Council Cancels Referendum Date

By Gwen Clark

A regular monthly Calais City Council Meeting was held Thursday September 12 in Council Chambers. The Consent Agenda was accepted as presented with the exception of the Junk in The Trunk Request which was considered and approved later in the regular agenda with the side walk sale fees for businesses were waived.  

A very brief Public Hearing for a Liquor License Application as well as a Special Amusement Permit for the new business, Just South Of the Border was held with no discussion or comments from the public attending.  All fees and applications were in order for the business.    A date correction for the Monthly Department Reports on the Water Bill report.

Under Old Business: There were two items brought up by City Manager Diane Barnes in the City Manager’s Report.  The first was on the summer food program that was set up through the Recreation Department for kids meals throughout the summer months.  There was a daily average of 37 students in June, in July a daily average of  53, and in August the average was  51 students.  The total expenses for the program were  $9,372.88.  The total reimbursement from  federal government was $9,373.02.  There was also a reimbursement from Alexander who had purchased the balance of food left over for  $205.41.  Next year’s program will begin with a credit balance of $205.63 and was deemed a success for the season.  The target number needed was 50 as an average in order for the program to possibly continue for another year and lunches were also transported to other communities for distribution at their sites to benefit students  there as well.  The overall program was run via the Cooperative Extension program at the University of Maine,  Machias.

The second item was that the City had received notice from the USDA Application for the Nursing Home feasibility study  that it was not granted to Calais.  It was noted on the letter of denial  “eligible but does not have the priority necessary  for consideration”.  Other means of funding the project will have to be sought out in order to acquire the necessary information in order to continue forward in obtaining a Nursing Home in the Calais Area.

The Committee Reports consisted of no reports from all of the following committees: finance, property, Public Safety, public works, school liason, and economic/community.  

Upon prompting by Mayor Moore: “Do you want to report maybe a little bit on the status on where we are?”  

Councilor Bernardini responded:  “We are still in talks with Southard-Westin with reports on the marketing plan and  the target date for completion is the end of October probably.”  

Jim Porter confirmed:  “We should have that website up at about that time.”

There was no public input on any of the agenda Items.  An amended agenda to discuss the new revenue projection and discussion of the date for the referendum change for the school budget was approved to be added in.  

City Attorney David Fletcher:  “I was talking  with the new Superintendent today about an issue having to do with their budget  and he’s  concerned about the revenue side of the published amounts being  inaccurate.  And from my standpoint I know that there was a  case a few years ago that went to court because of a bonding issue where  the allegation was that their referendum was illegal because their numbers were inaccurate and since the board  members did not know and it has just been confirmed that there’s been just over the last few days since the last meeting that you may rescind the action for having a referendum and by publishing figures that you know are inaccurate would be asking for trouble.”  A special Council Meeting will be called to set a new referendum date once the issue is resolved with the schools.  The school committee will be holding a meeting on Thursday evening at 6 PM at the high school library.     

New Business otherwise began with the approval of various unpaid Water and Ambulance Bills write-offs.  All were voted in approval with the exception of Councilors Howard and Nixon.   

Howard:  “I would like the Public to know that this is part of that service  we provide, three of these are from Canada and one is from New Jersey that we’re probably not getting any money for.”  

Bernardini:  “If you’re voting against it, then the books aren’t looking the way they’re supposed to.” “Just so the Public knows that’s what being voted against we’re voting to clean up the books.”   

The Award of the Bid for the winter sand was given to Donavon’s Construction with a delivery option for $16,900.   

Howard:  “Any reason you think that we’re only getting two bids?”    

2013 CWSRF Loan Principal forgiveness the City was originally awarded $300,000 for the Pleasant Street Sewer replacement project.  The DEP notified the city that someone did not take the grant fund and so $5000 more was reallocated to the City Of Calais.  Approval was given to accept the total amount given.

The authorization for the ambulance line of credit to remain open passed, it had been dormant for several years and it currently has a zero balance.  The line of credit is for $800,000.    

Mingo:  “Have we used this before and if it was used would the Council be notified?”  The answer was no but if it was used the City Manager would update the council during the City Managers’ report.   The General Funds line of credit was also in need of renewing with the amount of $900,000 limit and has been in use.  The motion carried with two oppositions.  The awarding of a bid to Dan Benashe for the replacement of the community center roof  for  $ 12,500.      In an earlier council meeting in the week Councilor Parks had requested  if the Recreation Director had checked for a price from the WCCC for metal roofing and he had not done so.   The council also approved authorizing the school to expend and additional 1/12 of the school budget for operating for another month.     

City Manager Barnes: “I think  its going to have go under the $8,429,000. Am I right David because we didn’t rescind that, it would be 1/12 of that.”  A bill for the Calais  School Department  that was submitted for reimbursement  for $17,319.00 as part of the AOS bill and will be credited from the negative fund balance for last year.     

Fletcher:  “The term Fund Balance is reflective of the municipal budget as a whole, the Police Department, the School Department etc . . .” 

The last item on the Agenda was the award for the bids of the Project Canopy Grant which dealt with replacement trees that would be dispersed throughout the city to replace old ones that did not survive.  They will planted this fall to begin early growth.