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Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
January 7, 2014

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of the December 30 meeting were approved 4-0. 

 

  1. One warrant was signed for postage needed to send foreclosure notices.
  1. Planning Board.  The Board received written notice from Ann Roberts that she is resigning from the Planning Board.  To fill the vacancy, the Board voted 3-0-1 to fill the vacancy by appointment.  The Board then voted 3-0-1 to appoint Marianne Marple to fill the remainder of Ann’s term, until the municipal elections in March 2015.  Tony abstained from both votes.

 

  1. Ripley property.  Shane Michaud came in representing the Ripley family to express concerns about the Town’s action to return Nancy Ripley’s tax acquired property to her by quit claim deed instead of other family members as they had wanted.  They felt this had been expressed to the Board in previous discussions.  While there may have been some misunderstandings, the Town has checked with legal counsel and nothing can be done at this point, as the deed has been recorded.  A family member has power of attorney for Nancy and can independently transfer the property to meet the family’s wishes.  As a general policy, the Board will always convey property back to a former owner when taxes are paid off, unless it is put out to publicly advertised sale.
  1. Fire truck vote.  Aaron reported that a citizen has requested that any vote on purchasing a new fire truck, as has been discussed, be done by secret ballot.  A secret ballot can be initiated by the Board or by citizen petition.  If an issue is to be decided by secret ballot, a public hearing must be held in advance.  After some discussion, the Board voted 3-1 (Dennis opposed) to have any truck purchase be debated and voted on at the annual town meeting.

 

  1. Budget reports.  Aaron distributed updates on the current year’s revenue and expenditures.  He reported the current bank balance is $744, 525.  Amounts carried forward from last year need to be shown on the reports. 
  1. Sand and salt.  The Town’s salt supply has been used up.  The regular supplier of road salt is temporarily out.  Aaron was able to find supplier at a higher price and one load was ordered.  An additional load will be ordered from the regular supplier for later in the week or next week.  The sand supply is also getting low, and Aaron will contact the Road Commissioner to have some more put up.

 

  1. Maine Gravel Service.  Aaron reported the DEP has issued a permit modification to allow MGS (Crooker) to excavate below the ground water table.  A permit issued under the Town’s development ordinance requires a two-foot separation between excavation and ground water be maintained.  Thus it appears Planning Board review will be required and approval.
  1. Fire Department.  Scott Higgins, Tom Feeney, and Lynn Talacko were present to discuss purchase of a new pumper-tanker to replace two old trucks in Coopers Mills.  They have met with various vendors and have selected one to recommend for purchase.  This is an Emergency One truck with a 2000 gallon tank.  The price is $269,000.  A $3000 discount would be available if the total purchase price is paid in advance.  About 10 years ago, a comprehensive plan for fire department capital needs was done and this proposed truck is consistent with the plan to replace one piece of equipment every 10 years.  The engine in Kings Mills was the first purchase under the plan and the loan on that is now paid off.  The two trucks in Coopers Mills have increasing maintenance costs and part are becoming harder to get. 

 

  1. Budget Committee.  The Budget Committee convened for its first meeting.  Members Malinda Caron, Carl Ribeiro, Charlene Donahue, David Hayden, Erik Ekholm, Barry Tibbetts and Sue McKeen were present.  Sue was elected as chair and Malinda will keep notes.  The Fire Department representatives met with the committee, and are proposing a flat budget for next year.  They also explained the truck purchase proposal noted above.  The Committee also heard from the Board on changes in the Administrative and Snow and Ice budget lines.  On the latter, the Committee had some concerns about the condition of Moosehead Lane that will be considered for town acceptance at town meeting.  More information on the subdivision approval may be helpful.

Assessors’ Actions

None.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
January 14, 2014

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of the January 7 meeting were approved 4-0. 

Two warrants were signed.

  1. Trust funds.  Aaron noted that the Will Turner trust funds have paid a total of around $4,000 in interest.  One is for support of the cemetery in Coopers Mills, and another for the “Worthy Poor.”  He will investigate the amount of interest for each and restriction on the use of the money.

Executive session.  The Board voted 4-0 to go into executive session to discuss a poverty tax abatement.  Following the session, no action was taken on the matter.

  1. Roads.  David Boynton came in to discuss needed roadwork for next year.  His priority is to widen Hunts Meadow Road from Rt 126 to about Moosehead Lane, and involves wider shoulders, ditching and culverts.  Some utility poles and stone walls may need to be moved.  His estimate for this work is $10,000 to $12,000.  There may be ledge in the area that, if encountered, it would be an unknown cost factor.  Additionally, the road should be paved from Rt 126 to about Roger Downs’ home.  The mileage needs to be verified.  Dennis and Tony will arrange to meet with David to review this work and discuss other road needs to support a budget for next year.

David noted he will be posting town roads as recent warmer weather has softened them.  He will haul sand for winter roads next week, anticipating colder weather will make the roads more suitable for truck traffic.

  1. Community day.  The Board discussed continuing Whitefield Day as an annual event.  It was generally regarded as successful last year.  To ensure the event’s success, a tent, porta-potties and other logistical support are really needed, and the Board decided to propose $1,000 in next year’s budget for such things.
  2. Budget Committee.  The Budget Committee convened for its second meeting.  Members Malinda Caron, Carl Ribeiro, Charlene Donahue, David Hayden, Erik Ekholm, Barry Tibbetts and Sue McKeen were present.  The Committee continued its initial review of the proposed budget, examining the Town Office, the Townhouse, Loans, the Fire Department, General Assistance, and Miscellaneous Appropriations.  The Committee was inclined to increase the Planning Board’s request from $1,000 to $2,000 where it has been in previous years.  Next week various non-profits, the Whitefield Cemetery and the Food Bank will be invited in to discuss their requests.  Also, a proposal for the roads budget is expected.

Assessors’ Action

An abatement for Sam Bartlett was approved 4-0 and signed.  This removed an unused second base lot on a parcel, reduced lot improvement and corrected for the condition of existing buildings.

 
Town of Whitefield
Selectmen’s Agenda
Jan. 28, 2014

 

Item

Time

Agenda Item

 

 

 

6:00 pm

Call meeting to order

 

 

 

 

Approval of minutes – 1/21/14

 

 

 

6:05 pm

Sign Warrants – Accounts Payable & Payroll

 

 

 

6:10 pm

Proposed Moratorium discussion 

 

 

 

6:25 pm

Tom Hayes – Assessing

 

 

 

6:40 pm

Vote on proposed budget 

 

 

 

7:00 pm

Budget Committee

 

 

 

9:00 pm

Adjournment

 

 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
February 25, 2014

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of the February 11 meeting were approved 5-0. 

 

  1. Three warrants were signed.
  1. Junkyard permit.  On a vote of 5-0, the Board voted to approve renewal of a junkyard permit for Paul’s Pick-A-Part on Rt. 17.  Since this is a renewal of an existing permit and the CEO has reported no problems, a public hearing was not deemed necessary.

 

  1. Land repurchase agreements.  The Board signed land repurchase agreements with Bert Perry and Michael Dube.  These agreements allow the persons to make payments over two years to catch up on unpaid taxes that lead to foreclosures.  At the conclusion of the agreements, 2016 taxes will still be due.
  1. Town Meeting Warrant.  The Board voted 5-0 to sign the warrant for the annual town meeting on March 15.  This was the same as discussed last week except with the addition of an article regarding the property tax levy limit.  This limit is calculated under the so-called “LD1” under state law that caps local property taxes, excluding for schools and county taxes, at the previous year’s level plus adjustments for inflation and new valuation added in town.  Next year’s proposed budget as proposed in the warrant would exceed the cap by a relatively small amount.  The added article seeks the town agreement with exceeding the cap based on money articles approved in the meeting.

 

  1. Foreclosed properties.  Aaron provided a list of tax accounts that have gone to foreclosure, effective Feb 18, due to overdue taxes.  About 7 of the properties on the list have not made efforts or contact with the town to try to settle the accounts.  Board members will attempt to make personal contact with the former owners in a last attempt to make arrangements/contact prior to selling the properties.  For those lacking a resolution, the Board will review the policy on sale of tax acquired properties and proceed accordingly.
  1. Flood plain maps.  Aaron reported new flood plain maps have been received.  These need to be reviewed by the Board and Planning Board.

 

  1. Public hearings.  Following the regular board meeting two public hearings were conducted.  One was regarding article 3 of the town meeting warrant having to do with purchase of a new fire truck.  The second related to article 8 regarding a moratorium on new or expanded gravel pits.

Assessors’ Action

Abatements.  Two abatements for Thompson and Allen approved previously were signed.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
March 4, 2014

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

Select Board actions

  1. Approval of the minutes from Feb 25 was tabled until next week. 

 

  1. Fire Department.  Scott Higgins was present to discuss several items.
  1. He will get service contacts for the generators at the central and Kings Mills stations through Mid-Maine Generator in Winthrop.
  2. He attended a recent meeting of the Coopers Mills Association.  They will be working to promote purchase of a new fire truck.  They are continuing to work on plans for a new station.  The Board expressed interest in meeting with the Association to learn about the plans and common needs and goals.  The Association will be invited to a Board meeting.
  3. There was a general discussion of alternatives if the vote on a new truck should fail and the existing engine in Coopers Mills becomes unserviceable.  Chief Higgins indicated he would likely relocate the engine from Kings Mills to Coopers Mills.  This is because there is a greater population concentration and a nursing home in Coopers Mills.

 

  1. Liquor license.  An application from Sheepscot Links for renewal of its liquor license was tabled so Aaron could verify public notice requirements, if any, and other details on town vs. state jurisdiction.
  1. Budget review.  The Board reviewed the status of the current year’s budget.  Aaron reported that according to his spreadsheet this current general fund balance is $450,743.

 

  1. Earned benefit time.  Aaron noted Robin’s concern about the warrant article on setting up a non-lapsing fund to cover EBT.  If this does not pass, would EBT currently accrued be lost?  The intent of the article is to address a present unfunded liability and if the article does not pass the situation remains as it is now.  The accrued time would still be honored.  The intent of the EBT is to cover time off (sick and vacation) and any unused balance is due upon a person’s separation from the Town.  The Board voted 4-0 to affirm the Town’s liability for existing EBT accrued by employees as of today. 
  1. Automatic foreclosures.  The Board reviewed the list of properties currently foreclosed and the status of efforts to get accounts caught up.  A proposed repurchase agreement form Tina Hagan was tabled pending more information.  The Board voted 4-0 to sell a tax-acquired parcel formerly owned by Kiley.  This is undeveloped land on Thayer Road.  A real estate broker will be used and the Town’s policy on disposal of property will be followed.

 

  1. Flood maps.  Aaron will work with Lincoln County planning to see if they can review flood maps to see how many structures are at risk from floods.
  1. Animal control officer contract.  A proposed contract for ACO services with Lincoln County was discussed but no action was taken pending resolution of questions to the County.

 

  1. Executive sessions.  Pursuant to 36 MRSA §841, the Board voted to go into two executive sessions to consider poverty abatement requests.  Following one session, the Board voted to disallow the request.  Following the other session, no action was taken.

 

Assessors’ Action

None

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
March 11, 2014

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of Feb 25 were approved 4-0.  Action on the Mar 4 minutes was tabled pending an addition.

Three warrants were signed.

  1. Liquor license.  Following a brief public hearing at which no comments were received, the Board voted 4-0 to approve renewal of a liquor license for Sheepscot Links.

Automatic foreclosures.  In reviewing the list of foreclosed properties, it appears that five properties have not made arrangements to clear the account and/or cannot be contacted.  The former owners are Carlton, Pooler/Weeks, Ripley, Whitehouse and L. Bartlett.  Final letters will be sent to each party.  Aaron with contact our contracted real estate broker to begin discussions on marketing properties as may be necessary.

  1. Land repurchase agreement.  The Board signed a repurchase agreement with Tina Hagar. 

Flood maps.  Aaron reported that Lincoln County planning is willing to overlay the town’s property tax maps (and aerial photos?) on the new flood zone maps to identify buildings at risk.

  1. Town meeting.  Due to a fire at the school, the gym cannot be used for voting or town meeting.  Arrangements have been made to use the Baptist church next door. 

Town report.  The Board discussed concerns with the small print in the town report.  Aaron noted the proof copy received from the printer did not show such small print.  What happened is not clear, but the results are less than satisfactory.  Les will draft a letter to the printer.

  1. Insurance.  Aaron reported he has been working on his insurance coverage.  He has securing health insurance for his family through the Affordable Care Act at a savings to the Town.  Using this saving, he would like to obtain dental insurance, with his own contribution.  This would all fall within the current budget.  The Board agreed with this approach and signed a letter authorizing Aaron to join the MMA dental insurance program.

Mowing services.  With regret, the Board received a letter from Jim Brann saying he is resigning from mowing the town’s lawns and cemeteries.  Aaron will move forward to advertise for a new mowing service.

  1. Executive session.  Pursuant to 36 MRSA §841, the Board voted to go into executive session to consider a poverty abatement request. Following the session no action was taken.

Assessors’ Action

Assessor’s Agent Tom Hayes was present to present a number of requests for abatements or combined lots:

  1. The Board considered two abatement requests from Pilling on Acorn Lane as the building is not completely finished although town records had indicated it is and the condition is changed.  For the current year, the Board approved the request for a $51,970 reduction.  The second request was for the preceding year and was denied on a vote of 4-0 since the request was not made within 185 days of the tax commitment.
  2. The Board voted 4-0 to approve combination of three lots owned by Diket on Townhouse Road.
  3. Two requests for abatement were received from persons owning lots straddling the Pittston town line. In both cases the base lots may be in Pittston and thus would not be assessed in Whitefield.  Tom has not been successful in contacting the owners for more information and will send letters.
  4. Three other requests for combination of lots are pending but more information is needed for each.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
March 18, 2014

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

Select Board actions

  1. Newly elected board member Sue McKeen was sworn in.

On a vote of 4-0-1 Dennis was elected board chair.  On a vote of 4-0-1 Frank was elected vice chair.

  1. The minutes of Mar 4 were approved 3-0-2 and the minutes of Mar 11 were approved 4-0-1.

Fire Department.  Chief Scott Higgins was present to thank the Board for support of the new fire truck referendum vote.  He said final details of the truck specifications and the order is being finalized.  The delivery time for the truck is in the range of 6 to 9 months.  The old tanker truck is owned by the Town and can be sold once the new truck arrives.  The 1980 chassis may be of some value, and Scott will investigate further.  A vote of the Town to sell the old truck would be needed as its value is probably over $1,000.  This possibly could occur at a primary or general election.  Scott noted that the Fire Marshall’s Office did an inspection of the school on last Friday.  He is awaiting a written report, but nothing major came up during the inspection.

  1. School building.  It was noted the school was open on Monday, although the kitchen, art room, music room and gym will not be available as they are still undergoing cleaning.  Meals will be brought in and served in the classrooms.

Foreclosed properties.  The list of foreclosed seven properties for which there are no current resolution was discussed.  Final letters are going out to the former owners and personal contacts will be attempted for some individuals.

  1. Town Meeting re-cap.  The Board reviewed the Town Meeting held last Saturday.  In general, everything went well, and there were several comments that people liked the accommodations of the Baptist Church, especially the comfortable seating.  The Board signed a letter thanking the church for use of the building.

The Board should try to keep its answers narrowly on point to the questions asked.  There is a need to address a lack of policy on acceptance of town roads.  It might be helpful to identify all nonresidents wishing to speak at the beginning of the meeting.  There was a general discussion of possibly holding the secret ballot voting prior to Town Meeting day, say on Friday 4-8 PM, and beginning the open meeting at 10 AM.

  1. Town report.  Following up on concerns about the small print in the Town Report, Aaron noted Quality Copy was very apologetic and provided printing of the warrant at no charge.  There was also some discussion about means to get better distribution of the report to encourage more participation in Town Meeting.  In years past they were hand delivered to all residences.  Bulk mailing of the reports or notices of the meeting could also be considered.

 

  1. Legal services.  The Planning Board has asked if it needs authorization to use the Town’s contracted attorney.  This would not be necessary.  However, questions of a general nature should be directed to MMA as they provide free services to towns.
  1. Grant request.  Dennis reported he received a call from Lincoln County Planning on Monday saying small grants are available to towns to help with technical issues they are facing, such as road studies.  Applications were due that day.  He and John Delvecchio prepared a preliminary application and submitted it.  The Board voted 5-0 to support this application and a formal hard copy will be sent under a cover letter signed by Aaron.

 

  1. Abatements approved previously were signed.
  1. Executive session.  Pursuant to 36 MRSA §841, the Board voted to go into executive session to consider a poverty abatement request. Following the session, the Board voted 5-0 to approve one poverty abatement. 

 

Assessors’ Action

Assessor’s Agent Tom Hayes presented a request for combined lots from Jane Chase.  On a vote of 5-0 the Board approved combination of Map 17, Lots 55 and 55A.

Tom also presented the Board with an update report his recent activities as a means of keeping the Board informed on current assessing issues and work.  Tony will meet with Tom to develop and refine the format of reports so as to minimize the administrative “overhead.”  Of interest to the Board are the numbers of various activities and goals for future months. 

The Board also discussed with Tom assessing of personal property and how this could be done fairly.  Tom suggested that focusing on commercial property that is depreciated on income taxes might be one option.  The Board expressed interest in knowing how other towns address personal property and what State guidance might be.  The priority of personal property must be balanced against other assessing needs.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
March 25, 2014

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

Select Board actions

  • The minutes of Mar 25 were approved 4-0-1.

Two warrants were signed.

  • Planning Board.  Sue’s election to the Select Board has created a vacancy on the Planning Board.  Carl Ribiero came in to express his interest in being appointed to fill that slot.  Notices of the vacancy will be made to inform residents as well and it is hoped an appointment can be made next week.

Auditor’s report.  Don Talbot and Margarita Krylovic from the accounting firm of Berry Talbot Royer attended the meeting and presented an overview of their annual audit of the Town’s books. Since auditing reports must follow prescribed standards, the report can be difficult to read and they were helpful in explaining many of its elements. They reported having found no material weaknesses and the Town is in good financial condition.  For FY 2013, the Town’s revenues were more that its expenses.  While recommendations vary, they suggested a town have at least 10%-15% of its annual budget in operating cash on July 1, depending on factors such as the timing of major expenses and tax receipts.  The report has several specific recommendations including using the bidding process whenever practicable for major purchases, using the TRIO computer system to track transactions in the permanent account funds, and internal reviews of journal entries.  (The full report is available in the Town Office for public review.)

  • Foreclosed properties.  The reviewed the list of unresolved foreclosures. 

A real estate agent has examined the former Kiley land.  This is a buildable lot of about 11 acres.  The Board discussed how long this should be marketed for and possible pricing.  The Board voted 4-1 (Lester opposed) to ask the agent to prepare a 6-month listing contract with an asking price set to move the land as quickly as possible. 

For the former Carlton and Whitehouse properties, Aaron will work with those individuals and develop repurchase agreements.

No contact has been received from the Ripley family.

  • Spirit of America.  The Town has been asked for a nomination for the annual Spirit of America award.  Frank provided a list of prior winners in Whitefield.  After some discussion, the Board voted 4-1 (Lester opposed) to nominate the Whitefield Day Committee.

Executive session.  Pursuant to 36 MRSA §841, the Board voted to go into executive session to consider poverty abatement requests. Following the session, any action was postponed until next week so that paperwork can be completed. 

  • Upcoming agendas.  In subsequent weeks, the Board plans to:

Discuss pending legislation regarding discontinued roads,

  • Work on the personnel policy,
  • Discuss priorities for the next year, and
  • Meet with Sheriff Brackett to review Lincoln County’s proposed Animal Control contract.

Assessors’ Action

None.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
April 1, 2014

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

Absent:  Tony Marple

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of Mar 25 were approved 4-0.
  1. Planning Board.  To fill the vacancy on the Planning Board, Carl Ribiero and Steve Smith expressed interest.  After a brief discussion, the Board voted 4-0 to appoint Carl.
  1. Fire Department.  Scott Higgins and Lynn Talacko came in to present the contract for purchase of the new fire truck.  The time frame for final delivery is expected to be about eight months.  After some discussion of the contract and specification documents, the Board voted 4-0 to sign the contract.  The Board thanked Scott and Lynn for all the work they and others in the Department put into purchase of the new truck.

We will need to investigate financing with the Maine Municipal Bond Bank ASAP to ensure the Town has its application submitted on time.

Scott reported that the 1980 tanker truck that will be replaced by the new truck has some value as the chassis could be converted for other uses and has low mileage on it.  Money from selling the truck would likely go into undesignated surplus.  Sale will have to be authorized by town voters, and this could possibly be done at the June primary or November general election.  A warrant article will be drafted.

Scott reported he recently attended a meeting of the Coopers Mills Association.  At this time, they have no specific plans for a new fire station, but are in the process of developing them.

  1. Foreclosed properties.  The board reviewed the list of unresolved foreclosures. 

Sue has spoken with Lisa Pooler regarding the Weeks property and learned when Ms. Weeks died several years ago the estate was never probated.  The property has since fallen into foreclosure.  Lisa has contacted a lawyer to begin the probate process.  Dennis will contact MMA for general legal advice. 

The Kiley property is paid up.

The Board voted 4-0 to enter into a repurchase agreements with Steve Carlton and Robert Barnes.

Sue will contact the Ripley family.

  1. Repayment agreements.  Aaron reported that all persons who have signed repayment agreements for foreclosed properties are making their payments and are up to date.
  1. Signature cards. New signature cards for the bank were signed.
  1. Financial report.  Aaron provided the board with the current report of this year’s budget and spending.  There was a general discussion of various budget lines; there are no serious concerns and the bottom line is favorable.  The sand and salt lines have unspent money so putting up sand and salt in June for next year is a consideration. Aaron reported the checking account has about $340,000 in it. 
  1. Upcoming training.  Aaron noted he and Tony would like to go to training sessions and the budget line for training is running low, although there is enough money in other parts of the general government heading to easily cover the costs. 
  1. Personnel policy.  The Board resumed discussion of the draft personnel policy.  Several areas needed to be worked on were added.  There was some discussion on issues surrounding EBT and health insurance, stipends/pay and IRA accounts were also identified as needing work.  Aaron said has spoken with MMA about reviewing personnel policies and while the Board generally agreed a legal review of a final draft would be appropriate, no decision was made on this.
  1. Priorities for the upcoming year.  The Board began a discussion to brainstorm list of areas that the Board could focus priority on for the following year.  More discussion to follow.
  1. Use of Coopers Mills dam area.  Frank noted the Sheepscot Valley Conservation Association would like to use Town land at the Coopers Mills dam for training program.  This would be fine, but they should contact their insurance carrier to have the Town added as an also insured to provide the group liability protection.
  1. Executive session.  Pursuant to 36 MRSA §841, the Board voted to go into executive session to consider poverty abatement requests. Following the session, the Board voted 4-0 to approve a poverty abatement.

Assessors’ Action

The Board voted 4-0 to combine map 7, lots 64 and 64A.

 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
April 8, 2014

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

Absent: Frank Ober

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of Apr 1 were approved 3-0-1.
  1. Two warrants were signed.
  1. Roadside Mowing.  Tom Colpitt, who has done the roadside mowing for the past several years came in to participate in a discussion of mowing services this year.  He recommended bidding out the work.  There is some concern with the large amount of brush along the roads from the ice storm, and this may be a problem for mowing.  The type of equipment a contractor has (e.g. a bush hog) can minimize the problem.  Specifications for the mowing work with the brush in mind need to be developed.  A lump sum price for all the work may be preferable to hourly rates. Dennis will consult with the Road Commissioner.
  1. Lawn mowing.  The Board discussed obtaining services for mowing at 11 cemeteries, the fire stations and town office/salt shed areas.  Previously, Jim Brann did the work as a town employee, but contracting the work may be an option.  Aaron will be meeting with Jim on Friday to get more details and recommendations on how to proceed.  The town owns a riding mower and trailer Jim has used for this work, but a contractor may provide equipment, avoiding maintenance problems and costs for the Town.
  1. A quit claim deed to Michael Kiley was signed.
  1. A poverty abatement previously approved was signed.
  1. Inter-community cooperation.   Aaron reported he met with the town managers of Chelsea and Windsor to discuss issues of common interest and possible areas of cooperation.  There may be opportunities for bulk purchasing of salt, sand, paving services, fuel, etc.  Also there may be opportunities for working together on recycling and solid waste.  The Board encouraged these discussions and Aaron said there are plans to meet in the future.
  1. General assistance.  Aaron presented a request from DHHS to see if the Town wants to change the reimbursement formula.  The Board voted 4-0 to stay with present arrangement, as other alternatives are really not relevant to small towns.
  1. Priorities for next year.  The Board had a general discussion of town priorities for the next year.  From this, the Board identified roads, assessing and land use as three areas of particular importance.   Land use involves supporting and following the Planning Board’s work on the development ordinance and gravel moratorium as well as a general review of how current ordinances are serving the Town.  Assessing involves setting clear goals and timelines for updating various tasks to ensure fair assessing. 
  1. Executive sessions.  Pursuant to 36 MRSA §841, the Board voted to go into executive sessions to consider two poverty abatement requests. Following one session, the Board voted 4-0 to accept monthly payments from a person for a year before deciding on final disposition of outstanding tax bills.  On the other request, no action was taken following the session.

Assessors’ Action

  1. Tom Hayes came in to present two requests for combination of lots.  Each was approved on a vote of 4-0: Map 7, Lots 26 and 28; Map 16, Lots 3 and 5.

2.   Tom reported that the Maine Revenue Services field representative was in today to conduct a periodic review.  He said no major issues were identified.

Town of Whitefield Select Board Minutes
April 15, 2014

 

Present: Lester Sheaffer, Sue McKeen, Tony Marple, and Frank Ober
Town Clerk Aaron Miller

Absent: Dennis Merrill

Select Board actions:

Call to Order by Frank Ober 6PM

Minutes approved 3-0-1

  1. Troy Prescott purchased the Fierello/Williams gravel pit on the Vigue Rd on June 11, 2013.  The 92.8 acre property is assessed at $446, 250. Mr. Prescott says that 2/3rds of the pit is “spent” and seeks to have the valuation reduced to raw land for that acreage. The board discussed the broad precedent implications of the request and deferred the policy discussion to a future meeting with all members present.

 

  1. Tom Hayes brought forward a 12 lot combination request for land owned by Sandy Benne on the Hunts Meadow Road. The land is under a conservation easement. The board approved the combination 4-0, but discussed the need for a deed change requirement in the future.
  1. Tom Hayes proposed a lot combination for the James and Mary Davidson parcels on Clary Lake. The board requested that Tom prepare a corrected property map before voting.

 

  1. Tom Hayes presented his findings on a revaluation request for a porch on the house of Gordon and Genevieve Keller. Based on information provided, the request was denied. 4-0.
  1. Tom presented the abatement request of Michael and Gail Panosian. According to Tom, the house is overvalued by approximately $20,000. The board voted 4-0 to approve the abatement request.

 

  1. Paul Kelley of PPM LLC presented a proposal for the Town to assume secondary responsibility for the dam in case of an emergency.  Paul reported that the DEP suggested that PPM ask the Town if they wished to accept this.  Paul stated that should the town assume this responsibility, he would likely step aside and let the Town be the primary responsible party in the event of an emergency. After considerable discussion the Select Board agreed with Frank Ober that there is no reason for the Town to assume the secondary responsibility and voted 4-0 against the proposal.

 

  1. Anthony Anderson of the WAA explained a new running program that he is developing for Whitefield students. He requested that the Town allow a trail to be established as a loop behind the fire station. Tony Marple agreed to mow the trail periodically should it be approved.  Aaron Miller expressed concern about liability.  It was discussed that the Town also owns the land under some of the ball fields. Aaron suggested that the WAA acquire a rider on its liability policy to protect the town for WAA related activity on Town property. Anthony disagreed with the need. Aaron agreed to contact MMA risk management for another opinion and there will be further discussion before the next meeting.  Lester expressed his opinion that the people of the town own the property and therefore we shouldn’t be an obstacle.  No action was taken, but we will endeavor to resolve the issue at the Board’s next meeting.
  1. Aaron reported that he has received a scholarship for the MMA leadership conference and that he is working with the tax staff to develop a town finance educational program.

 

  1. The board voted 4-0 to approve journal entries presented by Aaron related to rapid renewals.

 

  1. The board voted 4-0 to approve a State sign request for Robert King, Balltown firearms.

 

  1. The board went into executive session to discuss poverty abatements. After leaving executive session the board voted 4-0 to deny two requests.

The meeting adjourned at 8:45.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
April 22, 2014

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

Absent: Sue McKeen

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of Apr 1 were approved 3-0-1.

 

  1. Two warrants were signed.
  1. Animal control officer.  Lincoln County Sherriff Beckett came in to discuss a proposed contract with the county for providing ACO services.  Under this, we would retain the same person (Kyle Emerson) to act as town ACO but he would become a county employee with wages and mileage rates unchanged.  The county would provide dispatching and record keeping at no charge.  Backup service would be handled by the county.  There were some concerns that the aggregate hours for multiple towns might result in a person become a full time county employee with benefits.  Sherriff Beckett said they have been tracking hours in towns and this does not appear to be a problem.  However, should it become one, additional staff could be brought on as part time employees.  Also, there was some concern that having to call a backup from some distance away could increase mileage costs.  After discussing the contract, the Board voted 3-1 (Lester opposed) to enter a contract with the county for until July 1 and then for a year beginning July 1.  This will align the contract period with the town fiscal year.

 

  1. Two real estate transfer forms were signed.
  1. Journal entries were signed.  Doing this was recommended by our auditors.  The Board will do so for a period and then reassess the value in this as most transactions are routine.

Abatements previously approved were signed.

  1. Auditing services.  Aaron reported that our longtime routine auditor Terry Desmond is retiring and a replacement will need to be found.  Terry has recommended someone who will work for the same rate and is very experienced.  The Board voted 4-0 to put out a request for proposals for this service to see what other interest there may be.  We will prepare a letter of thanks to Terry for his years of service to the Town.

Mowing services.  The Board discussed a contract for mowing of town maintained cemeteries, the fire stations and town office area.  An advertisement will appear in the paper this week.  Dennis will finalize some edits to the contract and circulate it for other Board members’ review.

  1. Flood insurance program.  Aaron reported the county planning program has create a composite map based on Google Earth and showing overlays of the recently updated federal flood zone mapping and the town’s property tax maps.  From this, Aaron was able to identify about 8 buildings that would be subject to flooding and located on Clary Lake, Juniper Lane and Fox Farm Lane.  In order for residents to obtain federal flood insurance, the town would have to join the program by enacting a flood area ordinance.  The Board decided to invite a representative from the state to attend a meeting to provide more information on what would be involved in getting into the flood insurance program.

The Board discussed burial of the cremains of a person who died without assets.  The Board voted 4-0 to make the burial at Coopers Mill cemetery using funds from the Will Turner Charitable trust as necessary.

  1. Whitefield Day.  Aaron reported he has contracted the company that can provide a tent for Whitefield Day in September.  Because it go up in the town office parking lot the company will have to put it up Friday afternoon and take it down on Sunday so as not to interfere with town business.  This should not be a problem.

Fire truck.  We need to begin the process of applying to the Maine Municipal Bond Bank for a loan for the new fire truck on order.  A bond counsel is required and Tony will look into lawyer who can do this work and get prices.

Next week:   Discussions on the personnel policy, poverty abatements, mowing contract and bond counsel discussion.

Assessors’ Action

None

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
April 29, 2014

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of Apr 22 were approved 4-0-1.

Two warrants were signed.

  1. Mowing services.  The Board discussed the status of the bidding process that will close on next Monday.  With the bid documents having been updated, we need to be sure all interested parties have the most recent version. 

Bond counsel.  Tony reported that he has received one price of $3,000 for bond counsel services in conjunction with the fire truck purchase.  He is awaiting another proposal.

  1. Plowing.  Dennis said he was contacted by Dave Spicer who has the plowing contract regarding the need for a turn around on Howe Road.  The bridge has been posted and plow trucks cannot travel the entire length of the road.  Thus, a place adjacent to the west end of the bridge where trucks can turn around safely is needed.  Dennis will follow up to get more information.

Personnel policy.  The Board discussed the draft personnel policy, focusing on how to handle earned benefits time.  A proposal for the amount of time earned and that can be “banked” was discussed.  Before making final decisions on this approach, it was agreed we should discuss the concept with staff to get their input.  Dennis and Tony will coordinate on this.  Also discussed was health insurance.  The direction is to provide coverage for a full time employee at a defined level of coverage, such as the gold level within the health insurance exchange.  More information may be need to define levels and provide some latitude for employees to mix and match coverage and benefits within the defined level of coverage. 

  1. Executive session.  Pursuant to 36 MRSA, §21, the Board voted 5-0 to go into executive session to discuss a poverty abetment request.  Following the session, the Board voted 5-0 to approve a partial abatement and propose to the residents a repayment agreement to get them current on their taxes within two years.

Assessor’s Actions

Assessor’s Agent Tom Hays was present to discuss several matters.

  1.  A request by Davidson to combine lots on the Benner Road was approved 5-0.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
May 6, 2014

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of Apr 29 were approved 4-0.

Two warrants were signed.

  1. Mowing services.  The Board opened two proposals for mowing of town properties:

Acorn and Sons                Don Brilyer
Nobleboro                         Jefferson

Coopers Mills cemetery                            $190                            $275
Other cemeteries                                       $550                            $1,100
Fire stations and town office area                        $170                            $350

All bid prices are per mowing event.  Each bidder provided list of equipment to be used and references.  The Board vote 4-0 to have Aaron check references and decide on award of the contract next week.

  1. Fire  Department.  Scott Higgins was in to report all is going well and he is in the process of ordering air packs and hose as well other needed materials to close out the budget year.  Aaron is investigating possible financing alternatives for the new fire truck that in now under production. Alna recently financed a new truck and he will follow up with them.

Bottle club.  David Jackson came in representing the Lions Club with an application for renewal of their bottle club license.  On a vote of 4-0 the Board approved the application.

Roads.  David Jackson will be filling in for Road Commissioner David Boynton for the next few weeks.  He noted the town’s road grader is requiring a lot of maintenance – Whitefield has had it many years and it was acquired used from the State.  Looking ahead, the grader will need major work or replacement.  Alternately, grading could be contracted out.  It was also mentioned that a grader could possibly owned jointly with another area town. 

The Board also discussed the roadwork planned this summer.  When he is available, David Boynton will be asked to meet with the Board to discuss what will be done on Hunts Meadow Road and what portions may be contracted out. 

The Board had a general discussion about the roles and responsibilities of the elected Road Commissioner and the Select Board.  The Town does not have a clear job description of Road Commissioner, nor is it clear when work should be bid out vs. being done by the Road Commissioner.  In any event, the Select Board is responsible for paying all bills and setting priorities.  The Road Commissioner will be asked to meet with the Board to discuss these areas.

  1. Financial report.  Aaron reported that following the tax due date, our general account balance is $1,033,313.  The general ledger, expense and revenue summaries were reviewed.  Aaron said all is going well and the budget is on track with two months remaining in the fiscal year.

Fire station.  Randolph Fire Chief Rod Cunningham came ask questions about our fire station as that town is considering building a new one.  The Board provided some general information and referred him to Chief Higgins for more details. 

  1. Personnel policy.  Dennis noted he discussed the proposed EBT plan the Board considered last week with the office staff who had no objections. 

Flood zone ordinance.  Aaron provided the Board with a copy of a prototype flood zone ordinance prepared by the State.  The flood zone program coordinator will be coming in next week to discuss adopting such an ordinance in town so people with buildings at risk from floods can purchase federal flood insurance.

  1. Tax payments.  The Board briefly discussed the difficulty some people have in paying taxes.  If people feel it would be easier, they can make monthly (or other periodic) payment to avoid a large bill all at once.  This will be written up for the Whitefield News.

Accounting services.  Aaron will be putting out a request for proposals to recruit an accountant to replace Terry Desmond who has retired.

  1. Roadside mowing.  Aaron will be placing an ad for roadside mowing.  This year, the work may be complicated by limbs from the ice storm, so selecting a contractor with appropriate equipment will be beneficial. 

Veterans graves.  Aaron said the Historical Society is cataloging all veteran’s graves so we will have list of them and their locations.  Someone is still needed to place flags on the graves.

Assessor’s Actions

  1. Assessor’s Agent Tom Hayes was present to provide a report of his recent activities.  He is beginning to visit commercial buildings.  The Town does not have a comprehensive list of businesses and developing one would be of general value.

2.   The Board was provided with a proposal from Bill Van Tuinen of Madison who has expertise in assessing of electric utilities real estate (poles, etc.).  CMP provides a list of its facilities each year with their valuation developed from state-wide averages.  Many towns benefit from specific assessments.  Mr. Van Tuinen would provide an assessment for us for $1,000.  Before acting on this proposal, the Board would like to know how well such assessments have worked out in other similar towns.

NEXT MEETING:  meet with flood zone program coordinator, personnel policy, follow up assessing of electric utilities, mowing contract

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
May 13, 2014

Present: Lester Sheaffer, Frank Ober, Tony Marple, Sue McKeen and Dennis Merrill
Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller
Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of May 6 were approved 4-0-1.

Flood zone.  Sue Baker from the State came in to discuss the national flood insurance program and what the Town would have to do to join.  There are several buildings in Town that appear to be within the newly mapped 100-year flood zone.  Without the Town participating in the program, these properties cannot get insurance under the national program, although private insurance might be available.  There are only 25-30 organized towns in the State that do not participate in the program.  All other Lincoln County towns do.  To participate, the Town would need to adopt an ordinance that addresses standards for construction within the flood zone.  A major criterion is no living floors below the high water mark.  In many situations, shoreland zoning rules already regulate construction in the same areas as covered by flood zones.  Essentially, the ordinance would not have to be enacted until after mid-2015 when the new federal flood zone maps are expected to become effective.  The State provides a model ordinance that towns can adapt to their own use.  There is no required cost to the Town for participating in the program.  To follow up on this, contact should be made with possibly effected property owners to see how much interest there is in this program.

  1. Mowing contract.  Aaron reported that both bidders on the mowing contract had good references.  The Board voted 5-0 to award the contract to the low bidder, Acorn and Sons of Waldoboro.  The contract was signed.

Journal entries were signed. 

  1. Two abatements approved previously were signed.

Roads grant.  The Board voted 5-0 to enter into a contract for a $2,000 “ASK” grant from Lincoln County Planning.  This money will go to hire an engineer to assist the roads committee in its work.  The committee will define the exact scope of the work.

  1. The Board signed a land installment contract with the Pooler family.

Personnel policy.  The Board continued its discussion of the draft personnel policy.  It agreed on a plan for capping earned benefit time and related issues.  The health benefits were also discussed and the health insurance’s exchange “gold” level of coverage or an equivalent, can be considered as benchmark for what the Town will provide for individual coverage.  Should an employee want to, he/she could use this level of benefit in various ways, such as lesser coverage in a family plan or for dental insurance as best fits personal needs.  Lester will continue to work on the draft and will have a more complete version in two weeks.

  1. Accounting services.  The Board voted 5-0 to use the person the retiring Terry Desmond has recommended for accounting and pre-audit services for the balance of the year.  This will get us through the end of the fiscal year and the annual audit. 

Aaron reported he is now a certified tax collector.  He recently attended a two-day municipal treasurer’s conference.

  1. Sue reported she recently had a personal meeting with a general assistance applicant and found that to be useful in getting a better understanding of a person’s situation and needs.

Frank noted the fans in the salt shed need repair and this work needs to be done before more sand is put up.

  1. Veterans graves.  Aaron said Libby Harmon has provided maps of the various cemeteries should the locations of veteran’s graves.  This will be a great help in seeing that the graves are property maintained.  Aaron will contact some group to see if one is interested in placing flags in advance of Memorial Day.

Assessor’s Actions

Tom Hayes came in to update the Board on assessment of electric utility property.  Bill Van Tunein of Madison has in several other towns found increases in valuation over what CMP has reported.  These include Showhegan, Bethel, and China.  The Board voted 5-0 to engage Mr. Van Tunein for $1,000 to do an assessment in Town after July 1.

NEXT MEETING:  The meeting on May 20 will be limited to signing warrant and will be held at the Town Office.  This will allow Board member to attend the RSU town meeting to vote on the annual budget.

MAY 27 MEETING;  Review of items needing work or attention before the end of the fiscal year, Personnel policy, Roadside mowing.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
May 20, 2014

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of May 13 were approved 5-0.

Two warrants were signed.

  1. Bond counsel.  Tony reported he has obtained two quotes for bond counsel services needed for the Maine Municipal Bond Bank loan for the new fire truck.  The lowest was Kozak and Gayer for $2,500.  The Board voted 5-0 to accept that proposal.  We will contract with them before the end of June.

4.  The Board adjourned to attend the RSU 12 annual budget town meeting at the school.

Assessor’s Actions

None

MAY 27 MEETING:  Review of items needing work or attention before the end of the fiscal year, Personnel policy, Roadside mowing, Forth of July parade.

 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
May 27, 2014

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of May 20 were approved 5-0.

Journal entries were signed.

  1. Warrants for the June 10 RSU 12 budget voting were signed.

Year end expenses.  With the end of the fiscal year on June 30 approaching, the Board reviewed the budget and work that should be completed.  This includes replacement of a door at the town office, repair of the fans in the salt shed, rain gutter problems at the town office, completing pre-audit accounting and hiring of bond counsel.  Some work may be needed in conjunction with road improvements on Hunts Meadow and Vigue Roads.  Additionally, we may want to put up some sand and salt for next winter.  For these road-related issues, Aaron will contact the Road Commissioner to meet with the Board.

  1. Personnel policy.  The Board continued its discussion of the draft policy by reviewing language on drug and alcohol use and earned benefit time, and holiday compensation.  A final draft will be reviewed next week and then it will be sent to the town attorney for review.

 

  1. Roadside mowing.  The Board discussed what should be done for mowing of the town roadsides this year.  Tree limbs from the ice storm last December will complicate the job to some degree.  The Board reviewed a proposal from a person in the Bangor area for this service (as well as to other area towns) and has equipment that seems to be appropriate and very competitive prices.  The Board was inclined to prepare a bid proposal for the work but needed to resolve questions about the width of roadside to specify, the size of vegetation to be cut and other details.  The road Commissioner will be asked to meet with the Board to address these questions.
  1. Fourth of July.  The Board voted 5-0 to sanction the annual July 4 parade in Kings Mills as a town event and appointed Randy Brann as the event coordinator. 

Sheepscot River.  It was noted the Sheepscot Valley Conservation Association will be holding a program on migratory fish on June 1 at the Lions Club, with a visit to the Coopers Mills dam. 

  1. Plowing turn-around.  The plowing contractor has requested a truck turn-around on Howe Road since the bridge there has been posted. .  Dennis reported he visited the area and found a location where a turn-around could be located.  He will contact the landowner.

Assessor’s Actions

Tony distributed a list of a list of expectations for assessing next year, to include updating records on 500 parcels with buildings as well as maintaining other routine assessing functions.  He also provided a draft log sheet that can be used to track activities.  The Board was in general agreement with these and a meeting will be schedule to go over the program with the Assessor’s Agent.

JUNE 3 MEETING:  Meet with Road Commissioner, update on regional planning and roads committee from John  Delvecchio, personnel policy, periodic review of  priorities

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
June 10, 2014

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of June 3 meting were approved 4-0-1.

An accounts payable warrant was signed.

  1. MMA committee.  MMA has put out a call for nominations to its legislative policy committee.  There was no interest among Board members.

 

  1. Roadside mowing.  Frederick Drew was in town this morning to discuss his services for roadside mowing.  He has equipment well suited to the extra debris from the ice storm and will mow a 12 foot swath wherever possible, using two tractors.  He is interested in a 3-year contract with two mows per year.  Each mowing would be $1,400, compared to the cost of $2,300 in recent years.  The Board voted 5-0 to have Mr. Drew do one mowing this year and then evaluate a longer-term contract going forward.
  1. EBT.  The Board discussed buy-out of unused EBT time and reaffirmed its commitment to the provision in the draft personnel policy that allow employees to purchase time in excess of maximum caps by July, 2016.

 

  1. Lawn mowers.  The Town owns two riding mowers, weed-whackers and other lawn maintenance equipment that is now not used as mowing is contracted out.  In the fall we will review the future need for this equipment and decide if some or all of the equipment should be sold.
  1. Aaron’s notes.  Administrative assistant was tied up with the primary election and left the Board with notes on his activities:

 

  1. Paving.  He has contacted surrounding towns regarding possible joint bidding for paving this summer.  Chelsea is not interested and Windsor is waiting the results of its town meeting.
  2. Sand and salt.  Four loads of salt have been ordered.  The Board voted 4-0-1 (Frank abstaining) to authorize Road Commissioner David Boynton to put up sand and salt before July 1 as the remaining budget allows.  This will help to keep down next year’s costs.
  3. Repair work.  On Friday Frank and Tony will clean the gutter at the town office and inspect the blowers in the salt shed to get them working before sand is put up.
  1. County planning.  John Delvecchio, the Town’s representative to the Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission, came in to discuss that organization.  The Commission allots two seats to each town and Whitefield currently has only one filled.  The Board appointed Tony to fill the other seat.  The Committee can assist towns with various planning and information needs as well as acting as a conduit for grants.  The Board had a general discussion with John about development possibilities in Town.

 

9.         Roads.  John Delevecchio reported on the status the road committee’s work.  The group is currently surveying roads using a rating system and software from the State DOT.  Dennis noted a check for a $2,000 grant from Lincoln County Planning is coming to assist in this process.  This money may be used to hire a consultant to provide some technical expertise in evaluating road maintenance alternatives.

  1. Priorities.  The Board reviewed some of the items on its priority list:

Assessing.  Tony and Dennis have met with assessor’s agent Tom Hayes to discuss a work plan for updating records on 400 properties in the upcoming year.

  1. Roads.  As noted above, the roads committee is surveying town roads.

10.  Executive session.  Pursuant to 36 MRSA, §841, the Board voted 5-0 to go into executive session to discuss a poverty abatement.  Following the session the Board voted 5-0 to adjust the amount of a poverty abatement previously granted, based on new information.

Assessor’s Actions

None

JUNE 17 MEETING: Review of attorney’s comments on personnel policy, process for bidding paving work and the need for a snowplow turn-around on Howe Road.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
June 17, 2014

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of June 10 meting were approved 5-0.

 

  1. Warrants for payroll and accounts payable were signed.
  1. Fire Department.  Lynn Talacko came in to update the Board.  At the end of the month the Department will burn a building on Hilton Road.  Prior to that they have been conducting on-site training that has proven to be very valuable.  The budget was discussed and Lynn noted that they have completed some equipment purchases for air packs, turnout gear, etc.  The amount in the EMA line of the budget is designated for emergencies and can be rolled over to subsequent years.

 

  1. Howe Road.  Road Commissioner David Boynton and plowing contractor David Spicer came in to discuss a turn-around on Howe Road with the prospect of the Bridge being posted so large plow trucks cannot cross.  The situation has no perfect resolution and both practicality and safety concerns were discussed.  It was decided to have turn arounds at the tops of the hills leading to the bridge and possibly post signs to warn motorists of changing road conditions as a smaller truck will have to plow the bridge and approaches separately.  David Spicer will have to consider what route and equipment changes may be necessary. 
  1. Sand and salt.  David Boynton will be putting up next year’s sand and salt this week and will work to fill the shed since the equipment will be mobilized.  Part of the work will be invoiced later for next year’s budget.  Doing all the work now will make use of money in this year’s budget and avoid the extra cost of a second mobilization of equipment.  The Board will look carefully at next year’s budget as it may be possible to reduce sand and salt costs based on work done this year.

 

  1. Finance report.  Aaron noted he attended a treasurer’s training program in Bangor today and found it very helpful.  The pre-audit work will begin next week.  The Board reviewed the current balance sheets and expense reports.  The current balance in the Town’s general account if $785,685.  This will have to cover expenses until taxes come in this fall.  The school bill is about $175,000 per month and the county tax bill due this fall is over $200,000, so we will need to take out a tax anticipation note. 
  1. General journal entries were signed.

 

  1. Free clothing.  Aaron noted that the West Gardiner Methodist Church provides clothing to people in need and would do so for Whitefield residents.  The general assistance administrators (selectmen) can give vouchers that people could then take to the church.  Aaron will get more details on this program. 
  1. Personnel policy.  The Town’s attorney has reviewed the personnel policy and had no major comments.  Prior to the policy being implemented on July 1, we will seek the Fire Chief’s review.

 

  1. An abatement previously approved was signed.
  1. Roads grant.  A letter and check for $2,000 was received from Lincoln County Regional Planning.  This money is to help with the on-going roads committee work, probably to hire a consultant to assist with technical issues.

 

  1. Trails committee.  The committee will be doing some fund raising and would like to have the Town hold and disburse the money.  The Board had no objections to this.
  1. Free wood.  A maple tree was taken down in front of the town office the wood is on the lawn.  Residents may take it.  After a couple of weeks, we will decide what to do with whatever remains.

 

  1. Executive session.  The Board voted 5-0 to go into executive session to discuss a poverty abatement pursuant to 36 MRSA §841.  Following the session no formal action was taken.

 

Assessor’s Actions

None

JUNE 24 MEETING: Review of work to done on Hunts Meadow Road with the Road Commissioner, updates on repurchase agreements for back taxes, progress report from the assessor’s agent

 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
June 24, 2014

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

 

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of June 17 meting were approved 5-0.

 

  1. Warrants for payroll and accounts payable were signed.
  1. Fire Department.  Scott Higgins came in to update the Board.  The new personnel policy was discussed briefly, with a question about receiving gifts.  A warrant article allows this.  Scott was approached about the Department doing a 50-50 raffle on Whitefield Day.  This, as well as related questions about the Town receiving cash, has been forwarded to the Town’s attorney.  There was a tragic accident on Howe Road Monday evening; the Department personnel responding performed well at this difficult incident. There will be a critical incident review meeting with Delta Ambulance staff Thursday.

 

  1. Howe Road.  The bridge on Howe Road has been posted with a sign saying 15 tons.  A notice in the newspaper says the weight limit is 25 tons.  Aaron will follow up with DOT to find out which is correct.
  1. Road work.  David Boynton came in to discuss this summer’s work on Hunts Meadow Road.  A portion from Rt. 126 to about Moosehead Lane will be widened, shoulders improved, ditching done and about 1.4 miles will be paved.  The Board voted 5-0 to have David do the work except the paving that will b e bid out.  Bids will be solicited from a list of paving contractors and by newspaper ads.  A pre-bid meeting will be required.  County planner Bob Faunce has contacted us wanting to share information about culvert replacement to aid fish passage; there may be grant funds available to help with this.  He will be invited to attend a future meeting.

 

  1. Computer woes.  Aaron reported the office computer crashed last Friday and we were not able to provide public service for several hours.  Additionally, he found 9 viruses on his computer.  The Board had a general discussion about services to provide constant monitoring of our computers.  Aaron will follow up on these issues and provide recommendations for next year’s budget.
  1. General journal entries were signed.

 

  1. Personnel policy.  The final copy of the new policy was signed.  Copies will be made for distribution to Town employees.  The Board voted 5-0 to rescind previous town personnel policies. 
  1. General Assistance changes.  New rate schedules for GA have been received and a notice of public hearing will be posted for these.

 

  1. Free clothing.  Aaron received more information from West Gardiner United Methodist Church about providing clothing to people in need.  As part of the GA program, the Town could issue vouchers to people needing clothing.  The Board had no objection to the Town participating in this program. 
  1. Abatements previously approved was signed.

 

  1. Fire truck bond.  Tony is working on this.  He is collecting information on property valuations, businesses in Town, budgets, etc. as part of the application form.  The application is due August 1.
  1. Trails committee.  The first trail established by the committee off Hunts Meadow Road will be launched with a ceremony on August 23.  Another trail along the Sheepscot River in the area of the school is in the works.

 

  1. Town office hours.  Next Monday is the close of the fiscal year and time is needed to close out the books.  Aaron recommended closing the office at Noon and being open 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM on Tuesday to compensate.  The Board understood the need for this but had some concern with the late notice.  The Board voted 4-1 (Lester opposed) to do this.  Aaron was asked to get the word out in as many ways as possible.
  1. Tax anticipation note.  The road work proposed for this summer is budgeted from the FY 15 taxes that will not come in until this fall.  Consequently, we will likely have to do a tax anticipation note earlier this year.

 

  1. Lincoln County Regional Planning.  Tony attended a recent meeting and briefed the Board about the meeting.

 

Assessor’s Actions

  1. Assessor’s Agent Tom Hayes came in to present two abatement requests:

 

  1. Lisa Tuttle of Jewett Lane requested an abatement some time ago, but processing was delayed due to Tom needing to get more information from her.  After examining this, he found the property had been valued in a manner consistent with the method used by the Town and there was no basis for a reduction.  The Board voted 5-0 to deny the abatement request.
  2. Troy Prescott requested an abatement for three parcels comprising a gravel pit on Vigue Road.  He purchased this as a distressed sale.  The pit is licensed by the DEP as an active mining operation; this is a Town criteria for assessing all such pits at a uniform rate.  Tom’s requests for more information were not successful.  The Board voted 5-0 to deny this request.
  1. A new “sketch” program will be added soon to the assessing computer system to allow accurate drawings to be entered and valuations can then be calculated automatically from that information. 

3.  Tom has been working on catching up on information for known commercial structures and expects to have these all done for this year’s commitment.  We need to establish a comprehensive list of businesses in Town. 

JULY 1 MEETING: Discussion of personnel reviews; Bob Faunce from Lincoln County Planning, if available; update on the status of repayment agreements.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
July 1, 2014

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of June 24 meting were approved 5-0.

 

  1. Warrants for payroll and accounts payable were signed.
  1. Culverts.  County Planner Bob Faunce came in to provide the Board with information about culverts and how they can impact fish and wildlife.  For the past several years, efforts have been made state-wide to inventory culverts to determine those that may prevent fish from moving upstream due to the ends being perched above the water level.  While studies continue and data are still being collated, the information now available shows Whitefield has quite a few problem culverts.  Since the Sheepscot River and its several tributaries are an important resource for salmon, alewife, trout, etc., these problem culverts can be of particular concern.  Bob provided handouts with specific information on several culvert locations.  There is currently no funding to assist in correction of problem areas.  However, a bond issue to be voted on in November may create some funds.  Additionally, Bob is exploring some demo projects or technical assistance in Lincoln County.  Three members of the roads committee were present for Bob’s presentation and hopefully will include consideration of culverts into their report.

 

  1. General Assistance Ordinance.  The Board held a public hearing regarding adoption of updates to the general assistance ordinance.  No one attended.  The Board then voted 5-0 to adopt the update rates schedules.
  1. General journal entries were signed.

 

  1. A quit claim deed for the mobile home on the Pooler property was signed.
  1. Repayment agreements.  The Board reviewed the status of several repayments agreements and found that all are keeping up to date.  In a related review of tax accounts, the Board will seek more information on the Mooers, Verizon, and USDA Rural Development accounts.

 

  1. Gravel mining moratorium.  The moratorium on gravel mining passed at town meeting will expire at the end of July.   The Planning Board has indicated it would like the moratorium extended.  The Board has the authority to do this and set July 22 as a date for a public hearing on the matter.
  1. To-do list.  Frank provided the Board with an update list of various items needing attention and status of several of these was discussed.  Sue will be working on a policy for acceptance of roads.

 

  1. Performance appraisals.  The Board will conduct performance appraisals in July.  The format and method used in the past was felt to be working well so that will be used going forward, with emphasis on future expectations. 
  1. Executive session.  Pursuant to 36 MRSA §841, the Board voted to go into executive session to discuss a poverty abatement request.  Following the session, the Board voted 5-0 to grant an abatement.

 

Assessor’s Actions

None

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
July 8, 2014

Present: Lester Sheaffer, Frank Ober, Tony Marple, Sue MeKeen and Dennis Merrill
Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller
Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of July 1 meting were approved 5-0.

 

  1. Fire Department.  Scott Higgins, Lynn Talacko and Randy Brann were present to discuss department issues.  The FY 2014 department expenditures would be over budget when considering that money in the EMA line must be carried over to next year.  Originally, legal fees for the fire truck bond came out of the department budget.  However, the Board voted 5-0 to take the $2,500 from the legal services line instead.  Randy reported that all went well with the Fourth of July celebration and the Kings Mill Association did well with its fund raising.  The Fire Department will be selling 50-50 raffle tickets for Whitefield Day.   Annual inspections for the trucks will be done this month.  New hose and two new air packs have arrived.
  1. Budget.  The Board reviewed the expense summary for FY 14 that ended on June 30.  The Town ended the year in the black.  The largest amounts unspent were for town roads (this carried forward) and RSU payments (Aaron noted they reduced their monthly charges part way through the year).  An effort will be made to better categorize road maintenance sub-categories going forward.  Carry forward amounts should be shown as credits in the budget summary.

 

  1. Electronic communications policy.  Aaron proposed a draft policy using one from another town as a model.  Some of the content may overlap with parts of the personnel policy.  Board members will review the draft and discuss it further next week.
  1. Performance reviews.  The Board discussed the process for completing annual performance reviews.  It will meet next week in executive session to discuss Aaron’s and then meet the following week with him.  Dennis will circulate a blank assessment form and Board members will also include expectations for the upcoming year.  A similar process will be proposed to the Fire Chief, focusing on management aspects of his job, not the technical elements. 

 

  1. Foreclosed property.  A property owned by the USDA is now tax acquired.  A Thomas Harville has been making periodic payments.  The relationship between the USDA and Mr. Harville is unclear and Aaron will call USDA to try to clarify this.  Mr. Harville has indicated a willingness to enter into a repayment agreement. 
  1. Mowing.  The Board voted 5-0 to allow Pat Chase to mow the field at the fire station for the silage.

 

  1. Lester noted he ran into a young person who is interested in local politics.  We will consider him for the Budget Committee other posts as the opportunities arise.  He could also consider joining the newsletter group.

Assessor’s Actions

Aaron will contact assessor’s agent Tom Hayes to see when he can come in to provide the Board with an update on his activities. 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
July 15, 2014

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of July 8 meting were approved 4-0.

 

  1. Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed.
  1. Electronic communications.  Aaron presented a policy from another town that addresses appropriate use of various forms of electronic communications.  After some discussion it was agreed Dennis would prepare a draft section for the current personnel policy that addresses appropriate communication in all forms.

 

  1. Policy for conduct of select board meetings.  Aaron presented a policy from another town on procedures to conduct orderly board meetings in the event disruptive persons are present.  The Board will file this for use should a situation involving disruptive behavior arise.
  1. Foreclosed property.  A property believed to have been owned by the USDA and now tax acquired was discussed.  It appears this property was sold some time ago by USDA to a Thomas Harville who never recorded the deed.  Mr. Harville paid the taxes in the past and seems willing to enter into a repurchase agreement to reacquire title to the property.  Aaron will communicate with Mr. Harville and prepare the appropriate paperwork.

 

  1. GA reimbursement.  The quarterly forms for reimbursement of general assistance were signed.
  1. General journal entries were signed.

 

  1. Stipend payments.  Some personnel are on annual stipends that have been paid by the town in partial or full lump sums.  The new personnel policy specifies that all stipends will be paid monthly.  Since this policy was recently adopted without forewarning, the Board was agreeable to a transition period this fiscal year for the individuals involved.
  1. Burial.  Some weeks ago a resident of Country Manor Nursing Home passed away with out any family to make final arrangements.  He was cremated and his ashes will be buried at the Coopers Mills Cemetery.  The Board voted to allocate funds from a trust fund to purchase a small lot and a headstone.

 

  1. Roadside brush removal.  The Board discussed the need to cut brush along town roads.  This is in addition to mowing and involves cutting limbs, large brush or trees that are impinging on roadways.  We will ask the Road Commissioner to attend a future meeting to discuss priorities, methods and schedules. 
  1. Pursuant to 1 MRSA §405(6)(A), the Board voted 4-0 to enter into an executive session to discuss a personnel matter.  Following the session no action was taken.

 

July 22 meeting:  Assessor’s Agent briefing, Land repurchase agreement, Executive session and Public hearing on moratorium

 

Assessor’s Actions

None

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
July 22, 2014

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of July 15 meting were approved 4-0-1.

 

  1. Resident Carl Riberio was present and noted that some towns offer a discount on taxes that are paid early.  Doing this may help to avoid having to take out a tax anticipation note.  This will be considered during budget discussions for next year.
  1. Needs assessment.  Aaron distributed a municipal needs survey from Midcoast Economic Development District.  Board members will review for next week and a consensus response to the questions will be discussed.

 

  1. A general journal entry was signed.  Another was deferred to more information or clarification from our accountant.
  1. Repurchase agreement.  An agreement with Thomas Harville discussed a couple of weeks ago was signed.  This calls for payment of back and current taxes over the next year.

 

  1. Communication policy.  A draft communications policy to be added to the personnel policy was discussed and approved 5-0.
  1. Moratorium.  The Board conducted a public hearing on the proposed extension of the current borrow pit moratorium.  Three planning Board members and three members of the public were present.  All testimony was in favor of extending the moratorium.  The Planning Board members noted they have met nearly weekly to collect information and review other borrow pit ordinances.  No changes to the situation prompting the moratorium were identified.   Following the hearing, the Board voted 5-0 to extend the moratorium for 180 days or until when the Town votes on proposed ordinance changes, which ever is sooner.

 

  1. Trust funds.  Aaron provided information from his research into the status and use of monies in trust funds held by the Town.  Combined, they have a total of $111,972 available for use.  The large majority of this, $84,62, is in the Coopers Mills cemetery fund for maintenance of that cemetery.  A couple of other funds could be used to assist needy persons in Town.  Two other have limited available funds.
  1. Animal control.  Frank reported on recent meetings of the County ACO committee.  A new alternate ACO has been hired and may service Whitefield.  Five Towns are now signed up to participate in the County program.  The Board discussed how to proceed with unlicensed dogs.  The initial plan is to send post cards will be send to owners of record reminding them of the need to reregister their animals.  Those not responding will get a follow up call.  If a call does not resolve the issue, the information will be given to the ACO for possible legal action.

 

  1. Pursuant to 1 MRSA §405(6)(A), the Board voted 4-0 to enter into an executive session to discuss a personnel matter.  Following the session no action was taken.

Next meeting:  Open paving bids. Meet with Road Commissioner on brush clearing, paving and line of sight problems, needs survey.

 

Assessor’s Actions

Assessor’s  Agent Tom Hayes came in to update the Board on his recent activities.  He accompanied Bill Van Tunien on a tour of electrical transmission line on last Friday.  We now have a better inventory of the electric infrastructure in Town. Bill will be preparing a report of his findings.  Information on the new natural gas line along Route 17 has been obtained.  Tom is also updating some commercial buildings, including the nursing home, stores, utilities buildings, etc.  The new sketch program has been installed in the TRIO computer system. 

Ferrailo Corp.  Aaron reported that personal property taxes charged to this now bankrupt company have not been paid.  To follow up on this, the law regarding of personal property taxes will be checked, the files from the bankruptcy proceeding will be reviewed and the Town’s attorney will be contacted as necessary.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
August 12, 2014

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

Select Board actions

  1. Approval of last week’s minutes was deferred until next week.

 

  1. Payroll and accounts payable warrants were signed.
  1. Fire department.  Chief Higgins reported that two trucks have passed their annual inspections and engine 5 will be inspected later this month.  The Coopers Mills annual auction will be on Saturday.    Training for three new department members is progressing well.  When the new fire truck is delivered, Scott will contact ISO for a courtesy inspection.  This will afford an opportunity for the agency to see our fleet of equipment and to chart the next steps toward improving the Town’s insurance rating.  Finally, Scott has been contacted about water supply at Coopers Mills in the event the dam were to be removed.  In earlier plans to do so, provisions for supply were satisfactory.

 

  1. Clary Lake.  George Fergusson came in to update the Board on the Clary Lake water level order.  That order has been appealed to the Superior Court and is now in mediation.  Although under appeal, the order must still be complied with and the dam owner has not made satisfactory submittals to DEP.  DEP has sent two letters of warning thus far.  A notice of violation from the agency would be the next step. Clary Lake Association is considering installing the required lake level monitor including the necessary survey work on its own.  Also, the Association is considering installing a dry hydrant near the dam on land owned by Jane Chase as a community service.  Chief Higgins thought this would a good idea.  George noted the lake is experiencing an algae bloom and he attributes this, at least in part, to the lowered water levels.  George would like to move the overall process along in any way possible, including enforcement of the existing order conditions.  To that end, the Board voted 3-0 to send a letter to the Assistant Attorney General assigned to the case. 
  1. RSU.  The Board has a general discussion about the upcoming votes in Windsor and Palermo to withdraw from RSU 12.  If these withdrawals were to occur, there would likely be impacts on the remaining towns, although the Superintendent cannot estimate what those might be at this time.  The Board agreed we need to monitor the situation but withhold serious discussions until after seeing how the votes on Nov 4 come out.  There will be a public hearing on the withdrawal on August 28 at Windsor School.

 

  1. Roadside mowing.  Mowing is underway by the contractor we hired.  He has noted that the Town’s roadsides are in generally poor condition with lots of debris.  He will be making a proposal for cutting brush as well.

Next meeting:  Review references for the selected paving contractor, discuss assessing priorities.

 

Assessor’s Actions

Tom Hayes came in to brief the Board on methods of assessing shorefront property in Town.   Presently, all parcels with lake frontage are assessed an extra $10,000 while frontage on the river adds $5,000.  These values are the same no matter how large a parcel is or what the character of the frontage is like.  Other towns assess water frontage at much higher rates.  Tom suggested two other possible methods.  First, the length of frontage could be assessed on a per foot basis.  Second, the length of frontage could be multiplied by a certain distance back, say 200 feet, to arrive at an acreage that could be assessed on a declining scale.  In either case, adjustment factors could be applied for the type of frontage such as deep water, sand or swampy.  After some discussion, the Board agreed that updating the methods and rates should be done.  However, timing should be considered in light of resolution of Clary Lake water level problems and other assessing priorities.  This is something we need to be working on to have an updated system ready when it is needed. 

 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
August 19, 2014

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

Select Board actions

  1. Approval of last week’s minutes was deferred until next week.

 

  1. The minutes for the Aug 5 meeting were approved 3-0-1.
  1. Annual audit.  A standard letter of engagement with Berry, Talbot and Royer was signed.  This defines the Town’s’ responsibilities in conjunction with the audit for FY14.

 

  1. Loan.  The Town’s application for a loan from the Maine Municipal Bond Bank for the new fire truck has been approved.  The Board voted 4-0 to sign the letter of acceptance for the loan. 
  1. General journals were signed.

 

  1. Ditch problem.  Dwayne Libby came in to discuss problems with an eroded shoulder on Townhouse Road.  The postal carrier has given the residents a warning that mail delivery is in jeopardy.  After some discussion with Mr. Libby, it was decided to set a meeting with the Road Commissioner to review the situation.  Ditching, and probably a culvert, will be needed.
  1. Aaron reported on a treasurer’s training session he attended today, noting several things he learned. 

 

  1. General discussion.  The Board briefly discussed improving broadband access in Town, comparison of state wage rates for roadwork to actual charges and brush cutting needs.
  1. Paving.  The Board voted 4-0 to finalize the contract with Hagar Enterprises for paving of Hunts Meadow Road.

 

Next meeting:  Monthly financial report, report on assessing status.

 

Assessor’s Actions

  1. Pipeline valuations.  The Board reviewed information from Bill Van Tuinen who had been hired to assess the valuation of natural gas pipelines in Town.  This work showed an increase in value over what the owners had reported.

 

  1. The Board had a general discussion about assessing priorities.  The immediate goal is to complete the work necessary to move forward with the annual tax commitment.
  1. Bill Gauvin came in to discuss his concerns with the assessed value of his buildings at the intersection of Howe Road and Rt. 17.  Mr. Gauvin stated the buildings have been in poor condition since he purchased them and he tore them down this year.  Although there was reassessment and abatement granted, he feels the value was still too high and would like a reduction in back taxes still owed.  The Assessor’s Agent will be contacted to review the situation.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
August 19, 2014

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for the Aug 12 meeting were approved 3-0-2.

 

  1. The minutes for the Aug 19 meeting were approved 4-0-1.
  1. Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed.

 

  1. Two quit claim deeds were signed. One to Mark Fenderson and the other to Lawrence Smith to clear up what may have been an undischarged lien from long ago.  Mr. Smith’s taxes are fully up to date.
  1. General journals were signed.

 

  1. Ditch problem.  Dwayne Libby came in to discuss problems with an eroded shoulder on Townhouse Road.  Aaron had spoken with the Road Commissioner and Mr. Libby suggests placing heavy stone in the ditch to allow for drainage and prevent erosion.  An on-site meeting between Mr. Libby, the Road Commissioner and Select Board member(s) is to be arranged.  We need to get some information on who provides an initial culvert when one is needed.
  1. Roadside brush.  Dennis presented a draft bid document to solicit services for cutting brush on Heath and South Hunts Meadow Roads.  Board members will review for further discussion next week.  Aaron reported he has spoken with the Chelsea Town Manager and Chelsea may be interested in participating in such a contract.

 

  1. Financial report.   Aaron updated the Board on the present financial status.  The Town presently has $585,000 in the general fund.  Year to date (since July 1) State revenue sharing payments are down from last year.  Other revenue streams are about the same as last year.  Aaron is to put carryover amounts on the monthly expense reports.
  1. Possible cell phone tower.  Aaron reported he has received an inquiry from a consultant investigating possible location of a cell phone tower in the Kings Mills area.  Aaron will supply the requested information regarding possible environmental contamination in the area – there is none.

 

  1. County budget.  The annual County meeting to select a budget committee is scheduled for September 11.  This involves selecting a committee from select board members attending from the various towns.
  1. Dental care.  Aaron distributed pamphlets received from the Lincoln County Dental describing their services available to low income people.  The group may be requesting a town donation for next year’s budget.

 

  1. Road sign.  The “stop ahead” sign on Townhouse Road in Kings Mills needs to be replaced.  Aaron will order the sign.  Also, the Board discussed the intersection with R. 194.  This “Y” can be dangerous and may need additional signage.
  1. Community development grants.  Sue reports she has met with a representative for the Maine Community Development Foundation.  This group makes grants for various community projects.  The trails committee may be interested in this.

 

Assessor’s Actions

  1. Tom Hayes was present to update the Board on preparation of the annual tax commitment.  He has most of the updated values but is still clearing up a few loose ends before final numbers are available for the tax commitment.  Hopefully these will be available for next week.  The town’s total valuation has increased about $15 million, due in large part to updating of information on electric and gas line utilities and commercial structures. 

 

Next meeting:  Report on status of repayment agreements, tax commitment, brush control contract, fire chief evaluation.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
September 2, 2014

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for the Aug 26 meeting were approved 5-0.

 

  1. Repayment agreements.  Aaron updated the Board on the status of repayment agreements with persons owning back taxes.  With one exception, all are current.  Aaron will send a letter to the person who is behind and pays erratically.
  1. Loan agreement.  The Board voted 5-0 to enter into the formal loan agreement with the Maine Municipal Board Bank for the purchase of the new fire truck.  The agreement documents were signed.

 

  1. Ditch problem.  A meeting was held between Tony, the Road Commissioner and a Townhouse Road resident to resolve a drainage problem.  The resident will pay for needed culverts and the Town will do ditching and culvert installation.
  1. Meeting with Chelsea.  The Town of Chelsea has invited representatives from other towns to meet with them on Sep 17 to discuss ways to improve cooperation between towns to save money or gain efficiency.  Board members are interested in attending.

 

  1. Roadside brush.  The draft contract/bid proposal for roadside brush was discussed with some wording changes being made.  After the meeting with Chelsea on Sept 17 to discuss inter local cooperation, a decision will be made whether to participate in a joint advertisement or advertise separately. 
  1. Copier.  Aaron reported the photocopier in the office is not working properly and needs almost $700 in repairs.  It is old and not worth making the repairs.  Aaron will research options for lease or purchase of a new machine.

 

  1. Fuel purchases.  Aaron will investigate prices for propane and fuel oil for town buildings for the winter.
  1. Whitefield Day.  Aaron will contact our mowing contractor to arrange to have the grass mowed next week, prior to Whitefield Day.

 

  1. Fire Chief.  Lester will develop rating criteria for the Fire Chief’s performance appraisal. 

 

Assessor’s Actions

  1. Mil rate.  After discussion and review of new valuation information, expenses and revenue, the Board voted 5-0 to set the mil rate at 14.25.  This is 1 mil lower than last year and owes to increased valuation.  The mil rate will give an overlay of about $65,000.  Dennis will work on a draft letter to include with the tax bills.

 

Next meeting:  Review of status of priorities

 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
September 9, 2014

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for the Sep 2 meeting were approved 5-0.

 

  1. Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed.  Aaron noted he is beginning the process of obtaining a tax anticipation note as several large bills will be coming up and tax bills are not due for a couple of months.
  1. Cemetery lots.  The Board signed two cemetery lot certificates granting ownership to persons who have paid for lots in the Coopers Mills cemetery.

 

  1. Planning Board.  Four members of the Planning Board came in to present to the Board the revised development ordinance they have been working on.  The revisions correct unconstitutional problems with the existing ordinance and add provisions to better regulate new or expanded gravel pits in response to the current moratorium.  The changes will be applicable to new or expanded developments but will not affect existing ones already approved.  The Planning Board proposes to hold a public hearing on the revisions on October 1 and have a vote at the November general election.  The Board will consider formally fixing these dates next week.  Aaron will look into wording and appropriate documents.
  1. Copier.  Aaron presented the results of his investigations into replacing our old copier.  It is cheaper to purchase a new copier as opposed to lease arrangements.  The cost for a suitable machine is in the area of $2,700.The Board voted 5-0 to authorize Aaron to purchase a new copier.

 

  1. Fuel purchases.  Aaron reported on his investigations into fuel prices for this winter; he has obtained some prices for propane and fuel oil.  It was decided to hold off until we meet with other towns in the area on Sep 17 to see if a joint purchase may be possible.  If no other town uses propane, Aaron can go ahead and lock that in with Fieldings since that company owns the tank at the fire station.  We may consider the cost on purchasing a propane tank in the future.
  1. Aaron noted we received a letter of thanks from Kennebec Behavioral Health for the Town’s donation.

 

  1. DAR proclamation.  At their request, the Board signed a proclamation provided by the Daughters of the American Revolution recognizing the anniversary of the US Constitution.

 

Assessor’s Actions

  1. Tax commitment.  The Board voted 5-0 to fix the tax rate at 14.25 mils for this year.  This rate is one mil lower than last year due primarily to increased valuations for commercial and utilities properties.  The tax commitment papers were signed.

 

  1. Letter with tax bills.  The Board reviewed a draft letter to be sent with the tax bills.  Aaron will make edits and circulate a revised version.

 

Next meeting:  fix dates for vote on development ordinance revisions and a public hearing

 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
September 16, 2014

Present: Lester Sheaffer, Frank Ober, Sue McKeen (delayed), Tony Marple and Dennis Merrill
Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for the Sep 9 meeting were approved 4-0.

 

  1. Fire Chief.  Scott Higgins came in to discuss some concerns with the Coopers Mills fire station.  There is an ongoing rodent problem and some hose has been chewed.  Chief Higgins is concerned about the new fire truck being damaged, especially the wiring, if it is located there without the rodent problem being solved.  He has discussed options with the Coopers Mills association.  The new truck is scheduled for delivery in January.  The firefighters enjoyed participating in Whitefield Day.
  1. Planning Board.  Four members of the Planning Board came in to discuss steps to place the revisions to the development ordinance on the ballot for Nov. 4.  Initially, the Board voted 5-0 to call a special town meeting for Nov. 4 using ballot language recommended to Aaron by MMA.  In subsequent discussion, Planning Board members were concerned that the ballot language did not provide any information for voters on the content or purpose of the ordinance changes.  Following this discussion, the Board voted 3-0-2 (Lester and Dennis abstaining) to rescind the previous voted.  The Board then voted 4-0-1 (Lester abstaining) to meet Thursday at 6PM in the fire station to finalize the ballot language after discussion with the Town’s attorney.  The Planning Board will meet Wednesday with the Town attorney present, and some Board members will plan to attend.

 

  1. Devine Road.  Resident Bill St. Pierre came in to express concern with culverts near the power lines on Devine Road not being able to handle the amount of water there causing flooding of the Road and his property.  The situation will be discussed with the Road Commissioner.
  1. The Board signed a quit claim deed to Curt Whitehouse.  The Board also signed deeds to two other property owners to clear the record for liens issued in 1980 and 1982, the discharges of which were never recorded.

 

Assessor’s Actions

The Board discussed a request from a representative of Pleasant Pond Mill regarding taxes on the building setting atop Clary Lake Dam.  In 2010, through a series of property transfers, the building was separated from the land it was formerly a part of and is now taxed as a separate piece of real estate, similar to a mobile home on the land of another person.  The PPM representative contends that PPM should not be taxed for the building as it was sold to Aquafortis.  While a bill of sale for this transaction was reportedly given to a town official, there is no record of it in the Town’s files, nor is it recorded in the registry of deeds.  The PPM representative would like to meet with the Board next week.  While the Board was agreeable to doing that, it felt that unless a signed copy of the bill of sale is produced, it would be difficult to resolve this issue.  The Board also expressed some concerns that this issue was not raised with the first tax bill after the sale of the building, but was delayed until a lien was issued for non-payment of taxes.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
September 23, 2014

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for the Sep 16 meeting were approved 5-0.  The minutes of the Sep 18 meeting were approved 3-0-2.

 

  1. Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed.
  1. A cemetery lot agreement was resigned to correct typographical errors.

 

  1. Fuel bids.  Aaron reported he has contracted with Fielding’s for propane for the winter at $2.19 per gallon.  For heating oil, the Board voted 5-0 to go with CN Brown at $3.19 per gallon, the lowest of four quotes. 
  1. Brush clearing.  Chelsea is interested in a joint bidding process for removal of brush on selected roads, and they are happy with the proposed contract that will be altered to include both towns.  The end date for the work will be May 1, 2015, possibly with an extender clause.

 

  1. Taxes on mill dam.  Representing Pleasant Pond Mill, Paul Kelley came in to provide information to show that the red building setting on the dam was sold to Aquafortis in 2010.  The tax bills are still being sent to PPM, and Mr. Kelley wants the situation rectified and accrued fees to be waived.  He also asked that Sue recuse herself from discussions on the matter since she is a member of Clary Lake Association that is involved in proceeding regarding water levels.  No action was taken by the Board on the request.  We will follow up on the tax bill situation, perhaps seeking legal counsel as necessary.
  1. Fred Duncan came in with three issues.  First, he expressed concern that the Board had sent a letter to the Attorney General regarding Clary Lake water levels since the Town was supposed to be remaining neutral.  The Board pointed out that the letter only asked that the AG do whatever possible to bring the matter to a prompt resolution and to enforce the law if violation are found.  It did not “take side” on the issues.  Second, he asked that flooding problems on Sennott Road be fixed.  He suggested that in the problem area heavy stone, not sand, be placed to avoid future washouts.  Tony will call the Road Commissioner regarding this and other maintenance needs.  Finally, he wanted to follow up on concerns he previously brought to the Board regarding tax bills being sent to another person for land he owns.  He would like a letter from the Town confirming its position in the ownership dispute and will send a letter of request to that effect.

 

  1. Aaron noted a letter of support for the walking trail development from the RSU.  The school strongly supports a trail near the school as it would have educational value.
  1. Frank reported on a recent meeting of the County ACO advisory group.  The County has brought on 6 or 7 part-time or backup officers.  They want to purchase special protective gloves and this is of some concern due to increasing costs from participating in the County program.  Frank covered additional topics, seeking guidance on how certain situations should be handled.

 

  1. Aaron reported a new photocopier will be delivered tomorrow.

 

Assessor’s Actions

None.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
October 7, 2014

Present: Lester Sheaffer, Sue McKeen (delayed), Tony Marple and Dennis Merrill
Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller

Absent: Frank Ober

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for the Sep 30 meeting were approved 3-0. 

 

  1.  Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed.
  1. Rescue. Lynn Talacko came in to update the Board on a serious accident on Mills Road last week.  Town rescue personnel were very quick in making a first response.

 

  1. Financial report.  Aaron provided an updated expense summary and discussed various budget lines with the Board.  The general fund’s current balance is about $500,000 and there are several large expenses coming up – county tax, school payment, a paving bill and fire station loan payment.  He anticipates using about $200,000 in tax anticipation note money to bridge the gap until tax payments are due.  The TAN interest rate is 1.45%.
  1. Several abatements previously approved were signed.

 

  1. The quarterly general assistance reimbursement requests were signed.
  1. Public hearing.  The public hearing on proposed changes to the development ordinance was held Monday evening.  Aaron noted that since absentee ballots have already been sent out, making substantive changes to the draft ordinance would be problematic.

 

  1. Past due taxes.   An installment agreement with Patrick Thayer is behind in payments.  Aaron sent Mr. Thayer a letter regarding this about a month ago but there has been no response.  Aaron will send a certified letter stating that if this matter is not cleared up, the Town will have little choice but to sell the property.
  1. Plowing contract.  The road plowing contract with David Spicer is due to expire in May 2015, and David has verbally expressed some interest in discussing an extension as allowed by the contract.  In discussions of this, there were concerns with the perception of not bidding out the work.  Alternately, securing a fixed price would be helpful in the budget process and might avoid unknown, higher bids in the future.  David will be asked to submit a written request for contract extension, if he so desires.

 

  1. Cemetery committee.  Aaron indicated he has had two people interested on serving on a committee, although a chair is still needed.  An article will be drafted for the Whitefield News and possibly local newspapers.
  1. Training seminar.  On Oct 23 there will be regional training seminar for proper culvert installation to protect fish passage coordinated through Lincoln County Regional Planning and held at the Whitefield fire station.

 

  1. CEO.  The Board had a general discussion on the roles and responsibilities of the CEO and his fees and payments.  Aaron will check the files for a contract with the present CEO and a general job description.

 

Assessor’s Actions

Tom Hayes came in to update the Board on recent activities.  He provided a list of property value adjustments recently made.  Most of the changes resulted from inquiries or property sales and included adjustments to square footage of buildings, corrected descriptions, etc.  Tom has been responding to questions about the new tax bills sent out recently.  Finally, the Board asked that he develop some options for ways to assess personal property taxes in the fairest manner.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
October 14, 2014

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for the Oct 7 meeting were approved 3-0-1. 

 

  1.  Roads.  David Boynton was present to discuss road issues.  Culvert cuts on Vigue Road are supposed to be paved this week.  In response to a citizen concern, David investigated culverts on Devine Road and found all are working properly.  Making any changes in the elevation might adversely affect a wetland.  On Sennott Road, a beaver dam needs to be removed and some work is needed to repair some erosion on shoulders in the area.  On Hunts Meadow Road, the recent paving needs to be back-filled along the edges.  David said Windsor has some special equipment that can help with this work and he will be talking with that town’s road supervisor. 

The Board discussed with David current equipment rates paid by the Town.  David said these were set by the Town several years ago.  Tony noted a small survey conducted by Aaron of other towns finding variability and rates often over the State rates.  There was some discussion of when to bid work out, but the Town’s general purchasing policy needs to be reviewed and more research done.

  1. Fire truck loan.  The Board voted 4-0 to sign a “Signature and Non-Litigation Certificate” in support of the load for the new fire truck.  The Board also signed signature cards for a separate bank account in which money from the Maine Bond Bank will be held until the new truck is delivered in January.

 

  1. General journal entries were signed.
  1. ACO.  Frank reviewed his proposed responses to questions posed by the county ACO advisory committee.  He will respond.  He noted that two persons who have served Whitefield as ACO’s have resigned from the county service.  The county has hired new people and will continue to provide coverage for Town.

 

Assessor’s Actions

Lester noted he has had a question about providing tax exemptions for solar panels.  Taxing such
Things tends to diminish an owners return on investment for good works.  We need to check with Tom Hayes.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
October 21, 2014

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

 

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for the Oct 14 meeting were approved 4-0-1.  One amendment regarding culverts on Sennott Road was made, striking out a phrase on beavers.

 

  1.  Fire and Rescue.  Lynn Talacko and Scott Higgins came in to update the Board.  They have been working with the Historical Society to mount a large 1857 map of Lincoln County in station lobby.  Hopefully, this will be in place by Election Day.  Work on the new fire truck in progressing.  Generators at the stations have been serviced and furnaces will be done soon.
  1. Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed.  These included several large bills: the monthly school payment, the annual county tax bill, a bill for paving Hunts Meadow Road and a fire station loan payment.  Aaron will monitor the bank balance to see if money needs to be drawn from the tax anticipation note.

 

  1. The Board signed the assessor’s return for the county tax bill.
  1. Fire truck loan.  The Board voted 5-0 to several documents finalizing the Maine Municipal Bond Bank loan for the new fire truck.

 

  1. The Board signed a warrant posting the Nov 4 special town meeting to vote on amendments to the development ordinance.
  1. Road work.  The culvert cuts on Vigue Road were paved today. 

 

  1. Heating assistance.  Aaron is getting information on heating assistance programs.  He will prepare an article on this for the Whitefield News.
  1. Mock election.  Tomorrow, Aaron will give a presentation on elections at the school’s mock election.

 

  1. Emergency management.  Frank noted we should get updated on the town’s emergency management plans.  Aaron will ask our emergency management director to come in to brief the Board.
  1. Informational pamphlet.  Sue suggested that a pamphlet with helpful information be developed.  This could contain references on various programs that people may benefit from and could be modeled after one published by the State.  She will work on this.

 

  1. Executive session.  Pursuant to 1 MRSA section 504((6)(a), the Board voted 5-0 to go into executive session to discuss a personnel matter.  Following the session, no action was taken.

Assessor’s Actions

none

 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
October 28, 2014

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for the Oct 21 meeting were approved 5-0. 
  1.  Fire and Rescue.  Scott Higgins and Emergency Management Director Richard Parlin came in to update the Board on the Town’s Emergency Management program.  Richard said he has been taking classes and he prepared reports of damage resulting from the ice storm last December.  After storm events, he surveys roads for damage.  He was involved in the 2013 blizzard and files necessary reports to the County EMA Director.  There was a general discussion of roles and responsibilities in various situations and whom citizens could call for assistance.  A Whitefield News article or other outreach may be helpful.
  1. Road acceptance policy.  The Board discussed a draft policy for acceptance of private roads as town ways.  For a road to be recommended for acceptance it would have to have been built according to standards in the subdivision ordinance, be acceptable to the Road Commissioner and Fire Chief, have at least 4 full time residences and not cause and objectionable conditions.  The draft will be amended and brought back next week for final consideration. 
  1. Fire truck loan.  The funds from the State bond sale, $269,000, have been received.  The Board signed signature cards for a separate bank account to hold the money at 0.25% interest until the new fire truck in delivered and invoiced.
  1. Audit.  Aaron reported the annual audit is nearly done and he expects to receive preliminary reports soon. 
  1. General journals were signed.
  1. On November 5, the Know-Lincoln County Soil Conservation will hold its annual recognition dinner and will be honoring Ben and Taryn Marcus as Cooperators of the Year.
  1. Executive session.  Pursuant to 1 MRSA section 504((6)(a), the Board voted 5-0 to go into executive session to discuss a personnel matter.  Following the session, no action was taken.
  1. Next meeting:  Road acceptance policy, consider abatement requests, situation with Thayer property and warrants.

 

Assessor’s Actions

Tom Hayes came in to discuss the annual Sate Valuation Return.  This document provides various information about the Town’s tax base and records; it is mostly directly from our computer system, TRIO.  The Board signed the report form that Tom will deliver to the State.  There was also some discussion about the State’s valuation for the Town; this is somewhat higher than the Town’s value.  Tom will investigate how the State does its calculations.  He noted the State is a couple of years behind in its data.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
November 4, 2014      

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

 

Select Board actions

  1. Executive session.  Pursuant to 1 MRSA section 504((6)(a), the Board voted 5-0 to go into an emergency executive session to discuss a personnel matter. 

 

Following the session, The Board voted 5-0 to authorize Tony and Dennis to further investigate and develop a finding of fact regarding the emergency personnel action discussed at this meeting.

The Board voted 5-0 to suspend an employee with pay pending findings of fact.

  1. Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed.

 

3.  Plowing contractor David Spicer came in and briefly discussed the first snow storm on Sunday.  He is refining his route for the winter.  Because of the posted bride on Howe Road, we may need some caution signs that road conditions may be changeable. 

 

Assessor’s Actions

None

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
November 7, 2014

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

The Board held a special meeting at 8:00 AM at the Fire Station.  Notice was made by posting at the Town Office and notifying the local press.

Select Board actions

  1. Executive session.  Pursuant to 1 MRSA section 504((6)(a), the Board voted 5-0 to go into an emergency executive session to discuss a personnel matter. 

 

Following the session, no formal actions were taken by the Board

 

Assessor’s Actions

None

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
November 18, 2014

Present: Lester Sheaffer, Sue McKeen, Frank Ober Tony Marple and Dennis Merrill
Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller
Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of Nov 10 were approved 5-0.
  2. Journal entries were signed.
  3. Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed.
  4. Crocker Avenue. Resident Gray Hart came in to discuss questions about the status of the Town's interest in this inactive road. The road has not been actively maintained by the Town for many years. According to law, a road not maintained for 30 years is abandoned and the right of way would cede to the abutters. We will need to do more investigation with records and long time residents to see if the road has been inactive for 30 years, as is presumed.
  5. Moosehead Lane. Resident Clarissa Howard came in to inquire how residents can request the Town accept the road under the recently adopted Board policy. There needs to be a written request made by at least half of the residents on the road.
  6. Brush cutting bids. The Board opened five bids for cutting brush on Heath and South Hunts Meadow Road, a total of about 4.6 miles. The bids were as follows.

Name Heath Road S. Hunts Meadow Road
Farley & Sons, Rockport $19,300 $13,510
Quality Hardwood, Newfields, NH $19,656 $13,680
Nathan Northrup, Jefferson $9,120 $6,840
RP Crane & Tree Service, Arundel $3,000 $3,000
Rosengren Landscaping, Freeport $5,043 $3,370
The Board voted 5-0 to table the bids and review them and check references and prepare a recommendation for next week.

  1. Signature cards for a new bank account were signed.
  2. Deputy clerk. Aaron reported he has posted the deputy clerk and tax collector position in various venues. He is also looking into temporary staff to help out until a full time replacement can be found.
  3. New trail. Tony noted a new hiking trail will be opened in mid-December. This is being developed in conjunction with the school and originates next to the recycling center.
  4. Executive session. Pursuant to 1 MRSA section 504((6)(a), the Board voted 5-0 to go into an executive session to discuss a personnel matter. Following the session, no formal action was taken.
  5. Next meeting: award of brush cutting contract, road commissioner rates, executive session

Assessor’s Actions
1. Tom Hayes came in to present five abatements:

  1. Barry Tibbets for an isolated parcel of Rt 126 to remove a base lot. Approved 5-0.
  2. Joanne Tribby to remove a base lot on land that overlaps the Jefferson town line as the parcel has a base lot in Jefferson. Approve 5-0.
  3. Ernest Baron to reduce the value of a home for which the Whitefield-Pittston town line runs through the middle. Each town will take 50% of the building value. Approved 5-0.
  4. Larry Prescott for a camp on Pickerel Lane that done not have a septic system as previously assessed (outhouse only). Approved 5-0.
  5. Chester Rice Co. for a now closed out gravel pit off Palmer Road to reduce the value to regular land. Approve 4-0-1, Dennis abstaining.
  1. Tom provided the Board with a list of the properties he adjusted valuations on during October.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
November 25, 2014

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of Nov 18 were approved 4-0.

 

  1. Brush cutting bids.  The Board discussed the bids received last week with bidder Nathan Northrup in attendance.  He noted his equipment is able to remove more vegetation than handwork and would result in the need t clear brush as frequently.  Frank and Dennis reported that reference checks for the two lowest bidders produced all favorable reports.  Following discussion, the Board voted 3-1 (Lester opposed) to accept the low bid of $6,000 from RP Crane and Tree Service. 
  1. Signature cards for town bank accounts were signed as is routinely necessary after a change in town personnel.  Tony will sign at a later date.

 

  1. EMA director.  The Board received the resignation of Richard Parlin as EMA director.  Richard reported his full time job did not allow him enough time to fulfill the EMA role.  The Board thanked him for his service to the Town.  Fire Chief Scott Higgins who was also present said he has a lead on an experienced person who might be interested in the position. 
  1. Fire Department.  Chief Higgins provided the Board with various updates and issues. 

 

  1. Deputy clerk.  Aaron reported he has received four applications thus far for the vacant deputy clerk/tax collector position.  The notice of vacancy will remain posted for two weeks.  The Board discussed the process for selecting a new person.  On a vote of 4-0 the Board voted to form a subcommittee to of Tony and Frank to work with Aaron to (1) propose a salary range and benefits package for Board approval; (2) screen application received; and (3) conduct interviews and recommend to the Board a candidate for appointment.
  1. Correspondence.  The Board received a letter from citizen expressing concern that the former tax collector be prosecuted for misappropriation of town funds.

 

  1. Interest on overdue taxes.  Aaron noted the TRIO computer system will need to the changed to reflect the 4% interest rate on overdue taxes adopted by Town Meeting last March.  The rate had previously been 7%.
  1. DMV audit.  Representatives from the State motor vehicles program have been auditing town records.  Aaron reported they have found everything in good order thus far and a letter of findings will be provided at the completion of the process.

 

  1. Thayer property.  Frank reported he visited the Thayer property and discussed with a woman living there the fact payments under the repurchase agreement have fallen significantly behind.  Subsequently, Mr. Thayer did come in to the office and made a payment.  Another visit will be made to the property to request a formal meeting with the Board to discuss the present situation.
  1. Fire station parking.  Frank noted that on election day parking at the fire station and town office complex was very limited.  Similarly, there is inadequate parking for other event as well.  The Board agreed we should look into more parking by using land behind and beside the station.

 

  1. Beaver problems.  Sue noted the culvert on Sennot Road is partially plugged and there is risk of the road flooding.  She will contact the Road Commissioner.
  1. Executive session.  Pursuant to 1 MRSA section 504((6)(a), the Board voted 5-0 to go into an executive session to discuss a personnel matter.  Following the session, a performance appraisal was signed.

 

Assessor’s Actions

On a vote of 4-0, the Board approved an abatement request by Marstons on S. Hunts Meadow Road to remove a base lot on land that overlaps the Pittston town line as the parcel has a base lot and dwelling in Pittston. 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
December 2, 2014

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of Nov 25 were approved 4-0-1.

 

  1. Accounts receivable and payroll warrants were signed.
  1. General assistance.  The Board discussed changes to the hours that GA application will be received.  The general feeling was that it would be good to personally meet with applicants and receive applications by appointment.  The Board voted 5-0 to set the GA application time as Wednesday 8:00 to 10:00 AM, by appointment.

 

  1. EMA director.  Outgoing director Richard Parlin came in to see if the Board was aware of any expenses from the Thanksgiving Day storm as he was filling out reports.  No direct costs have been identified. 
  1. Plowing contractor.  David Spicer came in and discussed a situation where a person’s house is very close to the road and is prone to having snow thrown close to or on the building.  David has place flagging tape to help warn drivers to slow down.  He also explained that under certain conditions (darkness, very heavy snow, oncoming traffic, etc.) it can be difficult to totally avoid throwing snow on the roadside.  He was considering putting up a snow fence and will discuss this with the homeowner. 

 

David also discussed with the Board the possibility of extending his plowing contract that will be expiring next spring.  He would like to extend for 3 years to justify purchase of new equipment.  However, the contract allows for extension of only one year at a time, for up to a total of 3 years.  The Board said that it has been happy with David’s performance and would be mindful of this in considering annual extensions.  The cost of an extended contract is also a consideration.  David will think the situation over and consider a specific proposal. 

  1. Correspondence.  The Board received a letter from citizens on Mossehead Lane requesting that their road be accepted as a town way.  This will be held for inclusion on the annual town meeting warrant.  We will need reviews by the Road Commissioner and Fire Chief.

 

  1. Budget process.  The Boar discussed the process for setting next year’s budget.  The Board will begin its discussions on December 16.  The Budget Committee will be convened on January 6.  The goal is to have the budget and town meeting warrant finalized by February 10.  Dennis will contact Budget Committee members from last year to see how many want to serve again this year.  The Board will then appoint other new members as needed.
  1. Thayer property.  No new developments Frank and Dennis will try to visit the property on Thursday. 

 

  1. Executive session.  Pursuant to 1 MRSA section 504((6)(a), the Board voted 5-0 to go into an executive session to discuss a personnel matter.  Following the session, the Board voted 5-0 to hire a specialized auditor. 

Assessor’s Actions

None

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
December 10, 2014

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of Dec 2 were approved 5-0.

 

  1. Tax collector and commitment.  The Board voted 5-0 to appoint Aaron as Tax Collector, replacing Robin White.  Also, the Board signed recommitment papers for the current year taxes; this is standard practice when a new tax collector is appointed
  1. Recruitment.   The Board’s subcommittee will interview two candidates for Deputy Clerk on Monday.  The Board voted 5-0 to keep the hours for this position at 35 per week.  The subcommittee will make recommendations to the full Board on a person to hire and salary and benefits for the position.  As part of upcoming budget discussions the need for another part time position to ensure proper financial controls will be discussed.

 

  1. Plowing contractor.  David Spicer came in with a proposal to extend his current plowing contract for another year.  This was for $185,000, an increase of $10,000 from this year.  Part of the reason for this is that David proposes to purchase another 1.5 ton truck.  He said this is needed due to problems created by posting of the Howe Road bridge as his current larger trucks cannot now pass over the bridge.  The Board voted 5-0 to accept David’s proposal.  A contract extension will be prepared.

David also discussed with the Board some of the issues and challenges he encountered in the most recent ice storm.

  1. Road Committee.  Members of the Road Committee, John Delvecchio, David Hayden, Louis Sell and John Parks, came in to present their draft report reflecting nearly a year of investigating the condition of the Town’s roads and proposing various steps to improve them.  One major need is to improve drainage conditions for roadways.  Another is to conduct borings to evaluate the soils under paved roads as an improper base will cause pavement to fail prematurely.  Where poor soils are found, the pavement should be ground up, new gravel added as needed and used to create a better base before new pavement is put down.  Many other points were presented and discussed with the Board.  The Committee is recommending the roads budget be broken down into three sections: routine maintenance, engineering and capital improvements as all are equally important to development of a sound long-range roads improvement program.  The recommended first year budget for all three elements is about $394,000.  The report will be finalized and public presentations will be made in the next month or two.  Board members were encouraged to review the draft report and make comments to the Roads Committee.

 

  1. Auto graveyard permit.  On a vote of 5-0, the Board approved renewal of an auto graveyard permit for Match Motors on Route 17.   
  1. Journal entries were signed.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
December 16, 2014

Assessor’s Actions

None

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of Dec 10 were approved 5-0.

 

  1. Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed.
  1. Fire Department.  Scott Higgins, Lynn Talacko and Richard Parlin were present to discuss Department issues.  The fundraiser for David Mason was a great success, with a wonderful showing of public support.  The new fire truck construction is progressing and it will be delivered to Brunswick for final outfitting the week of January 5, with delivery to the Town around the end of January.  Scott did not foresee any significant changes in the budget for next year.  One question is the amount for insurance and Aaron will investigate that.  Richard reported he receive a reminder from the Lincoln County EMA on the importance of having a town EMA director.  Scott is following up with a prospective candidate. 

 

  1. Budget Committee.  The Board voted 5-0 to appoint the following residents to the Budget Committee.  Barry Tibbetts, Charlene Donahue, Carl Ribeiro, Malinda Caron, Erik Ekholm, David Hayden, Taryn Marcus and Simon Frost.
  1. Road Committee.  The Board discussed briefly the Road Committee’s presentation last week.  There were no concerns with the content of the draft report.  We will explore the costs of mailing a summary of the report to all households to help residents understand this important issue. 

 

  1. Coopers Mills dam.  The Board received an inquiry from Sheepscot Valley Conservation Association about that group purchasing the Coopers Mills dam from the Town with the intent of restoring fish passage.  We will ask representatives of SVCA to attend a Board meeting to discuss their proposal. 
  1. Budget discussion.  The Board began its preparation of a budget for 2015-2016.  Under administration, there was discussion of adding part-time position hours for Tuesday and Wednesday to provide adequate staffing to improved financial accountability and to better keep up with routine office duties.  Also discussed were cost of living raises for existing staff.  We will need to review the current and projected budgets in this line before any final decisions.  For the CEO, there were discussions of the current scope of work and the need to inspect gravel pits in the future, and how this would be funded.  Coordination with the Planning Board is needed.  Since residents have asked the Mooshead Lane be accepted as a town way, we will costs for that.  The recommendations of the Roads Committee will need to be discussed and considered. 

 

  1. Executive session.  Pursuant to 1 MRSA, section 405(6)(A), the Board held an executive session to consider a personnel matter.  Following the session, the Board voted 5-0 to hire Deborah Willette as our new Deputy Clerk and Tax Collector among other duties.  Deb was present to meet the Board.  She will start work on January 2.

Assessor’s Actions

None

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
December 23, 2014

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of Dec 16 were approved 4-0.

 

  1. Budget Committee.  After learning that Simon Frost is moving out of town, the Board voted 4-0 to rescind his appointment on the Budget Committee.  Sue and Tony will follow up on some thoughts for possible other committee members.
  1. Roads Committee.  The Board voted 4-0 to endorse the findings and recommendations of the Roads Committee, with thanks for their work.  Aaron will send a letter o the committee.

 

  1. Nomination papers.  We will publicize the availability of nomination papers for upcoming town elections.
  1. Parking area.  Frank and Dennis reported on their meeting with David Boynton to discuss possible construction of a gravel parking area between the fire station and town office.  There is space for about 30 cars (60 x 150) with an entrance from the town office lot.  David estimated the cost of this would be about $10,000, of which $1,000 is available in the Green property account. 

 

  1. Cooper Mills dam.  Steve Patton of Sheepscot Valley Conservation Association and Andrew Goode of the Atlantic Salmon Federation came in to discuss the concept of ASF purchasing the Coopers Mills dam from the Town.  Their goal is to restore fish passage, but any project to do this would include maintaining fire protection, visual improvements, preservation of public access, and memorializing the history of the area.  ASF would assume full responsibility for the project, including all design and permitting.  There would be no cost to the Town.  Fire Chief Scott Higgins stressed preserving the dam area as a dependable, maintenance free source of water was very important.  Initially, ASF would like to explore their concept by working with a local citizen’s committee to go over all potential issues and their proposals and process.  The Town would participate in this process and an article could be prepared to ask voters if they would authorize the Select Board to negotiate with ASF.  Any firm proposals would be brought back to the Town for a vote on whether to sell the dam or not.
  1. Fire Department.  Scott Higgins and Lynn Talacko were present to offer their recommendations for next year’s budget.  The total amount would the same as this year.  They propose to add a Deputy Fire Chief position to assist Scott who plans to spend time on improving the Town’s ISO rating and other matters.  The rescue vehicle will require about $1,000 in repairs.  Aaron will check into insurance costs. 

 

  1. Gravel pit inspections.  Planning Board Chair Jim Torbert came in to discuss budgeting for inspections of permitted gravel pits in Town.  Historically, we have not conducted compliance inspections on pits.  There are a total of 20 in Town, although some are inactive and currently would not need inspection.  The CEO reports an inspection would cost $100 per pit.  After some discussion, the Board decided to put $1,000 in the proposed budget to allow for a first round of inspections. 
  1. Town office hours.  Aaron noted that State offices will be closed on Friday, the day after Christmas.  The Board vote 3-1 (Tony opposed) to have the office closed on Friday and grant administrative leave. 

 

  1. Budget discussion.  The Board continued it discussion of the proposed FY 16 budget.  The personnel section was completed with a small decrease from this year, while adding a 13-hour part time position.  The town roads area will track the recommendation of the road committee by adding money to help address the current deteriorating conditions.  In several other areas, specific lines will need to be check out to project costs for next year, as some have been going over budget recently or need clarification.  These include insurance costs, lien costs, postage costs, printing of tax bills, printing of town reports and postage.  Requests from charities that have been received were included for discussion purposes. 

Assessor’s Actions

None

 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
December 30, 2014

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of Dec 23 were approved 4-0.

 

  1. Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed.  It was noted that some payments to firefighters for rendering services were paid from accounts payable rather than from payroll so that FICA would be withheld.  These payments were voided out to be paid from payroll next time.
  1. Budget Committee.  Tony and Sue will follow up on some additional leads for new committee appointments.

 

  1. Roads Committee.  The Board voted 4-0 to establish a standing roads committee.  We will need to get the word out to solicit members.
  1. Code enforcement.  As a follow up to a recent complaint, the Board discussed the general roles and responsibilities of the Code Enforcement Officer.  The Town does not have a formal contract or job description for this service.  Tony and Dennis will arrange to meet with the CEO to clarify the scope of the job and various responsibilities. 

 

  1. Budget discussion.  The Board continued it discussion of the proposed FY 16 budget. Additional lines were completed and some others were reviewed or discussed with some adjustments being made.  There are still some line for which Aaron needs to collects information, such as audit costs, copier costs, and software costs.  Once these are added in, the draft budget will be nearly complete.  No votes have been taken as yet.

Assessor’s Actions

None

 

 

The minutes above are the most recent available on line