The Sanford City Council met January 3, 2023. Councilor Jonathan Martell was absent with notice.
The meeting began with the Council accepting the resignation of Councilor Becky Brink. Ms. Brink was then sworn in as Mayor by City Clerk Sue Cote. Mayor Brink thanked her family for their support and help with the election. She said she was honored to be the fourth Mayor of Sanford and thanked the previous Mayors for their service. She thanked City Manager Steven Buck and city staff for bringing us through the pandemic, and the volunteers and organizations who provided assistance to those in need during that time. “I look out today and see a proud history,” she said. “I stand here today as your Mayor and I make one solemn promise…we will continue to build this great city, and leave it better, strong, fairer and more prosperous than we found it.”
Ms. Cote then swore in new Councilor Pete Tranchemontagne and reelected Councilor Bob Stackpole.
City Manager’s Report
Training: Mr. Buck apprised the Council of training opportunities offered by the Maine Municipal Association. The training sessions include a workshop for newly elected officials, and a presentation on the legislative process from A to Z. The training sessions are being held via Zoom so they will not have to travel to Augusta.
Airport Improvements: Mr. Buck said Airport Manager Allison Navia reported that the final elements of the utilities are being completed on Phase 2 of the Presidential Lane extension. “The demand for these newly developed lots has been even greater than anticipated,” he said. There is interest in building two more multi-unit hangars will which store an additional 16 to 20 aircraft, and there is also interest in two of the large commercial hangar sites. If those are developed, it will leave only four pre-permitted lots in Phase 2.
Flavored tobacco: Mr. Buck reported that South Portland, Portland, Brunswick and Bangor have banned the sale of flavored tobacco, and there is legislation coming forward to ban flavored tobacco products statewide. Five other states have already enacted such bans, in response to the rise in use of these products by teens. He will keep the Council updated on this issue.
Stenton Trust: Mr. Buck reported that WinnDevelopment has submitted its site plan application to the City for the redevelopment of the long-vacant Stenton Trust mill building on River St. He said the application is more than 5,000 pages long and represents a substantial investment by the company.
Communications / Presentations
Fire Department: Fire Chief Steve Benotti, who is retiring at the end of next week, made a presentation on the status of the Fire Department. He reported the following statistics for 2022:
- The SFD had 4,415 calls for service during the year, up 7% from the previous year and 14.5% over the past five years.
- There were 80 calls for fires, including 38 structure fires.
- The Department responded to 228 motor vehicle crashes.
- There were almost 3,300 medical calls during the year, which represents about 74% of all responses.
- 1,841 calls overlapped each other, meaning the Department was responding to more than one call at the same time. This is 41.7% of total calls.
- The SFD provided mutual aid to other departments on 126 occasions, and received mutual aid 40 times.
- SFD personnel received about 4,300 hours of training in 2022.
Chief Benotti thanked the City for the opportunity to lead the Department for the past eight years. He thanked the Sanford Police Department, the dispatch center and all the other departments that work together to keep things running. He talked about the two strategic planning summits the SFD held, in 2014 and 2022, to plan for the future, and the progress in modernizing equipment and training that has been made because of that planning. However, he said, there is still much to be done to meet the needs of the City and the Department, including new facilities and better pay to aid in recruitment and retention of employees. He said one firefighter/EMT recently pointed out to him that he could make $2 an hour more as a grocery picker at Walmart. He said the staff endures despite low pay and unsafe facilities because they are dedicated, but he said it is getting harder and harder to attract employees. “I urge you in the strongest terms to take action on the fire stations,” he said.
Despite these challenges, he reported that Sanford is a leader in the region on firefighter safety and rapid intervention. The Department is far ahead of others in the state and in the country on active shooter training. The Fire Marshal’s office is “light years ahead” of the state in getting plans reviewed, which aids local businesses and developers. Work on response models, which identifies which apparatus should be sent to which calls, has begun. This helps the Department be as efficient as possible. He said the core of the SFD was in great shape, and the caliber of the employees is second to none.
Mayor Brink thanked him for the comprehensive report and his service and leadership to the community.
Bill Brink congratulated Councilors Tranchemontagne and Stackpole, and thanked the citizens for electing his wife as Mayor. “I think she’ll do a pretty good job,” he quipped.
Hazen Carpenter thanked Mr. Buck and the Council for their support of the trail system. In response to statements made at the last meeting that the Rail Trail is being damaged by the heavy weight of ATVs, he said that the weight is not the problem. He said the former railroad bed was built about a hundred years ago and used to carry thousands of tons in freight. Grading of the trail is done with a bulldozer weighing 30 tons. He said ATVs damage the trail due to the suspension and the tire treads. A vehicle that is designed to go over rocks and stumps churns up a smooth surface, creating ruts and driving the sand and gravel into the drainage ditches on either side. He said that ATVs and the Rail Trail can never be made compatible. He called the Rail Trail a fantastic greenway for people to use for a great outdoor adventure, to be admired by any state.
There were no public hearings, and no old business.
Election of Deputy Mayor: Councilor Maura Herlihy was unanimously elected as Deputy Mayor. There were no other nominations.
Budget Review Schedule: Mr. Buck presented the proposed schedule for review of next year’s budget. He and Finance Director Ronni Champlin will be meeting with City department heads through the month of January. They will deconstruct the entire budget and build it back up from scratch to create an initial proposed budget. The first workshop with the City Council to go over both City and School budgets will be Tuesday, January 31. Based on the Council’s priorities and feedback from that workshop, Mr. Buck and Ms. Champlin will then reconstruct the budget to reflect those priorities. The Council will then take up the budget in more detail at four workshops in March. Mr. Buck had proposed to hold these workshops on Thursday evenings, but the Council decided instead to do it on Tuesdays from 4:00 to 6:00 pm. On the dates of regular City Council meetings, any executive sessions would be held after the regular meeting, instead of before as is usually done. A public hearing will be held March 14. On April 4, the Council will hold one last workshop if necessary, then vote to authorize the municipal budget and approve the school budget that will go before voters in June.
City Council Meetings: The Council voted to continue holding its regular meetings on the first and third Tuesdays of each month, with adaptations for holidays.
Compensation: The Council voted to keep the same annual compensation of $4,000 per Councilor and $5,000 for the Mayor. (The City Charter requires the Mayor’s compensation to be 25% more than the Councilors’.)
Committee Assignments: The Council approved the following Subcommittee assignments:
- Municipal Operations and Property: Mayor Brink (chair) Deputy Mayor Herlihy and Councilor Ayn Hanselmann
- Public Safety: Councilor Hanselmann (chair), Mayor Brink and Councilor Martell
- Zoning: Councilor Stackpole (chair), Deputy Mayor Herlihy and Councilor Martell
- Solid Waste: Councilor Stackpole (chair), Councilor Tranchemontagne and Deputy Mayor Herlihy
- Contract Negotiation: Mayor Brink, Deputy Mayor Herlihy, Councilor Stackpole
Councilors were also appointed to the following boards and committees:
- Land Bank Commission: Mayor Brink (chair), Deputy Mayor Herlihy, Councilor Tranchemontagne
- Fire Station Feasibility Working Group: Mayor Brink (chair), Councilor Tranchemontagne, Deputy Mayor Herlihy
- Dam Coalition: Deputy Mayor Herlihy, Councilor Tranchemontagne, City Manager Buck
- Airport Advisory Committee: Mayor Brink
- Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council Board of Directors: Councilor Hanselmann
- Oakdale Cemetery Board of Trustees: Deputy Mayor Herlihy
Board and Committee Appointments: The Council approved the following appointments to City boards and committees: (incumbents indicated by *)
- Airport Advisory Board: Stuart Miller*, James Deyermond*, William Grant
- Land Bank Commission: Joe Sevigny*
- Planning Board: Jack McAdam*, Jace Clarke, Kyle Landry, Crystal Tenney*, Lenny Horr*
- Recreation Advisory Board: Michael Perry*, Kristi King, Jessica Light, Jeff Doiron, Tiffany Moreau, Heidi Brennan
- Sanford Housing Authority Board of Commissioners: Rebecca Ames*, Michael Jean*
- Trails Development & Urban Forestry Committee: Katie Manende Hall*, Dollie Hutchins*, Hazen Carpenter*, David Parent*
- Design Review Committee (recommendations to Planning Board): Kelly Tarbox*, Tiffany Moreau
Rules: The Council voted to adopt the Rules and Order of Business, commonly called the Rules of Procedure, with two amendments:
- Under Section 41, Section A, the Economic and Community Development Committee was eliminated, because the Council already has representation on the Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council, which serves the same function.
- Under Section 41, Section C, the Council representative to the Sanford Housing Authority was eliminated, pursuant to legal opinion that it was a conflict of interest.
Code of Conduct: The Council voted to adopt the Code of Conduct. Mayor Brink indicated that the Council would be reviewing it at a workshop, and might make changes after that review.
City Hall Room Use: Mr. Buck said the policy governing meeting space in City Hall was in use prior to Covid, but during the pandemic the public was not allowed to use the facilities. Requests are now coming in, and he asked for some amendments to the policy for clarification. The Council approved the following amendments:
- The use of the City Hall was clarified to be for governmental and program-related activities including City and School Department meetings, and secondarily for Municipal, County or State Party Committees for elections. These committees must be registered with the state of Maine.
- Reservation for use of a room in City Hall does not include use of equipment without advanced written approval.
- The City Hall Auditorium is no longer to be used as it does not meet legal requirements for restrooms and accessibility. The Council Chambers and Annex Conference Room are the only spaces available.
- Reservations must be made during regular City Hall business hours, 7:30 am to 5:30 pm, Monday through Thursday.
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