Vassalboro Select Board
Minutes of the Meeting
February 21, 2019

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

Others Present: Mary Sabins, Mary Grow, Mike Vashon, Fire Chief Eric Rowe, Walker Thompson (6:05), Duanne Ellis (6:10), Gene Field (6:20), JJ Wentworth (6:25), Al Ferland (6:27), and Rick Denico (6:30).

1. Call to order – The meeting was called to order by Chairman Titus at 6:00 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 2/7/19 meeting as written.

3. Cable television franchise agreement – Charter Communications Representative Shelley Winchenbach did not attend the meeting, as she had earlier provided answers to the Selectmen’s questions via email. After brief discussion and on a motion made by J. Melrose, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to approve the franchise agreement with the addition of the North Vassalboro Fire Station on Exhibit A as an additional recipient of free cable television service, and to authorize Town Manager Sabins to sign the agreement.

4. Mike Vashon, Fire Chief Eric Rowe, and Assistant Fire Chief Walker Thompson attended the meeting to make an additional budget request for starting a reserve to replace the portable and mobile radios for the fire department. M. Vashon stated the average age for the truck radios is 18-20 years old. He further stated that everyone will be required to go to digital radios in the future and we need to start planning now for the conversion. Estimated costs now to replace all radios is approximately $45K. M. Vashon proposes creating a reserve over a three year period to replace the radios, spending approximately $15,500 the first year. R. Browne suggested waiting to fund this radio conversion project after the current financed fire truck is paid for in two more years. The annual payment for the financed truck is over $65K. Most agreed that this idea was amenable. Further discussion included the annual warrant article for funds to be taken from surplus to benefit the fire department in the event they receive an equipment grant. Vashon stated the amount needed to be placed within the warrant article this year is $45K as he has applied for two separate FEMA grants and he is hoping they will be funded.

5. Other (taken out of agenda order) – Chairman Titus asked the Fire Department members to come to the March 7th Selectmen’s meeting to discuss fire department training opportunities. The FD members agreed to come.

6. Dispatch update – Sabins and M. Vashon told the Board about the last meeting they had attended on this subject and it appears that the Kennebec Sheriff has agreed to stay with RCC dispatch service. Towns will contribute more for the service so more dispatchers can be hired to run the console for IMC software, and the City of Gardiner has volunteered to contribute at a higher rate to alleviate higher costs for other towns in the county. The Gardiner offer to contribute more money toward the dispatch budget is effective for three years. In the meantime, legislation will be proposed to reinstate the Emergency Communications Board to plan for the future of dispatch services for Kennebec County.

7. Other (taken out of agenda order) – Chairman Titus inquired of a man sitting in the audience if he needed to speak with the Board. The man, later self-identified as Duanne Ellis, stated that he had a complaint to register and that it could wait until the end of the meeting agenda. Chairman Titus explained that the Board had a lengthy agenda this evening and encouraged the man to speak now to avoid the wait. Mr. Ellis then stated that he was concerned about the town fire department and the recent decision made by the Fire Chief to appoint a 22-year-old assistant fire chief. Mr. Ellis further stated that he has family members who are talking about quitting membership on the department because of this new appointment. With staffing shortages everywhere on fire departments, Mr. Ellis questions this appointment decision which may cause a staffing shortage on our own department. Mr. Ellis feels that the responsibility of assistant fire chief is too great with too much at risk to give to a young man who is inexperienced. He further stated that he has nothing against the assistant chief, but he feels he is too young to be making important decisions without experience. The Fire Department Officers in the room stated that Assistant Chief Walker is qualified or will be qualified with additional training. Mr. Ellis then responded that there are people on the department that are qualified now and that experience comes with age. The Board thanked Mr. Ellis for coming to the meeting and sharing his concerns. No action on this item was taken at this time.

8. Al Ferland also stopped by the meeting to listen to the discussion with the cable television representative. Sabins explained that the representative did not come and that the Board had authorized Sabins to sign the franchise agreement. The franchise agreement is for cable TV only and does not include internet service, which is what Mr. Ferland was interested in receiving at the food pantry so they could install a security system. Mr. Ferland informed the Board that the solar panels have been installed on the pantry building, and the building will be switched over to solar power in early March.

9. Reports –On a motion made by J. Melrose, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to accept the Road, Financial, and Transfer Station Reports as presented.

10. Treasurer’s Warrants – On a motion made by J. Melrose, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to approve warrants #47 and #48.

11. Other1. On a motion made by J. Melrose, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to execute the agreement proposed by MDOT that states that the Selectmen agree that a construction over-limit permit will be issued to the contractor for paving project #23935.00 allowing the contractor to use overweight equipment and loads on municipal ways. 2. An opportunity to apply to KVCOG for a free energy audit for town buildings was discussed. The Board approved an application containing a request for an audit for the town office, public works garage, and the Historical Society Building. 3. Sabins informed the Board that an executive session to discuss an abatement request was needed prior to the end of the meeting.

12. Budget Discussions – The Board reviewed each department budget request again and made final decisions on the proposed dollar amount to bring forward to the Budget Committee meetings. During discussion with Public Works Director Gene Field on the purchase of a power washer that is approved for the current year budget, Gene shared a handout with the Board containing a list of seven vendors he had researched to obtain their price on a power washer. The lowest price was from Motor Supply for $3,299. Because this price falls into the category in our Procurement Policy that would require a formal bid process, Gene asked the Board to waive the formal bid process and accept the prices he has collected. Gene recommended the purchase of the power washer from Motor Supply. On a motion made by J. Melrose, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to waive the town bid process requirements in the Procurement Policy and to approve the purchase of a power washer from Motor Supply.

13. Executive session – Pursuant to 36 MRSA Section 841, and on a motion made by R. Browne, seconded by J. Melrose, the Board voted unanimously at 9:37 p.m. to enter into an executive session to discuss an abatement request. The Board returned to open session at 9:43 p.m. On a motion made by J. Melrose, seconded by R. Browne, the Board voted unanimously to approve the abatement of 2016 real estate taxes, interest, and costs for case #19-02.

14. Adjourn – There being no further business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned at 9:45 p.m.


These minutes were read and accepted by the Select Board on 3/7/19 with the following amendments: None.