Town of Lamoine, Maine
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Lamoine Budget Committee Minutes
November 28, 2005 (Draft, subject to change)
Chairman Henry Ashmore called the meeting to order at 7:02 PM
Present were: Budget Committee members Reggie McDevitt, Henry Ashmore, Joe Young, Robin Veysey, Linda Feury; Administrative Assistant Stu Marckoon, Selectmen Richard Fennelly Jr., Brett Jones, Jo Cooper, Cynthia Donaldson; Fire Chief George “Skip” Smith and Cable TV Tech Jeff Higgins. Budget Committee member Hubene Brodie had phoned in prior to the meeting expressing regrets that she was unable to attend due to a broken foot. Board members wished her a speedy recovery.
Reggie moved to approve the minutes of November 14, 2005 as presented. Linda 2 nd . Vote in favor was 5-0.
Public Safety Budget
Henry asked if the budget reductions approved by town meeting in June were reflected in the budget before the committee. Stu said they were, as indicated by the negative $1,000 in the “other” line.
Henry noted that the 2004/05 fire department budget was approved at $31,300, the request for 2005/06 was originally $31,385, or $85-higher, and that was reduced by $1,000. He said the proposed budget for 2006/07 is $31,600, or $300 higher than the budget approved for FY 05.
Chief Smith reviewed the fire department's proposed budget line by line. Brief discussions were held on the following lines:
Heating Oil Projections
Rescue Boat expenditures for the current fiscal year
First aid expenditures for the current year – Chief Smith noted the fire department has responded to several serious motor vehicle accidents.
The streetlight at the hydrant across from Chief Smith's home. The Chief said the town pays to illuminate the fire hydrant
Turnout gear – Chief Smith said the gear is starting to lag behind again. Linda asked about staffing. Chief Smith said the department has about 25-active firefighters and several more who participate in the department but not as active firefighters.
Henry asked if the committee had discussed the fire truck debt. Stu said he thought so and the town could not get out of paying that.
Stu noted the fire department has responded to 60-calls already in 2005 which is up sharply. Chief Smith said he feared that the plan by the City of Ellsworth to make a section of Route 3 one-way will drive more traffic into Lamoine and increase the number of accident calls. A short discussion followed.
Henry asked if Lamoine is the only department called on for mutual aid. Chief Smith said no – all four towns (Hancock, Trenton, Ellsworth and Lamoine) respond to mutual aid calls quite frequently.
Linda said EMS organizations can charge patients for transportation and asked if the fire department could charge for responding. Chief Smith said he's not sure that's allowed. He said mutual aid from other towns is free. Henry said reimbursement is possible on a forest fire that has a provable cause. Chief Smith noted that had to go through the court system.
Cynthia asked about the maintenance on the rescue boat. Chief Smith said the boat is annually checked over at Branch Pond Marine. Brett said this year it needed some major service. Cynthia asked when the boat should be replaced. Brett said the boat doesn't get a lot of use, but when it is used, it's used very hard. Henry asked about the original cost. Stu said he thought it was between $6,000 and $8,000 for the boat, motor and trailer. Henry said for that much, a lot of $600 repairs can be made. Brett said it's realistic to service the boat annually; otherwise it could quickly become useless. Cynthia noted that a boat replacement is on the capital needs list, 10-years out. A short discussion followed on the potential replacement cost.
Dick asked about mutual aid, and if any town is getting the lion's share of calls. Chief Smith said it's pretty equal and explained that Ellsworth might respond to the most calls. Dick said he was thinking about how to reimburse for costs, but if everything is relatively equal, it makes sense. A short discussion followed.
Chief Smith said the departments in the area have talked about specializing in equipment so each town doesn't have to buy everything. He said Lamoine has a boat, Ellsworth and Hancock have specialized lifting and cutting tools and Trenton has a cascade air system. He said the towns have worked together to share tools. Linda said the NIMS system will help with cataloging that equipment.
Long Range Capital Needs
Chief Smith asked if this is the appropriate time to discuss long-range town needs. Henry said it might be.
Henry said it appears as if the fire department is looking to purchase a new truck every 5-years. Chief Smith said that was correct. Linda asked what was in the current fleet. Chief Smith said a 1984 Chevy Pickup used for forestry, a 1976 Ford Pumper used as a forestry truck and backup pumper, a 1990 Tanker truck, a 1994 Pumper truck, and a 2005 rescue pumper truck. He said the next replacement would be the 1984 Chevy and 1976 Ford with one truck, thus reducing the fleet by one. He said the thinking is that they would buy a 1.5 ton chassis with dual wheels and equipped for forest fires. Henry said that seems to be a significant upgrade. Chief Smith said it might not cost $200,000 – he hasn't investigated the cost. He said the request for future needs is a good exercise.
Linda asked if a new truck replacing two old ones would reduce maintenance costs. Chief Smith said yes. Dick asked about mileage. Chief Smith said the Ford has about 12,000 miles and the Chevy about 80,000. Dick asked why the need to replace. Chief Smith said the older equipment keeps breaking down. Dick asked about the number of forestry calls each year. Chief Smith said at least 2-to-3 a year. He said the department uses the pickup truck a lot – it runs on most calls. Dick asked about the maintenance cost on each truck. Chief Smith said he wasn't sure but could get the figures. Dick said if the maintenance cost isn't that high and the mileage is low, it's hard to swallow buying a new truck. A short discussion followed.
Dick said the operations and maintenance budget seems entirely reasonable, but $200,000 every five years is a little rich for a town of Lamoine 's size. Chief Smith said the department is dealing with a 15-year old tanker, and the lead pumper is 11-years old. He asked when the proper time is to replace a truck. Dick said once maintenance costs exceed replacement costs it's probably time to explore replacement. A short discussion followed.
Henry noted that the trucks are involved with public safety. He said school buses are replaced every 10-years regardless. Jo Cooper said there must be a different formula to use on a fire truck replacement schedule.
Chief Smith said it would be good to have the fire department sit with the Selectmen and Budget Committee to have a schedule and put money aside so when the next fire truck purchase comes up, it's not a shock. Jo said she agreed. Chief Smith noted this is the first conversation he's ever recalled on a schedule of capital costs. Dick said it's important to accrue money for capital needs. Chief Smith said if money is put aside now, the town wouldn't need to come up with big money for major equipment replacement. He noted that fire truck manufacturers won't rebuild a truck that is over 20-years old. He said 10-to-15 years is when they refurbish trucks. A short discussion followed
Joe Young said the maintenance costs are kept down by the volunteers who do it for free, especially Chief Engineer Mo Oliver. He said mileage is not a good indicator of truck use, perhaps the number of hours a truck is run would be better.
Henry asked about turnout gear updates and air pack conversion lines. Chief Smith said the current airpacks are models 2.2, which is about a 15-year old technology. He said the new technology is a higher pressure airpack with a lighter bottle. He said it's generally time to change airpacks after 15-to-20 years. A short discussion on turnout gear replacement followed.
Chief Smith said roof shingling needed to be addressed, and he was shocked by the potential price. A short discussion followed. There was also a short discussion on hooking up a generator and transfer switch to the fire station. Dick said that's a good idea in the wake of the 1998 ice storm.
Linda said she would like to see reserves in place so there are no big spikes and dips in the town budget. A short discussion followed on how to manipulate the projections. Chief Smith left the meeting at 8:00 PM.
Further discussion followed about long-range capital needs, including:
Town Office Building and Parking Lot expansion
The Boat Ramp at Lamoine Beach
Remainder of Public Safety Budget
The board quickly reviewed the rest of the public safety budget, including dispatch, the ambulance contract, and animal control.
Reggie said he would like to see better control on reserve funds to new fire truck money is not used to buy a used truck. Stu said the town meeting is the control. There was a discussion on the previous history of fire truck purchases.
Stu explained a memo he distributed prior to the meeting regarding an error in how the tax commitment and overlay were determined. A short discussion followed on what impact that would have on surplus. Stu noted that had the amount of taxable property been properly noted the tax rate would have been higher.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 8:27 PM
Stu Marckoon, Secretary