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Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
January 5, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of Dec 30 were approved 5-0.

 

  1. A warrant for payment due to DMV was signed.
  1. Fire station leases.  Chief Scott Higgins came in to discuss the lease for the Coopers Mills station.  Given the building has recently been upgraded, it needs the insurance reevaluated, and responsibilities for maintenance need to be discussed.  Also the lease with Kings Mills should be reviewed as well to ensure consistency. Tony and Dennis have a meeting scheduled with CMVFD on Wednesday.

 

4.  Quit claim deed.  Aaron had prepared a deed for the property occupied by Mr. Harville as he has paid off all back taxes.  The property is, however, recorded in the name of the USDA.  The property may likely have been sold to Mr. Harville but the transfer was never recorded.  Before going forward with the deed, we will seek legal advice.

5.  Dams committee.  Tony reported the Dams Committee is planning to vote on its recommendations on Thursday. 

6.  Aaron said a neighbor has asked to park an old vehicle at the town office.  The consensus of the Board was this should not be done.

7.  Nomination papers. Aaron will be advertising the availability of nomination papers for elected office up in March:  select persons, school board, planning board and road commissioner.

8. Pending foreclosures.  There are 63 properties that will go to foreclosure in February if taxes are not paid.  Many on the list are parties that have paid late in that past.  On a vote of 4-0-1 (
Sue abstaining), the Board voted to waive foreclosure on the property now or formerly owned by Pleasant Pond Mill, LLC, map 17, Lot 55 001; tax account #687.

9.  Town report.  Aaron in the process of getting quotes for printing of the town report and would like to hire someone to paginate the copy.

10.  Hilton Road cemetery.   A person has inquired about bring able to remove a tree that has fallen there.  The Board had no objection.

Budget Committee meeting

The Budget Committee convened at 7:00 and all members were sworn in.  Present were Barry Tibbets, Barbara Mayer, David Hayden, Chris Delisle, Louis Sell, Erik Ekholm, and Lisa Kalloch.  Barry was selected as Chair and Lisa will be the record keeper.  The meeting began with the Select Board presenting its proposed budget and explaining various lines.  The Committee asked questions on various items.  For the meeting next week, the Roads Committee and Roads Commissioner will be asked to come in to discuss the roads program for next year.  The following week, the various non-profits requesting town funding will be asked to come in and present their requests.

 

Assessor’s Actions

None.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
January 12, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of Jan 7 were approved 5-0.

Payroll and accounts payable warrants were signed.

  1. Philbrick Road.  Charlene Bartlett came in to discuss the washout of Philbrick Road during a recent heavy rainstorm.  Road Commissioner David Boynton was also present.  Charlene said the culvert had been partially plugged with beaver dam debris prior to the storm.   David noted this is the first time this culvert has washed out in his 15 year experience.  He said that control of beavers is an on-going problem and there is no practical solution.  In more general discussion, it was noted that there several locations around town where similar problems exist.  We will research information and possibly contact a consulting engineer to see if control methods and resources can be found.

4.  Quit claim deed.  A deed for the property occupied by Mr. Harville was issued to the USDA.  While the property is believed to have been transferred to Mr. Harville, there has never been a deed recorded.  The town attorney advises to issue deeds to the last party having recorded ownership.

5.  Treasurer's disbursement policy.  Aaron proposed a draft policy that, in accordance with state law, designated Board members could sign warrant under conditions such as a cancelled meeting due a storm.  He will e-mail the draft so the Board members can review if before taking and action. 

  1. Nomination papers for various elective offices are now available and notices have been placed in the usual locations.

Town meeting warrant.  The Board reviewed the items that to be considered for inclusion on the annual town meeting warrant:

Disposal of the old road grader                     
Purchase of a new grader                              
ASF's proposal for Coopers Mills dam        
Changes to notifications for special town meetings
Floodplain Management Ordinance - 2 articles
Road commissioner term from 1 to 3 years
Ordinance for deferral of taxes for certain seniors
Language required by LD-1

  1. Coopers Mills Dam.  It was reported that at its last meeting, the Dams Committee voted unanimously to endorse the proposal made by the Atlantic Salmon Federation for removal of the dam in Coopers Mills.  The proposal contained several elements:

Removal of the dam itself
Installation of two dry hydrants, including changes to the streambed to allow good intake
A back-up dry hydrant on the West Branch of the Sheepscot River
Development of an historical and river ecology educational site
Access points for recreational purposes
Money in funds for maintenance of the hydrants and the dam access and educational site.
Money in a fund to encourage public use of the River
Money to support the Town's effort to obtain a grant to replace a culvert on Vigue Road

The Board vote 5-0 to support the Dams Committee's recommendation of the plan.

  1. The Board had a brief discussion of the lease for the Coopers Mills fire station; a meeting will be held on Jan 20 with MMA to go over insurance coverage.

DVM printer.  Aaron reported the DMV is changing auto registration form and our old dot matrix printer will have to be replaced at a cost of about $300.

Budget Committee meeting

The Budget Committee convened at 7:00.  Present were Barry Tibbets, Barbara Mayer, David Hayden, Chris Deslile, Louis Sell, Erik Ekholm;  Lisa Kolloch was absent.  The majority of the meeting centered on discussion of the proposed roads budget with members of the Roads Committee present.  Additionally, the Committee discussed possible purchase of a used road grader, with amount of $95,000 to be appropriated.  The actual amount for a decent machine is unknown until we go shopping.  Finally, there was some discussion of the need for street lights at some intersection in Town as a safety measure.  Formation of a street lights committee would be possibility to help identify the need and cost.

Assessor’s Actions

None.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
January 19, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of Jan 12 were approved 5-0.

Payroll and accounts payable warrants were signed.

  1. Thayer account.  Resident Bob Gilman was present to note a problem with the tax account for Patrick Thayer.  Mr. Thayer had had a payment agreement for back taxes which, itself, fell in arrears.  In May, he did pay off the balance upon receiving a letter from the Town attorney, but the amount he paid was $42 too much.  Aaron said he had asked Mr. Thayer if the extra amount should be repaid or credited toward future taxes; he got no response so the matter is still open.  We will cut a check for the $42 plus any interest owed.

4.  Road sanding.  Residents present at the meeting asked why the Town's plowing contractor applies sand to the center line of the road rather than to each travel lane.  The Board was not knowledgeable on the attributes of one method over another.  A practical objective is to keep a road sanded such that two wheels of a vehicle have good traction.

5.  New resident.  New resident Richard and Linda Manchester, who live on Weary Pond Road, attended the meeting.  Welcome!

6.  Spirit of America.  The Board voted 5-0 to nominate the Newsletter Committee (including past members) for the annual Spirit of America Award.

  1. Town meeting and voting.  The Board discussed when to hold secret ballot voting in advance of the open town meeting.  The goal is to encourage as much participation in each event.  Ultimately, the Board voted 5-0 to hold secret ballot voting on the Friday preceding the open meeting, from 4:00 to 8:00 PM.  The open town meeting will begin at 10:00 AM.  To publicize this change, we will send postcards to all residences and use other means such as newspapers, the internet, local postings, etc.

Mowing contract.  Chelsea recently conducted a join bidding with Whitefield for contractors for the mowing of lawns and cemeteries.  One of the bidders, Geoff Monteith, was present to discuss his bid.  He said he had misunderstood the original proposal for frequency of mowing some cemeteries and given clarification, would reduce his price to $8,000 for the entire contract.  We will need to consult with Chelsea and get more information. 

  1. The Board had a discussion on how much of last year's surplus to dedicate to reduction of taxes.  We will consult with our auditors and discuss further next week. 

Budget Committee meeting

The Budget Committee convened at 7:00.  Present were Barry Tibbets, Barbara Mayer, David Hayden, Louis Sell, Erik Ekholm;  Lisa Kolloch arrived late.  The majority of the meeting centered on hearing presentation from several non-profits in support of their requests for town funding.  These included the Garediner Library, Midcoast Maine Community Action, New Hope for Women, Coatal Transportation, and the Whitefield Cemetery.  Several others that did not attend will be invited to come next week before final votes are taken: the Children's Center, Maine General Hospice, Young at Heart, Kennbec Behavioral Health, the Food Bank and Spectrum Generations. 

 

Assessor’s Actions

None.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
January 26, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of Jan 19 were approved 5-0.

Payroll and accounts payable warrants were signed.

  1. Use of surplus and excise tax.  The Board discussed how much surplus from last year's budget to use to help lower taxes in next year's proposed budget.  Given that there was more surplus last year, it was proposed to use $250,000 as follows.  Use up $95,000 for the purchase of a new road grader and use $155,000 to general tax reduction.  The Board voted 4-1 (Lester opposed) to propose this in the town meeting warrant.  Additionally, the Board voted 5-0 to propose dedicating $320,000 in excise tax receipts toward tax reduction.  The final disposition of both of these will be by vote in the annual town meeting.

4.  Mowing contract.  On a vote of 3-2 (Sue and Dennis opposed) the Board voted to award the contract for mowing of cemeteries and lawns to AJ Mowing (Geoff Monteith) for the sum of $8,000 per year.  Aaron said he had checked found the present budget lines use to support mowing are adequate for this price. 

5.  Budget adjustment.  Aaron suggested the proposed budget line for the registry of deeds could be lowered to $9,000.  The Board voted 5-0 in agreement with this.  Dennis noted that the Augusta City Council will be taking up reductions for the per capita fee for use of Hatch Hill.  If this happens before the budget is finalized, it can be included.  Changes can also be made on the floor of the town meeting, if needed.

6.  Road grader.  On a vote of 4-1 (Lester opposed) the Board voted to include on the town meeting warrant an article proposing purchase of a replacement road grader at a sum not to exceed $95,000.

7.   Floor waxing.  Aaron reported he received a proposal for stripping and waxing floors in the fire station.  Before acting on this, we will contact the school janitorial staff and others in town to see if they would be interested. 

  1. Selectmen's report.  The Board briefly discussed items that could be included in this year's selectmen's report in the town report.  Some possible items include work of various committees (roads, trails and newsletter), personal property tax, recognizing farmers, collection of back taxes, new employees and the town's financial health.  Sue will prepare a draft.

The Budget Committee convened at 7:00.  Present were Barry Tibbets, Lisa Kolloch, David Hayden, Louis Sell, Erik Ekholm; Barbara Mayer was absent.  The committee heard proposals from the Children's Center, Young at Heart, the Whitefield Food Bank, and Spectrum Generations.  Following these, the Board had a general discussion of the proposed budget and proceeded to vote on the various lines:

01 Administration                              $155,742                     6-0
02 Insurance                                       $14,070                       6-0
03 Town roads                                                $393,375                     6-0
04 Snow and ice                                 $246,500                     6-0
05 General government                      $53,212                       6-0
06 Town office                                   $20,304                       6-0
07 Townhouse                                    $900                            6-0
08 Interest on notes                            $600                            6-0
09 Loans                                             $53,946                       6-0
10 Fire department                             $91,000                       6-0
11 General assistance                         $5,000                         6-0
12 Miscellaneous appropriations       $57,531                       6-0

13 Other Miscellaneous:

 

Request

Board amount

Board vote

Committee amount

Committee vote

Red Cross

$250

$250

4-1

$250

6-0

Mid Coast ME Community Action

$1,000

$1,000

4-1

$1,000

6-0

Coastal Transportation

$1,000

$0

5-0

$0

6-0

Lincoln County Dental

none

$0

5-0

$0

6-0

Maine General Hospice

$1,137

$1,000

4-1

$1,000

6-0

Kennebec Behavioral Health

$1,000

$1,000

4-1

$1,000

6-0

New Hope for Women

$580

$580

4-1

$580

6-0

Spectrum Generations

$500

$500

4-1

$500

6-0

Whitefield Food Bank

$4,500

$4,500

5-0

$4,500

6-0

Young at Heart

$150

$150

4-1

$150

6-0

Healthy Kids

none

$0

5-0

$0

6-0

The Children's Center

$1,150

$1,150

4-1

$1,150

6-0

Gardiner Library

$4,500

$0

5-0

$0

6-0

For the Whitefield Food Bank, $2,000 is from taxes and $2,500 from the Worthy Poor fund
On all 4-1 Select Board votes, Lester was opposed.

Assessor’s Actions: None

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
February 2, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of Jan 26 were approved 4-0.

An accounts payable warrant was signed.

  1. Charitable requests.  Donna Jacobs of Maine General Hospice came in to discuss their request for a donation and the work they do.  We noted that $1,000 has been recommended by the Board and Budget Committee and the budget process is closed.  She can come to the annual town meeting if she'd like to address the voters for more money.  Also, a written request was received from Healthy Kids.  Since this was received after the deadline for requests, the Board took no action.

 

4.  Plowing contract.  The Board signed a one year extension of the plowing contract with Spicer Tree.  This is for the 2016-2017 season. 

5.  Disbursement policy.  On a vote of 4-0, the Board adopted a policy that allows one select person to sign payroll warrants on behalf of the Board.  This is to be used in the event a Board meeting is cancelled (due to a storm, etc.) to ensure payroll is met.

6.  Senior housing proposal.  Resident Steve Smith came in to propose that the minimum lot size ordinance be amended to allow a greater density of housing units (say 3 per lot) for the purpose of senior housing only.  He would like this to be voted on in the March town meeting.  The Board said that due to the need to carefully prepare language and notice requirements, there is not enough time to do this.  The Board did have general support for the concept and suggested the idea be pursued through the Planning Board.  A vote in June of November at an election may be an option.

7.   Floor waxing.  Aaron reported the school janitor is willing to wax the fire station floors during the February vacation week. 

  1. Recycling.  Jeff Newell came in to say he is retiring from service at the recycling center at the end of April.  He is willing to do some fill-in work after that to ensure a smooth transition to a new person.  We will begin a search for a new person; Jeff will assist in this and help train a new person.

 

10.  DOT meeting.  Tony and Dennis, along with representatives of the roads committee, the Road Commissioner and resident David Hayden, attended a meeting with state DOT officials on Jan 28.  The meeting was good and informative.  It would be good to have these regularly.  DOT is not willing to reconsider closing of the Howe Road bridge and will not replace it.  However, it does plan to remove the structure and as part of that work will consider adding parking, overviews, etc. to enhance recreational use of the area.  Also discussed was the bridge in Coopers Mills.  DOT does intend to keep and maintain that bridge which is reported to have a traffic count of 820 vehicles per day. 

11.  Town meeting warrant.  The Board reviewed a draft of the warrant for the annual town meeting.  Edits will be made for further discussion next week.

12.  Planing Board.  Carl Ribeiro has resigned from the Planning Board.  The Board decided to withhold appointment of a replacement for the balance of Carl's term until after the March election.

13.  Correspondence.  The Board received a letter from a second grader at the school asking that the Town set up library.  We will investigate and get back to the student.  A great letter.

14.  Lincoln County budget.  Aaron reported the County Administrator estimates our county tax may go up about 4% this year.

 

Assessor’s Actions:

Resident Austin Moore came in to discuss assessment of a second base lot on his property.  The base lot was added since he has an apartment over a garage in addition to his home.  This creates a second dwelling unit.  The Board has adopted a policy on similar situations but that does not specifically address Austin's situation since the shape of his lot - long and narrow - makes it not possible to subdivide.  After some discussion, the Board voted 4-0 to grant an abatement removing the second base lot.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
February 9, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  • The minutes of Feb 2 were approved 4-0-1.

Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed.

  • Planning Board.  The Board voted 4-1 (Lester opposed) to accept with regret the resignation of Carl Ribiero from the Planning Board.

4.  Tax deferment ordinance.  The Board had a general discussion of the proposed ordinance for deferment of taxes by certain seniors, based on the ordinance in Wells.  Most of the focus was on some concerns to provide a balanced perspective of the proposal.  Points discussed included:

  • There would be an unknown loss of tax base in the initial years and the tax burden would be shifted to other taxpayers.
  • Deferments are based on only annual income and do not consider a person's other assets.
  • Deferring taxes could have an impact on the next of kin who would have to pay back taxes when a person leaves the home.
  • If a home is not insured, the Town's equity and lien could be in jeopardy.
  • If a property has serious problems (eg hazardous waste on the property), the Town could be stuck with it unless there is some way to waive foreclosure (ownership).
  • The income limit of 300% of the poverty level threshold seems high.
  • What would happen to a property having no heirs to pay off a deferment?
  • Mobile homes could be removed from town, as has happened with liened properties.
  • What happens if a person's income increases in the future?

The town's attorney will be contacted for answers to some of these questions and a review of the draft ordinance.

5.  Selectmen's report.  The Board reviewed and edited a draft of the annual Selectmen's report to be included in the Town report.

6.  Town meeting warrant.  The Board finalized its review of the warrant for town meeting.  As part of this, it voted 3-2 (Frank and Dennis opposed) to recommend the interest rate on overdue taxes be set and 4%.

7.   Printer.  Aaron reported the old dot matrix printer needed to print auto registrations died.  He was able to find a used one at State Surplus.  Later this year the State will be changing the way registrations are done so another style printer will be needed at that time. 

  • Recycling.  The Board discussed recruiting a replacement for Jeff Newell at the recycling as he plans to retire in April.  Aaron will prepare ads for the position. 

10.  Town Meeting notices.  The Board affirmed that post cards should be sent to all residences to alert voters of the changes in voting time this year.  The goal is to send these out about March 1; Aaron will investigate the most economical way. 

11.  Solar proposal.  The Board received a written proposal from Revision Energy for solar panels on the Fire Station.  We will invite Erik Ekholm and a representative of the Company to explain the proposal at a future meeting.

12.  Mowing contract.  The Board discussed the recent bidding process for mowing of cemeteries and lawns.  This had been bid jointly with Chelsea and the higher of the two bidders subsequently came to the Board with a lower price, saying he had originally misread the specifications for the job.  He was given the contract.  Upon reflection and a complaint from the other bidder, the Board voted 5-0 to rescind the vote giving the contact to AJ mowing and to put the contract out to another bid to ensure fairness to all parties. 

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

Next week.  More information on tax deferral ordinance, review of foreclosure list, solar proposal

Assessor’s Actions:

None

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
February 16, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of Feb 9 were approved 4-0.

One Accounts payable warrant was signed.

  1. Solar energy proposal. Resident Erik Ekholm and Hans Albee of Revision Energy came in to discuss a proposal to install solar panels on the fire station.  This would be done by Revision and financed by allied company at no initial cost to the Town.  They would own and operate the system and the Town would agree to purchase power for the life of a 20 year contract and this would supply the needs for 6 town buildings.  After 6 years and at anytime thereafter , the Town could opt to buy out the contract and own the system itself.  Electrical power savings to the Town would be over the long-term.  The amount and timing would depend on future utility power costs and whether and when the contract is bought out.  Revision will get some additional information on various scenarios.  There is some uncertainty about future regulatory requirements for solar power; the Legislature is currently debating potential changes.  This proposal is on the warrant for town meeting so voters can decide whether or not to pursue the proposal.

4.  Town meeting warrant.  The Board reviewed the warrant for town meeting and agreed on final edits.  Aaron will prepare a final draft which he will e-mail to Board members for on last look.

5.  Quit claim deed.  The Board signed a quit claim deed to Steve Carlton.

6.  Annual audit.  The three year contract with the firm we have used for the annual audit is up.  We need to review the contract to see is it contains an extension clause and also check the purchasing policy to determine how to proceed to secure an auditor for this year.

7.   Town Office hours.  The staff has recommended that the Monday evening hours for the Town Office be changed from 4-8 PM to 3-7 PM.  Few people are coming in between 7 and 8.  We will consider including this question on a survey of resident being planned.

  1. Foreclosures.  The Board reviewed the current list of 32 pending foreclosures that will take place on Feb 29.  Aaron has contacted several of the parties on the list and Board members will reach out to some others.  These efforts and over and about what is required by law.

Assessor’s Actions:

Assessor's Agent Tom Hayes came in to present two abatement requests:

On a vote of 4-0, the Board approved an abatement for Danny Haggland on Jefferson Road due to the interior building size being smaller than records had indicated.

A request by Rhonda Cleaves was deferred pending correction of paperwork.  The request had been for four years, but the law limits the Board to considering a maximum of three years.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
February 23, 2016

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

Select Board actions

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

Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed.

  1. Mowing contract.  The owner of AJ Mowing came in to discuss the bidding of our lawn and cemetery mowing contract.  This contract had been offered to AJ Mowing and then rescinded based on concerns with the bidding and subsequent counter offers in conjunction with Chelsea.  He suggested that the contract be based on a flat rate rather than a per-mowing basis as was the old contract.  After some discussion, the Board decided to take this advice under advisement as a new bid request is prepared. 

4.  Utility pole permit.  The Board signed an application from CMP to locate a new utility pole on Townhouse Road.

5.  Town meeting warrant.  The Board discussed the final warrant for town meeting, including some wording changes to the article on solar power.  Aaron will circulate the latest copy for Board members to review before signing it next week.  The latest copy was not printed in the town report as the deadline for the printers has come and gone, so there may be some minor differences from the final copy.

6.  Annual audit.  The Board voted 5-0 to enter into negotiations with Barry, Talbot and Royer for possible extension of their contract to do the annual audit. 

7.   Projected revenue.  Aaron distributed a draft of revenue projects.  Historically, such projections have not been entered into the computer system to help track revenues.  After some discussion, some changes and edits to the draft were recommended.

  1. Foreclosures.  Aaron reviewed the latest list of pending foreclosures and reported the number of properties dropped from 32 last week to 20 this week.  Board members will make an effort to visit residences on the list to make sure owners have had one last contact before foreclosure on Feb 29. 

9.  Senior tax deferment ordinance.  The Board conducted an information meeting on the proposed ordinance to allow some seniors to defer property taxes.  Four citizens attended and participated in a discussion of the proposal.  This is based on a relatively new and unused state law.  We will explore changing language to better define the conditions under which a property might not be included due to land use of code violations.  The intent is to not include minor problems and only focus on serious problems that affect the town's equity going forward.  Additionally, it was felt that person in the program should provide annual statements of income levels, including tax returns. 

10.  Vigue Road culvert.  The state DEP has opened up the next round of grants for culvert replacement.  Two private groups have indicated they intend to offer financial support for the replacement of the Finn Brook culvert on Vigue Road.  The Board voted 5-0 to proceed with an application for a grant and authorized spending up to $1,000 for preliminary engineering. 

11.  Absentee ballots.  Aaron reported that state law requires that absentee ballot be picked up 3 days before an election, unless a person claims a hardship or personal problems than makes it necessary to get a ballot later.  Aaron said this requirement has not caused any problems when requested. 

12.  Lester said a resident on Cooper Road has asked for a "blind drive" sign be placed as the driveway has a poor line of sight.  Lester will ask the Road Commissioner to place a sign.

Next week.  Sign town meeting warrant, possible presentation about solar panels, questions for suggestion box at town meeting. 

 

Assessor’s Actions:

None. 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
March 1, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes of Feb 23 were approved 5-0.
  1. An account payable warrant was signed.
  1. Solar power.  Representatives of Revision Energy and residents Erik Ekholm and Steve Sheehy were present to discuss proposals to install solar panels on the fire station.  This will be voted on at town meeting.  Most of the discussion was about financing options and regulatory matters.  Revision said most town use the "discount" option they offer, with a buyout after six years.  An option for financing the buyout over 15 years was presented.  Pending legislation, if enacted, might allow the choice of the existing net metering program or selling power into the grid at a per kilowatt hour rate.  Revision's current program has them being paid for all power generated and the town using power from the grid with credits for generation in the last 12 months, up to a limit of what is actually used.  Any generation in excess of actual use would benefit Revision.  Thus, the town would want to size any system to meet expected needs to avoid costs resulting from over-generation.  The primary issue in this regard is whether heat pumps would be installed in the town office.

4. Town meeting warrant.  The Board signed the final (and official) warrant for town meeting.  This has some minor changes from the initial text in the town report.  Article 9 was split into more sentences to avoid run-on wording.  Totals for the table in Article 26 were corrected and the language in Article 33 was amended.  We will need to point out these changes during town meeting.

5. Annual audit.  The Board voted 4-1 (Lester opposed) to enter into negotiations with Barry, Talbot and Royer to do the annual audit for next year.  Based on discussion Aaron has had with the firm, the price will be the same as last year or increased only slightly.

6. Projected revenue.  Aaron distributed a revised draft of revenue projections.  The Board had questions and concerns about some lines as the full year amounts were less than the current year to date.  More information is necessary.

7.   Foreclosures.  Aaron reviewed the final list of properties that were automatically foreclosed on Feb 29.  There were 12 in all involving 10 persons.   A letter will be sent to all parties, some of whom Board members have already met with. 

  1. Grading.  Aaron said he was contacted by Chelsea about doing a joint bid for grading of gravel roads.  We will investigate this with the possibility of doing the springtime work under this bid.  Long term needs will be governed by whether or not the purchase of a grader is approved at town meeting.

 

9.  Town meting survey.  There will be box for survey questions at town meeting and Board members should send their suggestion to Sue who will compile and edit them. 

 

Next week. questions for suggestion box at town meeting. 

 

Assessor’s Actions:

On a vote of 5-0, the Board approved an abatement for Rhonda Cleves on Vigue Road.  This reflected changing the rates for rear land and changes to the condition of the building.

 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
March 8, 2016

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

Select Board actions

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

 

  1. Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed.
  1. Town meeting.  The Board reviewed the warrant for town meeting and which Board member would be the lead for the various articles.  There was a discussion of a public opinion survey from to be distributed at the meeting.   Also, a budget summary sheet was reviewed.  Dennis will make edits to these drafts and circulate for review. 

 

4. Tax cards.  Aaron noted that there are frequently requests for copies of the real estate property cards.  These often come from real estate brokers, bankers, etc.  Copying these and sending them out does create a workload.  The possibility of charging for this service was discussed.  (This would only be for commercial entities, not residents.)  More investigation and discussion to follow. 

5. On-line tax payments.  Aaron would like to set up a way for people to pay their taxes on line.  One service, InfoME, could do this via credit cards but there is a 2.5% service charge.  We will check with our bank to see ACH processing might be available.

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

 

Next week. The RSU 12 Superintendent will come in to brief the Board on the school budget. 

 

Assessor’s Actions:

None.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
March 22, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. Dennis was elected Chair.
  1. Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed.

3.  Survey results.  The Board reviewed a summary of the survey conducted at town meeting.  Some 57 responses were received.  A copy will be sent to the Planning Board.

4. Town Office hours.  Based on a strong positive result in the survey, the Board voted 5-0 to change the Monday evening office hours to 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM.

5. Town meeting.  The Board briefly discussed the town meeting held on last Saturday.  Generally, it went very well.  When counting votes, it would be better to have the counters walk down the aisles and count each row.

6.  RSU 12 vacancy.  The Board discussed the vacancy on the RSU 12 Board created by Malinda Caron's recent resignation.  Also, the results of the 3-year slot on the ballot are unknown and if none of the write-ins were to accept, another vacancy could be created.

7.  IPTV.  Louis Rector representing Tidewater Telecom came in to discuss that company's desire to furnish IPTV services in parts of Town.  Currently, they provide fiber optic internet service to part of Hollywood Blvd and would like to use the same system to offer TV signals.  Louis reported that IPTV is not regulated like cable TV but the company would like the Town to enter into a similar franchise agreement to keep everyone on an equal footing.  We will have the Town Attorney review the document and advise us. 

8.  Cell phone towers.  The Board discussed citizen requests that the cell phone tower ordinance be reviewed as they believe it is limiting service in Town.  This is primarily a Planning Board issue but the Board would like to track it as well.  The Planning Board chair needs to be contacted. 

9.  Coopers Mills dam.  We will ask the Atlantic Salmon Federation to provide a proposed agreement for removal of the dam so we can move that issue along.

10.  Solar panels.  We will ask Erik Ekholm to take the lead on further investigation into solar panels on the fire station. 

11.  Road grader.  Frank will talk to David Boynton about the process to search for a new road grader.

Assessor’s Actions:

None.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
March 29, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for Mar 15 and Mar 22 were approved 5-0 with amendments to those for Mar 22 to include a vote for election of the chair and adding Mike Panosian's appointment to the Planning Board. 

 

  1. Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed.

3.  Solar panels.  Erik Ekholm came in to discuss the next steps for placing solar panels on the fire station, following approval of the project at town meeting.  Erik has been contacting companies who may be interested and has made appointments for site visits by two.  The Board voted 4-0-1 (Lester abstaining) to include installation of heat pumps at the town office in the sizing of the panel installation.  A final decision on this would be made as part of a future budget process. 

4. Project leads.  With several significant upcoming projects, various Board members agreed to be liaisons for some of these:  Coopers Mills dam - Tony; Vigue Road culvert - Dennis; Assessing - Tony and Sue; Grader purchase - Frank; Solar - Denis and Frank.

5. Quit Claim deeds.  We will seek legal advice on when deeds should be issued following payment of back taxes: after the foreclosed year is paid or after all liens are cleared?

6.  RSU 12 vacancy.  The Board discussed the vacancies on the RSU Board.  Aaron received legal advice that when the top write-in vote-getters refuse the position, the position is vacant and the Select Board should appoint a person to fill the position until the next municipal election.  This is the case with the three-year RSU position on the recent ballot where the "winners" declined the job and there were several other persons who had one write-in each.  Consequently, the Board now has two open RSU seat to fill.  Board members will contact individuals who may be interested.

7.  Vigue Road culvert.  Dennis reported on the draft application for a state grant to replace the Finn Brook culvert on Vigue Road.  In a recent visit by our engineer, the culvert was found to be in poor condition with water flowing around the outside of the pipe.  This may very well lead to failure of the crossing site in the not too distant future.  The grant application is due April 5.  Two conservation organizations have pledged to contribute $15,000 each to assist with the project and a third is also expected to contribute some money.  A final cost estimate is pending from the engineer but it will be in excess of $100,000.  The Board voted 4-1 (Lester opposed) to use $15,000 from the roads budget as a match toward the grant.  The grants are expected to be very competitive state-wide.

8.  Voting for RSU 12 budget.  The Board set voting hours for balloting on the RSU 12 budget for next year as 2:00 PM to 8:00 PM.  The voting will be on the same day for all towns in the RSU. 

9.  North Hunts Meadow Road.  Aaron reported that Windsor will be replacing a culvert on just over the town line in June and this will necessitate closure of the road for a period of time in June.  The Fire Chief and the Whitefield News will be notified. 

10.  Aaron noted that our bank, Kennebec Savings Bank, will be coming for a courtesy visit on April 8 at 1:00 PM to discuss their services, as we are considered a good customer.

11.  Economic development committee.  A resident has inquired about the Town's assisting with finding possible grants for a retail development he is considering.  From this the Board discussed the importance of an economic development and decided to invite the Planning Board to meet jointly for a discussion on the topic. 

12.  Old road grader.  We will advertise for bids on the old grader. 

13.  The Board reviewed the status of the current year's budget and expenditures.  We are on track and in good shape.  The need to follow revenues is equally important and Aaron will prepare a year to date comparison with the previous year. 

14.  Day of Caring.  The school will be doing it annual public service day and the Board discussed projects that might be done: window washing, raking around the town office or helping elders in town.

15.  RSU resignation.  The Board voted 5-0 to accept Malinda Caron's resignation from the RSU 12 board.

Next week:  follow up on possible RSU board appointments, meet with Planning Board, abatements, review revenue projections

 

Assessor’s Actions:

Assessor's Agent Tom Hayes came in to present some abatement requests:

1.  On a vote of 5-0 Ann Marie McGuire was given an abatement for a parcel of land previously sold but the transaction was missed.

2.  A request from Drew Proulx was tabled since the paperwork was incomplete.

3.  No action was taken on a request to eliminate base lots on two parcels owned by the Webbs since the lots have not been combined.

4.  On a vote of 5-0 Pat Chase was given an abatement for the Happy Farm location since the barn has fallen in and one septic system and one well were removed from the record. 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
April 5, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for Mar 29 were approved 5-0

 

  1. Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed.

3.  Planning Board.  Jim Torbert and Jake Mathews for the Planning Board came in to discuss economic development and cell phone towers.  Jim will contract various persons who might have interest in serving on an economic development committee, and will try to include some young farmers.  The committee will report to the Planning Board with Tony being the Board's representative.  The Lincoln County Regional Planning may also be able to help.  There have been recent inquiries about constructing new cell phone towers in town.  Most agreed the current ordinance is quite restrictive and may be impairing telecommunications in Town.  The general objective is to replace the ordinance.  A first step will be to see what other towns have in place.

4. Emergency services.   With Fire Chief Scott Higgins and Road Commissioner David Boynton present, there was a discussion of who responds to emergency situations, such as storm damage or clean up of a fire scene.  In these situations, it is important to have persons with the proper equipment and skills to fix problems available on an immediate basis.  David will typically address downed trees and other road issues.  Aaron will work to set up a list of contractors we can call for various type of work. 

5. Hanley Road.  This road is the westerly end of the Philbrick Road and accessed from East Pittston.  While the Pittston portion is a public way, the Whitefield portion is discontinued or abandoned.  There have been reports that the bus picking up a student for Whitefield school is having difficulty turning around.  Since the road is not a public way, the majority of the Board was reluctant to do any work there.  We will investigate and contact Pittston. 

6.  Howe Road bridge.  Several residents came in to discuss concerns with the pending removal of the now closed bridge on the Howe Road.  They would like to have a bridge remain for foot traffic, snowmobiles and ATV's.  They also had some concerns with the risk of illegal dumping on the dead end road and would like more law enforcement presence.  Dennis will contact the MeDOT and try to arrange an evening meeting to discuss options for a bridge. 

7.  Coopers Mills VFD.  Chuck Vaughn came in on behalf of CMVFD to discuss the possibility of paving the parking area for the fire station as part of the repaving of Main Street scheduled for this summer.  Some 6,400 square feet would be involved.  We can add this work as a line item in the bid proposal and then evaluate the price with CMVFD.

8.  MMA action plan.  Aaron reported that MMA has requested follow up on action items they identified in their insurance inspection last summer.  Aaron said that all of the items have been corrected except safety gear for the Road Commissioner.  MMA did provide lists of gear that may be needed for various tasks.  Since the Road Commissioner is a private contractor, it is not always clear when he is working for the Town and when he is working for himself.  David Boynton will review the lists of gear and identify things he needs to do his public job safely and we will get those items. 

9.  Tax acquired property.  The deadline set for persons to make arrangements to buy back tax acquired property will be up shortly.  We will review the list next week and formulate plans on how to proceed with each.  There are 10 parcels on the list.  Also, the town's attorney will be contacted to clarify if a deed should be issued when a person pays off a foreclosed year's taxes but liens still remain on the property. 

10.  Revenue projections.  The Board discussed year to date revenue numbers and projections for next year.  We appear to be on track for most revenue lines and ahead on some, notably excise tax.

11.  RSU vacancies.  The  Board voted 5-0 to appoint Terra Delisle to fill one vacancy on the RSU 12 board.  For the other vacancy, the Board voted 4-0-1 (Tony abstaining) to appoint Keith Marple. 

12.  Primary election.  The primary will be held June 14, and the RSU 12 budget ratification vote will be held at the same time.  On a voted of 5-0, the Board rescinded its earlier vote on polling hours for the RSU vote and set the hours to be the same as for the primary election, 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM. 

13.  Coastal Trans.  Aaron noted receipt of a letter informing us that Coastal Trans is going out of business. 

14.  Connect ME grant.  Frank reported that Fairpoint intends to file a grant application to upgrade DSL service in portions of Whitefield, Windsor, Somerville and Jefferson.  On a vote of 4-1 (Lester opposed) the Board agreed to send a letter of support. 

Next week:  RFP for assessing services, open mowing bids, review foreclose properties. 

Assessor’s Actions:

An abatement request from Proulx Properties for a building on Main Street was approved on a vote of 5-0.  At this point, the building is in very poor condition, but is in the process of being rehabilitated.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
April 12, 2016

 

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for April 5 were approved 4-0
  2. An accounts payable warrant was signed.

3.  Mowing Bids.  The Board opened five bids for mowing of cemeteries and town properties, with the following annual prices.

Lawns and More                  $6,600
AJ Mowing                          $8,000
Joshua Savon                       $7,250
A Cut Above                        $8,450
Acorn and Sons                   $7,450

All five bidders were present.  In response to a question, all indicated their bid amount included clearing of leaves, brush, etc. to restore some of the small cemeteries to their original boundaries.  We will review the bids to compare equipment and contact references.  Frank will take the lead on this by initially following up on the three lowest bidders. 

4. Junk yard permit.  On a vote of 4-0, the Board approved the application of Paul's Pick a Part for annual renewal of its junk yard permit, contingent upon a satisfactory report from the Code Enforcement Officer.

5. Hanley Road. Dennis reported he had visited Hanley Road and spoken with a Selectman from Pittston.  The situation is somewhat unique in that the turn around used for Pittston's plows and Whitefield's school bus is just over the town line into Whitefield.  The abandoned road is in need of some gravel to improve the turn around.  Pittston will consider a cost sharing arrangement to get this small job done collaboratively.  We will await word on their position.

6.  Coopers Mill fire station.  The statement for the annual rent was sent last September but has not been paid; Aaron will be asked to place this on the warrant for next week.  Also, the current lease needs to be updated to reflect that the building has been improved and the equipment list has changed.  There was some discussion on what maintenance the Town should be responsible for under the lease and the Board generally felt that we should take care of maintenance but not capital improvements.  Board members would like to receive a copy of the current lease for review before scheduling a meeting with the CMVFD to work out details of changes in the lease.

7.  Foreclosed properties.  The Board reviewed the list of 10 recently foreclosed properties.  Arrangements are pending with some former owners. 

Fairservice: we need to check on the status of payments to see that all were properly credited
Chase: Tony will contact to get an update on efforts to sell another property
Peaslee:  more information is needed on the status of this account
Pinkham:  the Board voted 4-0 to sell this undeveloped land through our broker
Uhl: the Assessor's Agent will be asked to clarify the status of the lot as there is question if it really exists at all
W+S Wood: more information is needed

8.  RSU positions.  To clarify last week's vote, the Board voted 4-0 to assign Keith Marple to the RSU Board seat formally held by Malinda Caron and to assign Tara Delisle to the seat formerly held by Hilary Holm.  Each appointment is until the next municipal election in March, 2017.

9.  Hunts Meadow Road.  Frank noted there are several large trees along the road that are dead and that may pose safety concerns.  He will flag them and we will proceed to get quotes for their removal.

10.  Deeds.  Dennis reported he checked with the town's attorney who confirmed that once a property is foreclosed, the Town can choose when a deed is given to a former owner having paid the back taxes - either for the year causing the foreclosure (while other more recent liens remain) or once all liens are cleared.  She recommended the latter in most cases.

11.  Contract language.  We will have the town's attorney review the standard language we use in contracts for various work bid out by the Town. 

12.  Assessing services.  We will ask Farmingdale for a copy of the RFP they recently used to contract our assessing services. 

 

Next week:  award of mowing contract 

Assessor’s Actions:

None

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
April 19, 2016

Present: Frank Ober, acting chair, Tony Marple, Lester Sheaffer, Sue McKeen
Administrative Assistant Aaron Miller - Dennis Merrill absent.

 

Select Board actions

  1. Mowing Bids. The Board considered mowing bids.  Frank reported he had good recommendations re Lawns and More, the lowest bidder at $6,600.00.  The Board voted to accept the bid of Lawns and More for a total price of $6,600.  3-0-1 Sue abstained.
  2. Notice to Build. Butch Duncan asked questions regarding tearing down and rebuilding a structure.  He was referred to the Planning Board.
  3. Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed.
  4. Liquor License. The Board voted 4-0 to approve a liquor license for Sheepscot Links.
  5. Foreclosures. Mike Fairservice, Sr. last payment in January.  Tony will follow up.  

Peaslee - late payments, Frank will follow up. W & S Wood Products/Sherwood.  He has                  refused two letter.  Bob, Sr. has died             and Tony will follow up as to status. Dick Chase - some interest in properties that are for sale - no follow up at this time.

  1. Recycling Attendant. This position has been advertised and we have received one applicant. We will advertise for another week.
  2. Road treatment. MMA Risk Management offers an optimal enhancement insurance rider to protect municipalities if a citizen’s water source is damaged due to actions by the town on a public road.  Cost is $13.50/mile of plowed roads.
  3. Coopers Mills Fire Station Lease.  Scott questioned payment issue for major repairs at stations, that the fire department doesn’t have a budget for major repairs.  Sue and Tony will meet with Scott, Tim Yorks and Chuck Vaughan on 4/21 at 6:30 to discuss changes/additions/updates to the lease.
  4. Senior Tax Deferral. Peter Froehlich requested that the Board put the Senior Tax Deferral question on the June ballot as a simple yes/no vote.  He stated he has spoken with many people who felt the vote at town meeting on March 19 was confusing and handled awkwardly.  He has spoken with Hillary Holm, RSU past chair, who does not have any issues with adding this question to the ballot.   According to Aaron, the deadline to put the question on the ballot is April 29th. John Robbins spoke in favor of putting the question on the June ballot stating he felt discussion closed prematurely on the question at town meeting and feels a new public hearing will be in order as well.

Tony proposed the following motion:  That a second vote on the Senior Tax Deferral will   be held on June 14 and a public hearing will be held within at least ten days of the vote.  The Board approved motion with a vote of 3-1, Frank opposed. Peter will prepare an article for the Whitefield News and call the Lincoln County News.

  1. Howe Road Bridge. Jake Mathews reported has been trying to contact DOT to set up a meeting with Howe Road citizens without success.  Tony will follow up on this.
  2. Tree Removal. Frank has discussed additional roadside tree removal with David Boynton and it was acknowledged many more trees need removal.
  3. Grader Sale. The board discussed the grader advertisement which will be completed by next week.
  4. Assessor’s Agent. Discussion regarding the RFP for the assessor’s agent which Aaron will provide.
  5. Fairport. Frank reported that Whitefield has sent a letter in support of Fairpoint’s application for a grant to increase coverage in Coopers Mills area. Aaron reported that Time Warner’s Shelly Winchenbach will be sending a boiler plate renewal contract.  Mary is reviewing the Lincolnville Communications contract.

 

Assessor’s Actions

None

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
April 26, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for April 19 were approved 4-0-1 with the following amendments.  Names of dissenting voters should be shown and the last item in #5 should be removed.
  1. An accounts payable warrant was signed.

3.  CMVFD.  With Fire Chief Scott Higgins present, the lease for the Coopers Mills fire station was discussed.  Sue and Tony reported they met with the association and agreed on some changes.  The major point of discussion was clarification of responsibilities for maintaining vs. capital improvements of the property.  In general, the Town would take care of routine maintenance while the association would be responsible for capital improvements.  The association will redraft the lease and we will await that document for further action.  We should also meet with the Kings Mills association to work toward having the leases be essentially the same. 

4. Petty cash policy.  Aaron presented a draft procedure for handling petty cash in the office.  He will follow up with more information on how funds are journaled back to the relevant accounts.

5.  Cell phone towers. Jim Torbet and Marianne Marple of the Planning Board present, there was a discussion of amending the cell phone tower ordinance to allow towers of up to 199 feet from the current of 120 feet.  This is based on discussion with a consultant representing a cell phone provider indicating a taller tower would make better coverage in Town more practicable.  The Board voted 5-0 to place this change on the ballot for June 14, pending concurrence of the full Planning Board at their meeting on April 27. 

6.  Elderly tax deferment ordnance.  Marianne Marple asked the Board to reconsider its vote to place the proposed elderly tax deferment ordinance on the June 14 ballot for a re-vote.  After some discussion, the Board declined to do so. 

7.  June 14 election.  The Board signed a warrant setting a special town meeting for June 14, with two secret ballot question to be decided: enactment of an elderly tax deferment ordinance and revision of the cell phone tower ordinance.  Also to be voted on are the RSU 12 budget and a state level primary election.

8.  Pubic hearings.  The Board discussed holding public hearings for the ordinances to be voted on June 14.  Aaron will review the legal requirements for doing this a schedule a date for a joint hearing with the Planning Board as soon as possible.

9.  Foreclosed properties.  The Board discussed some foreclosed properties and efforts of the former owner to reclaim them:

Peaslee - Aaron reported the bank involved will being paying this off.
Fairservice - Tony spoke with him and while behind, he intends to catch up on payments.
W+S Wood Products - Aaron will contact Pittston since part of the parcel is in that town.

10.  Recycling attendant.  Aaron and Dennis will interview an applicant for this position.

11.  MMA insurance.  We received a proposal from MMA for supplemental liability insurance to cover damage to private wells due to road salt.  We will contact the town's attorney for advice on this.

12.  Assessing services.  Aaron circulated an RFP for assessing services based on one from Farmingdale.  We will discuss next week.

13.  Town policies.  All town policies should be placed on the web site.

 

Next week:  Assessing RFP, recycling attendant, MMA insurance

Assessor’s Actions:

Assessor's Agent Tom Hayes presented four abatement requests:

1.  Jones property on Philbrick Lane.  The Board voted 5-0 to grant an abatement due to the very poor condition of the building.

2.  Charles Miller estate on Cooper Road.  The Board voted 5-0 to grant an abatement due the condition of the building, several changes to the description of the building and removal of 2 acres.

3.  Charles Miller estate #2.  Based on the condition of the building, the Board voted 5-0 to grant an abatement.

4.  Clary Lake properties.  Four properties on Clary Lake have requested abatement due to the water level issue.  Before taking action, the Board would like to review information previously presented on property values for lakeshore properties and a recent sale on Clary Lake.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
May 10, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for May 3 were approved 5-0.

 

  1. Accounts payable warrants were signed.

3. Election.  The Board signed return of notice for ordinances to be voted on in the June 14 election.

4. Arlington Grange.  Debbie Rogers came in to inquire about the Grange holding Bingo games.  In addition to State regulation, a sign-off from municipal officers is needed.  The Board did not see any problems should the Grange choose to file a formal application.

5. Fire station leases.  After some discussion about the roles and responsibilities for capital improvements at the CMVFD station, the Board voted 4-1 (Lester opposed) to endorse the lease for the building with new equipment schedules attached.  A letter transmitting this position and the schedules will be sent.

6.  Grader purchase.  David Boynton and David Jackson came in to discuss buying a new grader.  David Jackson had been to an equipment auction where a nice grader was being sold but he could not act on behalf of the Town.  They also looked at a good unit at a Brewer dealer.  The Board voted 5-0 to authorize both to act for the Town and make purchases up to $65,000.  The Board also decided to make an offer on the grader in Brewer.

7.  Assessor RFP.  We have received some examples of assessor contracts.  Dennis will prepare a  draft using the Farmingdale one as a basis.

8.  Wilson property.  Aaron reported this parcel on Rt 17 has an illegal junkyard and is being foreclosed by a bank.  A property management hired by the bank is making arrangements for clean-up.   We will monitor the progress. 

9.  Northy Bridge.  Efforts to arrange a meeting with DOT to discuss a foot bridge have not been successful.  Aaron is working through the department's public relations officer.

10.  Recreational trails grants.  There will be workshops in June for those interested in grants for trails.  The information will be passed on to the Trails Committee. 

11.  Computer security.  Aaron reported he has purchased new software and external hard drives to improve security of our computers. 

12.  Public hearings.  The Board discussed talking points on the elderly tax deferral ordinance for the hearing next week.

13.  Check capture.  Aaron said we could purchase a machine that electronically records checks and allows for their rapid processing.  The machine costs $300 and there is a $30 per month service fee.  No action was taken on this.  The Board also discussed banking options and services in general.

14.  Revenue sharing.  Aaron reported that state revenue sharing is projected to be up next year by about $9,000.

15.  Foreclosures.  No payments from Fairservice since January 29.  The bank has paid off the Peaslee taxes.

16.  Economic development.  Sue will contact those persons who indicated they may be interested in serving on an economic development committee. 

Next Week.  Contract with Atlantic Salmon Federation for removal of Coopers Mills dam and CMVFD lease.

 

Assessor’s Actions:

Assessor's Agent Tm Hayes came in to present two applications for abatements from property owners on Clary Lake.  The requests for abatements of $20,000 to $35,000 were based on the lake levels being low.  Currently, parcels on the lake are assessed an additional $10,000.  Tom presented information showing lakefront land values in other area towns, and these values often exceeded $100,000.  He also noted a recent open market sale of a property on Clary Lake that sold for far more than the current assessed value.  He recommended that the abatement requests be denied.  After some discussion, the Board voted 3-1-1 (Lester opposed, Sue abstaining)  to deny the requests.  Two more similar abatement requests were received after the deadline set by law so no action was taken on those. 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
May 24, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for May 17 were approved 5-0.

 

  1. Accounts payable warrants and payroll were signed.

3. Solar.  Resident Erik Ekhlom came in to report on proposals for installation of solar panels on the fire station.  Four companies expressed varying levels of interest in the project.  However, due to the recent failure of legislation (LD 1649), there is a great deal of uncertainty right now about the future of net metering that is essential to making a private-public project viable.  He recommended that we hold off on the project for now until the regulatory direction becomes more clear.  The Board was in agreement with this approach.

4. Parking lot.  Erik Ekholm provided a materials list for construction of stairs to connect the parking areas with the fire station building.  These will be of pressure treated lumber with stone dust filler and handrails.  He estimated the entire project would cost $2,000 to $2,600 and would done in early June.  The Board agreed with his proposals.

5.  RSU 12 voting.  The Board signed warrants to establish voting on June 14 to consider ratification of the RSU 12 annual budget. 

6.  Contract with Atlantic Salmon Federation.  The Board reviewed a proposed contract with ASF to remove the dam at Coopers Mills.  This has been reviewed by our attorney and will be signed next week after some typos are corrected.

8.  Coopers Mills Cemetery.  The old vault is in poor condition and needs work or removal.  We will explore any historical interest in the vault before deciding if it should be restored or demolished.

9.  Cemetery lots.  Frank and Dennis looked into available space in the Coopers Mills cemetery to accommodate more graves for the Williamson family.  There is space.  They could purchase three at the current rates.  Also, the current price for a plot to hold cremains is less than a plot for a casket.  Since the plots are the same size, we will look into a uniform price for all lots. 

10.  Flood management ordinance.  Aaron reported we have received a letter from the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry saying our new ordinance meets applicable standards.

11.  Broadband.  Frank spoke with a representative of Unitel about to learn about how that company may be able to assist small towns to install fiber optics.  He will continue to investigate options.

12.  Trust funds.  Tony reported he spoke with a person at Kennbec Savings Bank about their investment strategy for trust funds should we transfer the Turner trust funds there.  The approach is a traditional use of index funds.

Next Week.  Contract with Atlantic Salmon Federation, income for Turner trusts, cemetery rates.

 

Assessor’s Actions:

The Board signed an assessor's return for the county taxes.  The amount of the county tax will be $242,977.20

Tax abatements.  The Town does not currently have a policy for writing off small balances owed on property taxes.  This procedure is allowed under state law.  Aaron presented a list of 11 accounts where small amounts are currently owed, the largest of which was $3.11.  The Board voted to abate these amounts as the cost of collecting them (certified letters, office time, etc.) would exceed the value involved.  It also voted 5-0 to have the general policy of not pursuing amounts under $10, but case by case review would be made.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
May 31, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for May 24 were approved 4-0.

 

  1. Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed.

3. Quit claim deed.  A quit claim to Peaslee was signed.

4. Coopers Mills dam.  An agreement with the Atlantic Salmon Federation was signed after the Board voted 4-0 to accept it.  This provides for removal of the dam, a public historical and river education site, installation of new fire hydrants, and funds for hydrant and public site maintenance, the Vigue Road culvert and river access projects. The agreement was previously reviewed by the Town's attorney.

 
5.  Hazard mitigation plan.  The County has requested that we adopt 2016 modification to the hazard mitigation plan that is used county-wide.  Action on this was tabled until our EMA director and the fire chief can review the plan and report to the Board.

6.  Coopers Mills Cemetery.  The Board discussed the old vault that needs to be repaired or removed.  We need to check with various persons in Town to see if there is historical significance or other important of the vault before making a decision on what to do.  On a related topic, there was a discussion of the funds in various trust funds; Tony will follow up.

8.  Northy bridge.  Tony and Dennis attended a meeting arranged by Sen. Johnson to consult with an engineer.  The meeting held on site was also attended by several citizens.  Options for a foot bridge were discussed.  A meeting with the DOT is scheduled for June 21.

9.  Preble cemetery.  Aaron said a person has inquired about a sinking grave wondering if the Town will address this.  While the Town mows this and other cemeteries, it is on private property and the extent of maintenance has historically been limited to mowing.  Frank will investigate further.

10.  Contracted services.  The Board discussed safeguards in the event a contractor is unable to meet obligations to do required work.  Often the town contracts with small companies for brush work, mowing, etc. and an illness, injury or equipment problem could cause the contractor to not get the work done.  We will investigate adding some language to our contracts to address back-up provisions. 

11.  Cemetery plots.  A person has inquired about purchasing a specific lot in Coopers Mills.  Frank and Dennis will coordinate meeting the person on site.  Also, we will review the prices for lots in the cemetery and compare to those in other towns. 

 

Next Week.  Trust fund balances, cemetery rates.

 

Assessor’s Actions:

None

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
June 7, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for May 24 were approved 4-0.

 

  1. An accounts payable warrant was signed.

3. Brush clearing bids.  The Board opened bid proposals from three companies to clear brush along several roads.  The prices were as follows.
McPherson Timberlands                    $18,450
Spicer Tree                                         $16,800
Nate Northrop                                     $21,295
Nate Northrop was present and participated in the Board discussion by answering questions.  Ultimately, the Board voted 5-0 to accept the bid by Spicer Tree.

4. Crack sealing bids.  The Board opened bid proposals from three companies to do sealing of cracks of several town roads.  The bids were based on the amounts of sealing material to be used, and also included a non-binding estimate for the total work.  The bids were:
Pro Seal                         $4.07/kg                      $13,360
B&S Paving                   $9.09/kg                      $20,000
Coastal Road Repair      $1.96/lb                       $24,000 (minimum of 2000lb per shift)
The Board had a lengthy discussion of the bids as they were substantially different in unit price and/or the estimated total costs.  The Board voted to award the bid to Pro Seal with a cap on the total job of $20,000.  This will provide some certainty and limitation of the Town's total cost.

5.  Sennott Road.  Butch Duncan came to discuss work and conditions on Sennott Road.  Problems with beavers and undersized culverts are the source of continuing flooding of the road.  Debris downstream of the culvert may also be obstructing flow of water from the area and compounding problems.  Also, material from beaver dams removed is being piled up along the roadside in large heaps; he suggested the material be removed.  After discussion, the Board agreed that these concerns will be discussed with the Road Commissioner.

6.  Finn Brook culvert.  The State DEP has awarded the Town a grant for replacement of this culvert.  While the grant paperwork is yet to be completed, the Board voted 5-0 to proceed with engineering and permit applications so the project can potentially be completed this summer. 

8.  Tax acquired properties.  Aaron updated the Board on the status of several accounts.  Some former owners are making payments to reclaim properties.  The former Pinkham property is in the hands of our realtor and a listing proposal is expected shortly.  Other accounts need more follow-up.

9.  Cemetery rates.  Aaron presented the results of the rates several other towns charge for cemetery plots.  Our rates for the Coopers Mills Cemetery are in line with these.  The Board voted 5-0 to set the rate at $350 per plot with one casket or one to four cremains per plot. 

10.  Primary election.  Due to the election next week, the Board will meet at the Town Office.  A moderator is needed for the special town meeting, and several residents were suggested. 

11.  Tony reported he will be meeting with the Lincoln County Regional Planning to discuss Whitefield's experience with revaluation of public utilities.

12.  Economic development.  Sue reported an economic development committee has been formed.  For their first meeting, Tony and Sue will draft a mission statement.

13.  Broadband concerns.  Aaron will draft a letter in response to a citizen's concerns with the lack of broadband service in town. 

 

Next Week.  Paving bids.

 

Assessing RFP.  Tony, Sue and Dennis have gone over a RFP and contract for assessing services.  The proposed schedule going forward is:

RFP to be sent out in early July.
Interviews to be held during August
Selection in early September
Start date of October 1

The Board set a date of August 23 for having the current year tax commitment done. 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
June 14, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for June 7 were approved 4-0.

 

  1. Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed.

3.  Paving bids.  With three of eight bidders present, the Board opened bids for paving various roads in town.  Bids were based on the price of pavement per ton.  Bidders were also asked to provide estimated costs for the work by road and tonnage of pavement to be used.  Portions of roads in Windsor were also included as extensions of roads in Whitefield.  The results for the Whitefield portion were:

Firm                                           Price per ton               Total estimated cost

All State Paving                        $62.49                         $243,896
Wellman Paving                         $60.00                         $262,035
Hagar Enterprises                      $57.25                         $257,774
Lane Construction                     $63.25                         $265,401
Bard Paving                               $62.33                         $204,101
Pike Industries                           $69.00                         $304,635
State Paving                               $57.18                         $248,364
Crooker                                      $61.88                         $242,241

The Board took no action on the bids and Tony will tabulate other information in the bid documents.  From review of the prices and estimates, it seemed that there was a large variation in the proposed quantities of pavement to be used and this will have to be evaluated before a bid can be awarded.

4.   Hazard mitigation plan.  The Board signed amendments to the Lincoln County hazard mitigation plan based on recommendations of the Fire chief and Emergency Management Director. 

5.  Community Block Development Grants.  Application for State CDBG grants are due in a few weeks.  A 50% match is required so we would not be able to apply this year.  However, information on the grants will be passed on to the economic development committee for future consideration.

6.  Finn Brook culvert.  The Board was in agreement with allowing soil test borings as part of the engineering for replacement of the culvert.  Estimated cost $4,000.

8.  Small business forum.  There will be a small business forum sponsored by Lincoln County Planning on June 21.  Frank will notify the economic development committee.

9.  Solar installation.  Tony reported Revision Energy has made a proposal to indemnify the Town in the event net metering would be eliminated after a solar system was installed on the fire station. However, this is benchmarked on current electricity prices.  We will continue to wait to see how the State rules may be amended.

10.  Mowing of Town land.  A neighbor of the Town's land near Fox Farm Lane has offered to bush hog a strip of land to help control pests.  The Board voted 4-0 to allow this.

11.  Sale of land.  A tax acquired parcel at Hollywood Boulevard and Route 194 has been evaluated by our real estate agent.  The Board voted 4-0 to go ahead with the sale.

Next Week.  Paving bids.  Meet with DOT on Howe Road bridge. 

 

Assessor's Actions

David and Melissa Boynton came in to discuss a lot they bought from the Town in 2001.  They believe the lot is landlocked within another parcel and the current owner will not allow access.  That location has been heavily logged.  Both parties have been paying taxes on the lot(s).  The town tax map shows the lot in another location.  A person owning land in that area may be interested in purchasing the lot.  This avenue will be pursued.  Another alternative would be to engage a surveyor to help clarify the situation. 

The Board noted that no update forms for personal property were sent out this year.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
June 21, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for June 14 were approved 4-0-1 (Sue abstaining).

A motor vehicle accounts payable warrant was signed. 

3.  DOT public meeting.  Several representatives of the Maine DOT came to make a presentation about removal of the Northy Bridge on Howe Road.  Members of the public were also present to express their concerns and ask questions.  Several felt the bridge should be replaced rather than removed.  DOT presented a brief history of the bridge, findings on its current condition and plans for removal and restoration of the site.  They closed the bridge due to its poor condition with badly rusted superstructure members.  Additionally, they said the substructure, the abutments and the pier, were not structurally sound.  The plan is to remove the bridge and its substructure by the November 2016.  The banks would slope back at a 5:1 ratio and be planted with natural vegetation.  Pavement leading to the area would be removed and the area stabilized with erosion control measures put in place.  A walking path and level area for picnic tables will be installed on the North side.  On questioning from residents, the DOT made it clear that replacement of the bridge was not economically feasible.  Further, a foot bridge would not be considered.  They did not want to leave any parts of the substructure in place, citing liability concerns.  If the Town wanted, DOT would replace the existing metal guard rails with boulders.  They would also consider some improvements to the South side if the Town requested them.  Finally, the DOT assured that audience that it had no intention of closing the bridge in Coopers Mills and will continue to maintain it.  The bridge is basically in good condition, being made of concrete it is far better than the Northy Bridge, and needs no major work.  There is a project planned for the next 1-2 years where the wing walls of the bridge will be worked on. 

Following the public meeting, the Board decided to request of DOT that the metal guard rails be replaced with boulders and walking paths and picnic areas be provided on both the North and South sides of the bridge area. 

4.   Paving bids.  The Board reviewed tabulations of the paving bids opened last week and discussed them.  With nearly 4 miles of paving proposed, the estimated costs exceed next year's paving budget of $210,000.  However, there will be money carried forward from this year that can be used to fill the gap.  If the money is not sufficient, paving the East end of the Sennott Road could be dropped.  The Board also had some concerns about culverts on Sennott Road as well as other locations.  Before final decisions are made, there needs to be a meeting with the Road Commissioner to discuss priorities and budgets for paving and culverts.  After discussion, the Board voted 5-0 to award the paving contract to State Paving, the low bidder at $57.18 per ton. 

5.  Animal shelter.  On a vote of 4-1 (Lester opposed), the Board voted to renew the annual contract with Lincoln County Animal Shelter to take care of animals from Town.

6.  Finn Brook culvert.  Dennis reported that borings were done today to determine the soil conditions in preparation for design of a replacement.  He also noted there has been substantial erosion or wash-out of soil between the pavement and the outlet end of the culvert. 

8.  Personnel policy.  Aaron said our current personnel policy does not address how to work with injured part time firefighters.  He will consult with MMA to get some language for the Board's consideration.

9.  Recount.  Aaron noted there has been a recount requested for the Republican congressional primary held on June 14.  He expects the State Police to pick up the Town ballots tomorrow.

10.  Cemetery.  Frank met with a person wanting to purchase specific plots in the Coopers Mills cemetery and there does not appear to be any issues.

11.  Large tree removal.  Frank will contact David Spicer who has our brush clearing contract to see about prices for removal of some large trees in the right of way on several roads.  The contract has a per hour rate for additional work under which this might be done.

12.  New hydrant.  The Atlantic Salmon Federation is looking for the Town's review and approval of plans for the new hydrant on the West Branch of the Sheepscot River.  Tony will contact the Fire Chief for his comments.

 

Assessor's Actions

Boynton lot on Heath Road.  Since the issue with the location or existence of a parcel bought by David and Melissa Boynton from the Town several years ago is still not resolved, the Board decided to have George Fergusson investigate the deeds and provide advice to the Board.

The Board noted that no update forms for personal property were sent out this year.

Selectmen’s Minutes
June 28, 2016

 

Present:  Frank Ober, acting chair, Lester Scheafer, Tony Marple, Sue McKeen; absent, Dennis Merrill.

Selectmen’s actions:

  • Signed warrants.

 

  • Aaron now has the fire department lease in electronic form.
  • Scott Higgins:  Discussed the personnel policy and the effect on fire department volunteers.  MMA suggestions include status of classification of fire fighters, i.e.,  employee status, worker’s comp issues.  The IRS says tax laws apply to fire fighters. 

            Discussion re the applicability of taxes and stipends.  Stipends v hourly wages.              Aaron is in the process of gathering information for the Board to consider             updating personnel policy.  The Board agreed he will speak with Mary re employee status for fire fighters, unemployment and minimum wage issues.

  • Howe Road turnaround:  Dennis asked DOT about the turnaround on So. Howe Road.  The Board discussed if the turnaround works at the Bill’s property where the town has permission to use as a turnaround for town vehicles there may not be a need to construct another turnaround.  The question arose if Bob sells his property the town must be able to use this turnaround and written documentation may be necessary.  Aaron will phone Bob re this issue.

 

  • Reviewed year end expense report.
  • Discussion regarding personal property tax notification.  There was no notice sent for this year a/o of 4/16/2016.  The Board agrees to send these notices next April, 2017 for equipment owned a/0 April 1st.  Notices to be sent in May or June 2017.  There was discussion re sending notices in this year‘s tax bill for equipment a/o April 1, 2016, but there may not be time to get this accomplished.

 

  • Aaron advised that Key Bank has released the Will Turner Trust funds.  Question as to what amount the town can spend.  Aaron will check.  Additionally these funds need to appear on the balance sheet.  Aaron will check with Mark Roy.
  • Discussion re paving will be postponed until Dennis returns.

 

 

  • Coopers Mills Cemetery:  John Meite wants plot at the northeast corner of the cemetery.  Lester will measure the plot as there are no dimensions or listing for a plot in this area.
  • Frank advised that Dave Spicer said he can remove trees for $125/hour for removal and hauling away.  There are 11 trees to be removed.  Spicer did state the price could be as high as $500/tree if it is a difficult removal.  The Board voted 4-0 to hire David Spicer to remove and haul away these trees.

 

  • Frank advised that trees planted by the Magnusson’s on Rooney Lane have grown quite large; that they are very close to the Magnusson home and do hang into  the road.  David Boynton will discuss trimming these trees with the homeowner.
  • Tony advised that Pat Chase will mow the field behind the fire station.

 

  • Frank advised that Scott Tilton from Chelsea met with Pioneer Broadband.  That Pioneer is willing to do an assessment for both towns at a cost of $25,000/town.  No decisions were made, but Frank will be receiving a packet of information from Pioneer.

Meeting adjourned at 8:15.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
July 5, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for June 28 were approved 2-0-1 (Dennis abstaining).

 

  1. Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed. 

3.  CMVFD lease.  The Board signed a new lease with CMVFD for the Town's continued use of the building.  The terms are unchanged, although the equipment schedules are updated.

4.   Solar power.  With Erik Ekholm present, there was a discussion of the general proposal by Richard Simon of the Power Company to install solar power on the fire station.  He has indicated he is still interested and is willing indemnify the Town against adverse regulatory changes (e.g. loss of net metering).  It was decided to ask Mr. Simon to meet with the full board next week to discuss his proposals in more detail. 

5.  ACO contract.  On a vote of 2-1 (Lester opposed), the Board voted to renew the annual contract with the Lincoln County Sheriff to provide animal control services.

6.  Cell tower proposal.  Aaron reported a letter has been received from a consulting firm representing US Cellular regarding construction of a 199-foot cell tower on land off the Townhouse Road, fairly close to the CMP power line.   The consultant inquired about any known historical landmarks in the area.  The letter will be forwarded to the Historical Society and the Planning Board.

8.  Auditing.  In prior years, pre-audit review of the books has been contracted out.  This year, office staff has been doing the initial work.  Aaron will contact the firm that does our regular audit to see what they advise on pre-audit work.  Also, the Board had a general discussion of the need/use of an outside auditor to do regular bank statement reconciliation. 

9.  Economic development committee.  The Board briefly discussed the mission statement for this committee and Sue will convene their first meeting.

10.  Howe Road.  There was a discussion about a small parking area on Howe Road as part of  DOT's work to remove the Northy bridge.  Dennis will contact the Midcoast Conservancy who owns land in the area.  Also, the Corps of Engineers has sent the Town a notice of its review of the DOT's application for a permit to remove the bridge and providing an opportunity for comment.

11.  Trust funds.  Aaron reported on investigations into the balance for trust funds for benefit of the Town.  Each has a principle amount that cannot be used and interest that can be spent consistent with the terms of the trusts.  The initial findings show the following balances.
Cemetery fund - principle $254,000 and interest $77,000
Worthy Poor fund - principle $45,000 and interest $30,000
Aaron will be working with our auditors to verify these amounts, etc.

Next week:  year end budget numbers, solar power discussion, auditing needs, Boynton property, trust funds balances

 

Assessor's Actions

Boynton lot on Heath Road. George Fergusson is investigating the deeds and is expected provide advice to the Board next week on the location and bounds of this parcel.

The Board decided to send out questionnaires on real and personal property holdings in late March 2017.  This will update town records consistent with state law.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
July 12, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for July 5 were approved 4-0-1 (Tony abstaining).

 

  1. Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed. 

3.  Solar power.  Richard Simon from the Power Company came to explain his proposal for installing solar panels on the fire station, and addressing concerns with regulatory uncertainty.  He would indemnify the town against the loss or change of net metering and guarantee a power price of 10% below CMP rates.  After 3 years, this would be reviewed and rebates made if appropriate.  The system would be leased with a buy-out opportunity after 6 years; if there is no buy out, the lease would continue largely unchanged.  He is amenable to negotiate the specific terms of the lease to address town concerns.  As part of the discussion, the Board considered various options for new heat pumps in the town office.  Generally, it was felt that for now we could use the existing, older pumps for some heat in conjunction with the furnace.  In the end the Board voted 4-1 (Lester opposed) to have Richard develop more detailed plans and proposals. 

4.   Cemetery lot.  The Board signed a lot ownership document for a lot in the Coopers Mills cemetery to Williamson.

5.  Fuel prices.  Aaron reported on proposals by several fuel companies for purchase of propane and oil for next winter.  The low price was from Fielding's, our current supplier.   The Board voted 5-0 to continue with Fielding's and Aaron will determine contract amounts.

6.  Will Turner trusts.  Aaron gave an overview of information provided by our accountant on the Will Turner Trusts.  Each has a principle that cannot be used and earnings that can be used for specified purposes.  Aaron will follow up and get more information on the uses for each fund and summaries of the balances. 

8.  Internal controls.  Aaron would like to schedule a workshop for office staff and the Board to go over internal financial controls.  This may be on a Monday or Wednesday afternoon when the office is closed; the press would be notified of the meeting.

9.  Coopers Mills cemetery.  Lester reported he has been laying out lot locations in the cemetery.  He and Tony will continue this work on Thursday. 

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

Next week:  year end budget numbers, trust funds balances

 

Assessor's Actions

Boynton lot on Heath Road. George Fergusson came in to present his thorough report of investigations of the location of land David purchased from the town some years ago.  From the complicated trail of deeds, it appears the land is actually with in the bounds of a Map 11, lot 10.  The owner of that land has been paying taxes for the entire parcel.  After discussing this and related information, the Board voted 5-0 to abate all outstanding taxes owned by David.  George also said he is quite certain that Map 11, Lot 6 was actually owned by Uhl.  That account is foreclosed and the lot was identified by a non-existent designation.  We will need to seek our attorney's advice on how to proceed with this parcel.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
July 19, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for July 17 were approved 5-0.

2. Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed. 

3.  CMP pole.  Resident Mike Doughty came in to ask that the Town approve placement of a new utility pole for the home he is building on Rooney Lane.  The Board signed the necessary paperwork. As the company is a private contractor, the Town has no legal responsibility or direct role in such damages.

4.   Road complaint.  Aaron said a person came into the office complaining about culverts on the S. Hunts Meadow Road.  These create serious bumps, especially in the spring.   The person was scheduled on the agenda but did not show up.  The culvert locations have been marked and the pavement cut, so it is probable the Road commissioner is planning to replace the culverts.  When he returns from vacation, he will be contacted.

5.  Vigue Road culvert.  Dennis updated the Board on the project to replace the culvert.  Our engineer is planning to do the design work next week.  He is considering a pre-cast concrete structure instead of a steel arch.  The concrete structure may turn out to be less expansive.  The goal is to do the replacement in September, but that will depend on obtaining federal permit for the work in a timely manner. 

6.  Will Turner trusts.  Aaron provided additional information on balance and uses for the various trust funds the Town oversees.  These trusts go back many years and the origins and purposes for some are not clear.  Aaron has now been able to locate documentation in the Town's records.  He will check with the former clerk to see if she can provide any information.

8.  Internal controls.  Aaron has set up a "roundtable" to discuss internal financial controls.  This will be July 27 at noon.

9.  Coopers Mills cemetery.  The Board discussed the vault at Coopers Mills.  This structure is in very poor condition and has not been used in many years.  It has been suggested that the vault be removed and replaced with a sign.  Sue will contact Barry Tibbetts and Chuck Vaughan as two interested residents who can help formulate a final plan.

10.  Howe Road bridge.  A letter was received from an independent consultant suggesting the Town consider asking the DOT to give the bridge to the Town, along with the money it has for removal.  The consultant felt that the bridge could be repaired for less than the removal cost.  The Board felt that DOT has been very clear that the only option is removal and pursuing other options is not viable. 

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

Next week: trust funds updates, abatements to sign, Minoty?

 

Assessor's Actions

Tax acquire properties.  The Board reviewed the list of properties:

Minoty.  She will be asked to attend a Board meeting to discuss payment plans and efforts.

Mooers.  The Board voted 5-0 to abate the taxes on a small parcel that was combined with another.

Northern New England Telephone.  The Board voted 5-0 to abate owed taxes as this company has gone through bankruptcy and no longer exists.

Pinkham.  This parcel in the hands of our real estate agent.

Uhl.  This land-locked parcel will be offered for sale by sealed bid.

W+S Wood products.  The ownership and location of this parcel is unclear and needs research.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
July 26, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for July 19 were approved 5-0.

 

  1. Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed. 

3.  Solar power.  The Board discussed the most recent proposals from the Power Company, including some technical information and a proposed contract.  The contract would hold the Town harmless in the event of net metering being eliminated.  The solar equipment would be leased at an annual rate of 10% below the prevailing CMP rate.  The Board voted 5-0 to begin the process of applying for a net metering permit with CMP.  Also, the draft contract will be forwarded to our attorney for review.  Once that is done, we will ask Richard Simon of the Power Company to attend a meeting to answer questions.

4.   National Flood Insurance.  The State has contacted us asking to meet with us to discuss the next steps in the flood insurance program, with FEMA also attending.  Aaron will set this up for August 9, with the Planning Board also being invited.

5.  Worthy Poor funds.  Aaron reported on his findings about the Worthy Poor trust fund.  The fund was set up in 1919 with an amount of $2,750 from the estate of William T. King.  The next step is to verify the current amounts in the trust and interest through our auditors and then consider guidelines for dispersal of money for uses consistent with the terms of Mr. King's will.

6.  Sale of land.  The Board reviewed a proposed sales contract from our real estate broker for listing of the former Pinkham property on Hollywood Boulevard and Rt. 194, about 6 acres.  The Board voted to accept the listing contract with an asking price of $20,000.

8. Economic development.  This committee met for the first time last week.  Their first activity will be to send out a questionnaire to current businesses in Town.

9.  Assessor's Agent.  There have been some inquiries about the RFP for a contracted AA.  The due date for proposals is August 1.

10.  Sand and salt shed.  The have been questions about storage of private farming equipment seasonally in the shed.  The Board felt this was acceptable, so long as the space was available to all who wanted to use it.  Any conflicts, problems etc., would result in ending the practice.

11.  Recycling center.  There have been reports of trash being left at the recycling center.  We will ask the attendant to come in and discuss solutions.

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

Pending business: solar contract to town attorney, flood insurance program update, advertising for Pinkham property, putting town policies on line, Minoty letter, update on tax commitment, recycling center trash

 

Assessor's Actions

Tax abatements for Mooers and N. New England Telephone approved last week were signed.

Tax acquired properties were discussed. Penny Minoty is being asked to come in next week.  The history and location of the Uhl parcel is being researched. 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
August 16, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for August 9 were approved 4-0-1 (Frank abstaining).
  1. Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed. 

3.  Damaged vehicle.  A resident came in with concerns about damage to his vehicle caused by a culvert cut on Sennott Road being paved by State Paving.  The damage was estimated to be about $600.  There was only one traffic cone in the center of the cut and a significant depression.  There were no personnel from State Paving in the area as there had been for other culvert cuts paved the same day.  The person spoke with the head of State Paving to no avail.  He was advised that the Town has no responsibility for the actions of a private contractor.  Road Commissioner David Boynton will speak with State Paving on behalf of the resident.

4.  Bowden property.  David Boynton and a Board member will arrange a meeting with Mr. Bowden to discuss the need for a culvert for access to his property from the driveway to the salt shed.  David Boynton believes one is not needed.

5.  Worthy Poor funds.  The Board discussed using some of this fund to replace the failed water supply piping for a resident in need, and voted 5-0 to authorize David Boynton to replace a pipe crossing the road from a spring to the home.

6.  Dennis reported that the Mane DOT would be willing to construct a turn-around / parking area at the South side of the Northy bridge on Howe Road on land owned by the Midcoast Conservancy.  However, to do so the Conservancy would need to grant an easement to the Town.  Dennis will investigate more and seek advice from our attorney.

Assessor's Actions

Norman Smith came in to discuss his abatement request for a second base lot, septic and well on his property on Thayer Road.  A second mobile home was removed from the property several years ago and, while he reported this to the Town, no adjustment was ever made.  Mr. Smith stated there was never a second well of septic.  The Board voted 5-0 to grant an abatement for 3 years.

Brad Bowden came in asking to combing Map 17, lots 30 and 30B.  This was approved 5-0.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
August 23, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for August 16 were approved 4-0 with correction of a typo

 

  1. Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed. 

3.  Damaged vehicle.   An estimate for damage done to a vehicle on Townhouse Road has been received.  This resulted from a person hitting a culvert cut being paved by State Paving.  As the company is a private contractor, the Town has responsibility or direct role in such damages.  Aaron will get more information and submit it to the company's lawyer. 

4.  Bowden property.  David Boynton and a Board member will arrange a meeting with Mr. Bowden to discuss the need for a culvert for access to his property from the driveway to the salt shed. 

5.  Worthy Poor funds.  The Board discussed using some of this fund to replace the failed water supply piping for a resident in need. David Boynton reported to Aaron that improving the existing spring would be difficult and Aaron is contacting well drilling companies for quotes.  The CEO will be asked to evaluate the situation as a next step.

6.  Phone system.  Aaron is investigating phone systems that can take messages when the staff is busy with people at the counter.  He will also explore the capabilities of our present phones.

7.  Dry hydrant.  The project to install a new hydrant on the West Branch of the Sheepscot is moving forward and permits are being obtained.  The Atlantic Salmon Federation is the lead and funder for this project.

8.  Sand and salt.  The Board voted 3-0-1 (Frank abstaining) to authorize David Boynton to put up the winter sand and salt.

9.  The Board reviewed projected revenue and expense information, and will continue to monitor to see if a tax anticipation note will be needed.

Assessor's Actions

Aaron reported one interview for a contracted assessor's agent was held today.  More to follow.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
September 6, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for August 30 were approved 4-0.
  2. Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed. 

3.  General Assistance ordinance.  The Board held a public hearing on adoption of state recommended maximums for general assistance payments.  No one attended the hearing and no comments were received.  The Board voted 4-0 to adopt the state recommendations.

4.  Monthly financial report.  Aaron reported that  the general bank account is currently at about $650,000.  The County tax bill has been paid but the RSU bill for September has not.  Aaron will begin the process of getting a tax anticipation line of credit in the event money is needed to meet expenses until tax payments come in in November.

5.  Vigue Road culvert bids.    The Board opened 3 bids for replacement of the Finn Brook culvert on Vigue Road: Farley Construction $170,000; Hager Enterprises $109,765; and MeGee Construction $87,505.  After discussion, the Board voted 4-0 to accept the bid from McGee.

6.  North Hunts Meadow Road.  A complaint was received from a concerned citizen that the brush clearing was not adequate.  Frank will follow up.

7.  Coopers Mills cemetery.  The group being convened to recommend option for the vault probably will not have anything until late fall.

8.  Main Street speeders.  The Sheriff will be doing radar details on Main Street.

9.  Recycling sign.  Aaron is waiting for a response from the Sheriff on wording for a new sign concerning littering at the Recycling Center. 

10.  Audit.  The annual audit is underway and the auditors will be visiting on the 12th and 13th, with work following over the next few weeks.

11.  Worthy Poor.  A well driller and our CEO are to visit a home in need of a decent water supply to develop recommendation.  The Worth Poor fund may make needed improvements.

12.  Damaged vehicles.  Word has been received from State Paving's lawyer that damage done to vehicles will not be compensated and saying the Company took proper precautions to warn drivers of culvert cuts being paved.

 

Assessor's Actions

Tax commitment.  Tom Hayes was present to provide information of the annual tax commitment.  The Town's taxable valuation is down from last year, and Tom said the largest reduction was due to an increase in the Homestead Exemption from $10,000 to $15,000.  This gives a tax reduction to qualified homeowners but at the same time removes the value of exempted property from the tax rolls.  The net effect is an increase in the mil rate.  The Board discussed the amount of overlay to be included to cover the cost of abatements for the upcoming tax year.  Aaron provided the amounts for abatements: 2016: $24,901, 2015 $13,275, and 2014 $35,141.  The overlay amount within this range makes a relatively small difference in the mil rate.  After discussion, the Board voted 3-1 (Lester opposed) to set the mil rate at 15.0, up 0.3 mils from last year.  At that level, the overlay was set at about $32,000.

A draft letter to be included with the annual tax bills was reviewed.  Dennis will edit and circulate.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
September 13, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for September 6 were approved 4-0-1.

 

  1. Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed. 

3.  Paving.  Aaron reported that State Paving is to start paving on Thursday in the Coopers Mills area.  The Board also discussed damage to private vehicles resulting from open culvert cuts State was paving on Sennott and Townhouse Roads with no conclusion or action.

4.  Townhouse.  Aaron has contacted a local tradesman to provide an estimate for repairing a leak in the townhouse roof.

5.  Recycling.  Our regular recycling attendant will be out for 1-2 months and Jeff Newell will train a temporary replacement. 

6.  Solar. A draft contract with the Power Company to install a solar system at the fire station was discussed.  One concern is protecting the Town so that costs cannot be higher than what they would have been for power purchased from CMP.  The solar sub-committee needs to meet with the company and re-work the contract.

7.  Address conflict.  Two different properties have the same address - 30 Hillside Lane.  One is on the Lane and the other is a nearby lane running between the Wilson and LaLiberte properties. That lane should have its own name.  A recommended name, North End Lane, is too similar to Northeast Lane and could cause confusion in emergencies.  Other suggested names will be sought. 

8.  Unclaimed property.  The Country Manor nursing home has informed the Town that it has some property belonging to a resident who passed away some time ago.  Efforts to find the any next of kin have not been unsuccessful.  The property - a motorized wheelchair, watches and commemorative coins - can be turned over to the Town as unclaimed.  The Board voted 5-0 to accept the coins and watches with the intent to sell these and put the money in the Worthy Poor fund.  We will try to reach out to third parties who could find a needy person for the wheelchair.

9.  Tree removal.  Spicer Tree is in the process of removing large tree dead trees in several locations. 

10.  There is some brush at the drive from the new fire station parking lot to Townhouse that could be removed to improve visibility. 

11.  Worthy Poor.  The CEO visited the location where a new well may be installed to correct an existing problem and found there is a location where a well could be installed.  The well driller has yet to come to make an assessment. 

Next week: Worth Poor well, new name for North End Lane

Assessor's Actions

Tax commitment.  The final tax commitment papers were signed.  Aaron noted a small decrease in the approved town expenditures that reduced the amount to be raised by about $3,000 and the overlay to increase by a similar amount.  These changes did not affect the mil rate, set at 15 mils.

The Board reviewed a draft letter to taxpayers to be included in the tax bills.

Assessor's agent.  The Board discussed the interviews for a contracted Assessor's Agent.  Three parties were interviewed, with the base prices ranging from $13,500 to $33,000 per year.  Additionally, we want a review of properties on a rotating basis to ensure records are periodically updated to remain current.  This service is at additional cost.  The Board settled on doing 20% of the properties per year.  The Board voted to engage RJD Appraisal of Pittsfield at an annual cost of $13,500 plus $9,750 for updating 20% of the properties.  The contract would be for one year with a provision for annual renewals to be negotiated

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
September 20, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for September 13 were approved 5-0.
  1. Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed.  Prior to this warrant, the bank account stands at about $639,000.

3.  Solar system.  Richard Simon from the Power Company came in to review his proposal for placing solar panels on the fire station roof.  He said he agreed with a revised draft lease agreement the Town has prepared.  A copy of this was given to Board members for their review and consideration next week. 

4.  Flag.  David Hayden came in to mention that the flag at the Town Office is hung up in the pine trees.  Those trees are over-growing and need to be trimmed back.  The Board voted 4-1 (Dennis opposed) to hire Second Nature Tree to prune them.

5.  Recycling.  Our regular recycling attendant will be out for 1-2 months and Jeff Newell came in last Saturday to train a temporary replacement who did not show up.  Jeff is willing to fill in. 

6.  Road complaints.  Several have been received recently and the Board would like to review these monthly with input from the Road Commissioner.  Aaron was asked to follow up on a system for tracking action / response on complaints.

7.  Address conflict.  Two different properties have the same address - 30 Hillside Lane.  One is on that Lane and the other is a nearby lane running between the Wilson and LaLiberte properties. The Board voted 5-0 to name the nearby lane Otter Lane. 

8.  Unclaimed property.  The Country Manor nursing home has informed the Town that it has some property belonging to a resident who passed away some time ago.  Efforts to find the any next of kin have not been unsuccessful.  The property - a motorized wheelchair, watches and commemorative coins - can be turned over to the Town as unclaimed.  Frank picked up the watches and coins and will get them appraised.  Country Manor will work independently to find a need party for the wheelchair.

9.  Cable franchise agreement.  Time-Warner has sent a draft renewal agreement for the Town to sign.  Before taking any action, it was agreed that we will watch the negotiations Alna is pursuing with the company.

10.  OSHA.  Aaron reported that OSHA has asked questions about signage for road work on Townhouse Road.  This apparently is in response to a complaint.  Aaron sent picture of signs in place.

11.  Worthy Poor.  A second well driller has been contacted to provide an estimate for providing a water supply for a needy residence.

Next week: Assessing contract, Road complaints, Solar project, an annual performance evaluation, Executive session.

Parking Lot:  Worthy Poor well, Employee Status

 

Assessor's Actions

Assessor's agent.  Aaron will finalize the contract with RJD Associates, to include a provision for updating 20% of the properties with buildings. He will also ask them to look into helicopter valuations.

 

Select Board Meeting Minutes
September 27, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for September 20 were approved 5-0.

 

  1. An accounts payable warrant was signed.

3.  Solar system.  Erik Ekholm came in to participate in a discussion of the lease under consideration for solar panels on the fire station.  Electric use in Town buildings in the most recent year is down, with the largest reduction at the renovated fire station in Coopers Mills. Erik recommended a somewhat undersized solar system and continuing to look for energy efficiencies.  Possible installation of new, more efficient heat pumps at the Town Office was also discussed. The existing units can be used as heat pumps to offset oil use and are probably more economical than the cost of oil.  However, new units would be more efficient and could operate at lower outside temperatures.  Tony, Dennis and Erik will meet to go over the lease agreement with The Power Company and come back with a final draft next week.

4.  Roadside mowing.  We have received a proposal for extension of the current mowing contract through 2019.  The annual rate of $2,025 would remain the same for the next three years.  After some discussion, the Board voted 4-1 (Lester opposed) to extend the contract with the addition of a clause that continuation is contingent upon approval of funding at the annual town meeting.

5.  Department of Labor visit.  Last week a representative of the State Department of Labor visited a work site on Townhouse Road in response to a complaint.  The ditching work was being done by the Road Commissioner and others.  Several problems were found, causing the work to shut down: inadequate signs, no flaggers, and the grader not being inspected or registered.  A report is expected in a few weeks.

6.  Road complaints.  Aaron is keeping a log of complaints and tracking their resolution.

7.  Road projects.  Dennis reported the removal of the Howe Road bridge is complete and the area has been landscaped with paths leading to the river.  Work to replace the Finn Brook culvert on Vigue Road is underway and looking good.

8. Executive session 1. Pursuant to 1 MRSA §405(6)(C), the Board voted 5-0 to go into executive session to discuss disposition of publicly held land.  Following the session, the Board voted 3-1-1 (Lester opposed, Sue abstaining) to make a counter offer on a parcel of tax acquired land on Rt. 194 and Hollywood Blvd.  Our real estate agent was present and communicated the offer to the prospective buyer who responded with and a counteroffer.  After discussion, that offer of $6,000 that was accepted 4-0-1 (Sue abstaining).

9.  Executive session 2. Pursuant to 1 MRSA §405(6)(A), the Board voted 5-0 to go into executive session to discuss a personnel matter.  Following the session, no action was taken.

10. Executive session 3. Pursuant to 1 MRSA §405(6)(F), the Board voted 5-0 to go into executive session to discuss a poverty abatement request.  Following the session, no action was taken.

Next week: update on overdue taxes, solar proposal, mowing contract

Parking Lot:  Worthy Poor well, Employee Status, Townhouse roof

 

Assessor's Actions

An abatement request from Gail and Robert King was approved 5-0.  A mobile home had been improperly described in Town records, with the size and age being incorrect.

 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
October 4, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for September 27 were approved 4-0.

 

  1. Accounts payable and payroll warrant were signed.

3.  Budget review.  The Board reviewed the status of the current year's budget and expenditures.  We are on track with no major unanticipated expenses.  At this point a tax anticipation note is not needed but we will watch carefully as some large bills (e.g. paving) are coming in. Vigue road culvert replacement charges appear to have been posted incorrectly which Aaron will investigate along with the establishment of a specific project account.

4.  Town office maintenance.  Aaron noted there are concerns with mold, bad carpet, mice and air quality at the town office that should be addressed in next year's budget.  The Board agreed that an evaluation should be made by a professional to get an estimate for what might be needed.

5.  Next year's budget.  The Board discussed the general timeline for developing next year's budget.  The annual audit will be available in the next few weeks.  The Board will do its budget proposal in December and the Budget Committee will convene Jan. 3.  Aaron will contact members of last year's committee to see who is interested in returning.

6.  Worthy Poor.  Aaron reported that a well drilling firm is interested in helping provide a new water supply for a needy person in Town and a site visit is expected soon.

7.  Lincoln County budget.  Tony reported on the first session of the LC budget committee, of which he is a member.  The first draft of next year's budget is up 1.4%.  The budget is quite complicated and union contract negotiations are unresolved.

8. Frank is in the process of getting prices for coins and watches given to the Town from the estate of a nursing home resident.  Money from the sale will be put into the Worthy Poor fund.

9.  Vigue Road culvert.  Dennis reported the culvert is complete, and the bill for the work has been received.  Before paying this, we need to get feed-back from our engineer on an extra charge for ledge removal and overall satisfactory completion of the work.  The project appears to be $21,295 under the estimated budget.  With several entities providing grant support, the Board discussed in general ways to use savings.  It might be possible to re-purpose some grants to other projects in Town.  Dennis will follow up with those groups.

10.  Broadband conference.  Frank will attend an upcoming broadband conference.  This may also be of interest to the economic committee as internet connections are important to business development.
Next week: update on overdue taxes, solar proposal, mowing contract, budget committee, revenue projections, performance evaluation, executive session on property tax abatement request.

Parking Lot:  Worthy Poor well, Employee Status, Townhouse roof

 

Assessor's Actions

An abatement and supplemental assessment were both approved 4-0 for the same parcel to catch up on a change of ownership.  The two offset each other and have no effect on valuation or revenue.

The Board discussed the transition from our present Assessor's Agent to the new contracted one, RJD associates.  RJD's first day in town will be Oct 31.  Tom Hayes still has the annual municipal valuation report to complete.  We will try to arrange a day for Tom and RJD to meet to transfer information, statuses, etc.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
October 11, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for October 4 were approved 4-0-1.

 

  1. An accounts payable warrant was signed.

3.  Solar lease.  After a brief discussion, the Board vote 4-1 (Lester opposed) to enter into a lease with The Power Company to install solar panels on the fire station roof. 

4.  Budget committee.  Aaron reported he has contacted members of last year's budget committee and they are interested to serve again.  Included are Taryn Marcus, Lisa Kalloch, Barbara Mayer, Chris Delisle, Charlene Donahue, Erik Ekholm, and Barry Tibbetts. David Hayden has yet to be contacted. A new person, Mike McMorrow, is also interested.

5.  Roads training.  On November 8, the Maine DOT will be sponsoring a training session on winter road maintenance.  Aaron will contact plowing contractor David Spicer and road commissioner David Boynton to see if they are interested in attending.

6.  Annual audit.  Aaron will arrange a meeting for office staff and Board members to review the draft annual audit with the auditing firm.

7.  Overdue taxes.  The Board reviewed the status of four overdue tax accounts.  Contacts will be made with three parties in an effort to receive payments.  One account needs investigation to determine the size and location of the parcel of land.  Another account will be removed from the books as the parcel in question cannot be found in deed records.

8. Parking area.  The Board discussed mowing the sides of the driveway connecting the parking lot between the fire station and office to Townhouse Road.  This will make the entrance neater.  The first step is to weed whack the area and clean up any debris.  Also, we will get a flood light to mount on the fire station to light the lot.  An electrician will be needed to wire it, but for the election on Nov 8, an extension cord can be used if necessary.

9.  Vigue Road culvert.  An application to The Nature Conservancy for a $15,000 grant to help pay for the Vigue Road culvert replacement was signed.

10.  Townhouse culvert.  The Board noted a culvert cut on the South end of Townhouse Road needs paving.

11.  Executive session.  Pursuant to 1 MRSA §405(6)(F), the Board voted 5-0 to go into executive session to discuss a poverty abatement application.  Following the session, the Board voted 5-0 to approve a poverty abatement.

Parking Lot:  Worthy Poor well, Townhouse roof

 

Assessor's Actions

The Board singed a contract with RJD Associates for assessing services, changing the start date from October 1 to October 31 as that is first date the firm will be providing service to the Town.

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
October 18, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for October 11 were approved 5-0.

 

  1. Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed.  After these, we will have about $100,000 in the bank account; we will monitor to see if using tax anticipation note money will be necessary.

3.  Veterans' memorial.  Libby Harmon came in to discuss the trees in the memorial at the town office.  The pines look bad and are blocking the arborvitae planted behind them.  She had found a newspaper article from the 2004 Town Meeting at which Jay Howell, the originator of the memorial, asked for $2,500 to be appropriated to "replace" the pines.  The Town voted to do this.  Subsequently, the arborvitae were planted and are now well established.  We will get quotes from local tree firms for removal of the pines.

4. Office tasks.  The Board discussed lists of tasks done by various office staff, with some focus on how the Treasurer duties are currently handled.  A "round table" discussion with the office staff to discuss duties and financial security will be scheduled for November.

5.  Broadband.  Notice has been received from FairPoint that the company upgraded broadband service in the Gardiner Road and Hunts Meadow Road area.

6. Bank resolution.  The Town will move some trust funds from Key Bank to Kennbec Savings Bank to get all town accounts in one location.  To do this, our attorney stipulated an authorizing resolution must be adopted.  On a vote of 5-0, the Board adopted the following.

We, the duly elected Board of Selectmen of the Town of Whitefield, hereby certify that the following Resolutions were unanimously adopted by the Board of Selectmen at a duly noticed and called meeting of the Board, at which a quorum was present and voting:
RESOLVED, that the Town of Whitefield is hereby authorized to set up Trust Accounts at Kennebec Savings Bank for the purpose serving as Corporate Trustee for the Town of Whitefield.
FURTHER RESOLVED, that the following individuals from the Town of Whitefield have access to and decision making responsibility for the funds in the account: Aaron Miller, Town Clerk; Dennis Merrill, Chairman of the Board of Selectmen.
FURTHER RESOLVED, that Aaron Miller, Town Clerk or Dennis Merrill, Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, or his successor as Chair, be required to sign off on the transferring of funds out of the trust account.

7.  Check capture.  Aaron reported our bank is giving us equipment to electronically record and deposit checks.  This will make handling checks more efficient and secure. 

8.  Office upgrades.  Our Code Enforcement Office will be attending a course on indoor air quality and will then evaluate the town office for needed improvements.

9.  Liability insurance.  The Fire Chief has questioned the extent of liability overage for firefighters called to an incident scene and for on-scene decisions.  To follow up on this, the Chief will be put in contact with the MMA insurance program. 

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

Next week. personnel matter, municipal valuation report, Uhl property, election planning

 

Assessor's Actions

Assessor's Agent Tom Hayes was present for several issues:

1. Tom reported that the preliminary state valuation puts Whitefield at 102%.

2.  The Board voted 5-0 to approve an abatement for Keith Sandborne.  The livable space of the building had been recorded by the Town as including the garage area.  The abatement corrected this.

3.  The Board voted 4-0-1 (Frank abstaining) to grant an abatement to David Boynton for a parcel previously removed from the assessment, Map 11, Lot 6. 

4.  The Board discussed disposition of Map 11, Lot 6.  The owner may be Uhl, but this is not verified.  The Uhls previously were taxed for Map 10, Lot 54 which does not exist, and the account fell into foreclosure.  For now, the Board voted 4-01- (Frank abstaining) to place Map 11, Lot 6 in the Town's name pending further investigation.

5.  Tom will have the municipal valuation form for the State done for next week.

 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
October 25, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for October 18 were approved 5-0.
  1. Accounts payable warrants were signed.

3.  Municipal Valuation Report.  The Board reviewed and signed the annual MVR to be submitted to the State. 

4. Board of Appeals.  With an appeal recently received, the BOA needs to be re-appointed.  Three former members, Bob Tupper, Andy Berry and Erik Ekholm have agreed to serve again.  The Board discussed several other persons who might be interested.  They will be contacted in the hope of appointing a board soon.  By law a BOA can be 5 or 7 members with staggered terms of 3 to 5 years.

5.  CMP pole.  The Board signed an application from CMP for placement of a utility pole on Rooney Lane.

6. Round Table.  Aaron has scheduled a "round table" to discuss office procedures, security, internal controls, etc. for Nov 23 at 12:30 PM.  This is for the office staff and Board members to review operations.

7.  Check capture.  Aaron reported our bank is giving us equipment to electronically record and deposit checks.  This will be implemented in November. 

8.  Worthy Poor.  Aaron reported a well-drilling firm will be installing a new well for a needy resident soon.

9.  Liability insurance.  The Fire Chief was present to discuss coverage for firefighters.  Aaron prepared a summary of laws that govern them when they are called out.  In Whitefield's case, firefighters are considered employees but are not covered by the Fair Labor Standards act or unemployment programs.  They are covered for workers’ compensation and tort claims actions.  The Chief has met with the MMA insurance staff and is satisfied with the coverage.

10.  Fire Department.  Chief Higgins noted the old 1977 utility truck is basically out of service with numerous problems.  This unit is owned by the Coopers Mills Volunteer Fire Department.  He is also following up on some issue with the quality of service received for our three major pieces of equipment. 

11.  Plowing concern.  Resident Steve Smith came in and the Board briefly discussed how roads are plowed.  With Amish people moving into Town, they may require snow to be moved back further on certain roads.  This topic should be discussed as a scheduled agenda item in the future with the proper people present.

12.  CEO activities.  We need to determine how many gravel pit inspections the Code Enforcement Officer has done.

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

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

Next week. annual audit, Board of Appeals

Parking Lot: Townhouse roof, pine tree removal quotes, Uhl property, Sherwood property, road plowing

Assessor's Actions

None

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
November 1, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  • The minutes for October 25 were approved 5-0.

Accounts and payroll payable warrants were signed.  The current bank balance is about $202,000; the need for tax anticipation note appears to be less likely.

3.  Annual audit.  Marc Roy of Berry, Talbot and Royer came in to present their annual audit of the Town's financial condition.  He reported the Town is "doing well".  The surplus increased over the previous fiscal year, due to expenditures under budget and revenues exceeding expectations.  The FY 16 surplus was $955,910, an increase of about $89,000 over FY15.  The surplus can, in part be used to help reduce next year's taxes and Marc recommended keeping a minimum of 75 to 90 days of average operating expenses in reserve.  Also, the Town does not include in its projected budget some revenue streams (e.g. clerk fees, reimbursements of registry fees, etc.) but instead allows these monies to go to surplus for use in the ensuing year.  Marc suggested the management of surplus and revenue streams be reviewed, perhaps by using spreadsheet scenarios to test ideas over a few years into the future.  He noted that internal controls and procedures have improved substantially in the past year, and recommended training on understanding financial statements.  The Board voted 5-0 to accept the audit. 

4. Board of Appeals. The Board voted 5-0 to appoint Bob Tupper, Andy Berry, John Parks, Steve Sheehey  and Erik Ekholm to the Board of Appeals.  The clerk will contract each person.  We have a pending appeal of an approval for a cell phone tower and our town attorney is willing to provide a training session for the newly appointed BOA prior to their consideration of the appeal.

5.  Tax acquired land.  The family of the Chases came in to discuss paying off back taxes on Crocker Ave parcels.  They are prepared to do this quickly and will do some deed research as an initial step.  The Board voted 5-0 to forebear on any action until December 1. 

6. Department of Labor citation.  The Town has received the formal report of a DOL inspection finding the Town in violation of several standards in conducting roadwork.  The biggest issues were with lack of proper warning signs and flaggers in work areas.  They are proposing a $2,000 penalty.  It may be possible to mitigate some this with prompt and affirmative action.  Aaron will coordinate a response with in the about 2-week deadline.  He has set up a courtesy inspection for town buildings to evaluate other possible safety problems. 

7.  Budget Committee.  The Board voted 5-0 to appoint Taryn Marcus, Lisa Kalloch, Barbara Mayer, Chris Deslisle, Charlene Donahue, Erik Ekholm, Mike McMorrow, David Hayden and Barry Tibbetts to the Budget Committee for the upcoming budget. 

8.  Economic Development Committee.  The Committee would like to prepare an insert on its work for inclusion in the Whitefield News.  The Board felt this small expense for printing could come from the Planning Board budget. 

9.  General Assistance.  Aaron reported that DHHS is instituting a new program to provide electronic access for status reports on GA applicants.  This would replace the current system of having to call DHHS and waiting for a return call. 

10.  Townhouse issues.  Aaron reported a person will be coming soon to make some repairs of leaks around the chimney.  Our CEO will be doing an evaluation of the town office space to identify "sick building" concerns and other recommendations for upgrades. 

11.  Correspondence. 

  • CMP filed a notice it will be placing a new utility pole on Head Tide Road
  • MeDOT will be offering a workshop on public transportation Nov. 14 in Belfast.
  • Lincoln County Emergency Management is soliciting interest in obtaining military surplus generators.  We would like to explore ones for the Coopers Mills fire station and the Town Office.
  • The State Emergency Management sent information for assistance to farmers and homeowners whose wells have been impacted by recent drought conditions.

Next week. 

Parking Lot: Townhouse roof, pine tree removal quotes, Uhl property, Sherwood property, road plowing

Assessor's Actions

None

 

 

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
November 8, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for November 1 were approved 5-0.

 

  1. An accounts payable warrant was signed.

3.  Veterans Memorial.  The Board reviewed three quotes for removal of pine trees in the Veteran's Memorial at the Town Office.  In 2004 the Town appropriated $2,500 to replace these with arborvitae trees. The arborvitae are now mature and being crowded by the pines.  The prices received were: Wolftree, $1,400; Spicer Tree, $1,250; and Second Nature, $1,000.  The Board voted 5-0 to accept the price from Second Nature, contingent on a review of the budget to ensure funds are available.  Frank and Tony will be discussing this with the Howell family. 

4. Board of Appeals. The Board will meet Nov 17 to hear two appeals of the Planning Board's approval of a cell phone tower.  One appeal was anonymous and the other was filed beyond the appeal deadline. The Town's attorney will attend the meeting and will also provide the Appeals Board some training before their meeting. 

5.  Tax account.  Aaron has been working with a person to arrange automatic payments of back taxes.

6. Town office.  The Board reviewed a list of upgrades to the town office proposed by the CEO to address some "sick building" concerns and modernization work.  We will need to prioritize this work and will seek the advice of local carpenters to help develop a budget to consider for town meeting action. 

7.  Meeting schedule.  The Board had a general discussion about holding a bi-weekly meeting instead of every week, as some other towns do.  We can contact some of those to see what they do.

8.  Winter roads.  Dennis reported he had spoken with our plowing and sanding contractor who attended a DOT training session and received some ideas on pre-treating roads with a salt solution prior to storms.  Reportedly, this would use no more, and perhaps less, material and could result in better ice and snow control.  We will ask the contractor to attend a meeting to discuss the concept.

9.  Executive session.  Pursuant to 1MRSA, § 405(6)(A), the Board went into an executive session to discuss a personnel matter.  Following the session, no action was taken.

Next week.  Review of budget (revenue, expenses and balance sheet), meeting with plowing contractor

Parking Lot: Townhouse roof, Uhl property, Sherwood property,  Worthy Poor, Amish signs, heat pump

Assessor's Actions

None

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
November 15, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for November 8 were approved 5-0.

 

  1. Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed.  The current bank balance is about $197,000.

3.  Veterans Memorial.  Tony and Frank met with the Howell family to discuss removal of pine trees at the memorial.  Cedar trees planted behind them in 2004 have grown up and are now being crowded by the pines.  The family did not want the pines removed, however.  For now the issue is tabled.

4. Plowing and sanding.  Plowing contractor David Spicer came in to discuss a seminar on winter roads maintenance he attended recently.  At this DOT program, he learned about different ways to treat roads to minimize the amount of salt and sand used and improve road conditions.  The basic concept is to treat roads with a brine solution prior to a storm.  Liquid application of salt minimizes the amount of material lost to the ditch that can be up to a 30% loss.  DOT offers a program where a town can bring a ton of salt to one of its facilities and exchange it for 1000 gallons of brine at no charge.  David proposed outfitting one or two of his plow trucks to apply brine on a trial basis at his expense.  The Board agreed this would be a good thing to try.

5.  Election recap.  Aaron said the recent election attracted 1431 voters.  About 100 of these were new registrants on election day.  Whitefield now has 1780 registered voters.

6. Town office.  Dennis reported that Erik Ekholm, Frank and he met to go over suggested improvements to the town office.  These include improving energy efficiency, air quality, and general updating.  A priority list and cost estimates will be prepared.

7.  Meeting schedule.  Aaron reported that in a survey of several other towns, most have select board meetings every other week.  In an upcoming area meeting of select persons, we will follow up on how agendas are managed, etc.

8.  Financial reports.  The Board reviewed monthly financial reports.  Expenses and revenues appear to be on track thus far into the fiscal year.  Aaron will follow up on some questions.

9.  Executive session.  Pursuant to 1MRSA, § 405(6)(A), the Board went into an executive session to discuss a personnel matter.  Following the session, no action was taken.

Next week.  Budget update.

 

Assessor's Actions

None

Town of Whitefield
Select Board Meeting Minutes
November 22, 2016

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

Select Board actions

  1. The minutes for November 22 were approved 4-0.

 

  1. Accounts payable and payroll warrants were signed. 

3.  Mail delivery.  Dennis said he is investigating having mail delivered at the town office.

4.  Worthy Poor.  A well for a residence in need has been drilled.

5.  Holiday tree.  The Board agreed with putting up a tree at the fire station.  A resident will do this at no cost to the Town.

6. Tree removal.  Dennis reported CMP is not willing to take down a large pine tree on Hollywood Boulevard near its power lines.  We will contact a local company do the work.

7.  Office improvements.  The Board briefly discussed the list of possible improvements to the town office.  Health related issues should be the first to be addressed.  We need to convene a group to review options and develop a budget.

8.  Appeals hearing.  Word has been received that US Cellular has abandoned plans for a cell phone tower in town, and the appeals board hearing on the subject has been cancelled. 

9.  Budget.  The Board did a preliminary review and discussion of the budget for next year.  From this, a list of question and follow-up issues was developed.  No decisions were made on specific line items.

Next week. Budget

 

Assessor's Actions

None.

 

November 29, 2016

December 6. 2016

December 13, 2016

December 20, 2016

December 27, 2016

 

The minutes above are the most recent available on line