Vice Chair Joe Young called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM
Present were: Budget Committee members Reggie McDevitt, Joe Young, Robin Veysey, Linda Feury; Administrative Assistant Stu Marckoon, Selectman Jo Cooper (arrived approx 7:40), Chris Reed of the Red Cross, Rhonda Higgins of Hancock County Home Care, and Megan Moshier, reporter for the Ellsworth American
Hancock County Home Care – Ms. Higgins told the committee this organization formerly was known as the 4-town nursing service and Bar Harbor Home Health. She said they’re asking towns to help due to Medicare cuts. She said the organization made 18,000 visits last year, including 110 in Lamoine. She said they’re asking for 10% of their estimated loss from town meetings.
Linda asked about their revenues, and whether they’re part of the Department of Human Services. Ms. Higgins said they are not. Linda asked if they’re a non-profit organization. Ms. Higgins said that is correct. She said they serve mostly Medicare clients, and accept low-income clients. Stu asked if the request is for $579. Ms. Higgins confirmed that was the amount, which is 10% of the 2003 loss.
American Red Cross of Eastern Maine – Chris Reed of the Red Cross apologized for missing the last meeting. She said they’re a non-profit organization with no state or federal grants, and they do fund raising in four counties. She said they cover 120-towns. She said they recently handled relief for a fire in Franklin by finding temporary housing. She said Red Cross could help with food and clothing vouchers, tool replacement, and rental assistance. She said many victims don’t have insurance and lose everything.
Ms. Reed said the Red Cross handles Armed Forces Emergency Services, and calls have quadrupled this year due to the war. She said they provide health and safety classes including CPR, first aid, and baby-sitting. She said they train people in boating, rescue, and provide community contacts and mental health services, and will even deal with insurance companies.
Ms. Reed said they have a big fundraiser with MBNA in Belfast. She said the Ellsworth office has moved to 2 Court Street. She said they’ve cut staff to cut administration costs, and there was a move to close the Ellsworth office. She said Hancock County has the most people, so they asked the City of Ellsworth for a place, and they’re using the old registry building on Bridge Hill, which has a lot of classroom space. She said they have about 156 volunteers in communities. She said emergency sheltering is provided during windstorms and power outages. She said a VISTA volunteer is surveying shelters. She said she was impressed with the amount of training in Hancock County.
Ms. Reed said they generally ask towns for $1/person, but realize Lamoine has a $600 limit. Linda asked if the donations say in the county, or must the town identify the funds. Ms. Reed said the town could designate the funds to stay local. She said everything raised locally stays in the Eastern Maine pot, and explained at length how funding flow locally and nationally. She said 10-percent goes to the National Red Cross as part of their charter. She said that money comes back to Maine if disaster relief is needed.
Revenue Budget – Joe Young asked about gravel sales, and whether the supply of gravel has been depleted. Stu said the contract with Gott is done as of June 30th, and he’s unsure what the town has left. Joe noted that it’s proposed to use $75,000 from surplus. Stu said he’s comfortable with the figure, and said the cash flow reports he generates every two weeks indicate that the checking account should have at least $375,000 at the end of the fiscal year. A short discussion followed on excise tax collections. Stu noted the bottom line of the proposed budget is for a tax increase of less than 1%.
School Budget – Linda asked what kind of impact a pending legal matter within the school department might have on the budget. Stu said he doesn’t know much about the case, and that probably should be addressed to the school department next week. Linda said the school committee did a great job on the budget. Joe said he wanted to hear the school’s presentation next week, and that should answer the questions he has.
Fire Truck Purchase – Stu said he’s plugged in $25,000 in the fire truck reserve line to represent the first payment on a possible $125,000 loan for a fire truck to be paid in 5-years. Reggie asked if we would be going to town meeting to ask for purchase of a small truck. Stu said the proposed truck is actually larger than the present lead pumper. Reggie said he was against buying the 1975 LaFrance, and now the fire department wants to sell it. Linda asked about the number of rescue calls vs. the number of fire calls. Stu said he’s not sure, but could get those figures. Reggie said he thinks it would be better to go with a full-sized truck. Stu said the proposed truck is a big truck. Linda asked if the $125,000 loan includes equipping. Stu said that would be for everything. Joe noted that interest rates are very low – 2 to 2.5% in some cases. He said this is a good time to get a loan.
Reggie said his idea would be to buy a bigger truck, and have something that would serve the town down the road a ways. He suggested something with a 1,500 gallon tank. Stu said the truck, as proposed by the fire department, would cost about $193,000. He said the fire department has pledged to donate $50,000 to the purchase, and another $25,000 is set aside in the town’s fire truck reserve. Jo Cooper said she was impressed the fire department could donate that much money, and she feels better about the project. Reggie asked if the fire department had that much. Stu said they do – they’ve raised it through auctions, clam chowder dinners, and donations over the years. A short discussion on truck size followed.
Other Matters – Reggie asked about the two agencies that missed the previous meeting and were present tonight. He said if they were not notified, that’s all well and good, but if they’re notified and don’t show, it’s a problem. He said if people pay taxes late, they’re charged interest. He said if an agency doesn’t show, then they don’t show. Linda said if they request a donation, they should present their case. Joe said Ms. Reed made a good presentation. Linda said she’s a very dedicated volunteer.
Next Meeting – Joe said the Budget Committee would meet next week with the school committee. Stu said he’s penciled in the Budget Committee for January 26th to make its recommendations.
Robin moved to adjourn at 8:00 PM. Linda 2nd. There was no opposition.
Stu Marckoon, Adm. Asst.