Calais City Council Meets

By Gwen Clark

 The Calais City Council held their regularly scheduled meeting  following a budget workshop that was held at the Washington County Community College Assembly Room on April 10.  Calais Police Chief David Randall was recognized by Mayor Marianne Moore.  

Chief Randall stated: 

“While we’re talking about budgets, and you know me, I’m not one to rock the boat. But as I’m listening to the budget and everybody is asking some  good questions. Everybody has a hard budget year but unfortunately I’m going to be doing my budget here in a couple weeks and its gone up  $15,000 and I know with the way things are. From what I’m hearing on the street the councils going to be making some big cuts.  We don’t have much time.  I think it would be a lot more fair if the department heads were given  some kind of feedback from the council what they were cutting if anything.  If they are not going to be cutting anything hey that’s great, I don’t want to have to cut. But I’m not going to sit in the corner and cover my eyes because we all know there are budget problems. I think that the beginning of next month you have to figuring how much money you’re going to be giving to the school.  There’s no CIP there we already trashed that last year. Which I think some of you realize now was a mistake.  So I was kind of hoping maybe if we had some time tonight to talk and give me some direction. I’m sure some of the other department heads I mean they’ve already given their budget.  But if you’re going to make cuts, I mean we’re dealing with unions, we need more time.  I know it seems like a few  months but without getting the direction from the council if there’s going to be big cuts or what they’re looking at.  I mean to be honest with the Police Department any big cuts are going to be personnel, I don’t know about the Fire or the Highway Departments.  I mean there is nothing in my budget except for personnel left to attack. You know I don’t want to lose anybody that’s the last thing I want to do.  But I also don’t want to sit in the corner and wait until the last minute then have it sprung on me.  Let’s face it, if there are going to be cuts like that then they should not have a cut.  I just think it would be fair for the department heads and/or the departments if there are  going to be huge cuts that we hear it now.  I’ve sat through all of these budget hearings and everybody asks good questions. I think you’re really going to be pinching pennies. But even though there are questions asked, nobody was saying the hard things that need to be said, if we’re going to be cut then we need to know about it before.  I’m not trying to be a jerk, I talked to Billy about this the other day. I just think you need to have a plan and if you have a plan, you need to know what’s going on.”  

Councilor Mingo: 

“I can’t look at each department separately, like everything that’s been brought up tonight and think okay lets cut this lets cut this lets cut this . . . I have to look at the whole picture.”  

Randall:

 “I mean we all sat around right after this school thing, we’re going to get together we’re going to talk we’re going to move forward, well that went away and everybody had their own little projects that they wanted to deal with and now  we’re here a few months away from the budget and there’s people sitting on pins and needles not knowing what’s going to happen.”  

Howard:

“I told David personally, if I were in his shoes I would prepare.  Personally we had our last school board meeting.”  

Randall:  

“But you can’t prepare, you give me an amount and I can come back and give you three options, the bottom line, to be honest, it’s going to be on you. If something bad happens everybody’s going to know that its the council, the council has to make hard decisions and I understand that it sucks.”

Howard:  

“I can only tell you what happened at the school liaison meeting and a couple of us said that we are going to vote to give them the same amount that we gave them last year, and there is no CIP money.”

The Calais police budget has yet to be presented in a workshop to the council.  According to the expense summary report from city hall,  this past year the Police departments budget  was $710,404.00. 

The consent agenda was passed for the following: previous meetings minutes, monthly departmental report, Chase Fund for April for $150; Treasurers warrants for the City through April 9, 2014 $195,650.91; Treasurers warrants for the school through April 9, 2014 for $423,976.62 and the Treasurers warrant for water through April 9, 2014 for $13,843.66.  The City Managers report, Manager Barnes shared that there would be an Open House on Friday April 18 from 2 to 5PM  at the City Building for Tammy Ginn. Committee reports included Finance Committee none, Property Committee  none, Public Safety Committee, Councilor Dwelley reported that they had met last week and discussed several issues including fireworks and the possible ordinance establishment,  dog complaints which both are still in the process of further research, a guardrail placement for Garfield Street and the Public Works Department has a section of guard rail that can be placed in that area. The Public Works Committee none. 

School Liasion Committee: Councilor Howard spoke about the choice of funding the schools for the same amount as last year, however, the schools would still be having a shortfall which they would have to act on with cuts in their budget.  

Howard:

“The teachers have been working with us. The schools are going to have to take a hit, everyone is going to have to take a hit on this. I personally will not raise taxes I didn’t want to do it last year.  We should have made the cuts last year and we would still have the money in the CIP.” 

Economic/Community Development Committee: Mingo stated his concern with the International Festival Committee.  He has met with the Calais side of the International Committee and sees that there is a definite need for volunteers for sub committees to get and keep the festival intact. There are some legitimate concerns in the dealing between both committees but the Calais side is committed to the continuance of the Festival.  Anyone who wishes to assist the International Committee needs to get in touch with a member ASAP.   The joint Calais/St Stephen City Councils and the Baileyville Town Council  will be meeting together on April 17 at the Washington County Community College.  

Calais is also looking into an LL Bean outlet store for the area and plans to request letters of support from the surrounding communities as well.

Joan Perry of the CDRC  gave a brief report concerning their activities including an open forum at the City Building on April 29th with Hugh French from the Quoddy Tides Institute in Eastport speaking at City Hall at 6 PM with a question and answer period to follow.  A discussion on Meridian Park and an idea from Jim Porter on a possible trellis for the water fountain on Main Street was considered.  A voluntary road toll request to change the date  for the St. Croix #1 Fire House was approved for this past weekend.  

New Business Charter Amendments were brought to Attorney David Fletcher and he reminded the councilors to get copies of possible amendments and requests to him. The Washington County Community College Agreement extension by the Calais Police Department was decided to  extend the contract to the end of June pending the budget outcome.  Sewer abatement and Ambulance and water write-offs were motioned to be accepted.  The Chamber of Commerce/Calais Recreation Department 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament during the summer July 26th was approved. The Calais Rotary Club Sunday Funday for the youth in the community was also approved.   The application of the 2013 Homeland Security Grant for responder safety regionally was accepted.  It establishes an absolute regional channel for radio  communication service without interference  or conflict from other channels.  The Council Roundtable discussion included issues concerning recent Calais Hospital problems and the need for solution to resolve the problem.  The idea that the Schools and the Hospital are both vital to the community in maintaining the Economical Development in the area.