Town of Lamoine, Maine
The Official Website of Lamoine's Town Government
Administrative Assistant to the Board of Selectmen
|Report for Meeting of September 3, 2020|
Greetings from the plush corner office at the town hall. I’m preparing this report on Wednesday, August 26th which is starting out as a much cooler and less humid day after a very ferocious thunder storm moved through last evening. We’ve had no calls for road issues or fire issues during or following the storm, and that’s a marvelous thing.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks since you last met as we’re collecting the first half of property taxes (due by 8/31/20) and receiving a LOT of applications for absentee ballots for November 3, 2020. I’m pleased to report that tax collections have gone very well. We sent out nearly 1,500 tax bills, and roughly 58% of those have already sent in the first half payment. The escrow checks arrived this week, and expect a pretty good flood of checks in the next few days.
You have a kind of busy agenda, but not a lot that should take much time.
Minutes – August 13, 2020 – Please look over the minute for any errors. Written corrections are easiest.
Expenditure Warrant 7 – This will be posted on the website and updated periodically when it gets going, and then printed for the night of the meeting. There will be school warrants on this, but probably not a lot of other things.
Expenditure Warrant 6 – Hopefully you’ve signed this while picking up your packets – this is a sizeable one because the road paving, county tax, half year payroll, and school warrants are on here, along with a sizable transfer to the investment management account. There are a few purchases from Amazon and other on-line places, including a drop box for ballots/tax checks, etc., some traffic cones, and a document feeding scanner that we hope will do the trick for voter reg card and property card scanning.
Cash & Budget Reports – FY 2019/20 – There is a separate memo on this fiscal year regarding an error in the town meeting recommendation from March 2018, which put us over budget for Waste Disposal.
FY 2020/21 – The expected expenses as a percentage of the year are high because all the paving and the county taxes are paid. (We’ll discuss the paving budget later). Cash flow wise, we’re doing quite well.
Checking Account Reconciliation – provided all goes well, I should have that done on September 2nd, and will e-mail you the results.
Transfer Station Design – I’ve e-mailed Chip Reeves to see if he’s able to meet via zoom with you. I await his reply. If he is able to, I’ll extend the zoom invite to Ken Smith and Chris Meyer.
Election Status – As noted in the Warrant 6 report, we have obtained a new drop box. I’m hoping Mike Hodgkins will install it on posts by the front steps (we’re meeting tomorrow). This will meet the guidelines from the Secretary of State, and may be eligible for 80% reimbursement. We paid just over $200 for it. I would like to get some signage on it to indicate it’s for ballots and checks and the like.
Absentee ballots will not be available until early October (at the latest), and we’ve already been flooded with requests for them. Jennifer has been training Nancy on how to input that information into the CVR system, and they’ve been able to keep up so far. Some organizations have gone to great lengths to encourage absentee voting, and at least one has promised a voter that we’ve processed their application and will mail out ballots on October 2nd. That’s a bit presumptuous on their part. We assume we’ll have ballots on time, but that statement that we’ll mail them out on a particular date is not coming from the town office – we’re not sure who is making that promise. Many other towns report a lot of campaign material being mailed that looks official but is not generated by the municipality. Particularly troubling are voter registration cards being mailed to deceased people!
We will have Nancy come in once a week to catch up on the requests (on Wednesday afternoons) and help with filing, which she’s very good at. When it comes time to start mailing out ballots, she’ll be a key with that.
Versant – Pole Permit – There is an application for a pole permit on Buttermilk Road. I’ll take a drive up to try to determine exactly where the plan to put this. The map isn’t very helpful, but there is a pole number for reference.
Welcome Back to School – There is an e-mail from Iris Simon looking for ideas on how the community can show its appreciation for our teachers and school staff as they return for fall opening. Any thoughts?
Code Enforcement – There are a couple of memoranda from CEO Albright in regard to items she has been dealing with.
Birchlawn Drive Rooster – Correspondence has been received by the chair and forwarded here. The board can decide what it might wish to do.
Osprey Nest Fire – This was a nice little news story that got some attention from local and Bangor TV media. Allow me to indulge. Last week a resident came to the town office and looked shaken and reported to me that the Mud Creek Road osprey nest was burning. I told him I would take a look, and drove out there, and sure enough, the power lines had arced in the rain and ignited the twigs of the nest. It wasn’t all that bad, so I radioed the Hancock County RCC and asked them to contact Versant Power to let them know. The dispatcher asked if I wanted the fire department, and initially I said there wasn’t much we could do, but within 2-minutes the nest erupted into flames (I got a couple of good pictures), so I requested the fire department respond and I hightailed it to the firehouse. When the pumper arrived on the scene, the power lines broke, one side falling into the road, the other into the creek. That prompted a road closure, and Hancock Fire had been monitoring and closed off the road at Eagle Point. We waited for Versant to arrive (they were pretty quick), and alternated 1-lane traffic until they could clear. It took about 2-hours for the incident.
I posted one of the pictures of the burning nest on the town’s Facebook page, and it took off on social media with widespread concern about the homeless osprey. That was kind of cool.
The next morning, I placed a call to Versant to inquire about them possibly putting up a separate pole with a platform so the ospreys could rebuild and not interfere with the power lines. I wanted to check on what the process might be to do that, and within 10-minutes I got a call back from their environmental department letting us know that was already in the plans. Larissa Thomas had also called for the same reason and she got the same answer. Versant spokeswoman Judy Long (you met her when Enmax and Emera came to visit prior to the merger last year) e-mailed me to let us know this was in the works. We posted the update on Facebook, with a picture of the birds from an earlier time thanks to Rosemary Holdsworth and had a similar “viral” response from the previous day. It was great PR for Versant and the town. A lot of people like our ospreys! I hope to get a picture when Versant puts up the new pole.
Park/Harbor- As suggested, a letter has gone to the Regional Manager of the Bureau of Parks and Lands regarding both the boat ramp removal and the piling at the finger floats. A copy is in your packet. I’ve yet to hear back.
Roads – Shore Road/Mill Road Paving - Through some creative accounting (charging this to maintenance), we came in at budget for the paving, but that does not leave us any funding to fill in the shoulders on these roads. My suggestion would be see if the town would appropriate $10,000 to get this done. In some areas, it’s a bit of a walking hazard because of the new pavement, and filling the shoulders will help preserve the new pavement on the edges. (see next item)
Project Update – As you’ll note on warrant 6, there are bills from both McMullen and Kelley & Sons for the various projects that were completed. There will be another bill from McMullen for Buttermilk Road, and Jay Fowler will have a bill for Mill Road and Berry Cove/Gully Brook Road. I hope to get a good day next week and put up the stop sign at Walker Road/Asa’s Lane/Needle’s Eye, and a couple of street name signs.
Possible Special Town Meeting – Given the waste disposal budget error for 2019/20 and the shoulder needs on the paving projects, I would propose a special town meeting for October 15th to follow your meeting with the Planning Board and Assessors, starting at 7PM. This would be held, socially distanced, at the school gym. The two items would be $11,000 from undesignated fund balance for waste disposal (FY 19/20), and $10,000 from the Road Fund for the paving budget for FY 20/21. I will draft up a special town meeting warrant in case you wish to do that.
Broadband Expansion – I’m not sure that we’ll have anything new. We may hear on the ME Community Foundation on Sept. 15th or so. I do have an on-line meeting with a Charter/Spectrum this afternoon – not sure what they want to discuss.
Lamoine 150! – The T-Shirts are very popular. Jo can give an update on the rest.
Meeting Schedule – I’ve listed the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of each month as meeting dates. If you wish to change, let me know.
See you on the 3rd.