Town Council Minutes 02/12/2013
South Berwick Town Council
February 12, 2013
Chairman Gerald W. MacPherson, Sr. called the meeting to order at 6:30pm. Councilors present included Jean Demetracopoulos, David H. Webster, John C. Kareckas, and Russell H. Abell. Town Manager Perry Ellsworth was also in attendance.
Approval of Minutes
1. Council 1-22-13: On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Mrs. Demetracopoulos, it was unanimously voted to adopt the minutes as written.
Treasurer’s Warrant – Feb 12, 2013
On a motion by Mrs. Demetracopoulos, seconded by Mr. Abell, it was unanimously voted to sign the warrant in the amount of $804,528.27.
1. Scott Landis, Academy St, and Ginny Alterio, Vine St, addressed the Council in regard to the Vine Street Bridge. Mr. Landis stated that a group of 15 residents met to discuss what would be involved in re-opening the bridge for walking and bicycle traffic. Not only is the area around the bridge historically significant; re-opening the bridge would help increase economic development in the area with increased recreational usage. Mrs. Alterio stated that the group was very enthusiastic about the project. Note was made that there are a number of stakeholders that would need to be involved including the Town, the MDOT, and the dam owner.
Reports & Correspondence
1. Mr. MacPherson read a letter from Mark Eves, Speaker of The House: Mr. Eves responded to the letter sent by the Council in regard to the Governor’s proposed biennial budget. [A copy of the letter is attached to the minutes in the official book]
Town Manager’s Report
-Recently attended a meeting of the Maine Municipal Association Legislative Policy Committee. Mr. Ellsworth stated that he believes that the Governor’s proposed cuts won’t happen and has not removed the revenues from our budget. He added that he has not been able to schedule a regional meeting on the issue, but is planning to meet with Rep. Mark Eves.
-Met with Avesta on Monday. We need to start lobbying to help in obtaining funding for the project.
-We have started our budget process. Department heads have turned in their requests and they are being reviewed. The county change to a fiscal year will mean paying 18 months of county taxes in the upcoming 12 month municipal budget.
-Congratulated the highway crew for their efforts in cleaning up the recent record snow fall.
-There will be an item on the next agenda regarding the reallocation of the post office lease. The change will increase the availability of downtown parking.
-Will be meeting again on Thursday to discuss the union contracts. It appears to be headed to arbitration.
-He and Councilors MacPherson and Demetracopoulos are continuing their review of the Personnel Policy.
1. The Council discussed the Punkin Town Road & CMP Corridor Municipal Development & Tax Incremental Financing District.
Mr. Kareckas stated that the language in the TIF needs to be revisited. It should be clear that the Council sets policy and the Manager administers policy.
Mrs. Demetracopoulos stated that she is fine with Mr. Kareckas’ proposed changes; it would make roles and responsibilities clear for future councils.
Mr. MacPherson and Mr. Abell both stated that they would like to see the full document with the proposed changes incorporated.
Mr. Ellsworth stated that he would get an electronic version of the documents to Mr. Kareckas for editing.
1. On a motion by Mr. Webster, seconded by Mrs. Demetracopoulos, it was unanimously voted to approve the renewal of Waste Management’s Solid Waste Hauler License through January 31, 2014.
2. Mr. Ellsworth explained that if we place a lien on a property and the owner subsequently pays it off, we would file a quitclaim deed. Release deeds are filed when the Town has actually taken ownership of the property for non-payment of taxes and the owners have paid all back taxes and taxes assessed during the redemption period.
On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Mrs. Demetracopoulos, it was unanimously voted to approve and sign release deeds for Map 14, Lot 11 (Wittner, Dennett Rd), Map 32, Lot 68 (Kingsley, Beaver Dam Rd), and Map 31, Lot 136 (Whicker, Norton St).
3. The Council discussed the Planned Growth Ordinance and its current sunset date of April 1, 2013. Maine statute requires the ordinance be updated every three years.
Mr. Ellsworth recommended that the ordinance be allowed to sunset. There could be problems with issuing the required number of permits for the senior housing project. Also, we are well under the maximum number of permits allowed. The ordinance could be reenacted in the future if necessary.
Mr. Kareckas stated that he was still in favor of holding the hearing; the ordinance is a good tool and the number of permits can be adjusted.
On a motion by Mrs. Demetracopoulos, seconded by Mr. Webster, it was unanimously voted to hold a public hearing on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 6:00pm to receive comment on the proposed changes to the Planned Growth Ordinance.
4. Mr. Kareckas made a motion to purchase a tanker from Fouts through tax exempt leasing. Mr. Abell seconded the motion.
Mrs. Demetracopoulos stated that she would prefer to go to special town meeting for voter approval of the purchase. She added that although the tanker is in the capital improvements budget, it was not scheduled for purchase this year. Mr. Ellsworth stated that we currently are without a tanker truck.
Mr. Kareckas stated that the Council is adhering to the budget; sometimes priorities change.
Mr. Abell asked what the contingency plan is without the tanker and if scheduling a town meeting would delay the acquisition. Fire Chief Gorman stated that we are currently relying on mutual aid for a tanker. Mr. Ellsworth stated that the delay could mean that someone else buys the truck before we commit.
Mr. MacPherson stated that he is willing to forego the special town meeting and authorize the purchase.
Mr. Webster asked what happens if the capital plan gets voted down. Mr. Ellsworth stated that there is always a chance the plan gets voted down. However, a sustainable plan was instituted and the voters were in favor of the plan.
Mr. Kareckas and Mr. Abell both made comments regarding the necessity of the tanker truck for public safety reasons and were ready to authorize the purchase.
The motion to authorize the purchase of the tanker passed with a 3-2 vote (Mrs. Demetracopoulos and Mr. Webster opposed)
The Clerk recommended that the Council reconsider the time set for the public hearing on February 26th since there would not be a special town meeting [New #3]. On a motion by Mrs. Demetracopoulos, seconded by Mr. Webster, it was unanimously voted to reconsider the vote taken setting the time of the public hearing.
On a motion by Mrs. Demetracopoulos, seconded by Mr. Abell, it was unanimously voted to hold the public hearing on February 26th at 6:30pm instead of 6:00pm.
Council Member Comments
1. Mrs. Demetracopoulos:
-Thanked the highway crew for a job well done during the recent storm.
2. Mr. Webster:
-Stated that he had received both positive and negative comments about the highway crew.
3. Mr. Kareckas:
-Made note that he had supplied a summary of the discussion that residents had regarding the re-opening of the Varney Bridge aka Vine Street Bridge at Leigh’s Mills Pond. [As discussed under Public Comment] An interested group of citizens have begun the process of studying what is involved in the restoration of at a minimum, a pedestrian and bicycle crossing at the Great Works River. A significant amount of research will be involved. Mr. Kareckas added that it did not appear that a state funded access bridge would happen. He urged supporting the legislative initiative to fund safe routes to school as well as transportation grants. “This may be the most logical and best shot for financing at this time”. Recommended that the Council consider setting aside some seed money in the upcoming budget.
-Pleased to see the positive response from the Eastern Trail stating that it’s willing to shift the focus of the organization. Past practice has been from north to south; it is now recognizing our different demographic and involvement from the start.
-Stated that he was ok with the language for the Post Office parking lot lease.
-The skate rink is up and running and has been “well used”.
4. Mr. Abell:
-Commented that he heard from residents commending the highway crew.
-Stated that he has also heard from people that have been enjoying the skate rink. He added that he would be bringing his scout troop out for skating.
5. Mr. MacPherson:
-Made note of the Marshwood Cheerleading Squad’s achievement of reaching 2nd place in the State competition. They missed 1st by only 1.3 points.
On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Mrs. Demetracopoulos, it was unanimously voted to adjourn the meeting at 7:47pm.
Barbara Bennett, CCM