Town of Lamoine, Maine
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Lamoine Budget Committee
Minutes of December 10, 2007
Chairman Henry Ashmore called the meeting to order at 7:02 PM
Present were: Budget Committee members Hubene Brodie , Joe Young , Reggie McDevitt, Henry Ashmore, Robin Veysey (alternate Linda Feury had phoned to say she could not attend); Secretary Stu Marckoon, Selectmen Chris Tadema-Wielandt , Brett Jones, Jo Cooper (also Faith in Action); Mickey Sirota ( American Red Cross ), Mary Ann Saxl (Warren Center), Jackie Thurber (Loaves & Fishes), Ursula Heiniger (Eastern Area Agency on Aging), Tim King (WHCA), Johnna Barkhouse (Ellsworth Library), Fred & Anne Stocking (Historical Society), Diane Sanderson (Hancock County Home Care, Hospice of Hancock County), Trudy Lunt (WIC Program), Peter Farragher (YMCA), Donald Baril (Maine Coast Memorial Hospital), Faith Perkins (Child & Family Opportunities/School Committee), Cable TV technician Merle Bragdon , Parks Commissioners Kerry Galeaz, Sara O'Connell (& husband Davin), and Rich & Christa Brey.
Minutes – Joe moved for approval of the minutes of November 26, 2007 as presented. Reggie 2nd . Vote in favor was 5-0.
By-Laws – There was a short discussion about the appointment power of the Selectmen. Joe said the proposed changes reflect what was discussed, and he moved to accept the by-laws as amended on November 27, 2007. Reggie 2nd . Hubene asked about annual appointments. Henry clarified that the annual appointments refer to those seats that are vacant each year. Vote in favor was 5-0, those present signed the document. ( note: document was mistakenly dated November 10, 2007 – it was changed to December by hand).
Social Service Requests – Reviews
Henry noted that some of the requests were not on the first agenda mailed out, but are on the latest posted agenda.
American Red Cross – Michael Sirota said the Red Cross is requesting $240. He thanked the town for its $100 donation for the current fiscal year. He said 47 Lamoine residents were served by the Red Cross. He showed the service area map and listed the services provided. He said the agency is known as the people who come for household disasters/fires. He said of the 47 people served, 42 received health and safety training, and 5 families got armed forces emergency communications and/or financial aid. He outlined the services provided and said they get support from about half of the towns they serve. He said they usually ask for $1/person.
Hubene asked if they receive any compensation for services. Mr. Sirota said they collect a fee for training, but that doesn't cover the costs. Hubene asked if emergency services charge any fee. Mr. Sirota said there is no charge to disaster victims or those with an Armed Forces emergency.
Community Health & Counseling Services – No one representing this agency was present. Henry noted the request was for $600.
Northeast Contact – Stu reported the letter from this agency said they were not able to attend the meeting. Henry noted the request was for $175.
Eastern Area Agency on Aging – Ursula Heiniger thanked the town for its past support. She outlined the services provided to a dozen Lamoine residents for various services, including Meals for ME. She said the value of those services was $751 and they're asking for $250. She said they need to raise money from municipalities to receive a state and federal funding match.
Emmaus Homeless Shelter – No one representing this agency was present. Henry noted the request was for $400.
Faith In Action – Community Connection – Jo Cooper said the agency is 5-years old and assists the elderly with free services to help them stay independent and live in their own homes. She said they also help the disabled, but the focus is on the elderly. She said they collaborate with other agencies and they serve all of Hancock County excluding MDI. She said they offer mostly transportation services, but also help with chores and errands. She said they helped 10-people in Lamoine with rides to medical appointments and delivering Meals for ME. She said their clients sometimes don't qualify for other available programs. Henry asked if they track the number of incidents of use. Jo said they helped the 10-people on multiple occasions, including one couple 2 to 8 times a month. She said it really varies, and there is no limit, other than available volunteers. Henry said the multiple use aspect takes on a different perspective to the numbers helped.
Hancock County Home Care – Diane Sanderson said the agency travels throughout Hancock County , but their office is based in Blue Hill. She said they travel a half-million miles a year and are on call 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. She said they are home nurses and therapists, and they made 203 visits to home bound patients in Lamoine. She said the request is $579. Joe asked if that triggers matching funds. Mrs. Sanderson said it did not. Henry asked how they make up for the $80,000 loss. Mrs. Sanderson said they receive donations, often from wills. She said they are also set up under the auspices of Eastern Maine Healthcare.
Hospice of Hancock County – Mrs. Sanderson was also representing this agency. She said they provide volunteers and training to assist residents at the end of their life. She said they provide bereavement services and explained how the volunteers work and the various other fundraising activities. Hubene asked how much the request was for. Mrs. Sanderson said it was $600.
Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry – Jackie Thurber represented this agency. She said the only thing they ask of clients is to tell them where they live if they are hungry. She said they served 62-families in Lamoine, which was 3% of all the people served by the food pantry. She outlined the fundraising activities and said they ran a capital campaign for a freezer this year. Henry asked if they benefit from the postal service food drive. Mrs. Thurber said they did, as well as from food drives by the Boy Scouts, Lions Club and other groups. She said there has been a lot of help this year.
Maine Coast Memorial Hospital – Donald Baril of the hospital said they are asking for support for the medical assistance program which helps with the cost of prescription drugs. He said there were some other sources that help with drug costs. He said they served 350-people last year providing more than $2-million dollars in drugs, and many were from Lamoine. He said they usually ask for $1.25/resident. He said it's a valuable program, and the administrative overhead cost is $200,000. He said they got $27,000 last year from communities.
Reggie asked how much the hospital was requesting. Henry said the request was for $2,242, but the maximum the committee could recommend is $600. Mr. Baril said they would ask for the maximum. He said he appreciated the past support. Hubene asked if someone was leaving the hospital, could they get help with their prescriptions. Mr. Baril said yes, and the hospital also employs a nurse to monitor the program and follow up with patients on drug needs. He noted there were some fundraising events to help with that program.
Open Door Recovery Center – No one representing this agency was present. Henry noted the request was for $600.
Warren Center for Communication – Mary Ann Saxl handed out the annual report. She said they are a hearing aid bank which provides free hearing aids to people in need. She said they take in donated used hearing aids and repair them and give them to people in need. She said it costs an average of $500 to fix a hearing aid. She said they don't disqualify people because of age. She said hearing aids are usually not covered by health insurances. She said people have to apply for the free hearing aid. She said they provide services in 5-to-6 counties primarily, but will serve anywhere in Maine . She said the service is based on income levels, and they provide 2-years of batteries and repairs and ask only that the hearing aids be returned when they are no longer needed.
Ms. Saxl said they're asking for $500 which covers the cost of one hearing aid. She said that hearing aid would be provided to a Lamoine resident if needed. She said they have a 3-year waiting list, but if Lamoine provided funding and a resident needed a hearing aid, that person would move to the head of the list. Henry asked if there is a poverty guideline. Ms. Saxl said there was and explained the application process. She said the cost of a new hearing aid ranges from $800 to $4,000. Hubene asked if the word has gone out to the communities. Ms. Saxl said she writes news releases, but town officials could direct people to the program. Joe asked about the life of a hearing aid. Ms. Saxl said it's forever, provided a person doesn't need new technology.
Washington/Hancock Community Agency – Tim King, the executive director of WHCA, thanked the town for its past support. He said he provided a detailed written report. He said 34 residents were helped by the LIHEAP (heating assistance) program, and 4 residents received housing services assistance. He said the request was based on 2-percent of the value of services provided, and reduced to the maximum limit. Joe asked if the fuel assistance program was in crisis as reported in the newspaper. Mr. King said they've helped 5,000 households. He said the average benefit this year is about $550, which with increased fuel costs will buy less than 150-gallons of heating fuel.
Downeast Health – WIC Program – Trudy Lunt of the WIC program said they appreciate the past help. She said they served 16-clients from Lamoine, and request $30/client for a $480 request. She said they're seeing an increase in the number of phone calls from people who can't afford milk. She said clients from Lamoine got food vouchers worth $10,448 in free food.
Yesterday's Children - No one representing this agency was present. Henry noted the request was for $300.
Lamoine Historical Society – Anne Stocking of the Historical Society said they take care of the town's history. She said funding is especially important in the coming year as they seek grants to work on the building. She said the plaster is coming off the walls. She said they hope to double the funding through grants.
Child & Family Opportunities – Faith Perkins said she was representing this agency. She said they run the Head Start and early Head Start program. She said they are federally funded and provide training and nutrition services for children and access to social services for families. She explained how the program worked, and said it served 4-children from Lamoine. She said that represent a $39,000 cost. She said they're asking for $600, and have received town support in the past. She said that would augment other federal funds. Henry asked if they still use the poverty guideline. Ms. Perkins said parents who are over that limit can pay privately. Henry asked where they are located. Ms. Perkins said in Ellsworth.
The meeting recessed for a few minutes to allow the social service agency representatives to leave if they wished. It resumed at 7:50 PM
Parks Commission Budget – Kerry Galeaz introduced the newest members of the Parks Commission, Sara O'Connell and Rich Brey. He said the maintenance budgets are the same, but they do plan to add 8-more bathroom cleanings so that the toilet at Lamoine Beach is cleaned twice a week from June to September. He said that added $100 to the budget. He said they are cleaning out the woods at Bloomfield Park , and that will continue in the spring. He said the biggest impact to the budget is a proposed survey at Bloomfield Park which adds $3,200. He said the survey is needed to carry out the road project and parking lot expansion because private property closely abuts the park. He said there are no boundary markers, and the road project just laid out the location of the proposed new road.
Mr. Galeaz said the grills at Lamoine Beach are broken and need to be replaced. He said they're slowly updating things at the parks. Henry asked about the $72 cost for trash can tops. Mr. Galeaz said that was correct and noted that costs are very expensive. A short discussion followed.
Hubene asked about the kiosks. Mr. Galeaz said they're still in progress and after 2 ½ years they made good progress. He said they will be done by the end of the fiscal year. Reggie asked if they intend to take down the old signs at Lamoine Beach . Mr. Galeaz said they did not.
Mr. Galeaz said the parks budget has to be looked at in perspective. He said $7,000 to run 3 parks areas that have been neglected for a few years is responsible. He said they painted the sign and outhouse at Lamoine Beach this year. He said they added toilet paper and hand sanitizer to the outhouse and it was not vandalized this past summer for the first time in years.
Mr. Galeaz said the results of the work at the park are not tangible, but the value is huge. He said the request is not a lot to maintain these areas. He said they have a responsibility to the people around Bloomfield Park to know where the boundaries are. Reggie asked if the abutters plan to help pay for the survey. Mr. Galeaz said no, it's not their responsibility. A short discussion followed.
Selectman Brett Jones said he would like to see revenue from the pending cell phone tower lease to have a sizeable portion dedicated to the Parks Commission for capital improvements so they could be accomplished without a tax impact. Sara O'Connell said the commission tries to do things that people won't notice, but will allow them to remember the parks in a positive light. She said the parks are what brought her to Lamoine. Henry asked if the cell tower lease money is within the Budget Committee's purview. Stu said the Budget Committee could make a recommendation to the town meeting. A brief discussion followed. Robin asked if that would be improvement just for the parks or capital projects for the entire town. Jo said the idea has only been discussed by the Selectmen.
Reggie asked about the boat launching facility at Lamoine Beach and when that would be budgeted. Mr. Galeaz asked if he was kidding. He said the Parks Commission will have a budget. He said there is a lot of parks usage and it will be money well spent. Hubene asked if the survey could be put off for another year. Mr. Galeaz said they really need to know where the parking area would be. He said it they wait, they'll have to be very careful with what is cleared. He said they do have some money raised privately in the Parks Fund and they would be willing to use $1,000 of that. He said the funds came from the road race and a general mailing, and they're looking at additional ways to raise money. He said the grants process has not coincided well with the parks' needs. He said they would look to use grants programs in the future.
YMCA Funding – Peter Farragher of the Downeast Family YMCA thanked the town for its partnership. He said they're asking for the same as last year, $3,000. He said there are 190 Lamoine resident members, and the discount under the partnership saves money on memberships, programs, and provides for scholarships. He said in 2006 they provided $1,560 in scholarships for Lamoine residents. He said the funding from the town has helped save residents $7,800. He said the benefit is for everyone as non-members from supporting communities can use the “Y” facility on Saturdays and Sundays from 1PM to 4PM.
Ellsworth Public Library – Johnna Barkhouse of the Ellsworth Library thanked the town for its past support. She said the request for $6,180 is less than last year. She said there are 412 card holders from Lamoine. She said there are lots of new books and circulation is up, and there are lots of programs offered at the Library. Joe asked about the books on tape program and how much utilization there is. Mrs. Barkhouse said she didn't have the figures but noted the program is growing. Brett asked about the delivery program. Ms. Barkhouse said people can call or e-mail for a book and it'll be delivered.
School Renovation Bond – School Committee Chair Faith Perkins explained the vote from January 2007 was approved, the architects started coming up with specifications, and discovered errors in the state mandated software grossly understated the costs. She said all four project areas cost more than what was approved. She said the state software did not include costs of demolition and required roof truss replacement. She said the school committee has been working all summer long. She said voters approved $652,000 and the state's Bureau of General Services found some extra money and the town got approval for all 4 projects at the higher price of $926,000 with the money to be available at the same 30% grant and interest free loan terms. She said the voters would have to authorize the whole amount.
Ms. Perkins said the Building Committee met, and the School Committee talked with Selectmen twice. She said there is a lot of confusion with the consolidation issues surrounding schools. She said the school needs to be maintained so this will go back to referendum in late January to see what the voters want. She said there would be two public hearings prior to the referendum, and they're under the same time line as last year. She said they want to put out bids quickly, and the project needs to be complete by December 31, 2008. She said the referendum would be held January 29, 2008.
Joe asked if Lamoine would be responsible for the school building upkeep under a consolidated school system setup. Ms. Perkins said the Lamoine school folks have met with the larger Union 92 group to work out how things would be cared for. She said the cost of state funded projects would be the responsibility of the entire Regional School Unit (RSU), and that was in the original consolidation plan. She said Lamoine did not vote to present that plan because it would end up doing lots of cost sharing and shifting. She said they saw a big rise in education costs had Ellsworth been included in the mix, without education improving any. She said the Regional Planning Committee has submitted a plan for the Union 92 schools (Hancock, Lamoine, Otis, Mariaville, Surry, Trenton and SAD 26 Eastbrook/Waltham) to be their own RSU. She said they could still enter a relationship with Ellsworth. Ms. Perkins said she did not know the answer to Joe's question and did not know if the state education commissioner would approve the Union 92 plan. A short discussion followed regarding school consolidation.
Ms. Perkins said in the meantime they are providing education in Lamoine and they need to maintain the building. She said consolidation does not mean they would be closing schools.
Henry said he did some rough figuring and the difference of $274,000 and the 1/3 grant would mean an additional cost of $183,000 to the town. A discussion followed on the impact on property taxes should the bond be approved.
Ms. Perkins said they plan to do a lot of publicity about the vote. She said there was an article in the Ellsworth American last week, and they might do a mailing. She said the public hearings would be on TV and information available on the town's website. Henry said a mailing was a must. He said the newspaper article was not very positive. He said a mailing could give a better picture of what's going on.
Hubene asked if the architects did the work to present the costs of the project. Ms. Perkins said they didn't come up with the costs until the voters passed the bond. She said they did the computer modeling using the faulty state software. A lengthy discussion followed about the project cost estimates. Hubene said the architects did not do their job properly and now everyone looks bad.
Reggie asked what would happen if in 3-to-4 years the school is condemned. He said a lot of money would be put down the drain. Ms. Perkins said the state has limited renovation funds, and coming up with the original money was a vote of confidence in the Lamoine school. She said the new money is more support from the Department of Education. She said the new school that will be built in Ellsworth is already packed, and there is no other school for our children to attend. She said the building is a big investment for the town, and she doesn't know where it will be in 20-years. Reggie said twice the town has rebuilt the school in his lifetime, and it could happen again. He said the school board ought to look at a new building. He said he thought this is putting good money after bad. Henry said the town tried doing a major building project, and it failed. Ms. Perkins said the proposed bond is just for health and safety matters.
Ms. Perkins asked about the process for the school budget. She said that process would be separate from the town meeting of April 2nd . She asked that the school department hook up with the committee at some point. Hubene said that would be a good idea. Ms. Perkins said she didn't know when that might happen. Hubene said it would be helpful to know the school figures going into the entire budget and town meeting process. Brett noted that the school budget does not affect the LD-1 limitations on the municipality. Henry said he would prefer going into the school budget process knowing what the revenues would be. A discussion followed on when to have the school budget town meeting. Ms. Perkins said it would probably have to be in May so all the figures could be accurately presented. She explained the validation referendum process. Hubene said without knowing the impact of the school budget, it makes it hard to determine the rest of the town budget. A short discussion followed.
Henry asked to work with the school budget beginning around February 1, 2008. Ms. Perkins said that would be great. A short discussion followed.
Next Meeting – Henry asked what is left to do. Stu said revenues, the capital budget, and recommendations. After a long discussion, the committee opted to meet on Monday, December 17, 2007 at 7:30 PM. Stu said he might be a bit late due to a schedule conflict. He said he would provide Hubene with a key.
Stu noted the Selectmen and School Committee recommendations would appear on the special town meeting referendum warrant and ballot for January 29 th . Robin moved to support the additional amount to make the necessary repairs. Joe said they are life safety measures and 2nd the motion. Reggie said he was irked by the estimate and someone should be accountable for that. There was a discussion about the architect's performance. Vote was 3-2 in favor, Brodie & McDevitt opposed.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 9:20 PM
Stu Marckoon, Secretary