Town of Vassalboro
Select Board Meeting
6:30 P.M. Vassalboro Town Office
Thursday, October 19, 2023

Members Present: Chris French, Rick Denico and Michael Poulin
Others Present: Aaron Miller, Brian Lajoie, Tom Richards, Holly Weidner, Doug Phillips, Melissa Olson, Walker Thompson, Laura Jones, Karen Hatch, Amy Davidoff, Dallas Smedberg, David Trask, Rick Dawson, Terry Dawson and Vickie Limberger.

1. Call the Meeting to order – The meeting was called to order at 6:30 p.m. by C. French.

2. Pledge of Allegiance

3. Minutes: Review and approve the minutes of the October 5, 2023 meeting – M. Poulin motioned to approve the minutes, seconded by R. Denico; 3-0.

4. Historical Society disposal at Transfer Station – D. Phillips explained that the Historical Society is looking for reinforcement on allowing disposal of materials from the Historical Society at no cost. The Town Manager presented a 1999 memo written by former Town Manager Gary Brown allowing this practice. C. French asked if this request would conflict with the current ordinance. D. Phillips responded no. The Town Manager said that he is willing to support the request. C. French motioned to approve the historical society’s request to dispose of materials at zero cost for one year, seconded by R. Denico; 3-0.

5. Re-establishing an Energy Committee – H. Weidner noted that the Conservation Commission recommended about a year ago that the town appoint a group of people to develop goals and plans regarding the town’s energy needs. When the town examined buying in on solar power this group was very helpful in making a decision. R. Denico motion to reestablish the energy advisory committee, seconded by M. Poulin; 3-0.

6. Town Office Upgrades – The Town Manager reported that next week KSR Technologies of Whitefield will be in the office to provide a complimentary review of the town’s internet and networking capabilities.

7. Review Fire Station Roofing bids – The Town Manager reported two bids were received: Fowler’s Roofing & Construction, $50,000; and James & Whitney Co., $101,200. R. Denico noted that other than aesthetics, it’s possible the roof is fine. W. Thompson said roof is not leaking, however he is unclear as to the overall condition. R. Denico motioned to get a roof inspection, seconded by M. Poulin; 3-0.

8. Fire Department request to purchase appliances – W. Thompson told the board that the fire station needs a new refrigerator and stove. He said Fortin’s Appliance will match competitors’ pricing. R. Denico motioned to approve $2,500 from ARPA funds for the purchase at Fortin’s, seconded by M. Poulin; 3-0.

9. Quarterly Finance Report – The Town Manger presented the quarterly financial reports, showing expense is about 28-percent as of today.

10. Town Website – The Town Manager reported that the “Tiger Team,” a group of residents tasked with making recommendations to the board regarding a new website identified the new site should have the following capabilities: An “alert center” with e-mail and text notifications; community calendar of events; fillable forms; compliant with American with Disabilities Act (ADA); easy to navigate and a “robust” administrative process.

He recommended to hire TownCloud based on his experience working with the vendor, pricing and the ability to meet the above-mentioned capabilities. Aside from the “alert center” all of these areas can be addressed by TownCloud without any change of price to the town - $3,754.80 for three years. Revise charges $5,310 per year. Civic Plus charges $4,758.

D. Phillips encouraged the town to move forward with this proposal. D. Trask noted that the website should be mobile friendly, and text messages can create issues such as people not wanting to be texted and administration challenges.

C. French said that he has heard from people who have struggled financially and didn’t like the recent increase in taxes, adding the Town Manger’s proposal has no real impact to the budget. If the town doesn’t like the new website, we can budget appropriately for a new one, he said.

D. Smedberg asked if a change will create another part-time person that manages the data on fillable forms from the website. The Town Manager said that this can be absorbed with the current staff. C. French motioned to follow town mangers recommendation to hire TownCloud, based on recommendations by the “Tiger Team,” seconded by R. Denico; 3-0.

11. Public Comment at Meetings – C. French said that he asked this discussion to be put on the agenda as the town moves forward with electronically recording meetings. He is apprehensive about allowing hybrid meetings considering some of the problems Hallowell and South Portland have experienced. If the board decided to go with hybrid meetings, public comment would be more structured and he said that he doesn’t want to do that.

R. Denico noted that MMA Legal has offered guidance on this matter, which seems to be similar to the recommendation the town received from the Town Attorney regarding comment on Facebook. A. Davidoff noted that it is good to have more people in the community involved in discussions. This matter will be revisited following a discussion with a network engineer on at the next selectboard meeting Nov. 2.

12. Tax Increment Finance District – The Town Manager reported he spoke with a representative at the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development regarding Municipal Tax Increment Financing. Considering there has been a change at the legislature that allows towns to use up to 50% of TIF funds for municipal buildings tied with economic development, the town would have to change the TIF ordinance to allow that to happen. There must be at least one public hearing and notice must be posted at least 10 days before the meeting, he said. M. Poulin noted that these funds could be a significant source of funding for the transfer station.

13. Recreation Committee Bylaws – The Town Manager said that he is waiting receive clarification from the Town Attorney regarding the personnel handbook. C. French said he has reservations about changing the bylaws until the town receives that clarification.

14. Proposed Personnel Handbook Amendment - C. French said that he believes the board should consider language that allows a bonus for those employees who have capped out on the salary scale and discuss at the next meeting.

15. Review Townwide Survey – The Town Manager provided results from the survey that was mailed out in the tax bills.

16. Reports – Town Manager, Road, Police and Recreation – M. Poulin motioned to approve the reports, seconded by R. Denico; 3-0.

17. Other items as may be presented by the Town Manger or Selectboard – C. French would like the town to have a questions@vassalboro.net set up for the public to ask general questions.

B. Lajoie asked if the selectboard was interested in paving some dirt roads in town, given the paving was done this year under budget. C. French said that he is reluctant given previous discussions with the budget committee. He said he is in favor of carrying forward next year for tax relief. This matter will be discussed in the spring.

18. Sign Warrants – R. Denico motioned to sign accounts payable and payroll warrants, seconded C. French; 3-0.

19. Adjourn – R. Denico motioned to adjourn, seconded by M. Poulin; 3-0.