sale of eight parcels with no buildings and two parcels with dilapidated buildings.  Ads will be placed in multiple papers and perhaps on the Town’s web site and posted around Town.  The date for bid openings is May 7.

7.      Recycling.  Following recent problems with trash being left at the Recycling Center, the Board discussed placing a sign making it more clear that only authorized recyclable materials may be left at the center.  Also, the Recycling Committee is in the process of soliciting proposals from civic organizations for receipt of returnable cans and bottles donated at the center. Proposals will be due May 1.

 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
April 9, 2013
Present:  Frank Ober Lester Sheaffer, Tony Marple and Dennis Merrill
               Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

1.      The minutes of the April 2 meeting were approved 3-0-1.

2.   Two warrants were signed.

3.      Fire Department.  Several members of the Department and fire associations were present to discuss event insurance.  When the Department holds an event, such as a fundraiser, the Town’s insurance applies.  However, when the associations hold an event they must obtain separate insurance since they are not part of the town government.  For the past several years the associations have been able to get insurance through a company allied with MMA.  That company is pulling out of business in Maine.  The associations will need to shop around for private event insurance.  There will be a follow up discussion in two weeks.

4.      Clary Lake. George Fergusson of Clary Lake Association was present for a discussion of the next steps in the matter of Pleasant Pond Mill LLC’s petition to surrender ownership of the dam.  Dennis and Aaron have met with a representative of DEP to better understand the upcoming process.  The most immediate concern is the need to hold a special town meeting by the end of May.  The purpose, as stated in the law, is for the town to act on the issue of dam ownership.  George said his preference for disposition of the dam would be an inter-local agreement between Whitefield and Jefferson to own the dam and lease it to the Clary Lake Association that would maintain and operate the dam.  His second option would be for the lake association to assume ownership directly.  We will continue to collect information and prepare to hold a special town meeting.

5.      Sam’s Club.  The Town’s membership in Sam’s Club is expiring.  After some discussion it was decided to renew the membership and obtain Sam’s Club credit card so sales tax can be avoided.

6.      Bank of Maine.  Aaron reported he has closed two of the three accounts the Town has at this bank: a general savings account and an account for donations made to the rescue service.  A CD owned by the Town will mature in June and that account will be closed then.  All money will be put in the Kennebec Savings Bank.  Thus, all of the Town’s banking, except trust funds, will be consolidated in one bank.

7.      Sanitation concern.  A resident came in to report a problem with living conditions at a residence on East Pittston Road.  The mobile home has about 8 people and 4 dogs living in it.  There is a lot of trash in the yard, causing odor and attracting rats.  There is also some concern for the welfare of children living there.  The Code Enforcement Officer visited the property last Friday but no one was home at the time.  We will follow up with the CEO, Health Officer and DHHS, if appropriate.

8.      Tax acquired property.  The Board continued its discussion of how to handle tax-acquired property.  A policy from Gray that uses public auctions in addition to sealed bids was discussed.  The concept of using a real estate broker to market properties and get a price closer to true value was also discussed and Dennis will explore this further.

9.      Citizen’s forum.  Tony reported that a citizen’s forum to encourage more involvement in town government has been arranged for April 25 at Sheepscot General.  The agenda may include community issues, future directions, development, comprehensive planning, the Clary Lake dam and the road budget.

10.  Tax maps.  Dennis reported that work to digitize our tax maps under a State grant has been completed.  He and Tony will visit the contractor this week.  This first phase created an electronic file of all parcels in town.  However, more work will be needed to create traditional tax maps and this is not covered by the grant.

11.  Town attorney.  Dennis reported contact with one potential candidate for town attorney to replace Cliff Goodall who has retired.  That person seems to be promising.  Aaron will contact another person.  Interviews will be set up.

Assessor’s actions

None.

 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
April 16, 2013

Present:  Steve McCormick, Frank Ober Lester Sheaffer, Ton Marple and Dennis Merrill
Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of the April 9 meeting were approved 4-0-1.

 

2.   Whitefield Day.  On a vote of 5-0, the Board declared September 14, 2013, to be Whitefield Day.

  1. Clary Lake. George Fergusson and Ellis Percy of Clary Lake Association were present for a discussion of the next steps in the matter of Pleasant Pond Mill LLC’s petition to surrender ownership of the dam.  After some discussion, the Board, on a vote of 5-0, set a tentative date of May 22 for a special town meeting to act on the town’s ownership of the dam.  The wording of warrant article(s) has yet to be worked out, pending more information.  In advance of the meeting we will hold a public meeting to inform voters and receive feedback that may help in framing the warrant.  The lake association would be willing to own the dam, but would prefer that it be owned by Whitefield and Jefferson through an inter-local agreement.  The issue will be discussed by the Jefferson select board next Monday.

 

  1. Electrical work.  Gerry Maldovan came in regarding electrical work he will be doing for the Historical Society.  He presented his electrician’s and insurance papers for the Board’s review.  All was in order.
  1. Rescue activities.  Lynn Talacko reported that last Sunday was a busy day for the rescue service, with three calls, one of which was very serious.  On that call, response time and coordination with Life Flight was very good.

 

  1. Tax acquired property.  The Board continued its discussion of how to handle tax-acquired property.  Lester is working on a draft policy.  Dennis reported that real estate brokers he contacted would be willing to market tax acquired properties and a commission rate of 8% - 10%.  One has provided this service for Jefferson.  Aaron will prepare a draft letter to be sent to former owners by regular mail discussion the Board’s intent to move forward in clearing tax accounts.
  1. The Board signed a quit claim deed to William Poore for property off Mills Road.

 

  1. Tax maps.  Tony and Dennis met with Spatial Alternatives, the firm that has prepared a digital tax map of Town under a State grant.  That work is valued at about $5,000, and produced a single map of the entire Town with all parcels shown.  However, the grant did not cover making traditional tax maps with property line distances and other annotations.  To complete this phase of the work, the cost will be about $2,000.  The general consensus of the Board was to move forward with this work.  Someone from the company is willing to make a presentation to the Town to demonstrate the capabilities of digital mapping and GIS systems.  We will set this up in coordination with the Planning Board. 
  1.  Credit card limit.  Aaron requested that we raise the limit on the Town’s credit card from the current $1,500.  The Board voted 5-0 to sign a letter authorizing the limit be set at $3,000.

 

  1. Fire station lease.  It has come to light that the lease with Coopers Mills fire association did not have the annual lease payment amount filled in.  To correct this oversight, we will make arrangement to have the lease re-signed.
  1. Computer back-up.  Aaron reported that our “I-Drive” back up for computer data has exceeded it 5GB limit for free service.  The Board voted 5-0 to authorize an annual fee of $50 to increase the storage capacity.

 

  1. General assistance.  The quarterly paperwork for partial State reimbursement of GA expenses was signed.
  1. Historical Society.  The Board voted 5-0 to sign a form from the Historical Society acknowledging their receipt of old tax maps from the Town.

 

Assessor’s actions

Jim Davidson of Benner Lane came in to discuss his application for a veteran’s
exemption.  He is a WWII vet and the DD214 form typically used to document service is not available to him.  Due to delays in getting proper documents, he missed the April 1 deadline.  The Board voted 5-0 to approve the exemption retroactively to April 1.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
April 23, 2013

Present:  Steve McCormick, Frank Ober Lester Sheaffer, Tony Marple and Dennis Merrill
Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of the April 16 meeting were approved 5-0.

 

2.   Two warrants were signed.

  1. Quit claim deed.  The Board considered revisions to a deed signed last week but not filed when new information became available.  The parties named on the foreclosed property are going through a divorce and the wife requested the new deed be issued in her name.  Without solid documentation, the Board decided not proceed.

 

  1. Sprit of America.  Judy Maldovan came in to receive the Board nomination for this year’s Spirit of America award.  Judy is active in the Union Hall and volunteers her time as secretary for the Planning Board.
  1. Clary Lake.  An informational meeting is set for April 30 at 7 PM.  We will prepare a short handout describing the process for the surrender of the dam.  A tentative date for a special town meeting is May 22.  Frank and Dennis attended the Jefferson Select Board meeting on Monday; their special town meeting will probably be May 21.

 

  1. Town attorney.  Kristin Collins of Kelly and Collins came in to meet with the Board as a candidate for town attorney.  She described her firm’s experience, approach to addressing various municipal legal matters and fees.  We will meet with additional candidates in the next two weeks.
  1. Tax acquired property.  The Board continued its discussion of how to handle tax-acquired property.  Lester will be emailing a draft policy soon; this is most relevant to occupied properties.  For vacant land, the Board will move ahead to sell these.  Aaron provided a letter to be sent by regular mail to former owners of record in an additional attempt to allow them to redeem the properties.  We will prepare an RFP for real estate brokers in the area, and a advertisement will be placed in the Lincoln County News on May 2.  RFP’s will be due May 10.  We will work with the selected firm to develop a contract for marketing of selected properties.  Other parcels of land will be sold by sealed bids.

 

  1. Fire station alarm.  The alarm system has been having numerous false alarms in recent days. The problem seems to be with telephone communications.  Aaron has met with both Northeast Security and Time-Warner who provides telephone service.  Time-Warner has twice replaced its modem units, without the problem being fully solved.  It was noted that the Town Office has experienced interruptions in telephone and internet service as well. 

 

  1. Sanitation problem.  Aaron visited a property on Gardiner Road that has been the subject of complaints about junk, trash and rats.  The dwelling is rented and on several visits the CEO has not been able to make contact with the residents.  Aaron will work with CEO to contact the property owner regarding violations on the property. 

 

Assessor’s actions

Robert Brann of Northeast Lane came in to discuss the back taxes on land owned by his son and abutting his land.  Mr. Brann’s home in actually on his son’s land.  A building on the son’s land burned 2-3 years ago and there is large garage not in the Town’s records.  The taxes assessed on the two parcels do not match what is on the ground.  Assessor’s Agent Tom Hayes who was also present will research the situation and prepare recommendations to the Board.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
April 30, 2013

 

Present:  Steve McCormick, Frank Ober, Lester Sheaffer, Tony Marple and Dennis Merrill
               Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of the April 23 meeting were approved 5-0.

 

  1. Quit claim deed.  The Board signed a revised deed to replace one signed previously but not recorded.  As a result of a divorce proceeding, the ownership of the property has changed hands.
  1. Town attorney.  Peter Drum came in to meet with the Board as a candidate for town attorney. He described his firm’s experience, approach to addressing various municipal legal matters and fees.  We will meet additional candidates in the next two weeks.

 

  1. Tax acquired property.  The Board approved a request for proposals from real estate brokers interested in marketing tax-acquired properties.  An ad will be run in this week’s Lincoln County News and proposals will be due May 10.  Aaron will be sending out first class letters to former owners of all tax acquired properties this week.
  1. Sanitation problem.  Aaron reported he has contacted the owner of the rented property on Pittston Road having a trash problem.  The owner has taken prompt action to have the mess cleaned up. 

 

  1. Meeting at Sheepscot General.  Tony reported on the meeting held last Thursday at Sheepscot General to discuss ways to encourage more public participation in town affairs.  The meeting had good attendance and a number of good ideas came up.  There was a follow-up meeting this morning.  The possibility of combining or coordinating web sites was discussed, as was a community calendar, a community newsletter and a hiking trail map.
  1. Bank signature cards.  The Board signed new signature cards for Kennebec Savings Bank to update following the March elections.

 

  1. The Board reviewed various correspondence received recently: CMP is doing line transmission line upgrades in Town; a thank-you letter from Kristin Collins, an attorney who met with the Board; a poverty abatement has been received and requires action within 30 days.

Clary Lake Public Meeting.

At 7 PM the Board opened a public meeting to receive comments on the pending petition by Pleasant Pond Mill LLC (PPM) for release of ownership of the Clary Lake Dam.  This is under the consideration by the State DEP.

Tony began the discussion by presenting an overview petition process.  A handout copy of this overview is attached.  It was noted that the dam ownership matter is independent of the pending process to set a water level in Clary Lake.

Prior to opening the meeting for general discussion and questions, the Board considered and signed two letters regarding Clary Lake.  The first was to PPM requesting an asking price and costs to the Town should it want to acquire the dam.  PPM manager Paul Kelley was present to receive the letter.  The second letter was to the State DEP.  Dennis reported that the DEP has contacted PPM asking for proof of ownership of the dam’s flowage rights and asking such information be submitted by May 13.  The Board’s letter noted that this turn of events and timing upsets the timeline for the Town to hold a special town meeting by the end of May.  The letter asked for prompt determination on the flowage rights issue so as to try to keep process on schedule or to avoid calling of an unnecessary town meting.  In a related matter, the Board decided to move the special town meeting date from May 22 to May 30.

In the extensive discussion and questions that followed, many issues and questions came up.  These included:

Ownership of the building on the dam and would ownership of the dam create a liability issue for the Town.  It is owned by a separate company, Aquafortis Associates (AA) and is treated as a structure on but not part of the land.  The house can be moved off the dam.

The mill building on the other side of the road, owned by AA, is on the National Registry of Historic Buildings.  The house on the dam is listed as a “contributing property”.

There was discussion of DEP’s administrative process and how this may affect the Town’s obligations and the process going forward.

In response to a question, PPM manager Kelley said the dam has no commercial use and represents a cost liability.  Its structural condition is unknown as no engineering study has been done.  A Clary Lake Association (CLA) representative noted they have requested permission from PPM conduct a study at the Association’s expense.

PPM discussed the history of ownership for the dam and mill buildings.  The history of title to the properties and relationship of owners are complicated.

The dam has a mortgage held by a Mr. Arthur Enos. 

The flowage rights are currently held by AA. 

CLA stated it would accept ownership of the dam if clear title and flowage rights can be conveyed.  They would operate the dam in accordance with a water level order.

The role and status of AF going forward is not clear and the Town should attempt to contact AA.  AA may have a development interest.

In response to a question, the Board stated it is not aware of any illegal acts by PPM.

If the Town were to own the dam, it would be possible to fund costs through the use of a special assessment tax applied to real estate taxes.  This assessment would be only on lake front property owners.  To make such an arrangement equitable, Jefferson would need to participate. 

 

Assessor’s actions

None

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
May 7, 2013

Present:  Steve McCormick, Frank Ober Lester Sheaffer, Tony Marple and Dennis Merrill
               Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of the April 30 meeting were approved 5-0.

 

  1. Roads.  David Boynton was present and reported the town roads came through the winter quite well.  He is completing cold patching potholes.  He has received an offer of discounted price on culverts from Prescott Company, provided $5,000 worth are purchased.  Since the town can use that amount, he will purchase some.  David, Frank and Tony will review the work to be done on Townhouse Road: culverts, ditching and paving.
  1. Fire Department.   Scott Higgins reported he has received a letter regarding the old radio frequency the Department no longer uses.  This frequency may be of use to the RSU, and he will contact them.  The Department has purchased an air pack and hose.  They are within their budget as the end of the fiscal year approaches.

 

  1. Tax acquired property.  The Board discussed the draft policy for sale of tax acquired properties currently under development.  Dennis will add some edits to what Lester has done.
  1. Meeting with residents.  The Board met with five residents who have properties foreclosed due to non-payment of taxes: Robert Bills, Howe Road; Nancy Rilpey’s representatives, Townhouse Road; Wanda Stickney, Hilton Road; Robert Barnes, East River Road; and Vickie Holbrook, S. Hunts Meadow Road.  In each case the particular situations, concerns and options were discussed and the persons agreed to investigate ways to get caught up.

 

  1. Clary Lake.  Paul Kelley met with the Board regarding notices for his consultation on surrendering ownership of the dam; he now plans to hold private meetings with individual property owners instead of a public meeting.  He also discussed flowage rights for the dam vs. the lower dam and mill building.  Following discussions with Paul, the Board voted 5-0 to seek legal counsel to resolve questions, especially flowage rights, that may come up in the special town meeting to be held later this month.
  1. Sweeper.  Steve reported the Jim Brann would like to purchase a sweeper unit for the lawn tractor.  The Board was in agreement with this.

 

Assessor’s actions

None

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
May 14, 2013

Present:  Steve McCormick, Frank Ober, Lester Sheaffer, Tony Marple and Dennis Merrill
               Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of the May 7 meeting were approved 5-0.

 

  1. One accounts payable warrant was signed.
  1. Fire Department.   Scott Higgins reported he has been advised the old radio frequency the Department no longer uses should be retain as a contingency.  There is no cost to do this, and Scott will do the paperwork.  In response to numerous problems with the station’s phone and alarm systems, Aaron got Time-Warner to agree to terminate their service contract.  Fairpoint can offer the same service (2 phone lines and internet) for much less money.  Scott was in agreement with making the change, provided the DSL service will be adequate; he will check out the service.  The Board vote 5-0 to swap the service, provided Scott is satisfied that the DSL will be adequate.

 

  1. Town attorney.  The Board met with Mary Dennison of Lake and Dennison to discuss her firm’s services and charges.  She was formerly associated with Cliff Goodall, our previous attorney who has retired.  Following the meeting, the Board voted 5-0 to retain Lake and Dennison, pending a routine reference check. 
  1. State valuation.  The Town has received the State’s formal valuation.  After getting more current sales information, Whitefield’s State Valuation is set at 99%.

 

  1. Foreclosed property.  The Board met with Kathy Bartlett to discuss possible arrangements to pay the back taxes on vacant land on Jefferson Road.  Ms. Bartlett will do some additional evaluation of her situation and come back to the Board in early June.
  1. Tax acquired property.  The Board discussed the draft policy for sale of tax acquired properties currently under development.  Lester will be working on the final draft.  The Board also reviewed responses to the request for proposals from real estate brokers to market tax acquired properties.  Proposals were received from Rock Maple Realty, Black Duck Realty and Rizzo-Mattson.  After some discussion, the Board voted 5-0 to retain Rizzo-Mattson.  At this time, arrangements are being made with several former owners so no properties will be sold immediately, but the broker is available when needed.

 

  1. Bottle club license.  On a vote of 5-0, the Board approved renewal of a bottle club license for the Lion’s Club.
  1. Clary Lake.  Paul Kelley was present as the Board discussed Pleasant Pond Mill’s response to the Town’s request for an asking price and transfer cost for the dam to be provided to voters at a special town meeting.  The information was not provided and Mr. Kelley noted that coming to a selling price would be subject to negotiations that should be conducted under a non-disclosure agreement. 

 

On a related matter, the Board discussed the warrant articles for the May 30 special town meeting.  The general intent will be to ask the votes if they want to have the Board negotiate a possible purchase of the dam, with a final proposal to be voted on by the Town.  MMA has provided some suggested language and Aaron will forward that to Board members.  Unless there are objections, that language will be used.  Also, the Board voted 5-0 to include an article that would carry forward unused appropriations for legal services into next year to provide some funding to support negotiations should the Town vote to go that way.

  1. Quit claim deeds.  Quit claim deeds to David Newton, David and Annie Mellor and Shane and Iva Michaud were signed.

 

Assessor’s actions

1.  The Board met with Robert Brann and assessor’s agent Tom Hayes to discuss Mr Brann’s son’s foreclosed property.  Mr. Brann’s home is on his son’s land.  The son’s home burned two years ago, and there is a large garage that has never been taxed.  Mr. Brann’s home has been assessed for more than its value, and records indicate the Town’s description of the home was not accurate.  To correct all of these conditions, an abatement on Mr. Brann’s home and a supplemental charge and abatement on his son’s buildings were approved.  All of these will go back three years.  Mr. Brann will be paying off the remaining balances on the properties.

 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
May 21, 2013

Present:  Steve McCormick, Frank Ober, Lester Sheaffer, Tony Marple and Dennis Merrill
               Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of the May 14 meeting were approved 5-0.

 

  1. Two warrants were signed
  1. Fire Department.   Scott Higgins discussed the requirements and restrictions for burning buildings for training or disposal purposes.  Asbestos must be removed prior to a burn and remaining ash must be tested for lead and disposed of according to the results. 

 

  1. Fire station.  Erick Ekholm and Lynn Talacko were present to discuss installing a tile ceiling in the meeting room to improve the acoustics.  Erik estimates that the materials would cost about $1,200, with more needed for fastenings, etc.  The Board voted 5-0 to authorize up to $1,500 to purchase materials.  Installation will be using volunteer labor.  Aaron will apply for a Lowe’s credit card that will allow the Town to get a discount. 
  1. Fire association insurance.  Erik Ekholm reported on his efforts to obtain event insurance for the Kings Mills Fourth of July celebration.  Since the Town’s insurance covers the building and equipment for Kings Mills, it creates an unusual situation for event liability.  Normally, such insurance comes with the building, but in this case private association events are not covered by the Town’s policy.  Some of the events are on the Union Hall’s or other adjoining properties.  In a related action, the Board voted 5-0 to authorize the parade itself as a Town sanctioned event, pending designation of event coordinators. 

 

  1. Tax acquired property.  The Board discussed the draft policy for sale of tax acquired properties currently under development.  Comments on the current draft should be sent to Lester during the next week, providing copies to all Board members.
  1. Clary Lake.  Paul Kelley was present as the Board discussed Pleasant Pond Mill’s position on a recent letter from the State DEP.  In that letter, the DEP informed PPM that it has determined that PPM’s application for abandoning ownership of the dam was deficient since proper notification requirements were not followed.  The DEP provided an opportunity for the application to be withdrawn and resubmitted to cure the error.  If not, the application will be rejected at the end of the consultation process.  Mr. Kelley stated he believes PPM had followed proper procedure and the DEP is incorrect; he did not indicate the application would be withdrawn.

 

  1. Special Town Meeting.  The Board voted 5-0 to call a Special Town Meeting for May 30 at 7 PM at the school to consider ownership of the Clary Lake dam.  Copies of the Warrant were signed.  The Board reviewed a draft of a handout for the Town Meeting to help voters understand the issues.
  1. Pike Industries.  Aaron noted Pike Industries has the State contract to pave Rt. 126 and is looking for a location to stage their operations.  They could possibly use the salt shed area.  Aaron will discuss this with the company.

 

  1. Heating fuel contract.  Lincoln County is considering a bulk fuel purchase for county towns.  We will follow this and compare prices.  One concern is any cost to exchange propane tanks as needed.

 

Assessor’s actions

1.  Five abatements previously approved for the Branns on Northeast Lane were signed.

 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
June 18, 2013

Present:   Steve McCormick, Frank Ober, Lester Sheaffer, Tony Marple and Dennis Merrill
               Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of the June 11 meeting were approved 4-0-1.

 

  1. Two warrants were signed.
  1. Roads.  David Boynton reported he has put up some sand for next year.  Also, three loads of salt were delivered.  He noted that brush along Doyle Road badly needs to be cut back; he will get an estimate from contractor for mechanized cutting.

 

  1. The former owners of a property on Hollywood Boulevard came in and told the Board they want to reclaim the property and will have the money by the end of July. 
  1. Tax acquired property policy.  The Board formally adopted the policy for handling of tax acquired properties on a vote of 5-0.  This will be sent to the former owners of presently foreclosed property.  In conjunction with this, the Board discussed repayment agreements, using an MMA model agreement as a basis.  It was concluded we should ask the Town’s attorney to meet with the Board to further the discussion.

 

  1. Budget.  With the current fiscal year coming to an end, the Board reviewed the status of the various accounts.  The Town will end the year with some money left over.  On a vote of 5-0, the Board authorized the Treasurer to move money from other lines (e.g. insurance and winter roads) to administration to cover a deficit created by Gywn’s leaving and taking unused vacation time.
  1. Emergency management.  EMA director Richard Parlin came in to inform the Board of training being conducted at the County on hazard mitigation grants.  He will be attending and Board members are welcome to go as well.  He will forward information to Aaron for distribution.

 

  1. Auditing services.  Tony presented a draft request for proposals for auditing firms.  He will finalize and send to selected firms.
  1. The Board signed quit claim deeds to Brann on Northeast Lane, Holbrook on S. Hunts Meadow Road and Taylor on Stone House Court.

 

  1. Heating fuel.  The Board voted 5-0 to accept the propane pre-buy offered by Fielding’s.  For fuel oil, we will wait until July, as the market is not settled at this time.
  1. Executive session.  Pursuant to 1 MRSA, Section 405(6)(e), the Board voted 5-0 to go into executive session to discuss a poverty abatement situation.  Following the session, no action was taken.

 

 

 

Assessor’s actions

Tom Hayes came in to present an abatement for Jordan on Jewett Road.  This was decided some time ago, but the paperwork did not get completed.  It resolves a situation where some land was sold and was still taxed to the former owner as well as the buyer.

 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
June 25, 2013

Present: Steve McCormick, Lester Sheaffer, Frank Ober, Tony Marple and Dennis Merrill
               Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

  • The minutes of the June 25 meeting were approved 3-0-2.

 

  • Two warrants were signed.
  • Home office request.  The Board received a request from the owner of Peace of Mind Health Care to support an application to the State for licensing.  A letter verifying that having a home office to support the business was permissible under Town ordinances was signed.

 

  • Fireworks ordinance request.  The Board received a request from a resident asking that an ordinance banning firework be proposed.  Fire Chief Scott Higgins was present and said he is not aware of any complaints about the use of fireworks in Town.  The resident will be advised on the petition process to get a proposed ordinance before the Town Meeting.
  • Fire department.  Scott Higgins noted that snow plowing last winter dug up some lawn area at the Coopers Mills station.  The area in question should be staked off next year.  Scott will investigate options for repairing the damage.

 

  • Cemetery usage.  A resident came in with a question about the cemetery ordinance.  Specifically, she wanted to know how many cremains could be buried in a full size plot at Coopers Mills.  The Board determined that four would be appropriate and consistent with the ordinance.
  • Tax acquired property.  The Board reviewed a letter prepared by Aaron to be sent to seven former owners of tax acquired properties.  The letter transmits the new policy and asks that people make arrangements to meet with the Board.

 

  • Whitefield Day.  The Board discussed insurance needs for vendors.  The Town’s insurance does not cover private vendors on Town property for individual liability.  A statement should be sent to each prospective vendor making it clear they are not covered by the Town and advising them to secure their own insurance.
  • Planning Board.  The Board received and voted 5-0 to accept the resignation of Bob Bills from the Planning Board.  Three other members of the Planning Board were present to participate in a discussion of a replacement for Bob.  Desirable characteristics of a person would include:

 

  • Someone having knowledge of relevant laws and procedures;
  • A person who is a “planner” rather than one who reacts to situations;
  • Someone who has good communication skills and can reach out to the public;
  • Someone how has an interest in town affairs and wants to participate; and
  • A person who has a relatively long history in Town and is willing to look forward.

The Board and Planning Board members discussed several persons who generally fit these characteristics and may be willing to serve.  Some of these will be contacted to see if they would like to be considered.

  • Appeals Board.  A replacement is needed for Pat Jennings who has moved out of Town.  Dennis noted the John Delvecchio may be interested and will contact him.

 

11. Fox Farm land.  The Town owns several acres of land on Route 17 that is being held for potential use as a recreational area.  There are no plans to develop the land at this time.  Local farmer Rufus Percey approached the Board about using the land to raise grain.  The land is currently going to brush and Rufus is willing to bush hog the land at no cost so he can better evaluate its suitability for crops.  If it is suitable, he will return to have further discussions with the Board.  To move forward, he would like to get a five-year lease to be able to recoup his investments in tilling and fertilizing the land.  Rufus would keep a buffer along the Sheepscot River to protect the river and to allow public access to the water.  The Board was agreeable to this approach.

  • Executive session.  Pursuant to 1 MRSA, Section 405(6)(e), the Board voted 5-0 to go into executive session to discuss a poverty abatement situation.  Following the session, no action was taken.

 

  • Payments of stipends.  The Board had a discussion about payment of stipends, some of which are paid in advance of work having been done.  This policy probably should be changed, but as part of a comprehensive personnel policy now under development.  Until that happens, existing practices will continue so we do not make abrupt changes without warning.
  • School budget vote.  The Board discussed its concerns about the recent school budget validation vote that was held on a Friday.  Friday is poor day to hold an election as voter turnout is likely to be low.  Additionally, the vote was on the last day of the fiscal year, making it very hard on town clerks who must deal with end of year issues.  A letter expressing these concerns will be sent to the RSU.

 

Assessor’s actions

None.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
July 9, 2013

Present: Lester Sheaffer, Frank Ober, Tony Marple and Dennis Merrill
               Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of the July 9 meeting were approved 4-0.

 

  1. Roads.  David Boynton reported he had checked with a tree company about clearing brush on the Doyle Road and was given an estimate of $2,000.  This is higher than the price for a mechanical cutter and the consensus is to go with that equipment and see how well it does.  David said the recent rains have been hard on gravel roads and he has been adding gravel and doing grading.  David is obtaining quotes for paving of Townhouse Road.  Finally, there was a general discussion of various techniques that could be used to improve and maintain gravel roads.  There was consensus that it might be good to form a citizen’s advisory committee to review road maintenance concerns.
  1. General assistance.  Monthly general assistance report forms to DHHS were signed.

 

  1. Planning Board.  On a vote of 4-0, the Board voted to appoint Glen Angel to the Planning Board, to replace Bob Bills.
  1. Appeals Board.  On a vote of 4-0, the Board voted to appoint John DelVecchio to the Appeals Board, to replace Pat Jennings.

 

  1. Tax acquired property.  The Board discussed a situation with a tax acquired building that does not have insurance.  The Board felt that it should have liability insurance, and this could be obtained either by the former owner or through the Town’s coverage, with the cost being added to the price for repurchase of the property.  Aaron will investigate.
  1. Whitefield Day.  The Board discussed a brief notice to be given to participants in Whitefield Day informing them of their need to obtain liability insurance for their own activities.

 

  1. Newsletter.  The ad hoc group working on the newsletter is planning to publish monthly for the next few months.  The cost of printing will be deferred by donations and small ads.  The Town accountant says it is fine to use the town books to receive and disperse the money.  The Board agreed this would be appropriate to do.  No Town money is involved.  The situation will be reviewed in six months.

9.   Moosehaed Lane.  A letter was received from Greg Farris, a resident of Moosehead Lane, requesting the Town take over that road.  The Board voted 4-0 to place the question on the warrant for the next regular town meeting.

  1. Executive session.  Pursuant to 1 MRSA, Section 405(6)(e), the Board voted 4-0 to go into executive session to discuss a poverty abatement.  Following the session, the Board voted 4-0 to abate the property taxes for a property in Town.

 

  1. Townhouse Road properties.  Iva Michaud came in to discuss repurchase of the family’s two parcels on Townhouse Road formerly owned by Nancy Ripley.  Michaud is in the process of obtaining a loan and would like a statement from the Town of Whitefield to the bank.  After some discussion, Tony said he would receive a telephone call from the loan officer to discuss the process.  As to the dilapidated buildings on the properties, Mrs. Michaud said they plan to have the barn, house and two mobile homes knocked down.  Metal will be recycled, shingles will be taken to the dump, some lumber will be sold.  Their intent is to have all debris cleaned up by the end of the summer.
  1. Fire Department.  Scott Higgins expressed some concern with keeping some parking spaces open at the fire station for emergency responders when there are meeting, etc. taking place at the station.  More discussion to follow.

 

  1. Aaron reported he will be away for required training on September 10 and 11.

 

Assessor’s actions

  1. Combining lots.  The Board discussed a proposed policy on combining lots owned by the same persons.  Tom Hayes said he has shared the draft with other assessors and they all thought it was fine.  The only question the Board had was whether or not to allow lots across a road to be combined.  More research is needed on this and the proposed policy will be reconsidered in a couple of weeks.

 

2.   Abatement.  Tom Hayes was present to discuss the assessment he did at the property formerly owned by Bob Bills.  Tom found the acreage in the Town’s records was too high, and should be reduced to 20 acres.  Of that amount, four acres should be classified as wasteland since it is the site of the old town dump and is therefore not developable.  Tom also found the buildings on the property were over assessed due to state of completion, condition and age.  Tom recommended a new total value for the property of $103,858, which the Board agreed with and voted 4-0 to approve an abatement to that amount for the FY 2013 tax year. 

 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
July 16, 2013

Present: Steve McCormick, Lester Sheaffer, Frank Ober, Tony Marple and Dennis Merrill
               Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of the July 9 meeting were approved 4-0-1 with a spelling correction.

 

  1. Two warrants were signed.  Since there is no new school budget, the monthly payment is in the same amount as for last year.
  1. Tax acquired properties.  Aaron reported he was advised by MMA that the former owner of a tax acquired property is liable for claims against the property, so long as the property is not abandoned.  Aaron will contact Bob Bills regarding a repayment agreement and ask that an amended version be signed as soon as possible.

 

  1. General assistance.  Monthly general assistance report forms to DHHS were signed.
  1. Fire station lease.  Aaron obtained a completed copy of the lease agreement for the Coopers Mills station.  The lease is self-renewing if no changes are proposed.  The Board voted 5-0 to extend the lease without changes.

 

  1. Jewett Road.  The Jewett Road is reportedly in poor condition and has had a lot of logging truck traffic of late;  residents have called to request repairs.  David Boynton will do the work within the week.
  1. Road Committee.  After some discussion, the Board decided to form a citizen committee to evaluate and develop long range plans for maintenance of town roads.  We will seek 5-7 members for the committee, and the group’s duties will include:

 

  1. Assess the condition of the town’s 39 miles of roads by using Department of Transportation or other suitable evaluation tools.
  2. Develop short and long-term plans for maintaining and improving the town’s roads.
  3. Consider alternative approaches to road maintenance and improvement.
  4. Assist in the preparation of the town road budget and potential financing arrangements.
  1. Whitefield Day.  The Board decided to keep the Recycling Center open on Whitefield Day.  Parking and traffic will be reviewed to avoid conflicts.

 

  1. Fire station.  Frank spoke with a neighbor of the fire station and discussed two issues.  There was no concern with using the area for Life Flight helicopters.  Since the station’s construction, drainage has been altered and the abutting land is wetter than it was.  We will enlist the help of a resident who is a soil scientist to evaluate the situation.
  1. Recycling program.  Dennis reported the Recycling Committee is considering placing a “Planet Aid” clothes collection box at the Recycling Center.  There has not been much interest from local roofing contractors in replacing the building’s roof; we will place an ad in the newspaper to solicit bids.

 

  1. Auditing services.  Aaron reported he has had some questions about the Town’s request for proposals for annual auditing services.  The audit firms were concerned with a one-year arrangement as that was not enough to develop a sound relationship.  The Board decided to amend the request to a three-year basis.
  1. Executive session.  Pursuant to 1 MRSA, Section 405(6)(e), the Board voted 4-0 to go into executive session to discuss a poverty abatement situation.  Following the session, no action was taken.

 

 

Assessor’s actions

An abatement for the Bob Bills property approved last week was signed.

 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
July 23, 2013

Present: Lester Sheaffer, Tony Marple and Dennis Merrill
               Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of the July 16 meeting were approved 3-0.

 

  1. Tax acquired properties.  Aaron reported he has checked with MMA and we have the necessary coverage for the former Ripley property.   The Board discussed the general status of tax acquired properties, including the Fenderson land on Rt 218 and the Bills property.  A more thorough discussion will be scheduled for the first meeting in August.  In the meantime, Aaron will continue to reach out to former owners.
  1. Budget update.  Aaron presented a beginning of the fiscal year overview of the budget.  Currently, the general fund has about $615,000 available.  After some discussion, Aaron will investigate the terms for use of monies in the various trust funds, the status of a revenue sharing carry over amount and how to show carry-over balances on the expense summary report.  In a related discussion, the Board noted we are not currently accepting credit cards and Aaron will look into setting up a credit card payment system.

 

  1. Paving bids.  A bid for paving about 2 miles of Townhouse Road has been received from Pike Industries.  Historically, bids have been solicited from contractors known to have the capability to pave public roads; the Board discussed the possibility of also placing an ad in the paper to ensure transparency.  Tony will contact David Boynton and discuss the concept with him.
  1. Local roads grant.  Aaron has received word that the State grant to aid with local roads maintenance will be $50,640.  This is down about $9,000 from what we have received for several years.  On a related issue, there has been no interest from citizens in joining the roads committee.

 

  1. Combining lots policy.  The Board discussed the draft policy but withheld action until all Board members could be present.  The primary question is if to allow combining lots across the road if owned by the same person.  Dennis reported has called several towns in the State and found most towns do not permit this practice.
  1. The Lincoln County annual report is available.  Lester pointed to the section on the recycling program and suggested we post this at the recycling center so people can see how the program saves money by selling materials collected.

 

  1. One door at the town office needs replacement as it is rusting away.  The budget includes money for the door, but a carpenter will be needed.

 

 

Assessor’s actions

  1. A poverty abatement approved last week was signed.

 

  1. Tom Hayes came in to report that a parcel of back land was assessed to the wrong party and an abatement and a supplemental assessment will be prepared to correct the situation. 

 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
August 13, 2013

Present: Frank Ober, Tony Marple, Lester Sheaffer and Dennis Merrill
               Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of the August 6 meeting were approved 3-0-1.

 

  1. Recycling.  Members of the recycling committee came in to discuss placement of a Planet Aid clothing collection box at the Recycling Center.  Clothing collected is reused or recycled for fiber.  The company placing the box will assume liability and maintain it; the Town will receive five cents per pound of clothing collected.  The Board voted 4-0 to enter into a one-year contract for the box.
  1. Septic system grants.  Aaron reported he has received a letter from the Department of Environmental Protection regarding possible grants to correct malfunctioning septic systems that are causing environmental or nuisance problems.  We will look into this program further to see if there are any situations in Town that could benefit.

 

  1. Flood insurance.  Sue Baker representing the State came in to give a presentation on the Federal flood insurance program.  Most towns in the State do participate, although Whitefield does not.  The program would provide property owners with flood insurance if they are within a mapped flood zone.  There is no cost to the town, but an ordinance would have to be adopted.  Updated flood zone maps are currently being prepared for Lincoln County and drafts will be available this fall.  In terms of building, there is some possible overlap between this program and Shoreland Zoning rules.  Also, more research is needed to determine if there would be any practical benefit to the Town in cases of disaster assistance if the flood insurance program was adopted in town.

On a related note, Aaron report he received an e-mail from AquaFortis, the owner of Clary Lake Mill, supporting the Town joining the program.

  1. Auditing services.  Representatives of Berry, Talbot and Royer came in to meet the Board and explain their firm’s services in response to our request for proposals for annual auditing services.  Two more firms will be coming in the next weeks.

 

  1. Tax acquired properties.  The Board met with former owners of two tax acquired properties to discuss reclaiming the properties.  One party was interested in a repurchase agreement and will get the paper work from the town office on Friday.  The other party is pursing a bank loan; the Board offered to meet with the bank if that would be helpful.  The Board voted 4-0 to sell the former Miller property on Cooper Road by sealed bid.  The family has previously indicated they did not want the land.
  1. Two warrant were signed. 

 

  1. Tax commitment.  Aaron reported that he has received legal advice from MMA on what value to use for the school budget in calculating the tax commitment.  The law stipulates that the budget passed by the RSU’s open town meeting that occurred on Aug 12 will stand unless and until another budget is adopted.  Thus, if the validation vote to be held on Sep 10 fails, the budget adopted on Aug 12 should be used for the tax commitment. 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
August 20, 2013

Present: Steve McCormick, Frank Ober, Lester Sheaffer and Dennis Merrill
Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

  • The minutes of the August 13 meeting were approved 3-0-1.
  • Auditing services.  Christian Smith, a representative of Macpage came in to meet the Board and discuss his firm’s capabilities and services for the Town’s annual audit.  They have multiple municipal clients and an office in Augusta.  He estimated the audit work would take about 100 hours and a report would be available about a month after the fieldwork is done.
  • Fire department.  Scott Higgins came in to report the last month has been a busy one.  All engines have had their annual tests and all passed.  Air packs have also all been tested successfully.  The department is forming a truck committee to examine the needs for replacement equipment moving forward.  They hope to have recommendation for the next annual town meeting.  The department has two applicants firefighter; one is also an EMT.  Scott has had a request to burn a building and he is evaluating this as the structure does offer some training opportunities.  Aaron noted the MMA has safety grants of up to $2,000 and Scott will look into how the Town can benefit; the application deadline is the end of September.
  • Auto graveyard permit.  The Board reviewed an application from Paul’s Pick a Part for an auto graveyard permit.  This is actually just a change in name and not new operation.  Aaron reported the CEO has not had any complaints on the operation.  The paperwork appeared to be possibly incomplete and Aaron will investigate.
  • Tax acquired properties.  Aaron reported he has met with Patrick Thayer who is willing to enter into a repurchase agreement; he expects the paperwork to be returned on Friday.  The Miller heirs parcel on Cooper Road is being advertised for sale by sealed bid; notice also need to be made to abutters. 
  • Personnel policy.  Aaron reported he has received an e-mail from MMA’s legal service regarding the use of medical marijuana.  Essentially, town employees cannot be on the job under the influence.
  • Tax commitment.  Tom Hayes was present and updated the Board on the tax commitment.  He has a few loose ends to clean up, but the total valuation is down slightly from last year.
  • Salt shed door.  Aaron said a second firm will be coming on Wednesday to provide an estimate on repairs to the overhead door at the salt shed.  The Board voted 4-0 to allow Aaron to proceed with the work using the most favorable proposal.
  • Recycling building.  There has not been any new interest from contractors in replacing the recycling build’s roof.  Aaron will investigate placing an ad in the Kennebec Journal.
  • Worker’s compensation.  Aaron noted that MMA is refunding $1,178 to the Town on its worker’s compensation insurance since we have been claims free.
  • Winter sand.  The Board voted 4-0 to put purchase of winter sand out to bid.  Some sand is already in place, but the proposal will be for up to 4,000 yards.  The bid date will be Sep. 6 and bids will be opened Sep. 10.
  • November election.  Aaron said it appears there will be a State referendum on Nov 5.  He recently went to training on the vote counting machine the State is making available to the Town.  The machine will be used at this election.  The Board discussed hand counting the ballots as well to develop local confidence in the machine.

Assessor’s actions

Tom Hayes was present to participate in discussion of several issues.

  • Fenderson property.  The Fenderson lot of about 1.4 acres on Hilton Road has been assessed as having a building and base lot.  The building was removed several years ago and the lot, due to its size, is non-conforming and should not have a base lot.  The Board voted 4-0 to abate the past due taxes for the building and base lot. 
  • Ripley property.  Tom reported the mobile homes on the tax acquired Ripley property on Blue Goose Lane have no significant value.  The Board voted 4-0 to abate the value to reflect no buildings and one base lot.
  • Ripley Property. Tom reported the house, barn and mobile home on the tax acquired Ripley property on Townhouse Road have no significant value.  The Board voted 4-0 to abate the value to reflect no buildings and one base lot.
  • Combining lots policy.  After some discussion, the Board voted 4-0 to adopt the draft policy for combining lots owned by the same person. 
  • Requests to combing lots.  The Board considered some requests that had been filed to combine plots:
  • The Board was not inclined to combine lots owned by Sam Bartlett on Mills Road since one parcel has a commercial structure.
  • The Board voted 4-0 to combine three undeveloped lots on Devine Road owned by Proknee Corp.
  • The Board was not inclined to combine lots owned by Tim Chase on opposite sides of Grand Army Road for that reason.  (One lot is non-conforming and has not base lot so combining would not make and practical difference in taxes.)
  • Other requests are pending and will be acted upon at the next meeting.  Most appear to be in line with the newly adopted policy.  One request was to combine parcels across Crocker Ave, a discontinued town road.  While this may not be consistent with the policy, the property owner could also consider requesting reduced valuations based on the parcels being remote.

Assessor’s actions

  1. None

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
August 27, 2013

Present: Tony Marple, Frank Ober, Lester Sheaffer and Dennis Merrill

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of the August 20 meeting were approved 3-0-1.

 

  1. Auditing services.  Wanda Ring of Cummings, Lamont and McNamee was present to discuss her firm’s proposal for auditing services going forward.  This firm has a long history of doing the Town’s annual audit.  She would expect to have a report 4-5 months after the end of the fiscal year.  She stressed the need for internal controls in a small municipal office.
  1. Auditor.  After some discussion of the interviews, the Board voted 4-0 to engage Berry, Talbot and Royer to do the Town’s annual audit for the next three years.  Of the three firms interviewed, this one had the lowest price.

 

  1. Two warrants were signed.
  1. Supplemental assessment.  The Board signed a supplemental assessment for the McCormick property off Wiscasset Road as part of a correction of assessing records also involving Savings Bank of Maine.

 

  1. Tax rate.  Dennis noted he has done some preliminary calculations on the tax rate for the upcoming tax bills.  It appears there will be an increase of half a mil or less.  The Board also discussed briefly topics to be included in a letter to be included with the tax bills.

 

Assessor’s actions

Tom Hayes was present to participate in discussion of several issues.

  1. Fenderson property.  The combining the Fenderson parcels at Map 7 Lots 41 and 42 was approved 4-0.

 

  1. Clark property. The combining the Clark parcels at Map 20 Lots 10c and 9b was approved 4-0.
  1. Chase property. The combining the Chase parcels at Map 15 Lot 27 Map 26 Lot 28D was approved 4-0.

 

  1. Chase property 2.  The combining the Chase parcels at Map 26 Lots 2 and 15 was approved 4-0.  One of these parcels is the former North Whitefield fire station by its deed reverted to Mr. Chase when the fire association dissolved.
  1. Woodbury property. The combining the Woodbury parcels at Map 11 Lots 33 and 34 was approved 4-0.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
September 3, 2013

Present: Steve McCormick, Tony Marple, Frank Ober, Lester Sheaffer and Dennis Merrill
               Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of the August 20 meeting were approved 4-0-1.

 

  1. Fire Department.  Scott Higgins was present to update the Board.  He will meet with Aaron to review needs to be submitted to MMA for a possible safety grant.  There was a discussion about evaluating the Coopers Mills station to see if there are cost-effective insulating steps that can be taken.  Scott will arrange a visit with someone from the Coopers Mills Association.  Scott will contact David Boynton about grading the area behind the station for Lifeflight landings.  Tony will work with Scott on this.  Jim Brann will be giving us an estimate for upgrading some wiring to accommodate the new 230-volt air compressor.
  1. Warrant.  A warrant setting the RSU budget vote for Sep 10 was signed.

 

  1. Tax Anticipation Note.  Aaron reported a TAN will be needed and he is working with our bank to set this up.
  1. Auto graveyard.  The paperwork for renewal of an auto graveyard under the name of Paul’s Pick A Part will be forwarded to the CEO as an evaluation of compliance is needed.

 

  1. Ripley properties.  A family representative came in to say she has a substantial amount of the past taxes and will have the remainder in the next several weeks.  As required by the CEO letter, provisions will be made to knock down the existing buildings and the family will clean up the debris.  This will occur after the taxes are paid and a deed is conveyed.  (See assessor’s actions below.)
  1. Tax commitment.  Tom Hayes was present to assist the Board in a discussion of the annual tax commitment.  There was a discussion of the various expenses and revenue available, including $38,761 in revenue sharing money carried forward from FY 12.  Preliminary information indicates the mil rate will be 15.1.  Tom and Aaron will double check the information and Dennis’ e-mail and update the spreadsheet for review.  It is anticipated the commitment will be finalized for next week. 

 

  1. County budget.  The annual Lincoln County budget advisory committee meeting will be held on September 12.  Frank and Dennis will try to attend.
  1. FEMA flood maps.  We have received draft new flood zone maps from FEMA for the Town’s review.  In general, they show less area being subject to floods.  Tony and Dennis will review the maps with an eye toward areas where there are buildings to try to determine if any are at risk. 

 

  1. Sale of tax acquired property.  The Board discussed possible sale of the former Kathy Bartlett property on Rt 126.  One option would be to allow Kathy to market the parcel and use some of the proceeds to pay off the taxes.  Dennis will run this by the town’s attorney.
  1. Fire station generator.  There is some question if the generator at the fire station is running on auto start as it should.  Aaron will check to see when the annual service is due.

 

Assessor’s actions

Ripley properties.  The Board voted 5-0 to grant abatements for two parcels on Townhouse Road and Blue Goose Lane in recognition that buildings on the parcels have no value.

  1. Proknee property.  The Board signed of an abatement for Proknee Corp. resulting from combination of three lots into one in a 2011 deed.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
September 10, 2013

Present: Steve McCormick, Tony Marple, Frank Ober, Lester Sheaffer and Dennis Merrill
              

Select Board actions

The minutes of the September 3 meeting were approved 5-0.

  1. Two warrants were signed.

TAN. The Board signed a letter of application to obtain a tax anticipation note.

  1. Roads.  David Boynton was present and noted that the South mile or so of the middle Hunt’s Meadow Road is his next priority for repaving.  This segment is from Route 126 North.  The road in this area is also narrow and really needs to be widened.  David will evaluate the work and come up with an estimate.  He will also look over Moosehead Lane that will be voted on for Town acceptance next March.

Winter road sand.  The Board voted 5-0 to authorize David Boynton to coordinate putting up the balance of the winter sand.  Since some has already been done, David estimates about 2000 yards more will be needed.

  1. Salt shed door.  Some repair work has been done on the salt shed door.  We have also received an estimate to replace the three bottom panels of the door for $1,063.  Action on this was tabled to get more information and to investigate the advisability and cost of replacing the entire door, as it has been the source of continuing trouble and cost.  Dennis will follow up with Aaron.

Tax commitment.  Tom Hayes was present to assist the Board in a discussion of the annual tax commitment.  After discussion about revenue sharing monies, overlay and other aspects of the budget, the Board voted 4-0-1 to set the mill rate at 15.25 mils for the FY 14 tax bills.  The commitment papers were signed. 

Assessor’s actions

Ripley properties.  The Board signed abatements previously approved to remove the value of dilapidated buildings on these two parcels.

  1. Proknee property.  The Board signed a supplemental assessment for Proknee Corp.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
September 17, 2013

Present: Steve McCormick, Frank Ober, Lester Sheaffer and Dennis Merrill
               Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

  • The minutes of the September 10 meeting were approved 4-0.

 

  • A check for MPX company was signed.  This is for the printing of the tax bills.
  • Fire Department.  Scott Higgins was present to discuss several issues:

 

  • He has received an estimate of $572.82 for electrical work to wire the new air compressor.  The Board voted 4-0 to authorize that work.
  • Engine 2 is going in for service to correct a leaking tank.  This work is under warranty.
  • During the thunderstorm last week, the Fire Department generator failed to start, and a late night service call was necessary.  There is an issue with the gas supply.  Steve will check the pressures tomorrow morning.  Aaron has scheduled the annual service visit and this can be coupled with whatever repairs are needed.
  • Scott is working on a grant application to MMA for safety equipment, including a flammables cabinet, traffic cones and safety vests.
  • The Department has new member who is a professional firefighter and EMT in Westbrook. Due to his work schedule, he may be available during some weekdays.
  • Credit cards.  Aaron is working on getting the Town to accept most major credit cards, and the Board voted 4-0 to authorize this and signed the papers for the bank’s use.  A separate account is being set up for the credit card payments to keep that activity completely separate from the Town’s general account.  The cost to use a credit card will be 2.45% of the transaction amount for purchases over $40; $1 for purchases under that amount.

 

  • Land sale bids.  The Board opened sealed bids received for the tax-acquired parcel of land on Cooper Road, formerly owner by the Miller estate.  The bids were:

David Spicer                           $1550
Laura Kinney                          $2291.56
Bill and Gail Brooke               $5500
Randolph Sherwood               $7700

The Board vote 4-0 to award the Town’s interest in the property to Randolph Sherwood.

  • Whitefield Day.  The Board voted 4-0 to send letters of appreciation and thanks to Sue McKeen and the Lions Club for their work and donations respectively in making Whitefield day a success.

 

  • Repurchase agreement.    The Board signed a repurchase agreement with Patrick Thayer and Sara Mae Edgerly for the repurchase of their tax-acquired property on Petticoat Acres Lane over a two-year period.
  • DAR request.  The Daughters of the American Revolution sent a letter asking that the Town declare the week of September 17 to 23 as “Constitution Week”.  The Board voted 4-0 to do this and signed the proclamation to the effect provided by the DAR.

 

  • The Board voted 4-0 to approve a draft letter to taxpayers to be sent with the tax bills.  Note will be made in the letter that the Town can accept credit cards.

Assessor’s actions

Tom Hayes was present to participate in a discussion with Bill Gauvin about the value of two buildings at 168 Main St.  Mr. Gauvin asserted that the buildings were in poor condition and are worthless.  He wants to demolish them.  A part of one building has been taken down since April 1 of this year, and it was pointed out to Mr. Gauvin that annual taxes must be based on what existed on April 1. Tom recommended reducing the value for the total property (buildings and land from $183,628 to $117,727.  Due to a computer glitch, the tax bill will be sent out at an amount about $19,000 higher and this will be fixed.  Mr. Gauvin was given an abatement request form in the event that he is not satisfied with the revised valuation.

 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
October 1, 2013

Present: Steve McCormick (arrived late), Tony Marple, Frank Ober, Lester Sheaffer and Dennis Merrill
               Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

 

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of the September 24 meeting were approved 3-0-1.

 

  1. Quit claim deeds were signed for Nancy Ripley, Mark Fenderson and Randolph Sherwood (purchase of parcel on Cooper Road).
  1. Clary Lake dam.  Pleasant Pond Mill representative Paul Kelly came in to discuss his recent filing of second petition to abandon the dam.  A request for a 180-day extension has been granted for the first application.  The purpose of the second petition is not clear.  Mr. Kelley agreed that preserving the dam and lake level would be the best outcome and the best way to achieve that goal would be to use a third party mediator.  Mr. Kelley said there has not been an offer to buy the dam that conforms with the law.  He provided estimated costs for repairing the dam, $30,000-$40,000 but noted that restoring the water level could lead to lawsuits. 

 

  1. Potential legislation.  Board members received a letter from Sen. Chris Johnson soliciting ideas for legislation.  The letter was received after the deadline.  As an alternative, the Board decided to invite our legislators to a meeting to discuss our concerns.
  1. Community TV.  Mary Ellen Crowley of Community TV in Newcastle will come in on Oct 29 to discuss expansion of public access TV in town.

 

  1. Winter salt.  One load of salt will be ordered for delivery on Friday and this will allow completion of stockpiling sand and salt for next winter.
  1. Safety equipment grant.  Aaron reported the grant application to MMA for safety equipment has been filed.

 

  1. State valuation.  We have received the State’s valuation for Whitefield:  taxable value of $186,100,000 as of April 1, 2012. 
  1. Budget review.  The Board had a general discussion about the current year’s budget and where we stand with expenditures.  Most budget lines are on track for where we are in the budget year.  The budget report needs to include county and school lines to present a complete picture of expenditures. 

 

  1. Proceeds from sale of property.  The Board discussed what to do with any extra money from the sale of tax acquired property.  One option is to return the extra money to the former owner.  The other is to retain the extra in the Town’s surplus account.  On a vote of 5-0, it was decided to pose the question to voters at the annual town meeting.  In the meantime, no action will be taken to sell property where this situation would be an issue. 
  1. The Board voted 5-0 to go into executive session to discuss an application for general assistance.

Assessor’s actions

The Board signed abatements previously approved for Bradley Bowde n and William Gauvin.

 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
October 15, 2013

Present: Tony Marple, Frank Ober, Lester Sheaffer and Dennis Merrill
              

 

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of the October 8 meeting were approved 4-0.

 

  1. Personnel policy.  The Board discussed a first draft of a personnel policy based on a MMA template and policies from other towns in the State.  Les will make edits and updates accordingly for further discussion.
  1. Quit claim deed.  Scott Miller Sr. came in to discuss with the Board title to property he owns on Cooper Road.  He purchased this last year with a warranty deed.  He now wishes to grant an easement over the land and a title search found an undischarged tax lien from 1955.   The Town has no record of this still being an outstanding lien on the parcel and what happened is not clear, perhaps a clerical error.  The Board voted 4-0 to issue a quit claim deed for the parcel to Mr. Miller to remove any question.

 

  1. The Board noted a letter from Knox-Lincoln Soil and Water Conservation District announcing its annual awards banquet.
  1. The Board noted a form letter from the Maine Municipal Bond Bank informing us that the federal sequester of funds will effect the interest rate on the Town’s loan.  Federal funds are used by the bond bank to buy down interest rates to municipalities and without that money, towns will have to absorb the difference.  The amount is not yet known, we will wait for additional information.

 

  1. The Board voted 4-0 to purchase a laptop computer for general use in the town office.  This can be of help with general record keeping, research, work with electronic tax and other maps, roads data, etc.
  1. Executive session.  Pursuant to 1 MRSA, section 405(6)(A), the Board voted to go into executive session to discuss a personnel matter.  Following the session, no action was taken.

 

Assessor’s actions

Two poverty abatements previously approved were signed.

 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
October 22, 2013

Present:  Steve McCormick, Lester Sheaffer, Tony Marple, Frank Ober, and Dennis Merrill
               Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of the October 15 meeting were approved 4-0-1. 

 

  1. Two warrants were signed.
  1. Fire Department.  Scott Higgins noted Department staff has met with the Alna department to review truck specifications to see if there may be some advantage in considering a joint purchase proposal.  Scott also said claims arising from an arson fire in Pittston are pending.  Costs to the Town include medical treatment for an injured firefighter, equipment damage, truck usage, and personnel time.  Claims are submitted to the Fire Marshall’s Office and it is unknown how long or if payment will be made.

 

  1. Clary Lake.  Aaron reported he has received word from the state DEP that Pleasant Pond Mill LLC has filed a second application for abandonment of the Clary Lake dam. Thus, the Town will be obligated to hold another special town meeting to determine what action the town wants to take regarding ownership of the dam.  The Board decided to hold the meeting November 19 at 7PM at the school following a regular Board meeting.  The topic will be discussed again next week.
  1. Plowing and sanding contract.  Based on a vote last February, the Board decided to continue the practice of paying the plowing and sanding contractor the first of each month.  Aaron will prepare a warrant for next week’s meeting.

 

  1. Recycling building.  Aaron expects the contractor to replace the recycling building’s roof the last week of the month.  Materials can be delivered on Monday and stored in the building and CMP will be contacted to shut off the power to provide a safe work area.  Dennis noted the Recycling Committee would like to purchase signs for the plastic containers to better control sorting.  The Board had no objection.
  1. General assistance.  The quarterly reimbursement forms for DHHS were signed.

 

  1. Personnel policy.  Les distributed an updated copy of the draft personnel policy, which the Board discussed.  Most of the discussion centered on the sick time component of the EBT can be “banked” for long term illnesses or injuries.  A large amount of time creates a liability if an employee leaves.  The Town does not offer disability insurance, but this could be looked into as an alternative to a large bank of sick time.
  1. Road committee.  The Board reviewed a draft charge to the prospective road committee as guidance for the group to begin its work.  There was discussion on finalizing members of the committee, and Board members will call persons who may be interested during the next week and further discussion / finalization of the committee will occur next week.  The intent is to hold an initial meeting of the committee with the Board on November 12.

 

  1. November 5 meeting.  Due to the general election, the Nov 5 Board meeting will be held at the Town Office.  Aaron will notify the press of this change.
  1. Efficiency Maine.  The Board discussed ways to inform the public of Efficiency Maine grants to assist with insulation and energy conservation projects.  Hopefully, those having a hard time with heating or energy costs can become involved.  Persons receiving grants do have to provide co-payments of up to $200.

 

Assessors’ Actions

  1. Tom Hayes was present to discuss several abatement requests:
  2. For 32 Irish Lane, Tom presented both an abatement and supplement assessment to reflect the fact a mobile home on the property belongs to a new owner.  The Board approved these 5-0.
  3. The Board voted 5-0 to grant an abatement to Pat and Robin Chase for a building on E. Dexter Lane that had been assessed as finished but in fact is gutted on the inside.  The building measurements on file were incorrect and the condition is lowered.
  4. The Board voted 5-0 to deny a request by a Mr. Olsen to combine lots on both sides of Howe Road as this is not allowed by the policy on combining lots.
  5. The Board voted 5-0 to approve an abatement for R. Mairs on Irish Lane to correct for lot size and lot improvements not accurately reflected in the Town’s files.
  6. The Board voted 5-0 to approve an abatement for Ron Malloy on Irish Lane to reflect that his parcel has a septic system but no well.
  7. The Board voted 5-0 to combine three lots owned by Sam Bartlett off Mills Road.  This resulted in two abatements and one supplemental assessment.

 

  1. The Board discussed with Tom Hayes the general assessing workload.  Currently, Tom is not able to make routine visits to properties to ensure the records are correct and current.  Tom noted that in responding to requests to look at properties, he finds many are not valued correctly.  To keep up to date, we should be making routine checks every four years.  Tom will prepare a proposal for getting this accomplished. 

3.  The Board discussed with Tom tracking compliance with tree growth.  Changes to State law in recent years have tightened requirements for tree growth.  Tom has a few parcels that he needs to follow up on.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
October 22, 2013

Present:  Steve McCormick, Lester Sheaffer, Tony Marple, Frank Ober, and Dennis Merrill
               Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of the October 22 meeting were approved 5-0. 

One warrant was signed.

  1. Clary Lake.  Due to his involvement in mediating discussions between Clary Lake Association and Pleasant Pond Mill, Tony recused himself from discussions on Clary Lake  dam.  Aaron will prepare a warrant for a special town meeting on Nov 19 at 7 PM for consideration next week.  The article will be the same as used for the previous town meeting on this subject. 

Audit.  Aaron reported the auditing firm will be here on Nov 12 for the annual audit. 

  1. Recycling building.  Work on replacing the roof on the recycling building is underway.
  1. Salt shed.  The contractor has ordered the parts for repairs to the salt shed overhead door and expects to do the work next week.
  1. Public access television.  Mary Ellen Crowley of Lincoln County Television came in to discuss the possibility of having LCTV programming carried by Time Warner cable in Whitefield.  The station, channel 7, provides services for many Lincoln County towns, covering meetings, events, schools, etc.  They also have a community bulletin board.  Some assistance in producing local programming may be possible.  We would need to negotiate with Time Warner to get access over their system, although federal law does require the service be provided.  LCTV does get funding for its programming costs from 10 of the towns it serves.  A total of $50,000 is assessed to the towns using a formula based on population and the number of subscribers in town.  Mary Ellen will get a cost estimate for Whitefield.  This issue could be considered at a town meeting to see if residents would want to have LCTV in town.

Personnel policy.  There was a continuation of discussions on a personnel policy, focusing on how to address earned time.  Aaron provided lists of what other similar sized towns offer for vacation and sick time.  Tony noted that MMA offers income protection plans at a reasonable cost that could be used as an alternative to employees “banking” lots of unused earned time.  Other ideas for managing accrued time could include keeping money appropriated for EBT in a non-lapsing account, buy-backs of unused time, requiring that a certain percentage of time be used each year and limiting the size of an accrued bank.  A large bank of unused time represents a liability to the town that needs to be managed better than has been in the past.

  1. Road committee.  There has been some success in finding residents to serve on the road committee, although more contact is needed.  We will plan to meet Nov 12 at 7 PM with those interested in the committee.  The one-page description of the needs and directions for the committee can be sent to members in advance of the meeting.

Ripley property.  Iva Ripley came in regarding a quit claim deed recently issued to her mother Nancy Ripley.  The family had expected the deed to have been made out to Iva.  Aaron will follow up.

  1. Fire station energy audit.  An audit at the Coopers Mills station still needs to be scheduled.

Foreclosures.  The Board would like to get a list of upcoming foreclosures in order to identify any properties the Town would not want to take over.  Also, the Board can try to work with people to avoid foreclosure if possible, as it may be easier to make financial arrangements before a property becomes tax acquired.

  1. Assessing needs.  After a brief discussion, the Board agreed that more discussion will be needed to get a better understanding of the scope the assessing job, to be continue next week.

Executive session.  Pursuant to 1 MRSA section 405(6)(A), the Board voted 5-0 to go into executive session to discuss a personnel matter.  Following the session, no action was taken.

Assessors’ Actions

  1. Abatements previously approved for Chase, Bartlett, Malloy, and Jackson were signed.

Tom Hayes presented the annual State valuation report.  This is based on the tax commitment.  The Board voted 5-0 to approve the report that will now be submitted to the State.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
November 5, 2013

Present: Lester Sheaffer, Tony Marple, Frank Ober, and Dennis Merrill
              

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of the October 29 meeting were approved 4-0. 

 

  1. Three warrants were signed.
  1. Clary Lake.  The Board signed a warrant for a special town meeting to be held on Nov. 19 at 7 PM at the school to discuss possible town ownership of Clary Lake Dam.  The warrant article is the same language as that used in May.  George Fergusson was present and provided a brief update on Jefferson who will hold a similar meeting on Nov. 18.  The Board also discussed the lack of a decision by the state on lake water levels.  The language of a letter to our legislative representatives was approved.  This will be shared with Jefferson in hope they will take similar action.

 

  1. Fire Department.  Scott Higgins was present to discuss several topics with the Department.
  1. The furnace at Coopers Mills is not working, so we need someone to make repairs.  On a related note, the Board discussed getting furnace service contracts for the three fire stations and the town office.  We will ask Aaron to follow up on this.
  2. We will schedule an energy audit of the Coopers Mills station with Frank, Scott, Dennis and someone from the station participating. 
  3. Scott met with David Boynton to get an estimate for installing a helicopter landing pad behind the fire station for use by Life Flight.  The estimate for the pad and access drive was $5000 to $6000.  Contact with Life Flight will be made to see they would participate in funding. 
  4. Scott reported the generator was not running and he called the service company who gave him the information to get it running.  Scott indicated he is will to supervise maintaining and checking the generator; it is set to come on Mondays when the fire crew is at the station.  He will follow up on renewing the generator’s service contract.
  5. The Board voted 4-0 to enter into a mutual aid agreement with Bristol.
  6. Scott is working through radio frequencies as the FCC license renewal is coming up in January.
  7. Meetings continue with equipment manufacturers to get specifications for a new pumper-tanker truck.

 

  1. Personnel policy.  There was a continuation of discussions of the draft personnel policy.
  1. Road committee.  We will meet Nov 12 at 7 PM with those interested in the committee.  

 

  1. Budget process.  The Board discussed a timeline and process for developing a budget for next year.  The Board will begin its discussions soon with the objective of completing its proposal on Dec. 17.  The Budget Committee will review the proposal and prepare its recommendations in January.  Budget Committee members from last year will be contacted for their interest in continuing, and the Board will then fill any vacancies. 
  1. Trail committee.  Tony reported that the first meeting of the trail committee was successful with several very knowledgeable people volunteering.  The Board voted 4-0 to sanction the trails committee.

 

  1. Foreclosures.  The Board reviewed a list of liens that will mature in February.  This list will be reviewed with Robin to focus on those parties we should be contacting to discuss ways to avoid foreclosure. 
  1. Moosehead Lane.  Since the question to the Town taking over Moosehead Lane will be taken up at town meeting, we need to get estimates for road maintenance needs and plowing/sanding. 

Assessors’ Actions

None.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
November 12, 2013

Present: Steve McCormick, Lester Sheaffer, Tony Marple, Frank Ober, and Dennis Merrill
               Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of the November 5 meeting were approved 4-0-1. 

 

  1. A quit claim deed was signed to clear title to a property that had a lien many years ago that apparently was not discharged.
  1. Fire Department.  Scott Higgins was present to discuss several topics with the Department.

 

  1. The claim for workers compensation arising from an arson fire in Pittston is still pending.
  2. The fire station generator still has problems, and is getting a code indicating under frequency.  The service folks will be here this week. There was discussion about getting a service contract on the generators at all three stations.
  3. An energy audit has been done at Coopers Mills.  The association there notes that building maintenance is the responsibility of the town, per the lease.  Scott will solicit volunteers to work on recommended insulation and air sealing work.
  4. Aaron is investigating service contracts for the furnaces at the fire station and town office.  Jellison company is the designated service provider for CN Brown with whom we currently purchase fuel oil.
  5. Scott is hoping to keep the budget flat for next year.
  6. Work continues on specifications for a proposed new fire truck.  The goal is to replace two trucks – a 1980 tanker and a 1992 pumper – with one new pumper/tanker.
  1. Personnel policy.  There was a continuation of discussions of the draft personnel policy.

 

  1. Road committee.  Committee member Tom Colpitt, Dave Hayden, Louis Sell, John DelVecchio were present for an initial meeting with the Board.  Road Commissioner David Boynton was also in attendance.  The group would like to have a liaison from the Board attend their meetings.  Dennis will do this.  After some preliminary discussions, the group decided to meet on Dec 5 at 7 PM in the fire station.  All meetings will be open to the public.  The committee may solicit other members as they want.
  1. Budget.  There was a review and short discussion of the current year’s budget. 

 

  1. Audit.  The auditors were here today for the fieldwork on the annual audit.  Aaron found the process to be helpful with no major issues arising.
  1. Will Turner trust.  Aaron reported that the Will Turner trust dates back to 1954, with half of the original money dedicated to the Coopers Mills cemetery and the other half to charitable purposes, as defined by the trustee.  Only five percent of the principal may be used; the principle is about $53,000.  The net interest is not too much, $265 between the two portions.

 

  1. Moosehead Lane.  David Boynton reported he has looked over this private lane with an eye toward to what might be needed should the town vote to take it over.  The shoulders are in good shape.  However, the pavement is not in good shape and would require repaving in the future.  There were no immediate needs for repairs.
  1. Ripley property.  A quit claim deed was issued back to Nancy Ripley upon payment of the back taxes, as is standard policy.  The family had wanted the deed issued to other family members.  Aaron reported on legal advice that once registered, a deed cannot be changed or revoked. 

 

Assessors’ Actions

Helene Duncan came in to discuss a building she owns on Hilton road.  This is in very poor condition and the fire department is considering burning it for practice.  She would like an abatement and we will have Tom Hayes get in contact with her.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
November 19, 2013

Present: Lester Sheaffer, Tony Marple, Frank Ober, and Dennis Merrill
               Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

This meeting was held at the Whitefield School as a special town meeting was held there following the regular Board meeting.

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of the November 12 meeting were approved 4-0. 

 

  1. Three warrants were signed.
  1. Town meeting discussion.  In preparation for the special town meeting on Clary Lake Dam, the Board discussed its position with regard to the warrant article.  The Board voted 3-1 to take no position at this time.  It may reconsider this at a later time as circumstances warrant.

 

  1. Moosehead Lane.  Clarissa Howard, a resident of Moosehead Lane, met with the Board to discuss plowing of that private way.  The contractor that had been plowing the lane for residents has dropped them and residents are interested in using the Town’s contractor, David Spicer.  Aaron noted that MMA advises against municipal contractors doing work on private property.  After some discussion, the Board was comfortable with David Spicer plowing the lane under a separate and private arrangement with the residents.  Sand and salt could be an issue since David Spicer does not have an independent supply at this time.  If some cannot be found, Clarissa may approach the Board regarding purchase of some of the Town’s supply.
  1. Three supplemental assessments were signed.  These were a result of adjustments to parcels previously approved.

 

  1. Recycling bins.  The Board voted 4-0 to allow the Recycling Committee to purchase plastic bins for resale to residents.  This is subject to Aaron’s review approval of accounting procedures and cash receipting.  He is in contact with our auditors for advice.
  1. Holiday schedule.  The Board will meet on Monday, December 30.  It will not hold a meeting the week of December 22.  Town office hours will follow what the State does.

 

Assessors’ Actions

None.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
November 26, 2013

 

Present: Lester Sheaffer, Frank Ober, and Dennis Merrill
               Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of the November 19 meeting were approved 3-0. 

 

  1. Fire Department.  Scott Higgins came in to update the Board on several issues:
  1. The grant application for traffic cones and a flammables storage cabinet has been approved by MMA.  Scott is in the process of purchasing these items.
  2. Department personnel have been working on two federal grant applications for a new tanker truck and a cascade filling station for air packs.  This application is the first for the town department itself; previous ones have been by the associations.  Grants require a 5% town match and there was some discussion on how this requirement might be met in the event of a grant award.  A special town meeting or a separate warrant article are possibilities.  The air pack system would cost not more than $25,000 so the maximum match would be $1,250.  The system would also require electrical system upgrades (the circuit breaker box is full) and this cost is not yet known.
  3. The Department has more or less settled on what is needed for a new pumper/tanker truck to replace two older trucks in Coopers Mills.  The estimated cost is $260,000.  The ten-year, $180,000 (4.25% interest) note for the truck in Kings Mills is paid off this year.  The Department’s long range plan is to get on a cycle of equipment replacement. 

 

  1. Trash pick up.  The person who has been picking up trash at the town office and recycling center appears to be out of business.  Aaron will contact other collection firms.
  1. Tree removal.  Aaron will get quotes for removal of the old maple tree in front of the town office.  It is in poor condition.

 

  1. Tax acquired properties.  The Board reviewed the list of tax acquired properties, which includes three parcels of land and two dwellings.  Aaron will research one dwelling more and will send a letter to the other’s former owner.
  1. General assistance ordinance.  We need to schedule a public hearing on update changes to the GA ordinance.  Aaron will set this for Dec 10.

 

  1. Budget process.  The Board discussed the timeline for developing next year’s budget proposals.  The Board will work on its proposal beginning on Dec 3 and through Dec 17.  The Budget Committee will convene on Jan 7 and complete its work during January.  The final proposals must be done by Feb. 4.
  1. Personnel policy.  Discussions of the personnel policy under development continued.  Aaron will get more information of earned benefit time usage and IRA contributions.

 

Assessors’ Actions

1.  Tom Hayes was present to present two abatements and two combing of parcels.  On a vote of 3-0, the Board voted to approve each proposal.

  1. A request for a personal property abatement from US Bank for business equipment at two locations in town.
  2. A request to abate the value of the Duncan property on Hilton Road, based on Tom’s reevaluation and the current condition.
  3. A request to combine two Ford parcels on the Heath Road.  This parcel also has had other adjustments for removal from agricultural land and the resulting addition of a base lot.
  4. A request to combing two Dalke parcels on Hollywood Blvd. 

April Panosian came in to inquire about how properties are assessed and question the current value on her home.  It was explained that buildings are valued using replacement cost with consideration of age and current condition.  For buildings, real estate market values are not used. April was advised to come into the town office to review the information on file regarding her home. 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
December 3, 2013

Present: Lester Sheaffer, Tony Marple, Frank Ober, and Dennis Merrill
Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of the November 26 meeting were approved 3-0-1. 

 

  1. Three warrants were signed.
  1. Public hearing.  The Board held a brief public hearing regarding adoption of new maximum payment tables for the General Assistance Program. No members of the public attended.  The Board proceeded on a vote of 4-0 to adopt the new tables.

 

  1. Photocopier.  Aaron reported that the photocopier in the town office is broken and repairs are scheduled with an estimated cost of $275.  This unit is 10 years old and the Board agreed it should ultimately be replaced.  This can be considered as part of the upcoming budget discussions.  Aaron noted one proposal for a lease to own arrangement for $109 per month for 3 years, after which the town will own the machine.  Aaron will get more details and check with other vendors. 
  1. Personnel policy.  The Board discussed the EBT portion and means to reduce the liability created by accrued time in a leave bank.  In part, this needs to be figured into next year’s budget discussions.  Currently, the liability is about $6800.

 

  1. Budget.  The Board began discussions on next year’s budget with general review of the administration, insurance, snow and ice, general government, and town office lines.  For several items, more research or information will be required.  The discussions were preliminary and no votes or final decisions were made.  The administration line received the most attention with consideration of inflation related salary adjustments, providing disability insurance as a replacement for some accrued sick time, and retirement contributions.  In other areas, adjustments to various lines to reflect projected costs and needs were considered.

Assessors’ Actions

None.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
December 17, 2013

Present: Lester Sheaffer, Tony Marple, Frank Ober, and Dennis Merrill
               Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of the December 10 meeting were approved 4-0. 

 

  1. Two warrants were signed signed.
  1. Fire Department.  Scott Higgins and Lynn Talacko were present.  The primary discussion was about proposals for purchase of a new pumper-tanker.  Tony reported that the Maine Bond Bank often does 15-year loans for trucks and the rate would be around 3.5%.  Bonds are issued in May and November.  The Department has one more equipment vendor to interview.  They will prepare recommendations and a possible timeline.

 

  1. Tax acquired properties.  The Board discussed two properties and efforts to return them to their former owners.  One person’s family is interested in helping reclaim the property but the owner has not been very responsive to efforts.  Tony will contact the person directly.  For another property, the former owner has not been very responsive to a letter sent from the town office so Frank will visit that person.
  1. Trail committee.  Tony reported the trail committee visited two properties where there is a possibility of new trails being established.  One is land on Hunts Meadow Road with an existing conservation easement and very nice views.  The other is the town-owned parcel on Route 17.  Tony will investigate if there are any restrictions on the use of the town property.

 

  1. Budget discussions.  The Board continued its review of the budget for next year, focusing on the various lines where more information is needed.  The Board will propose to set up a non-lapsing fund to cover EBT time being carried forward.  The $5,200 needed to establish this would come from surplus so there would be no direct tax impact.  Other administration changes include adding a matched IRA contribution for Aaron.  Also, Aaron found cheaper (and better) health insurance under the ACA.  The Board agree to hold this budget line the same and offer the staff dental insurance if they provide a 25% match.  In the various other areas, several lines must be confirmed (e.g. animal shelter, carry-over amounts, copier costs).  The major remaining area to be discussed is the Roads; David Boynton will be asked to attend the Dec. 30 meeting. 
  1. Warrant articles.  To support the budget, some warrant articles should be developed.  These include the non-lapsing fund to cover EBT, authorization to purchase a fire truck, fire equipment, the Whitefield Cemetery, and authorization to carry over line for roads, the Townhouse, legal expenses and Coopers Mills dam.

Assessors’ Actions

None.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
December 30, 2013

Present: Steve McCormick, Lester Sheaffer, Tony Marple, Frank Ober, and Dennis Merrill
               Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of the December 17 meeting were approved 4-0-1. 

 

  1. Two warrants were signed signed.
  1. Recent storms.  Plowing contractor David Spicer and Rescue Chief Lynn Talacko were present to give accounts of events during the recent snow and ice storms.  Rescue was especially busy on Christmas Day.  The Board acknowledged all of the effort put in by firefighters and plowing crews.  Due to all the storms, more salt needs to be ordered and the sand supply is depleting quite quickly. 

 

The storms have pointed out the need for good coordination and planning within the Town and with outside organizations in order to respond to emergency conditions.  A case in point is removal of trees from roads, and who is responsible for initiating cleanup work in various situations.  We will look into developing a policy to help with preplanning and designated responders.

  1. Roads budget.  David Boynton was present for a discussion of the FY 15 roads budget.  His priorities are Hunts Meadow Road from Rt. 126 North to Roger Downs’ and Vigue Road from the McGee pit south to Rt. 126.  Hunts Meadow is narrow and should be widened, probably requiring moving utility poles and possibly some stone walls.  Shoulder work is also needed before paving can be done.  Vigue needs culverts and repaving.  David will come back next week with cost estimates.  The Board also had a general discussion about ways to improve the Town’s roads going forward.  For several years too little has probably been put into road maintenance with no long range planning.

 

  1. Budget discussions.  The Board continued its review of the proposed FY 15 budget.  Town roads are the last remaining section to be done.  After making some small adjustments in other areas, the budget is essentially complete as a draft.

 

Assessors’ Actions

None.

 

The minutes above are the most recent available on line