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Lamoine Budget Committee

Minutes of January 5, 2009 (Draft, subject to revision)

Chairman Henry Ashmore called the meeting to order at 7:11 PM.

Present were: Budget Committee members Robin Veysey, Kathleen DeFusco, Merle Bragdon, Henry Ashmore, Hubene Brodie; Secretary Stu Marckoon, Selectmen Cynthia Donaldson, Brett Jones, Fire Chief George “Skip” Smith, School Committee Members Robert Pulver, Faith Perkins, and Deputy Code Enforcement Officer Michael Jordan .

Minutes December 15, 2008 – Merle moved to approve the minutes as presented. Kathy 2nd . Vote in favor was 5-0.

Fire Department Brush Truck – Henry asked to take this item out of the order of the printed agenda. Stu handed out a written report on the cost of the trucks to the committee. Henry asked why a compressed air foam system would be included in the cost. Chief Smith explained that it was hardware for the equipment and explained the cost and how it works.

Henry asked if Stu had figured the cost of financing the truck. Stu said he'd gotten an estimate from the bank at $25,000 per year based on financing $100,000. He said this is considerably less- financing $60,000, so the estimated cost/year is approximately $15,000 over 5 years, or potentially $25,000/year over 3 years. A discussion about the terms and rates followed.

Henry asked Chief Smith if he preferred to buy now or to put aside $25,000 for three years and pay cash. Chief Smith said it seems to make sense to purchase the truck now as a delay would see price increase and unknown effects of interest rates. A short discussion followed. Henry asked if the Selectmen had discussed the issue. Stu said they had not – he and the chief produced the estimates on Saturday. A short discussion followed about truck brands and configurations. Merle asked what the life expectancy of the truck might be. Chief Smith said 25 to 30 years.

Henry asked the committee what their thoughts were on the idea. He said the town could put $25,000 into a reserve account, or borrow money now for 3-to-5 years. Robin said it makes sense to buy a truck now. Merle said avoiding maintenance costs on the existing older trucks is attractive. Kathy asked why a new brush truck is needed. Chief Smith said a heavier duty truck has been needed for some time. He said the 1984 GMC truck came from state/federal surplus, and it's having troubles now. He said a new truck would be more dependable and would replace two trucks. The consensus of the Budget Committee was to purchase a truck now.

Merle said he would prefer to borrow the money over 5-years. He said that helps to ameliorate the effect on the taxpayer for not a lot more interest. He said he would have no problem with a 3-year not, but if money is borrowed over 3-years, nothing would be removed from the proposed budget. A short discussion followed on interest costs.

Selectman Jones said $25,000 is more realistic for a normal size fire truck, and asked whether that should be the default number. A short discussion followed on putting money in a reserve vs. borrowing for a purchase. Discussion followed about the age of the fire truck fleet. Chief Smith said the next replacement would be the tanker truck which turns 25-years old in 2014. He noted that the fire department upgraded the air packs and the rescue tools from fundraising in the past year. He said turnout gear is being replaced at 2-to-3 sets a year.

Merle moved to recommend borrowing money for 5-years for a brush truck purchase. Kathy 2nd . Chief Smith asked if that means lowering the budget to $15,000. Merle said that was the intent. Vote in favor was 5-0.

Budget Impact/LD 1 – Henry asked about the impact of the LD 1 limits on the budget. Stu said if nothing is changed from the proposed budget, an override will be needed. He said the LD 1 limit is about $70,000, and because of severe revenue drops, the property tax need would be about $160,000 as proposed. Henry asked about where the budget stands in terms of mill rate and the municipal budget. Stu said as proposed, the mill rate would be $1.07 for the municipal and county portion of the budget. Merle said that's an increase of $0.61 over the current year.

Merle asked if more than $25,000 should be drawn from surplus. Stu said he was reluctant to recommend any more due to the slump in excise tax expected and a pending referendum in November which could significantly lower excise tax collections. A discussion followed about cash flow and the spread of payments.

Administration Budget – Henry said the salary lines should reflect a 3.5% increase. He said if that happens, the total salary increase would see a 3.3% increase. He said the Budget Committee doesn't have a right to tell the Selectmen what to pay the staff, but the committee can recommend something less than proposed. He suggested a reduction in the proposed amount of the Town Clerk/Tax Collector's line by $1,886. A short discussion followed.

Hubene moved to recommend $89,350 for the administrative salary total. Robin 2nd . Vote in favor was 5-0. Selectman Donaldson said she was trying to figure out what the percentage increase would be. Stu reminded the committee the recommendation on the administration article would be a bottom line figure and the elected officials' salaries.

Henry said that looking at the salary reduction and applying it to the bottom line of the administration budget, the figure would be $159,406.79. Robin moved to recommend that amount. Hubene 2nd . Vote in favor was 5-0.

Social Service Requests – Stu explained that typically the format in the warrant lists the requests from the agencies and the recommendations from the Budget Committee. Henry said his only area of question is the fund drive for a new emergency room by Maine Coast Memorial Hospital . He noted it's a community hospital; the town pays $8,000 to the ambulance service, funds to the YMCA and to the Ellsworth Public Library. He said it seemed to him that a request for a specific spot would go toward a building that would serve the community. He said that it might not be the entire request that he would recommend, but some town funding might be warranted.

Robin said this ought to be a separate article; otherwise lumping in a higher recommendation with the others which are limited by ordinance might create a precedent. Selectman Jones asked how well the hospital explained the request. Henry said Mrs. Smith did a superb job.

Merle said this could be moved into another line item so the town doesn't have to deal with the $600 ordinance limit. Henry said he too would prefer a separate line. A brief discussion followed. Henry said he had $3,000 in mind for a recommendation.

Robin asked how many more requests for this item would come in the future. Henry said the project has broken ground already. Selectman Donaldson noted the contributions to the YMCA and Library capital campaigns. A short discussion followed.

Henry said he would prefer a separate warrant article for this one request. Kathy so moved, but the motion died for lack of a 2nd . Selectman Jones asked if this would be an annual request. Merle said he thought it would be a one time request. Robin moved to separate the article out of the usual social service requests and to recommend $3,000 for the ER capital campaign. Hubene 2nd .

Chief Smith asked if the hospital would get a donation letter next year when the time comes to submit budget requests. Stu said they would. Vote in favor was 4-1 (DeFusco opposed)

Henry noted that all the agencies making requests were represented at the Budget Committee meeting and all the requests, with the exception of the hospital, were within the guidelines of the ordinance. Merle said with the hospital request removed, the line would be $7,389, which is an increase of $1,740. Henry asked if there were any problems with any of the requests. No one expressed any problems. Selectman Jones asked if it was known which agencies seek funding purely to leverage federal or state funding. Merle said none of them mentioned that. A short discussion followed.

Robin moved to recommend approval of all the amounts requested with the exception of Maine Coast Memorial Hospital . Kathy 2nd . Vote in favor was 5-0.

Library – Henry said the request is $6,270 which is up $90. Robin said she would recommend the same as last year. Henry said he supports flat funding. Merle said costs are likely up at the library, and wondered whether it's worth it to recommend a reduction of the $6,270. Kathy said she would prefer a decrease. Hubene said she'd like to recommend $6,000. Robin moved to recommend $6,180. There was no 2nd . Hubene moved to recommend $6,000. Kathy 2nd . Vote in favor was 4-1 (Bragdon opposed).

Public Safety – Henry noted the budget increase is $1,410, mostly due to heating oil. Robin moved to recommend $56,650. Kathy 2nd . Vote in favor was 4-1 (Brodie opposed) Hubene said she thought the ambulance cost was too high. A short discussion followed about the ambulance contract.

Waste Disposal – Henry said the increase is $860. Discussions followed about transportation and the cell phone. Merle moved to recommend the amount as presented at $99,480. Robin 2nd . Vote in favor was 5-0.

Planning & Appeals Board – Henry noted the request of $975 was a decrease of $225 from the current year. Merle moved to recommend $975. Robin 2nd . Vote in favor was 5-0.

Code Enforcement – Henry said the increase of $1,465 from the current year brings the budget up to $19,715. A short discussion followed on fees for permits. Robin moved to recommend $19,715. Merle 2nd . Selectman Jones asked if the rate of salary increase for the CEO should be the same as the administration rate. A short discussion followed. Vote in favor was 5-0.

Road Maintenance – Henry said the printed proposal was up $7,970. Stu said the Selectmen are discussing possibly building an escalator into the snow plowing contract, and the maximum would be less than what was proposed in the budget. Selectmen noted that nothing is close to being decided yet. Stu suggested the proposed budget could probably be reduced by $3,500, bringing the proposed increase to $4,470. Robin moved to recommend $126,145. Kathy 2nd . Vote in favor was 5-0.

Paving / Major projects – Henry said the proposal to pave a portion of Buttermilk Road was $130,000. There was a brief discussion about the cost and refining capacity for asphalt. Merle moved to recommend $130,000. Robin 2nd . Vote in favor was 5-0. Merle noted that he would like to see a stripe painted on Buttermilk Road , and a washout on the shoulder of Partridge Cove fixed.

Parks/Recreation – Henry noted the $7,316 figure proposed is a decrease. He said the Parks Commission included their projects in the current year's budget. Merle moved to recommend $7,316. Robin 2nd . Merle asked about cemetery lots. Stu explained that it was for care of veterans' graves and flags on Memorial Day. Vote in favor was 4-1 (DeFusco opposed).

Cable TV – Henry said the funds come from the Cable TV Franchise Fees. Merle moved to recommend $5,000. Robin 2nd . Vote in favor was 5-0.

Capital Projects – Robin moved to recommend $34,000 for the following:

Kathy 2nd . Vote in favor was 5-0.

Merle asked if the Cost of Living determination of 3.5% was assumed for all existing administrative employees when the recommendation was made. Henry said it was.

Revenues – Henry said Stu's guesses on the amount of revenue were probably better than his. Merle noted that $18,000 was cut from expenses. The Board discussed the various revenue lines. Merle moved to recommend using $25,000 from undesignated fund balance (surplus). Robin 2nd . Vote in favor was 5-0.

Other Discussion – The school budget process was briefly outlined – the committee does not deal with that directly due to the formation of the new Regional School Unit. Stu thanked the committee for its smooth service for the season.

There being no further business to conduct, the meeting adjourned at 9:10 PM

Respectfully submitted,

Stu Marckoon, Secretary