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Lamoine Board of Selectmen

 

l-r William Brann, Gary McFarland, Richard Fennelly Jr., Jo Cooper, Cynthia Donaldson
Minutes of March 1, 2012

Chair Jo Cooper called the meeting to order at 7:03 PM

Present were: Selectmen Richard Fennelly Jr., Gary McFarland, William Brann, S. Josephine Cooper, Cynthia Donaldson; Administrative Assistant Stu Marckoon, Donald Cooper, Local School Advisory Committee member Gordon Donaldson and RSU #24 Representative Brett Jones.

Agenda Review – Stu noted that a resignation came in late in the day from the Board of Appeals that should be dealt with.

Minutes of February 16, 2012 – Cynthia noted two minor corrections were needed in the minutes, and moved to approve them with the corrections. Richard 2nd . Vote in favor was 4-0 (Cooper abstained).

Expenditure Warrant 17 – Selectmen signed the warrant in the amount of $375,949.04. Stu said he wished it could be bigger, as the bulk of it ($350,000) is a transfer into the investment management account. He also reported that the fax machine that had been located in his office was recalled due to a safety issue, and Hewlett Packard offered replacement equipment, which was a printer and scanner, but did not include a fax machine. He said that expenditure is booked as an account receivable.

Cash & Budget Report – There were questions about the solid waste budget and why it's tracking much lower than the percentage of the year passed. Stu said the rebate from the Municipal Review Committee has helped. Selectmen also noted that the administration and planning expenditure budgets are tracking behind projections. Stu noted that the elected officials' semi-annual payroll will be on the next warrant which will bring the administration budget closer to projection.

Checking Account Reconciliation – Cynthia asked about the check to the Lamoine School Music Program. Stu explained that was for the returnable bottles for whichever month the program was assigned. Selectmen signed the statement expressing satisfaction with the review of the checking account reconciliation.

Tax Acquired Property - Stu reported he had placed the ad in the Ellsworth American, posted it on the town's website, posted it around town, and mailed copies to abutting property owners. He said he's received inquiries from some of the abutters already. He noted that bids would be opened at the next Selectmen's meeting.

Petition for Withdrawal – RSU 24 – Stu reported that 121 petition signatures were turned in and verified in the last two days requesting that the Selectmen initiate withdrawal from RSU 24. Jo asked what the next step would be. Richard said a public hearing needs to be held. Stu suggested that the voting date be scheduled first so that a public hearing could be properly scheduled at least 10-days prior to the vote.

Richard said he would like to see that there is good information available at the hearing. He said he would like to see comparisons of academic performance by Lamoine students prior to and after the formation of the RSU, as well as a cost comparison. Jo asked whether the Selectmen should coordinate the timing of things. RSU 24 Representative Brett Jones said that's mostly correct. He said in talking with other communities contemplating withdrawal, it doesn't seem to be a rigid schedule. Stu said the schedule is quite rigid under state statute, once a voting date is set.

Mr. Jones said that if the questions carry, other communities such as Hancock and Otis would potentially join Lamoine as the nucleus of a new school district. Cynthia asked if there is a need to synchronize the votes. Local School Advisory Committee member Gordon Donaldson said that Hancock, which has also received a similar petition, might vote on this in March. He said if that vote is successful, the two communities could start planning the withdrawal agreement. He said the petitioners had talked about holding the vote on June 12, 2012, which is also the primary election day. He said there does need to be a lot of information gathered.

Richard said he's not sure what is driving the interest of withdrawing, but he sensed that it is the lack of self-determination and asked if that was fair. Mr. Jones gave an example of the school choice issue. He said there was no attempt to take away school choice from Lamoine residents, but under state law, Lamoine cannot directly pay MDI High School for the extra tuition costs – the payment must go through the RSU. He said the RSU decided not to be involved in the process, which in essence eliminated school choice. He said the RSU 24 board has seen some horrendous policies come before them and cited an example of some teaching rules. He said it's a top down bureaucracy. Richard responded by stating that the RSU failure to act in the MDI tuition matter resulted in self-determination by the Town of Lamoine because the town voted an approved it. He said that he had carried a petition to the RSU board asking that they not act on the MDI tuition matter so the town could decide for itself.

Jo said she knew that Ellsworth has a much higher weight on the votes. Mr. Jones said it's tough to swallow. Jo asked where Ellsworth stands in continuance of the RSU and how that affects the rest of the RSU. Mr. Jones said it's sort of scary – Ellsworth is attractive to teachers and could pose a “brain drain” threat if it were to go alone.

Richard said if there are programs the RSU would not fund for the Lamoine School, part of the purpose of the Local School Advisory Committee was to present them to the town for local funding. He asked if that opportunity exists without leaving the RSU. Mr. Jones said he thought the policy was that if the town raises the funds, the RSU could still say no. He cited an example of having a full time phys ed teacher, instead of sharing the teacher with another school. He said the RSU doesn't want towns to request things and shuffle things around. A brief discussion followed regarding the town's right to fund programs not provided by the RSU and flexibility to provide those programs. Mr. Jones said specific questions from townspeople would be helpful to have prior to the public hearing. A brief discussion followed about a past issue regarding tuition to MDI High School.

Bill asked if there is a curriculum coordinator who dictates what the RSU curriculum will be. Mr. Jones said the RSU is developing a common curriculum. Bill asked if there has been any controversy. Mr. Jones said there was none that he knew of. He said that is a positive thing of the RSU.

Dr. Donaldson said the point is that the town and Local School Advisory Committee needs to do the best it can do to get all the questions out and to get some answers to them. He said they would continue to meet with Hancock and probably with Otis and construct an outline of what a new district would look like and how much it would cost. He said the intensive planning would not happen until after the special election, because that article will carry a sum of money to raise for planning. He said the committee intends to collect viewpoints and get the public information at a couple of meetings.

Cynthia said it would be a wonderful start to have the Selectmen and Local School Advisory Committee to gather questions. She said she wondered if there is a mechanism to submit those questions. Mr. Jones said that once the questions come in, they can be collated and presented. He said he wants an open and honest process.

Richard said when he talked with Jim Rier of the State Education Department, Mr. Rier urged caution. He said the school district would not go back to what it used to be. He said Lamoine gets no state subsidy and would not get any going forward. He said Mr. Rier offered to host a meeting in his office, and it would be good to sit down and discuss things. He said there should be a meeting if the town opts to go forward with the process.

Bill said it's not just one or two people looking to withdraw. He said the public discourse is very valuable. He said he hoped other towns would show evidence of more than one person being behind it. He asked what happens if the process falls apart in other towns. Mr. Jones said if it passes, it's similar to the RPC (Regional Planning Committee) process that began prior to formation of the RSU. He said Hancock has strong support from a number of people, and Otis has an interest.

Jo said this is just to go ahead and plan, and there are a number of other steps to follow before withdrawal. Mr. Jones outlined the process and said if it fails at this stage withdrawal cannot be attempted for another two years. Jo asked if the Selectmen need to set a date. Richard asked what amount of time is sufficient to gather information. Dr. Donaldson said 3-months should be plenty. A brief discussion followed on available dates. Jo moved to set June 12, 2012 as the election date. Gary 2nd . Cynthia asked if it would be by referendum vote. Stu said under state statute it has to be. Vote in favor was 5-0.

Letter to RSU 24 – Mr. Jones reviewed the draft of the letter. Richard asked if anyone has heard how Hancock has made out with their requests for information. Dr. Donaldson said he doesn't know. Mr. Jones said not all the units in the RSU get back what they put in. He said the cost-sharing formula will be renegotiated in a couple of years. A brief discussion followed on the cost sharing formula.

Jo said she was OK with the draft of the letter. Richard said it was well worded. Bill asked if the Freedom of Access Act is an issue. Stu said all the information requested is public information. Mr. Jones read from a policy in regard to receiving funds.

Dr. Donaldson asked if there was a delivery date requested. It was agreed to add that to the letter, along with the voting date, and the redrafted letter would be printed and signed following the end of the meeting.

Citizen of the Year/Town Meeting – Selectmen signed a resolve honoring the Citizen of the Year for 2011 which will be presented at the annual town meeting. The Board also reviewed the proposed plaque and the power point presentation. A brief discussion followed on the number of warrants available for voters. Stu noted the warrant is printed in the town report.

Boiler at Fire Department – Stu reported the fire chief was busy plowing snow this evening and could not be present. The Board said they should wait for the chief. Cynthia said she was surprised to see an estimate, and wondered how that happened. Stu said he believed the chief engineer asked for one from the gentleman who maintains the boiler. Selectmen said this should go out to bid.

Vacation Request – Stu reported that it's unlikely that he'll be able to take a planned trip in April after all, but the Selectmen said the time off is OK with them if he desires.

Personnel Reviews/Negotiations – Selectmen said they would like to start at the second meeting in April with the process, and complete them by June. Stu said he would start to schedule them.

Fireworks Ordinance – Stu reported that members of the League of Towns are interested in requesting a repeal of the legislation that legalized fireworks possession and sale with a license. Richard said he'd just as soon not get tangled up with that. Stu said he could foresee folks using fireworks at Lamoine Beach on the 4th of July. Richard said the town could create a moratorium in regard to controlling fireworks use on town property, but he doesn't want the town telling him what he could do on his own property. Stu said the Parks Commission could be consulted in regard to use in the public parks. Bill asked if there is anywhere the state law addresses use during high fire danger. Jo said it makes sense to ask the Parks Commission.

Aerial Photography – Stu said the League of Towns is also talking about encouraging a county-wide aerial photography effort with the county tax picking up the cost. He said Lamoine's share would be about $800 of the $35,000 bill. Richard said he's not excited by the idea. Jo said there didn't seem to be much difference between aerial photos and things like Google Earth.

Resignation from Appeals Board – Stu reported John Wuorinen has submitted his resignation from the Board of Appeals. Jo moved to accept it with regret. Richard 2nd . Vote in favor was 5-0. The Board said a replacement should be sought.

Shellfish Ordinance Amendments – Richard said it has become burdensome to amend the Regional Shellfishing Ordinance as all 7-towns have to hold a town meeting or get city council approval. He said he would like to take a straw poll at the town meeting to see if voters are interested in delegating that authority to the Board of Selectmen. He said he met Wednesday with the joint municipal board, and they discussed it and agreed that would make things a lot easier. He said they would like to schedule a vote to eliminate the requirement that the representative to the joint municipal board be a Selectman, but could be an appointed designee. He said the joint board also discussed repealing the limitation of board members not being able to hold a commercial license. The Board gave Richard the go-ahead to take the straw poll.

Stu reported that Jim Norris is working on legislation that would prevent mussel draggers from dragging for mussels in the intertidal zone where seed clams have been planted.

Next Meeting – The next meeting is scheduled for March 15, 2012 – an organizational meeting following town meeting and to open bids for the tax acquired property. The Board said it would decide whether a meeting on March 29, 2012 would be needed at that meeting.

Stu re-drafted the letter to RSU 24 Superintendent Lukas and Selectmen signed it.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 8:18 PM

Respectfully submitted,

Stu Marckoon, Adm. Asst. to the Selectmen