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Lamoine Budget Committee

Minutes of December 5, 2011 (Draft, subject to correction)

Chair Hubene Brodie called the meeting to order at 6:30 PM

Present were: Budget Committee members Merle Bragdon, Kathleen DeFusco, Hubene Brodie, Cece Ohmart, Robin Veysey; Secretary Stu Marckoon, Selectmen Gary McFarland, Jo Cooper; Parks Commissioners Kerry Galeaz, Rich & Christa Brey, Doug Jones, Julie Herrick; RSU 24 Representative Brett Jones, Peter Farragher (Downeast Family YMCA), Ron Fortier (Ellsworth Library), and Bernard Hope (Grand Auditorium).

Minutes November 21, 2011 Merle moved to approve the minutes as printed. Robin 2nd . Vote in favor was 4-0 (Ohmart abstained).

Parks Budget Hubene asked about the proposal for new picnic tables. Parks Commission Chair Kerry Galeaz explained that the present picnic tables were kept going for as long as they could, but they're rusting out and it's a safety issue. He said he would like to get the new picnic tables installed by April. Kathy asked if the new tables are the ones pictured in an e-mail message to the Budget Committee. Mr. Galeaz said they were, and they're very stout and ADA compliant and cost about $400 per table. There was discussion about funding this partially from the parks fund. Stu said he'd written the article to fund it from the general fund balance. (As the discussion was taking place a fire call was received necessitating Doug and Brett Jones to leave to respond.)

Mr. Galeaz explained the rest of the proposed budget for both Bloomfield and Lamoine Beach Park. There was a brief discussion about a pet waste center proposed for Bloomfield Park. Merle noted that the revenue budget proposes to use $1,500 from the Parks Fund.

Recreation (YMCA) Peter Farragher, the Executive Director of the Downeast Family YMCA said the request is the same as the previous years at $3,000.00. He gave usage figures and said Lamoine residents, because the town is a supporter, are free to use the Y on the weekends and can enjoy a discounted membership. He said the youth sports programs can have a town team free in a league if there are enough youngsters to support a team. He said there are 310 members from Lamoine, which is up slightly from the previous year. He said the scholarship program used $910 to support Lamoine residents last year. Hubene remarked about a citizen protection program the Y is offering and recommended it.

Cemeteries Stu said the $1,000 budget is unchanged from the current fiscal year. He said the money is used for maintenance of Veterans Graves in Forest Hill and East Lamoine Cemetery as well as some maintenance at the Marlboro Cemetery. Hubene asked if the flags for the Veterans Graves come from this line. Stu said they do.

Library Ron Fortier thanked the Budget Committee for past support and said the request is $5,882 this year, based on the same rate as the previous year, which is down nearly $2,000. He said there are 346 card holders from Lamoine and gave numerous statistics on library usage. Hubene said she heard that the library offers free kindle downloads. Mr. Fortier confirmed that and there was a brief discussion on technology opportunities at the library. Mr. Fortier noted that they ask for support from the surrounding towns to supplement the support from the City of Ellsworth.

Merle asked if the member list had been purged. Mr. Fortier said it had as of last July. He said some card holders have yet to renew their library cards and after a period of inactivity, the cards expire. Merle noted the library has public access to genealogy computers.

Outside Agency Requests Stu noted that with the exception of the Grand Auditorium, all the other agencies making requests this year have been previously funded. He noted that Bernard Hope of the Grand was present. Mr. Hope said the Grand has requested $600 and explained the services that the Grand offers to the citizens and taxpayers. He said the funds would go toward general operating expenses. Hubene asked how the Grand is funded. Mr. Hope said through donations, memberships, ticket sales, municipal support, foundation support, grants and sponsorships. Hubene asked if school children go to the Grand for programs. Mr. Hope said there are numerous special programs offered for school aged children for which the schools are charged $3/student. He said the Lamoine School is a regular attendee.

Updated Information Health Insurance Stu reported that the health insurance rate from Maine Municipal Association has gone down, so the amount proposed in the budget is a bit smaller than originally proposed.

School Tuition Hubene questioned why the town was told that tuition would cost $25,000 for the current fiscal year and the actual figure is over $50,000. RSU 24 Representative Brett Jones (back from the fire department call) said he thinks there was confusion on what the $25,000 figure represented. He said that was the amount of MDI High School debt service that the town would have to pick up. He said the other $25,000 is the difference between the state tuition rates at non-RSU 24 schools and the RSU 24 secondary schools, and that apparently was not built into the budget, either at the town meeting or through the RSU 24 assessment as had been done in the previous year. He said the figures are a best guess, because a lot depends on where Lamoine students choose to attend school. Hubene said she understood the two factors that go into the excess tuition calculation, but didn't understand how $25,000 turned into $50,000. Mr. Jones said he believed the $25,000 figure given to the town was just the debt service at MDI. Stu said he was given the $25,000 figure from RSU 24 when he was building the town meeting warrant and understood that would be the total excess tuition. He said there appears to have been a communication breakdown. Mr. Jones said there was no intentional misinformation given he said the only question the town decided was the debt service question. He said it probably was a misunderstanding of how the process is supposed to work. A lengthy discussion followed.

Kathy asked if she understood the issue of school choice correctly that Lamoine students can choose where they attend high school and the town will pick up the cost difference, unless it's at a non-approved Christian School. Mr. Jones said that was correct, and that in addition, there is the debt service charge for those students attending MDI High School. He said there is some intra-district shuffling allowed for elementary and middle school grades. More discussion followed on the discrepancy in tuition figures and the schedule for debt service retirement at MDI High). There was a discussion about whether other towns sending students to MDI High are paying debt service. A lengthy debate followed on school choice and tuition costs.

Code Enforcement Officer Compensation Stu reported that the Selectmen met with the Code Enforcement Officer a week ago and discussed the compensation issue. He said the Selectmen agreed with the Budget Committee to leave the line the same as the current fiscal year and there would be discussion at contract renewal time as to costs. Selectman Jo Cooper said the Code Enforcement Activity will be tracked. Selectman Gary McFarland said the CEO is keeping a log which will help determine what level of service is needed. Mrs. Cooper said the discussion is not tied to any kind of performance review.

Aerial Photography Stu reported that two of the three Assessors were opposed to budgeting money for aerial photography. He said the Conservation Commission and the Planning Board plan to discuss the issue at their next meetings. He suggested that the Budget Committee make no recommendation. There was a brief discussion as to whether the Selectmen would place the item on the town meeting warrant if there was no support for it.

Recommendations

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 8:05 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Stu Marckoon, Secretary

Lamoine Budget Committee