Vassalboro Select Board
Minutes of the Meeting
April 16, 2020

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

Others logged on to Participate: Mary Sabins, David Trask, Don Breton, Al Hodsdon, Al Pfeiffer, Jessica Clark, and Cathy Coyne. Other members of the public are anticipated to have observed the meeting being broadcast live online via YouTube; the actual number of which are unknown.

1. Call to order – The meeting was called to order by Chairman Titus at 1:00 pm. Due to the Covid-19 (Corona virus) national pandemic, a state-wide Stay-At-Home Order has been issued by the Governor for the month of April. In addition, a temporary change in State Law has been passed by the Legislature that allows the provision for these remote video-conference meetings to get town business accomplished. Chairman Titus reminded the Board members that each vote taken is required to be taken by roll call vote. Chairman Titus stated he will make the motions, look for a second, and then take the roll call vote in alphabetical order by last name.

2. Minutes – On a motion made by L. Titus, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to accept the minutes of the 4/2/20 meeting with the following amendment: J. Melrose pointed out an error on page two in section six, the phrase “power point agreement” should have said “power purchase agreement”. The error is noted below.

“When looking at the wording of the article, it encompasses a power point agreement and the decision now is whether the Board is fine to go ahead with that and authorize the Town Manager to enter into that agreement to get the negotiation process going, or we can do that but also at the same time prepare a warrant article for town meeting.”

3. Engineer Al Hodsdon joined the virtual meeting to discuss with the Board their desires for the outcome of his engineering study at the transfer station. Chairman Titus began the discussion by recollecting that the Board had agreed several months ago to place a price parameter on the project of between $80K to $100K, which would include the engineer’s fees and the price of the new compactor. Al stated that his understanding was that he is being asked to look at the existing structure, and traffic flow. He commented that he feels the traffic at the transfer station flows reasonably well, now that the traffic flows in a counterclockwise direction. He will look at it again. J. Melrose stated that a review of the transfer station compound had been conducted by CES a few years ago and made recommendations for a structure that is beyond the Town’s means. Al stated he would like to see the study and Sabins agreed to mail a copy to Al. J. Melrose also informed A. Hodsdon that MDOT Traffic Engineer Dave Allen recommended moving the entrance to the transfer station toward the east for site distance purposes, toward the area that is now used for porcelain disposal. Al expressed concern that the price parameters set for this work may not include enough money. He will begin his work and report back.

4. Other (taken out of agenda order) – Revision Energy Representative Andrew Kahrl joined the meeting to discuss details of the solar energy Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) contract that has been presented to the Board for consideration. He explained that the agreement before us is with the financial partner Aligned Climate Capital, not Revision Energy. Revision Energy is the project developer and salesperson who has a performance contract with Aligned, but Revision Energy is not named in the PPA. Revision Energy will continue to maintain the solar array to ensure its performance over the life of the PPA. J. Melrose asked for something in writing from Andrew that stated the relationship with Revision Energy and Aligned Climate Capital to provide solar farm performance assurance overtime. Andrew agreed he would work on providing such assurance, and informed the Board that his company has worked successfully with Aligned on several solar farm projects to date. Much discussion was given about net metering and which CMP accounts could be included in the agreement. Andrew confirmed that only accounts paid by the Town can be included in the Town’s PPA agreement. Andrew stated that he reached out to the financial partner, Aligned, and shared with them the Town’s concern that the school’s CMP bills are paid by the school bookkeeper using a separate bank account from the town’s bank accounts. Aligned agreed to bill the school separately. Future arrangements will need to be made by the Town to be able to include the energy consumption needs and CMP accounts for the Sanitary District, the Historical Society, and the Library in this project, which has been our intention. When asked about the timeframe and deadline to sign this PPA, Andrew stated that a large solar array project named Dirt Solar project, is slated to be built in May in Skowhegan. The agreement presented today would allow the town to participate in that particular project on a first-come, first-served basis. There are several other municipalities also considering joining the project, but no signed commitment has yet been received by Revision Energy. Superintendent Al Pfeiffer stated that he will call a special meeting of his School Committee early next week to have them review the proposed contract agreement and possibly vote to join. After lengthy discussion, a motion was made by J. Melrose to give approval for the Town Manager to execute the details of the proposed PPA contract agreement, conditioned on legal review, favorable review by the Solar Committee, and the School Board and/or School Superintendent’s approval. The motion was seconded by L. Titus. The roll call vote revealed the following: R. Browne: approve; J. Melrose: yes; L. Titus: yes.

5. Delay tax due interest rate – Sabins shared with the Board that she had learned from the TRIO municipal software vendor that it is possible to reprogram the system to delay the interest accrual date for the fourth tax payment that is due in April, although MMA Legal Services staff advises against it saying Selectmen do not have the authority to override a vote made by the townspeople. L. Titus stated he interpreted the warrant article to say the Selectmen may set the rate and due dates, but it does not say they must or shall do such action. He interprets this situation as a time when Selectmen can choose to set the interest date to a later date if they deem the situation warrants it. R. Browne stated he was not opposed to delaying the interest date. J. Melrose stated he was inclined not to approve and he is struggling with relief matters that are scattered about to everyone’s benefit and maybe we should be targeting those in need. After further discussion a motion was made by L. Titus to defer the beginning of the stated interest rate for the fourth quarter until 30 days after the emergency declaration ends, or June 30th whichever comes first. R. Browne seconded the motion. Roll call vote: R. Browne: approve; J. Melrose: yes; L. Titus: yes.

6. Town Meeting and Municipal Election date – The fact that the State Primary Election has been moved to July 14th was discussed. The Town typically has our municipal election in conjunction with the State election to save money. The school needs to have a budget approved before July 1st. After discussion, a motion was made by L. Titus to reschedule the town meeting date to Monday, June 22nd at 6:30 at the school, with the Municipal Election to follow on the next day, Tuesday, June 23rd. The motion was seconded by R. Browne. The roll call vote was taken as follows: R. Browne: approve; J. Melrose: yes; L. Titus: yes. Town Clerk Cathy Coyne confirmed to the Board members’ inquiry that the ballot will have candidates in each available position, but there is no competition in any of them.

7. Budget discussion – The Board discussed at length different ideas and suggestions on how the proposed budget could be reduced more before the Budget Committee meeting this evening. By consensus, the Board agreed to eliminate the $500 proposed for enhancements to Memorial Park and to increase proposed revenues by $14K from Alewife Reserve. On a motion made by L. Titus, seconded by R. Browne, the Board took the following roll call vote to take an additional $16K from surplus over the $150K already proposed: R. Browne: yes; J. Melrose: yes; L. Titus: yes. Lengthy discussion was also given concerning the request made by fire department volunteers to include an article in the town meeting warrant to lease a fire truck over a five-year period in the event the application for a FEMA grant for a fire truck is not successful. Chairman Titus stated that he was not inclined to move forward with a truck now and that he thinks it could be put off a few years. R. Browne agreed stating we should see where we are next year, and that he was not comfortable committing to truck payments for five years. J. Melrose said his position on this has changed in the last two weeks and that he agrees. He feels we should put in place a more studied review effort on capital replacement projects. Chair Titus attempted to make a positive motion and noted that he planned to vote against it. Lauchlin moved to include an article in the Town Meeting Warrant regarding purchase of a fire truck. Discussion ensued on the intent of the motion. Melrose expressed concern that if the article does not appear in the warrant, it may be perceived poorly by volunteers in the department. Melrose suggests placing the article in the warrant, but indicate at the bottom of the article that the Selectmen do not recommend. He indicated it was possible the Budget Committee may vote the same way this evening, and then it would be up to the voters to decide. Chairman Titus agreed and then withdrew his original motion. He made a second motion to include a warrant article concerning purchasing a fire truck as requested by the fire department using figures related to option two that were provided by Donald Breton. J. Melrose seconded the motion. Roll call vote: R. Browne: approve; J. Melrose: yes; L. Titus: yes.

8. Warrant Articles – Chairman Titus stated that he had reviewed the articles for typos and did not find any, but he did not compare the numbers in the articles to the budget spreadsheets. The Board reviewed each article and made suggestions for amendments, additions, and deletions as necessary.

9. Trail Committee Appointment – On a motion made by L. Titus, seconded by J. Melrose, the Board voted unanimously by roll call vote to appoint Meridith Cain to the Trails Committee.

10. Reports – a. Road Report - On a motion made by L. Titus, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously by roll call vote to accept the report as presented. b. Treasurer’s Report - On a motion made by L. Titus, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously by roll call vote to accept the February Treasurer’s financial report as presented.

11. Treasurer’s Warrants – The Board took no action during the meeting on the Treasurer’s warrants. During these times of virtual meetings, the warrants are being approved by email confirmation to the bookkeeper prior to the start of these Board meetings.

12. Other1. Don Breton had emailed the Selectmen and Manager prior to the meeting to ask if the transfer station could be open an additional separate day for brush disposal. Rob suggested adding Tuesday to the current one-day opening on Saturday for household garbage only. Sabins stated she would discuss options with Transfer Station Manager George Hamar.

13. Adjourn – There being no further business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned at 3:23 p.m.


These minutes were read and accepted by the Select Board on 4/30/20 with the following amendments: None.