Vassalboro Board of Selectmen
Minutes of the Meeting
June 11, 2020

Members Present: Rob Browne, Lauchlin Titus, and John Melrose

Others Present: Mary Sabins, Mary Grow, Al Roy, Becky Goodrich, Garvan Donegan, Mike Poulin, Ray Breton, and Gene Field (7:05).

1. Call to order – The meeting was called to order by Chairman Titus at 6:30 p.m.

2. Minutes – On a motion made by J. Melrose, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to accept the minutes of the 5/14/20 meeting as written.

3. Central Maine Growth Council Director of Planning and Economic Development Garvan Donegan distributed a handout of his written findings and recommendations concerning the town TIF Development Program. Garvan stated that an amendment to the TIF Development Plan is not needed to further support the alewife projects. If the Selectmen desire to create a new TIF district, then an amendment to the Plan would be need to be proposed and accepted at town meeting. He explained that the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) who regulates and approves TIF Development Plans has new MTIF application documents that would need to be completed. Garvan also recommended the Town adopt a TIF Policy. J. Melrose inquired if expenses for the Gray Road culvert project could be interpreted as an authorized expense from the existing TIF fund because of the alewives in the stream that runs through the culvert. Garvan stated that he felt that project would be eligible because of the alewife fish connection. J. Melrose asked about revising the Plan to include long term annual commitments to one project so that it can’t be undone by future Board of Selectmen. Garvan recommended filing a Plan amendment with the DECD. Resident Mike Poulin asked if generally the funds could be used for private projects versus municipal projects, to which Garvan recommended the establishment of a façade or revitalization fund. Sanitary District Chairman Ray Breton stated that the alewife fish project will be completed soon after next year and there should be no more expenses related to that project. The Sanitary District will have on-going expenses and loan payments to make for many more years related to the new sewer line project that is also named as an authorized project in the TIF Development Program.

4. Public Hearing on TIF fund distribution – Chairman Titus called the public hearing to order at 6:57 pm. At the request of Chairman Titus, Sabins explained that the Vassalboro Sanitary District (VSD) submitted an application for $166K in TIF grant funding several months ago, but the distribution decision has been delayed due to the inability to have the required public hearing through zoom meetings that have occurred since early April. To refresh everyone’s memory, Sabins read a section of the April 2nd Selectmen’s meeting minutes concerning the mid-March 2020 email agreement with Landis Hudson for TIF Fund distribution as follows:

Distribution of TIF funds – Sabins explained that there is currently $166,930 in the TIF fund. Sabins read the following email correspondence that she had in mid-March with Maine Rivers Executive Director Landis Hudson about her application for $143K in TIF funding for the Alewife Restoration Initiative project. “If the Selectmen were to divide the available TIF funds now and give half to your fish project and half to the sewer project, with a promise to commit the balance of your $143K request by the end of August or first of September 2020 after the next tax commitment, could that arrangement work for your cash flow? The sewer people say they need a minimum of $72,265 by July to make a loan payment.” Sabins stated that Landis responded that she could definitely make that plan work. After discussion, a motion was then made by Chairman Titus to provide $83K even to the ARI project now and for the $60K balance of their request to be committed to the ARI project when TIF funds become available in August or September 2020. This motion was seconded by R. Browne and the Board took the following votes to unanimously approve the motion: Browne: yes; Melrose: OK, Titus: yes.

J. Melrose asked about the process and wondered if a second public hearing would be needed for the second half of the TIF money we promised to pay ARI. Chairman Titus was of the opinion that because it was announced at the first public hearing that the money would be distributed in the fall when the fund was replenished, he did not feel a second hearing was needed. J. Melrose asked about the $100K previously gifted to the VSD. VSD Chairman Ray Breton stated that all donated TIF funds will be used to reduce the VSD debt from the cost of the sewer project and not for hook-up costs as originally planned. Two different legal opinions have advised the town and VSD that the TIF funds should not be used to cover hook-up expenses for customers. J. Melrose suggested that reserve funds could be set up for the District’s annual payment for the USDA loan and other financial commitments; he also suggested that Duratherm could approach the town for a loan or a grant from the TIF fund to hook up to the new sewer line. R. Breton stated that any funds the district can get to help fund this project will be a plus. After discussion, Chairman Titus declared the public hearing closed at 7:17 p.m. Selectman R. Browne stated he did not want to spend down the TIF Fund completely and wanted some money left over. J. Melrose stated again that he wants a reasonable plan for TIF fund distribution, rather than just wing it every year. R. Browne stated he feels the town has a good surplus balance because we have flexibility and no long term commitment. Rob observed that he and John Melrose have a different philosophy; Rob likes to leave his options open with flexibility in case unforeseen things come up. After discussion, a motion was made by L. Titus to approve the VSD application for $166K but to provide $72,265 for the district’s immediate need now with the balance to be paid in the next fiscal year as funds become available. The motion was seconded by R. Browne, and further discussion ensued. J. Melrose expressed concern that the VSD’s original application requests TIF funds to pay user hook-up fees, and that the Selectmen have approved an application that contains an unpermitted action. Chairman Titus then amended his motion to include that the TIF funds will be used for debt relief for the Sanitary District, not for use on personal private property. J. Melrose expressed concern still about the $100K previously gifted. Chairman Titus stated he would like to let future Boards deal with making a plan. The amended motion was seconded by R. Browne and voted unanimously by the Board.

5. Paving bid – PW Director Gene Field distributed spreadsheet handouts with paving bid prices on them. He stated he had done a combined bid with the Town of China again this year. Gene recommends awarding the road paving bid to Pike Industries at a price of $71.50 per ton. He said that China has awarded their bid already and has chosen Pike as well. Gene said Pike was the best price for paving the town garage parking lot as well. With little discussion and on a motion made by R. Browne, seconded by J. Melrose, the Board voted unanimously to accept Gene’s recommendation to award the bid to Pike’s Industries.

While at the meeting, Gene asked the Selectmen about the location for the PW garage generator. He said he did not budget enough funds in the current year’s budget and has asked for more money to put with it for next fiscal year. The installation price will be higher if the generator is installed at the back of the building out of sight, which Gene said he prefers. The Selectmen agreed by consensus that the cheapest location for installation is okay with them.

Gene also informed the Board that he had talked with a representative of the Army Corp of Engineers regarding the requirement to file for a permit with them for culvert replacement. Gene learned that if we don’t lengthen the culvert, no permit application is needed. We can increase the culvert diameter; we just can’t lengthen them. Gene asked for the Board’s opinion: Do we stick with the culvert size we have so we don’t have to get involved with the Army Corp? R. Browne suggested Gene stick with what he has.

6. Town Office Closure – Because of COVID-19 and the extra social distancing space that will be required between voters, the polling location for the July 14th State and Municipal Election has been changed from the town office to the school. Since office staff cannot be in two places at once, staff has requested that the town office be closed on Tuesday, July 14th. On a motion made by L. Titus, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to close the town office on Tuesday, July 14th.

7. Summer Board meeting dates – Board Members Browne and Melrose agreed by consensus to set Thursday, July 23rd and Thursday, August 20th as their summer meeting dates. Chairman Titus is not seeking reelection and will no longer be on the Board after the July 14th election. Traditionally, the Vassalboro Selectmen only meet once during the months of July and August.

8. Police Cruiser disposal – The Board discussed disposal of the 2007 Chevy Impala Police Cruiser. On a motion made by L. Titus, seconded by R. Browne, the Board agreed to advertise the cruiser at a price of $3,000 or best offer.

9. Treasurer’s warrants – On a motion made by J. Melrose, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to approve warrants #64 and #65.

10. Previously approved Warrants – This being the first in-person meeting since March, the Board signed the many accounts payable and payroll warrants previously approved via email during the COVID-19 Stay-at-home Order. The Board also signed the Town Meeting Warrant, previously approved.

11. Reports - On a motion made by R. Browne, seconded by J. Melrose, the Board voted unanimously to accept the Road, Police, Financial, Transfer Station and First Responder Reports.

 

12. Other1. On a motion made by L. Titus, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to renew and sign the annual Treasurer’s Disbursement Policy for State Fees. 2. On a motion made by L. Titus, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to approve the Town Manager’s request to buy-out 20 hours of her vacation time and to reinstate just over 5 hours of lost vacation time for her and the bookkeeper after both have reach the accrual cap of 240 hours. Vacation time could not be used during COVID-19 shut down days to avoid reaching the cap. 3. J. Melrose updated the Board on his gentlemen’s agreement he has reached with Ed Cleary to allow a small section of the town forest trail to reach across the back of Ed’s property off Bog Road. 4. Sabins informed the Board that the summer intern began his work on the computerized cemetery census on June 1st. He’s doing a great job and has been invited to come to the next Selectmen’s meeting on June 25th to meet the Board. 5. Sabins informed the Board that three office members have a negative Personal Time balance due to weather and travel-related winter office closures during this fiscal year that is about to close. Sabins asked if the negative balances can be forgiven, or if the time should be taken from those staff member’s sick or vacation time balances. All three Board members agreed to forgive the Personal Time overdrafts. 6. The fact that the new Fiberight plant in Hampden is temporarily closed and all household trash is now being diverted to a landfill in Norridgewock was briefly discussed. 7. J. Melrose stated that he had received an email from the folks at Revision Energy announcing the solar array project the Town of Vassalboro has recently joined is now full with other municipal partners. The project has been overbooked by 6%, so some adjustment will need to be made by some partner in the project, to be determined by Revision Energy. 8. J. Melrose stated that the north entrance to the Historical Society parking lot has now been closed to traffic and reseeded with grass. John offered to donate cut granite blocks to put in that area. The Board approved.

13. Adjourn – There being no further business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned at 8:45 p.m.

/mss

These minutes were read and accepted by the Board of Selectmen on 6/25/20 with the following amendments: None.