City Council Approves 2017/2018 Budget

By Kaileigh Deacon

 

The city council met at their regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday June 29 at 6pm in council chambers. After a call to order the council unanimously approved the consent agenda. All members were present except Anne Nixon.  The council also unanimously agreed to a change in the order of the public hearings moving the rezoning of a lot of Palmer Street lots the first position. 

The first public hearing was on the rezoning of lots on Palmer Street from R-1 to R-1P. The rezoning is in request to a bid on the lot to potentially build a VA clinic in that location. There were community members including residents of that area, and people from the VA on hand to speak. Residents of the area were concerned about what rezoning would mean. It would allow clinics on the rezoned lots. 

The residents got up to express their concerns about what this rezoning and the building of the facility would mean. They were concerned about the drainage, spot zoning, light and noise pollution a facility like this might create also the increase in the traffic on the road. 

Bob Greenlaw: I don’t think anyone here is opposed to having this facility but we feel it’s the wrong spot to have it. 

There were also several people in support of the facility in the audience who expressed their views. The rezoning of the lots in question does not guarantee that the new clinic would be built in that location but it would open the site up to the possibility of the clinic being built there. 

Geel: We need to address these concerns. If we address these concerns then I’m in favor of it. I’m in favor of it because I think we need these services and it’s in my neighborhood and it may not be a perfect fit but do we want to take a chance of losing these services to the veterans in our area. It’s a tough decision.

Following the public hearing the council voted on the rezoning of this property. The vote to allow the rezoning was unanimous and passed. 

The second public hearing was on the 2017-2018 Budget. There were budget summaries on hand for those in attendance to view. After opening it to public discussions and there was none, city solicitor Arnie Clark did the reading of the budget lines. After the reading the council approved the budget as written. 

Howard: Just having the school and the city working together they way they have in the last few years is tremendous in and of itself. 

The third public hearing was on the adoption of the changes to the Land Use codes. After no input from the public the council unanimously approved the changes. 

The committee move into old business starting with the city manager’s report. The first item was Porter’s report on the meeting he and Mayor Howard had with the hospital. At this meeting the hospital agreed to meet with the council on a workshop basis. This would mean that the council would be able to ask their questions of the hospital CEO and representatives with no questions from the public though they are invited to attend the workshop. This workshop will be held at 4:30 on July 13 prior to the city council meeting at the St. Croix No. 1 Firehouse. 

Porter then asked that the rules be suspended to add two votes. The first was the awarding of the Cherry Lane demolition bid. The bid was previously awarded to Stanhope Construction who believed it was for both properties and has decided against the one. The council then voted to award the bid to the next bidder which was Richard Mingo Construction with a unanimous voted, with Arite Mingo abstaining from the vote. 

The next item Porter added was the appointment of Kenny Clark as interim fire chief upon Chief Posik’s leaving. The council unanimously agreed to the appointment. He also asked about getting a St. Croix No. 1 Firehouse a meeting with the property committee to discuss the installation of a heating system. This meeting will be scheduled at a later date. 

The economic development committee hasn’t met yet, but they are working on the ATV trails. They also met with the Downeast Economic Corporation. It was mentioned at the meeting the potential of bringing in a company to create our own birthing center with the closure of the OB-GYN. 

Under New Business the council unanimously approved the 2017-2018 Wastewater budget. Under the second item was the ambulance budget. Here Jim Porter advised that he would like to make a change within the lines of the budget but not one that would affect the budget’s bottom line. The change would move $15,000 from the capital outlay line into the education line. This move would allow for the funds to help for EMT training toward becoming a paramedic. The 2017-2018 ambulance budget was approved with the change that Porter requested. The council vote was Geel, Sherrard, Rogers, Mingo, and Moreside for the budget and Howard against. 

The council also unanimously approved the tax and sewer write-offs for a tax acquired property. They also approved the 2017-2018 Dawson Fund expenditures with no changes. Item E from the New Business agenda was removed from the agenda as the approval was no longer needed to authorize the Finance Director to sign contracts as a fill in for Porter. 

The next item was the Sewer Commitment for Quarter ending June 30, 2017. The council unanimously approved this item. The final item under New Business, the Waterfront Pavilion was moved into an executive session. 

Prior to entering executive session the council opened to public comments. Craig Morrison from the Calais Recreation department talked about getting the pool open. He told the council that they were looking at holding a Grand Opening for the newly finished pool sometime after the Fourth of July. He also spoke about the group that came down to help with some projects at the pool. We wanted to extend his thanks and thought the council would like to do the same. 

The next Calais City Council meeting will be held on July 13th at 6pm in the St. Croix No. 1 Firehouse. This will be a regular meeting following the workshop with the hospital CEO and members which will be open to the public to attend.