Town Council Minutes 03/26/2013
South Berwick Town Council
March 26, 2013
Chairman Gerald W. MacPherson, Sr. called the meeting to order at 6:08pm. 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 3-12-13: On a motion by Mr. Abell, seconded by Mr. Webster, it was unanimously voted to adopt the minutes after amending them by changing the meeting date from March 13 to March 12, 2013. Mrs. Demetracopoulos abstained.
Treasurer’s Warrant – Mar 26, 2013
On a motion by Mrs. Demetracopoulos, seconded by Mr. Abell, it was unanimously voted to sign the warrant in the amount of $755,400.26.
No one in the audience wished to address Council.
Reports & Correspondence
1. Ad Hoc Committee for 200th Birthday: The Committee (Norma Keim, Pat Laska, and Mary Vaughn) was present and wanted to spread the word with the hopes that existing organizations will incorporate the Bicentennial into their 2014 events. Ms. Laska stated that it is not the Ad Hoc Committee’s or the Old Berwick Historical Society’s wish to organize bicentennial events.
Ms. Laska did go on to state that the group is looking for some Town funding ($500) to help cover the cost of a banner, posters and/or brochures.
The Council briefly discussed the issue. It was suggested that Sobo Central would be a good contact. Mr. Ellsworth stated that due to workload and time commitment, the Town can’t take on the project.
2. Mr. MacPherson read a letter from the American Red Cross- Real Heroes Award. South Berwick resident Amy Miller will be awarded the 2013 Real Heroes Award for International Service.
Mrs. Demetracopoulos offered to write a letter of congratulations to Amy on behalf of the Council.
Town Manager’s Report
-Informed everyone that he and Jon St. Pierre walked the construction area on Berwick Road to distribute an information sheet and talk with residents. Weekly updates will continue to be posted to the website.
-Budgets are wrapping up. Things have gone smoothly.
-Will be attending a Legislative Policy Committee meeting on Wednesday.
-Will be out of the office on vacation on Thursday and Friday.
-Updated the Council on the fund raising progress made by the Friends of the Library. To date, they have raised about $825,000. $370,000 has been paid directly to the Town to help fund projects. The Friends also have outstanding orders of $2,509, received & paid orders themselves in the amount of $67,572, and paid for $3,000 in repairs to the decorative ceiling painting.
-Maine has been declared a disaster area for the February 8th & 9th storm. The money we will recoup will put us back within budget.
-To date, the Town Hall Streams of meetings has had a total of 96 views, with 30 live.
1. On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Mr. Abell, it was unanimously voted to sign the Revenue Resolution opposing the Governor’s proposed budget cuts.
RESOLVED, BY VOTE OF ITS MEMBERSHIP THE TOWN COUNCIL OF THE TOWN OF SOUTH BERWICK IS OPPOSED TO
PROPOSALS TO SHIFT THE BURDEN OF FUNDING STATE GOVERNMENT TO LOCAL PROPERTY TAX AND THE PROPERTY
WHEREAS, the Governor’s unprecedented biennial budget proposal places towns in an untenable and uncertain fiscal position during their budget planning; and
WHEREAS, the proposal includes the elimination of $283 million in municipal revenue sharing; falls $200 million short of funding local schools at the 55% level passed in referendum; would cut the state’s reimbursement for General Assistance by an estimated $6.7 million; would eliminate the Homestead Exemption for anyone under the age of 65; would eliminate the “circuit breaker” property tax and rent relief program for anyone under the age of 65; would take $8 million in truck excise tax revenue from towns; and would create a corporate tax exemption for large amounts of currently taxable property, resulting in significant losses of local tax revenue; and
WHEREAS, in the Town of South Berwick the proposal to suspend municipal revenue sharing would result in the loss of $539,245 in revenues, which would increase property taxes by $215.65 on the average residential property value of $227,000; and
WHEREAS, in the Town of South Berwick the proposal to eliminate the FY 2015 Homestead Exemption for those under 65 will increase taxes for those residents by $185.00 if the towns tax rate stays the same; and
WHEREAS, the Governor’s proposal also contains cuts to health and human services such as prescription drugs for the elderly and disabled; to all funding for clean elections; to the wages and benefits of public workers; while also rejecting federal funds to make healthcare affordable for over 44,000 Mainers; and
WHEREAS, all of the above shifts costs to towns, whose only major means of raising revenue is property taxes, be it
RESOLVED, The South Berwick Town Council calls upon the Maine State Legislature to reject these proposals, identify harmful cost savings, and raise revenue in an equitable fashion to avoid this regressive tax shift.
2. The Council discussed the request from the Great Works Regional Land Trust for a Right-of-Way through Town Forest Land. Attorney Bruce Whitney explained that until the new deed references are complete the easement to GWRLT cannot be granted because they do not yet own the adjoining property.
Mr. Whitney explained that the quitclaim deed includes three easements: Access, Parking, and Log Yard. He went on to explain that a Right-of-Way is a type of easement that grants someone the privilege of traveling over your property to access theirs. “An easement is a permanent thing. It is appurtenant to other property you own”.
On a motion by Mrs. Demetracopoulos, seconded by Mr. Abell, it was unanimously voted to approve to execute these easements at the time of transfer of the title from the current owner (Patrice Gallo) to the Great Works Regional Land Trust.
Note was made that several typos (referencing sections 2 & 3) need to be corrected.
3. On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Mr. Webster, it was unanimously voted to table action on a charge for the Building Committee until the next meeting.
1. On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Mrs. Demetracopoulos, it was unanimously voted to table action on the funding request by the 200th Birthday Ad Hoc Committee until more information is available.
2. On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Mr. Abell, it was unanimously voted to close the waters within South Berwick to Alewife harvesting for the 2013 season for conservation purposes.
3. On a motion by Mrs. Demetracopoulos, seconded by Mr. Webster, it was unanimously voted to renew the Solid Waste Hauler License for BBI Waste Industries through March 31, 2014.
4. On a motion by Mr. Webster, seconded by Mrs. Demetracopoulos, it was unanimously voted to renew the Solid Waste Hauler License for Troiano Waste Management through March 31, 2014.
5. On a motion by Mr. Kareckas, seconded by Mr. Webster, it was unanimously voted to hold a public hearing on Tuesday, April 9th at 6:30pm to receive comment on the proposed 2013/2014 municipal budget.
Council Member Comments
1. Mrs. Demetracopoulos:
-Commented that she had received correspondence from John Andrews of the Eastern Trail Alliance. Although originally told that the Eastern Trails focus was shifting to our area, it appears that may have changed and focus will be in North Berwick. Mrs. Demetracopoulos added that it seems that the Trail will find funding with or without us; and would prefer to fully fund the Mt. A Coordinator position and only partially fund the Eastern Trail.
2. Mr. Webster:
-Commented that on his frequent trips to Berwick, he has not found the traffic in the construction area to be too bad.
-Made note of the 50th Anniversary ceremony for the Thresher on April 7th.
3. Mr. Kareckas:
-Asked if there was a scheduled completion date for the construction. Mr. Ellsworth stated that although the majority of the work will be done earlier, the drop dead date is August 22nd.
-Made note that he had been contacted by a resident in regard to a possible ordinance that would allow an excise tax exemption for active duty Maine resident military members stationed outside of Maine. State law allows municipalities to grant such an exemption if an ordinance is adopted.
-Stated that he attended the outreach meeting held by Senator Hill and Representative Beavers.
-Commented that he felt the flaggers for the construction project have been doing a good job.
4. Mr. Abell:
-Thanked the Manager and Department Heads for making his first budget season an easy one.
5. Mr. MacPherson:
-Made note that the recent Eagle Scout Ceremony was well attended. Mr. Webster added that Troop 338 has had numerous Eagle Scouts in the last few years.
On a motion by Mr. Webster, seconded by Mrs. Demetracopoulos, it was unanimously voted to adjourn the meeting at 8:13pm.
Barbara Bennett, CCM