Town Council Minutes 01/10/2017
Town Council Meeting
January 10, 2017
Chairman Russell H. Abell called the meeting to order at 6:46pm. Councilors present included John C. Kareckas, John James, Laura Leber, and Thomas Chase. Town Manager Perry A. Ellsworth was also in attendance.
Approval of Minutes
1. Council 12-27-16: On a motion by Mr. James, seconded by Mrs. Leber, it was unanimously voted to adopt the minutes as written.
1. On a motion by Mrs. Leber, seconded by Mr. James, it was unanimously voted to sign the warrant dated January 4, 2017 in the amount of $803,238.35.
Reports & Presentations
1. Maine Infonet Library System: Karen Eger gave a brief presentation on the new program available at the Library called MILS. The program allows for residents to request books held at other Maine libraries. The request is placed on line and the book is shipped to South Berwick for the requestor to pick up at the library.
Town Manager’s Report
-Busy preparing budgets.
-The audit is not back yet. There will be a presentation by the auditor when it is finalized.
-Our unemployment allotment (cost) is down about $10,000. Our workers comp is also down about $8,000 to $9,000.
-Still working on our trash hauling options. We are no longer partnering with North Berwick. Working on a contract with Oceanside Rubbish; the initial term would be one year with two 2yr extensions. Oceanside will haul to Wells, which will save about $16,000/yr. (We were hauling to Westbrook)
-The County will be holding a public hearing on January 18th regarding a detox center in Alfred. If passed, the cost to South Berwick could be about $25,000.
-Reminded everyone of the EMS workshop on January 17th. The Council also agreed to hold a budget workshop after the EMS workshop.
-Gave an overview of some of the Governor’s proposed budget:
Repeal of the State’s portion of general assistance.
Permanent reduction in revenue sharing to 2%.
Homestead exemption up to $20,000 for people over 65 only.
Move to one rate for income taxes at 5.75%. This rate would include the increase of 3%
voted by voters in November to be assessed to only the top earners of $200,000
or more, and would divert the funds from education to the general fund.
Expand the sales tax base
1. The Council discussed the proposal for a pedestrian/bicycle bridge across the Great Works River on Vine Street.
On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Mr. James, the Council unanimously voted to endorse the concept of a new pedestrian/bicycle bridge across the Great Works River on Vine Street and agrees to collaborate with the Great Works Bridge Brigade (GWBB) in all aspects of project planning, leading to the construction of a new bridge. The Council recognizes that this endorsement is critical for SWBB’s continued research and fundraising efforts in support of the project.
2. Police Station: Mr. Ellsworth made note that the Norton Street site has several issues, especially in regard to parking. He asked that the Council consider a lot on Route 4 in Berwick that is now up for sale.
Mr. Kareckas asked what funds would be necessary to look into the new site. Mr. Ellsworth stated that we currently have enough funds in the account to buy the lot and get some of the engineering done.
Mr. Abell asked what input Berwick would have on the project. Mr. Ellsworth stated that it would require approval from the Berwick Planning Board and we would then go through the same permitting process anyone else would go through. Mr. Ellsworth commented that the Berwick Town Manager has been tasked with looking into means of collaboration and this would be a great first step. Mr. Ellsworth made it clear that the Norton Street site is still a possibility.
Mr. James commented that we need to look at how we can reconsider the vote taken in August.
On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Mr. Chase, it was voted 3-2 (Mrs. Leber and Mr. James opposed) to reallocate the $2500 voted to further evaluate the Norton Street site (on November 22, 2016) toward conceptual designs for the Route 4 site.
1. On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Mr. James, it was unanimously voted to adopt the amendments to Chapter 121 Subdivision of Land §5 Fees, and Chapter 140 Zoning §9 Definitions, §24 Off-Street Parking and Loading, and Land Use Table A.
2. On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Mr. James, it was unanimously voted to set the annual parking rate fee for designated 24-hour parking at $200.
On a motion by Mr. James, seconded by Mr. Chase, it was unanimously voted to adjourn the meeting at 8:09pm.
Barbara Bennett, CCM