Town of Lamoine, Maine
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Lamoine Budget Committee Minutes
October 30, 2007
Chairman Henry Ashmore called the meeting to order at 7:05 PM
Present were: Budget Committee members Henry Ashmore, Hubene Brodie , Reggie McDevitt, Robin Veysey ; Secretary Stu Marckoon, Asst. Town Clerk Kathy DeFusco, Selectmen Cynthia Donaldson, Jo Cooper, Brett Jones. Budget Committee members Joe Young and Linda Feury had called to say they were unable to attend due to work commitments.
Minutes of October 15, 2007 – There was a short discussion about clarifying a statement attributed to Robin in the last sentence of page 1. No change was made. Stu said he would correct a typo in the 1 st sentence of page 2. Hubene moved to approve, Reggie 2nd . Vote in favor was 4-0.
Administration Budget – Robin asked which inflation rate should be used. Stu said the Selectmen instructed him to use the June figure each year. He said using a specific month does not give a good average for a year. After much discussion it was decided to figure the annual average for each July to June.
Henry asked if the budget proposal was on-line yet. Stu said he'd not had time to do it.
Robin asked if salaries are only increasing by inflation, and no merit component. Henry said the Selectmen would have to answer that. Jo said there was consensus among the Selectmen that they did not wish to deal with merit pay. She said they would like to explore a different approach and have a discussion with employees, and they've not come to any conclusion on how to handle that. She said they're not calling it a negotiation, but there needs to be a discussion with the paid employees. She said the Administrative Assistant is in a difficult position where he prepares the budget with his salary, yet doesn't have the opportunity to discuss it. She said the Selectmen have to balance the town's needs with that. She said they would like to give the employees the opportunity to make a case.
Robin said the Selectmen should give some consideration to a merit component. She said without that, employees could never get ahead. Jo said merit pay gets into the political arena. Cynthia said she was unwilling to get into a position of judging performance if she's not around to see it. She said she welcomes the discussion. She said good work should be honored and applauded. Jo said the Selectmen need to be careful to adequately compensate employees, especially those with a track record. She said they need to keep an eye on the marketplace, yet keep the town's cost reasonable. She said the Selectmen have discussed this, but reached no conclusion. She said for the purposes of this budget, the increase will equal inflation. Henry said it's up to the Selectmen to set the salaries. Cynthia said the Selectmen would welcome the thoughts of the Budget Committee. Jo said the Committee's thoughts would be important to hear. Robin said she thinks it is important to recognize good employees with some measure of merit, not just an inflationary increase. Henry said there are couple of components to merit considerations. He said there has to be some reward and the marketplace has to be taken into consideration. He said it is not an easy task. He said there has to be a balance between economics and the need to retain good employees. Jo said there is a strong feeling by some on the board that if an employee is not satisfied with what the town offers, they could look elsewhere. Brett said there is a point at which someone should look elsewhere if they are dissatisfied, but the town should not ignore things until an employee feels unloved. Jo said the Board needs to listen. Henry said money never made a bad employee into a good one.
Hubene said if someone goes above and beyond the call of duty, there should be a one time increase. She said a step increase for experience in addition to inflation might be something to consider. Jo said there would need to be goals for that. Brett said one of the drawbacks of a merit increase would be that if Stu, for example, does a good job, and continually having to top that performance is required, there would come a point where that is unattainable. Robin said the Board should find some way to recognize superb service. Stu asked if the inflation increase was a set figure for the budget. Further discussion followed.
Henry said setting the compensation package is the job of the Selectmen. He said there is time to think about that. Stu said he looked at the teacher's schedule, and it appears that between the yearly increase and step increase, it works out to 4% per year. A short discussion followed on the politics of merit pay.
Among the other issues discussed in the administration budget were:
Henry said one goal could be to keep the increase in administration to the inflation rate. Brett suggested moving the phone system to the capital improvements budget. Jo said heating oil and electricity increases make that difficult.
Solid Waste Budget – Among the areas of discussion for this budget were:
Planning Board – The Board has proposed the same budget as previous years.
Code Enforcement – There was considerable discussion about the salary structure and job descriptions of the Code Enforcement Officer and Deputy CEO.
Other – Bylaws – Henry said the Selectmen suggested the by-laws are up to the Budget Committee to adjust. He said the recommendations were made last meeting. Cynthia asked how the Budget Committee ended up with by-laws. Henry said it was because there was nothing in writing at the time the committee was formed by the Selectmen. There was considerable discussion about the history of the Budget Committee's formation. It was agreed to put the by-laws changes on the next agenda. Later in the meeting Brett asked to clarify that he favored some input on the by-laws in the interest of communicating the expectations of the Budget Committee's responsibilities.
Appeals/Social Services – Stu said he forgot to run off the ordinance for the Budget Committee and it would be in the next packet. There was a considerable discussion about the process and the involvement of the Budget Committee in the requests by outside agencies. Frustration was noted at spending an entire meeting dealing with the requests, making recommendation decisions, and then having the town meeting decide otherwise.
Next Meeting – Henry noted he is unable to attend the next meeting because the Regional Planning Committee on School Consolidation is meeting on November 12 th .
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 8:55 PM
Stu Marckoon, Secretary