2. Monthly Police Department Presentation: Police Chief Duane Alexander will be present to discuss how his department is operating, and to answer any questions.
2a. Report on Monday Morning Structure Fire at Apartment Building at 56 Pritham Avenue (former Odd Fellows Hall): A ~3:00 AM fire call Monday morning resulted in a struggle to extinguish a fire at the aforementioned structure. Departments from Shirley, Monson, Sangerville, and Dover-Foxcroft were called to the scene. No one was hurt in the fire, except for one of Greenville’s firemen, who slipped on the ice and hurt his back. Greenville and the aforementioned mutual aid departments did an excellent job containing the fire and saving several nearby structures. I have asked Fire Chief Mike Drinkwater to give a brief report on this fire to the Selectmen. As of this draft, the owners of the building (who live in Castine) have yet to be contacted. I am exploring options for what can be done with the now demolished building and vacant lot: if there are any grant or loan funds available which might help the owners or the Town in this matter, I think we should explore them fully.
3. Federal Fire Department Grant Program: Last year, the Greenville Fire Department applied for funds through a new federal program to pay for new equipment and apparatus (no trucks). Unfortunately, Greenville did not receive these funds. The program now has more funding in it, and the application process is nearing (March 1 through April 1, 2002). Fire Chief Mike Drinkwater and I have discussed the application process and what would make sense for the Fire Department to apply for. Our Fire Chief will be present to discuss his recommendations, which I support, including what equipment to be sought and at what cost to the Town in terms of local match. Unfortunately, fire station buildings are not eligible through this grant program.
4. Update on Public Works Garage Project: Public Works Foreman Mike Thornton and I are working on a checklist of items left to be completed in the renovation of the existing building in the Junction. Contractor Bob Ifill, who is months behind in the schedule he set for himself, still has ~10-15% of the job left to complete, and has yet to be paid the last 25% payment of his contract. As per our agreement, a full 25% will be held until final completion and final inspection. Mike Thornton and I will present our findings for what is left to be done, any issues with the work to date, and our recommendations for how to proceed.
5. Labor Issues: As per our previous two meetings, I explained to the Board of Selectmen that in preparation of the budget, I would first approach the Board with specific capital budget requests, and specific labor requests pertinent to the budget. The first meeting in February was meant to discuss capital issues; the second meeting is intended for discussion of labor issues. Although there was little resolution of the majority of the capital issues at the last meeting, I believe I have received sufficient input to prepare a draft budget for your consideration: specific items such as the municipal building project and the replacement of a truck in Public Works will be brought to the Board’s attention at a subsequent meeting.
The following are numerous wage and salary issues which I want to bring directly to the Board’s attention for consideration, prior to discussions with the Budget Committee. I told you last year in my budget address that I perceive our employees do a superior job for average or below average pay which is eroded each year by the increasing employee-share of health insurance premiums. Although the old adage is true that “no one is irreplaceable”, it is also a reality that replacing well-trained, knowledgeable employees can cause reductions in the level of customer service, reductions in overall productivity, and increase costs of training and time to complete required tasks. My message to you as Board members is to recognize the investment the Town has in certain employees, and make efforts to continue to retain these employees. I know that the appeal for higher wages and better benefits in other locations has been of keen interest to several of our long-time employees in recent months. My proposals here are an effort to reward quality work with quality wages, slow the bleed out of expenses to employees as a course of doing work for the Town, and to reward loyalty and longevity of employment with the Town of Greenville.
A. Medical Insurance Costs
6. Full-Time Fire Chief Position: Fire Chief Mike Drinkwater made a presentation to the Board last year, advocating for the position of full-time, paid fire chief. Mike’s proposal was well-received by the board in regard to the value of having such a position, but the cost to the budget was too high for the Selectmen to recommend the position. Mike has approached me about this position again this year, and I have encouraged him to write up a detailed proposal which he can present to the Board. He will have this by the Selectmen’s meeting, and will be present to discuss it in detail. My recommendation to the Board is two-fold: (1) Recognize the ever-increasing need for a position which would manage not only fire department records and mandates, but would also prepare and maintain our disaster plan, organize our radio communications in all departments, and pre-plan building fires and rescue calls; and (2) To the extentthat you agree these are necessary and beneficial functions for a new position, agree to implement the plan in whole or in part, for this budget or over time. I urge you to debate the merits of this proposal, and to send it along to the budget committee for further consideration before finalizing your decision.
7. Flood Insurance Ordinance Fee Structure: Dick Gould has been informed by the State of Maine that in order for our recently-adopted Flood Plain ordinance to be valid, it requires a fee structure. Dick will be present to explain more about this seemingly purposeless mandate with which he and I are trying to comply.
8. MDOT Project Solicitation Form: The MDOT is updating its means of soliciting information about road and bridge projects. It has a form for prioritizing projects. I am familiar with the planned projects in our community, and those in the region, as I am a current and long-time member of the MDOT Regional Transportation Advisory Committee (RTAC) for Region #3. I will present these priorities to you, and ask that you authorize our Board Chairman to sign the form for submission to the MDOT.
9. Resolution, Supporting the Continued Operation of the East-West Railline: As there is an impending sale of the B&A line, I feel it is important for the Town to adopt this proposed resolution.
10. Tax Abatement Request – Greenville Steam Company: This has been discussed twice before at meetings of the Board of Assessors. I will have more information for you, and I urge you to select a course of action at this meeting.
11. Tax-Reform Legislation: I presented this information to you at the last Board meeting, and no action was taken. On Tuesday, February 19, there will be a legislative hearing on this proposal in Augusta. I will attend this hearing and report back to you at this scheduled meeting. If you wish for more information about the proposal, State and Federal Relations Director for the Maine Municipal Association Geoff Herman has offered to meet with you at your next meeting (March 6) to present the current proposal. I have tentatively accepted his offer to meet with the Board of Selectmen as I see this as an excellent opportunity for the Board to become better informed about this important legislation. I have prepared a resolution for the Board’s consideration which supports the proposed legislation.
12. Town Manager’s Two-Year Review – Executive Session: At my first-year review, the Board gave me some very cursory comments on my performance, which by the accounts given was and is acceptable. No further comments were given. As I am approaching my two-year anniversary, and as the Board is scheduled to discuss labor issues in regard to the new budget, I wish to begin my two-year review at this time.
13. Proposed Water District Rate Increase: As you know, Consumer Maine Waters is proposing a nearly 12% increase in water rates, including hydrant fees. President Judy Kelly has offered to come and to meet with the Board to answer any questions about their proposal, which is currently before the PUC. Attached is a notification from the utility, explaining the process for the rate increase. There is a short window for the Town to act to intervene in this matter. Please advise me how or if the Board wants to fight this increase. From what I know of reasons for the increase and the process to object to it, I recommend taking no action on the proposal.