Members Present: Libby Mitchell, Lauchlin Titus, and Rob Browne
Others Present: Mary Sabins, Paul Mitnik, Bill Browne, Mike Vashon, Nicole Wasilewski, George Gould, David Jenney, Paul McDonald, Mary Grow, Linda Titus, Don Breton, Bill Whitley, Jeff LaCasse, Vickie Limberger, Joe Suga, David Landry, Irene Forster, Al Althenn, Ralph Hawkins, Steven Jones, and a few other members of the public.
1. Call to order – The meeting was called to order by Chairman Mitchell at 7:00 p.m.
2. Library Trustees – As the discussion began, Chairman Mitchell and Manager Sabins gave a brief background on the funding issue to be discussed at the meeting this evening and the reason for the discussion mid-stream in the budget process. The Library Trustees would like to increase the wages of the Librarian to $16.00/hour, since the Librarian has recently obtained her master’s degree. Library Trustee David Jenney acted as spokesman for the group of Trustees and explained that library employees are currently considered by most as Town employees because the Town performs the payroll functions, however, the Dept. of Labor views the library trustees as the employer because they supervise the employees. The Department of Labor has made it clear to the Trustees and to the Town that the library employees must be considered hourly employees and paid by the hour effective 7/17/08 with the new State law change, rather than the current practice of salary. Currently, with the hours worked by the assistant librarian and the salary he is receiving, he is not receiving the State mandated minimum wage of $7.00 per hour. The State minimum wage will be increasing to $7.25/hr effective Oct. 1, 2008. The librarian’s current salary, when broken down by average hours worked, is above the minimum wage at $12.01 per hour. The Library Trustees proposed taking over the payroll function effective January 1, 2009 and will assume the responsibility of the employer relationship. They have found someone capable and willing to perform the payroll function. Until then, the Trustees requested that the Town change the wages for the librarian and her assistant to $16.00 and $7.25 per hour respectively. After lengthy discussion including former Manager Vashon, former Selectman Breton, and present Budget Committee Chairman Bill Whitley, and members of the public present, consensus was achieved to leave the hourly wage for the library employees at $12.01 and $7.25 per hour until December 31, 2008. Once the library assumes the employer relationship on January 1, 2009, the Trustees can then set the hourly wage for their employees while keeping within their budget and without spending down the principle on their investments. After January 1, 2009, the Town will divide the remaining unspent library appropriation for the fiscal year into monthly payments and forward them to the Library Association. On a motion made by R. Browne, seconded by L. Titus, the Board voted unanimously to take steps toward the Library Association becoming an autonomous organization effective January 1, 2009, assuming they can meet all requirements.
3. China Lake Dam Operation – Kennebec Water District (KWD) Manager Jeff LaCasse was present at the meeting to revisit and discuss a draft copy of a proposal prepared by KWD to allow them to assume the operations of the China Lake Dam. Discussion was given as to KWD’s requested remuneration of $1,200 to take over the responsibility. A China Selectman was also present at the meeting and stated that the China Residents did not appropriate the usual $600 at their annual Town Meeting as their contribution to the dam operation. China Lakes Association president David Landry was present at the meeting and offered that the Lake Association would be willing to contribute $600 to fund the agreement to allow KWD to take over the dam operations. China residents Al Althenn and Ralph Hawkins both shared their concerns that the current water level is too high and should be lowered to its original level. Exposure to liability was discussed. After discussion and on a motion made by L. Titus, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to pursue contract negotiations with the Kennebec Water District for operations of the dam. Libby suggested that we proceed forward with legal opinions of the draft contract to help with wording of the agreement.
4. Forest Management – Conservation Commission members David Jenney, Steve Jones, and Paul Mitnik were present to request that the Town move forward with the implementation of the Forest Management Plan that was created for the Town a few years ago by Forester Vite Vitale. The proposal is to harvest some of the trees in the future and use the revenue to benefit the work of the recreation and trails committees. This may happen next year. For now, the Board approved the Commission Member’s plan to walk and mark the boundary lines.
5. Francis Joseph’s property – Code Officer Paul Mitnik stated that he has been working with Mr. Joseph for a few years now, requiring him to clean up the junk vehicles on his property, down to a count of 12. As of now, the vehicle count is down to 15, and he is still not in compliance after four or five deadlines. After discussion, the Board agreed by consensus to support the CEO’s letter to Mr. Joseph stating that the CEO will reluctantly recommend to the Vassalboro Selectmen to pursue a land use complaint in District Court if Mr. Joseph is not in compliance by the next round of licensing which begins October 1, 2008.
6. Mileage reimbursement increase – Sabins explained the increase proposal and information that she had gathered at the Board’s request since the last meeting. L. Titus suggested using the IRS rate as a benchmark. R. Browne stated he was leery about using the IRS rate as a benchmark, and he was uncomfortable with an increase mid-stream in the budget. L. Mitchell proposed increasing the rate from the current .37 per mile to .47 per mile and to make the mileage rate increase a priority during the budget process next year. After discussion and on a motion made by R. Browne, seconded by L. Titus, the Board voted unanimously to increase the mileage reimbursement rate to .47 per mile effective immediately.
7. Set mil rate – The Board reviewed the mil rate proposals as prepared by the Assessor and Sabins. After discussion and on a motion made by L. Titus, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to set the mil rate for the 2008 taxes at .0092.
8. Upcoming meetings – The Board agreed by consensus to resume the normal meeting schedule. The September meetings will be held on September 10th and 24th.
9. Minutes – On a motion made by L. Titus, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to approve the minutes of the 7/16/08 meeting as written.
10. Treasurer’s Warrants – On a motion made by L. Titus, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to approve warrants #7 and #8.
11. Reports – The road report was read and accepted on a motion made by R. Browne, seconded by L. Titus. Sabins announced that James Wentworth of South China will be filling the vacancy in the Public Works Department. The status report was given by Sabins with an update on each item listed. The financial report was read and accepted on a motion made by L. Titus, seconded by R. Browne, and voted unanimously by the Board. The police report was read and accepted on a motion made by L. Titus, seconded by R. Browne, and voted unanimously by the Board.
12. Other items – 1. Sabins informed the Board that an application for a poverty abatement has been received and must be reviewed by the Board. The Board agreed to conduct the review in executive session prior to the next regular meeting. Sabins distributed reference material on poverty abatement hearings. 2. Kennebec Valley Council of Governments (KVCOG) sent a letter requesting that we appoint two Vassalboro residents to represent Vassalboro in KVCOG’s general assembly. One of the members must be a municipal officer. After discussion and on a motion made by L. Titus, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted to appoint Libby Mitchell and Bill Whitley to serve as Vassalboro representatives. 3. An outreach survey for the voluntary municipal farm support program was discussed. 4. Silver Star Day proclamation was discussed. 5. A reminder of the upcoming School Board meeting on August 19th was given. 6. A notice was read that Jack Cashman has been nominated by the Governor to be the next PUC Commissioner. 7. Sabins provided an update on the school window replacement project. The used windows will be put out to bid and sold as one lot.
13. Executive session – Given the late hour (10:15 p.m.) at the time this portion of the agenda was addressed, the Board agreed by consensus to postpone this item until the next regular meeting on September 10th.
14. Adjourn – There being no further business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned at 10:15 p.m.
These minutes were read and accepted by the Board of Selectmen on _____________ with the following amendments: