Calais City Council Hears Website Progress

By Gwen Clark

The Calais City Council held their regular monthly meeting  at the City Building on February 13.  Councilors in attendance were: Tom Parks, Billy Howard, Marcia Rogers, Artie Mingo and Anne Nixon.   The consent agenda that was passed unanimously contained approval for the previous minutes, monthly Departmental Reports, Treasurers warrants for the City, School and Water through February 12, 2014, the Chase Fund of $150 for February and approval for the Calais Fire Association for a Snowmobile Parade, bonfire, skating and food for February 21st.

The City Manager had nothing to report and under Committee Reports the Finance, Property, Public Safety, Public Works and School Liason Committees had no reports.   The Economic/Community Development Committee with Councilor Mingo  reported that they had met with several members and with the CRDC members and discussed some issues and work that had been done on the website.   The importance and significance of using the adopted City Logo in everything that was related to the city was discussed and stressed.   "Making the website more personable for visitors to the website," Mingo stated was expressed by the group.   A discussion with the creator of the website  concerning  making the website more user friendly as well as moving on to the second phase in marketing the area.  The developer will be gathering a number of proposals, ideas, and suggestions for adding the marketing phase and its cost for the city as well.  A four page brochure to be made available for interested parties in settling or operating a business in the area as well.  Councilor Rogers inquired as to whether the schools would be included in those brochures to give people an insight into the school system in the community.   

Mingo suggested that:  "Let the website do its job"  and the schools  could be included on that.   

Mayor asked:  "Did you talk about banners?"   

Mingo:  "We talked about everything, This is our logo now and everything has to be the same."

Under  New Business: Suggested Board and Committee Appointments were reviewed.   Most of the candidates were renewal appointments for terms that have expired or  were coming up for expiration.  Jim Porter stated  that he had contacted all of the people and they had expressed that they wish to be reconsidered for renewal.   Billy Howard suggested that they break down the appointments for discussion.  

Anne Nixon asked if the two newly recommended appointments would be replacing  others. Howard made a motion to accept the following Board Members, their respective Boards for renewal and their month and year of expirations:    Planning Board:   Dick Ramsey  11/16; Gail Wahl 11/16, Bill Cody 9/16 and Everett Libby (Alt.) 9/16.  Zoning Board of Appeals:  Andrew Tickle 9/16 and Ronald Hanbury 9/16;  Revolving Loan Board- Everett Libby 9/16 and Charlie McAlpin 12/16  Moving Joe Moses to a full voting member;  Board of Assessment Review:  Ronald Hanbury  9/16;  School District Trustees- John Smith  6/16;  Nick DelMonaco, Jr  1/17 and Pam Bridges 5/15.  It was seconded by Marcia Rogers.  Councilor Nixon had asked if the vacant positions had been advertised or how they exactly came to be available and Jim Porter explained that C. Louis Bernardini as alternate on the Revolving Loan Board and Chris Bernardini on the Assessment Review Board had expressed an interest in serving on those Boards although they could advertise those vacancies.  The motion passed with Councilors Howard, Rogers, Mingo and Nixon voting in favor of approving the selected seats.  

Parks voted against and stated:   "I guess I didn't get my question in in time but what would happen if those vacant positions were not filled?"   

Nixon made a motion to not act on the two recommended positions and to advertise for public interest in those positions before voting to fill them.   Howard seconded the motion.   All councilors voted in favor of that motion.

Other new business items: The Health Officer appointment of Jim Porter who had the required State Certification,  with an expiration date of term for 2/17, motion to accept by Howard and seconded by Parks.   A unanimous decision by all Councilors.   A recommendation to re-allocate $105,000 from the Economic Development Loan Fund to the Revolving Loan Fund for the purpose of providing match for the facade grants and funding the State Cinema Loan.  Steve Leackfeldt has applied for a $15,000 loan to assist with an upgrade to digital projection at the theater.  Without the upgrade,  the theater would have to close because new 35MM films are quickly being phased out and thus first run movies at the theater have become a rarity.  His total investment will be $165,000 and the loan board has approved  this loan pending availability of funds.  Howard made the motion to reallocate the funds and Rogers seconded.   A unanimous ruling was given by the Council members.   Dawson Fund expenditures were also unanimously approved for the designation of $1,200 for the annual floating dock expense and hiring divers to locate an old mooring and the authorization to expend $7,000 for the City’s annual contribution to the Princeton Airport to be designated as follows:  $4,000 for operations and maintenance and $3,000 towards their reserve account.

Ambulance write-offs in the amount of $5,010.20 total with $919.00 due to debtor deceased and no probated estate and the balance due to debtors residing in Canada which these will be sent to collections as well as one water debt of $202.70 for collections were approved with Howard voting against.  A discussion involving having electricity installed in the office at the Landfill Station and using maintenance funds to do so was approved as well unanimously.   The withdrawal from the Police CIP-Cruiser in the amount of $531.25 for reimbursement to Trident Insurance for over payment of sales tax was approved.  A Library Benefit Line over expenditure due to a turnover in staff as the Assistant Librarian  position is now covered for health, dental, income protection, retirement and basic life insurance instead of what was originally budgeted as dental, income protection and basic life insurance only.  There will be an over expenditure of $677.37 in Life/Retirement line and over spent by $6,614.61 in the Health/Dental/IPP line.   The authorization of the over expenditure was approved.  The Summer Food Service Program was brought up for review in order to get approval for running the program again this summer.  The last item on the agenda was Tax Acquired property. There were several requests on foreclosed properties for making payment arrangements.   

Mayor Moore stated:  "It has always been our policy to not accept payments on foreclosed properties or enter arrangements that’s been our policy for years."  The Administrations recommendation to authorize that these properties be advertised for sale by sealed bids and to also authorize the city treasurer to accept full payment from property owners, if received before bids are due on any of these properties and issue quitclaim deeds for the same.   City Attorney David Fletcher explained how the law worked on foreclosed properties and insurance issues pertaining to these properties to the Council.  

Howard asked:  "So do we kick these people out of these homes or what?   Is there any way to extend that time for them?  I'm thinking  give them sixty days."  A motion was made and carried to give the homeowners an extended sixty days of time.

Bill Condon inquired as to if he would be able to be refunded the monies that he has paid for sewer bills at property for past three years that the City of Calais accepted but yet did not recognize him as the property owner.   

City Attorney Fletcher said:  "It sounds like litigation to me ladies and gentlemen."    

Condon:  "I have a right to seek that money back."

Councilors roundtable included Rogers requesting that a monthly report at Council Meetings  may be able to be made by CDRC members to keep the Council involved and interested.   Mingo gave a brief update on the Nashs Lake water levels and dam issue.