At the City Council’s regular meeting on December 8, the following items were presented or discussed:
- Mayor Tom Cote began the meeting by giving a shout out to Mr. and Mrs. Claus, Councilors Ayn Hanselmann and Luke Lanigan, the Sanford Police and Fire Departments, Public Works and Parks and Rec, for the Christmas tree lighting at Central Park, and to Sarah Schnell and WSSR-TV for the great video of the event.
- City Manager Steven Buck gave an update on the Covid-19 situation in York County and across the state. Distribution of the Pfizer vaccine is expected to begin on Friday. He said the Sanford Fire Department is being looked at as a possible vaccination location and facilitator for York County.
- Public Works Director Matt Hill presented a review of the 2020 road construction season, and talked about next year’s projects and goals for the future. See separate story.
- The first reading and public hearing on a revision of the Animal Control ordinance was held. The revision would increase the fees for reclaiming an impounded dog to $25 for the first offense, $50 for the second offense, and $75 for the third offense within a one-year period. Police Chief Thomas Connolly said Sanford’s fees have not increased in seven or eight years, and that surrounding towns have higher fees. The goal of the increase is to cover the cost associated with transporting dogs to the shelter in Kennebunk.
- Financial Director Ronni Champlin updated the Council on the city’s financial activity for the first quarter of fiscal year 2020/2021 (July through September). She reported that revenue, including real estate and personal property tax collections, is 6.2% over target year to date. Expenses are 7.8% over target year to date, but that includes a significant amount of encumbrances for future expenses. Without the encumbrances, expenses are 1% under the target. “The 2020/2021 budget has proven, after three months of operations, an accurate reflection of the City’s total costs of service provisions,” she said.
- After lengthy discussion, the Council voted to extend the Emergency Ordinance to Alleviate Community Spread of Covid-19, better known as the mask ordinance, through March 9. Councilor Lanigan cast the lone vote in opposition. Councilor-Elect Jonathan Martell questioned why the ordinance calls for a minimum $100 penalty (after a warning) with no maximum. Police Chief Connolly explained that fine amounts are set by the court, not the city, and have statutory limits.
- The Council voted to authorize the city to seek legal action against the owner of the old Jagger Mill building at 199 Jagger Mill Road, which partially collapsed after the recent storm. The city plans to demolish at least the collapsed part of the building, and possibly the entire thing, and will go through the bid process to award the contract. Authorizing legal action enables the city to seek restitution for the costs involved. Community Development Director Ian Houseal noted that the building was previously declared dangerous by the city. The Land Bank Authority has targeted the property for some time, and recently had the asbestos in the building removed. He added that the electrical service to the building has been disconnected since the collapse, as a safety precaution.
- During Councilor Comments, Councilor Hanselmann gave a shout out to the Sanford Backpack Program, which recently put together about 300 Boxes of Joy with help from many community members. The Boxes of Joy are full of food, household essentials and holiday goodies, and have been distributed to needy families in Sanford and Springvale. Councilor Lanigan reminded everyone that if you don’t feel safe going to the stores, you can still support local businesses by ordering gift cards by phone and having them mailed to you.
- Under Future Agenda Items, Councilor Maura Herlihy said the Public Safety Subcommittee needs to take another look at the city’s social clubs, after hearing reports of maskless karaoke. Mayor Cote reminded residents with complaints about mask wearing to call the Police Department, not the City Council. He also added his own complaint about the quality of the Pay-As-You-Throw trash bags, and requested that Environmental Services find out why it seems to be so difficult for the supplier to get them right.
The full City Council meeting video can be viewed here.