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City Council 4/6/2021 Meeting Summary

The meeting was called to order half an hour late because the Council was in executive session.

Councilor Lucas Lanigan led the Pledge of Allegiance and asked for a moment of silence.

Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio gave a brief update on her work with the Mayors Coalition. She has testified twice in the legislature about municipal revenue sharing. Other areas the Coalition focuses on include homelessness, housing and broadband expansion.

In Subcommittee reports, Mayor Mastraccio said the Land Bank Authority has decided to demolish the duplex at 12 Proulx Ct. in Springvale, as it would cost more to clean out and repair than it is worth. The land will be sold to recoup the cost of demolition. Sanford’s emergency ordinance (i.e. the mask ordinance) lapsed in March, and the Public Safety Subcommittee chose not to seek renewal, as the Governor’s executive orders are sufficient to deal with any issues. The Fire Station Feasibility Working Group discussed and finalized a survey to be disseminated to the community, addressing concerns and perceptions relating to our fire stations and our future needs.

In his report, City Manager Steven Buck updated the Council on the latest Covid-19 data. He said Sanford paramedics are conducting mobile Covid vaccination clinics every Tuesday afternoon throughout York County, giving 500 shots each time, and the City is getting lots of compliments on their efficiency. He announced that the deadline for filing property tax exemptions, including the Homestead Exemption, has been extended. See separate story. He reported that the state’s biennial budget was passed by the legislature with no reduction in EPS (Essential Programs & Services) for the schools. Municipal Revenue Sharing is set at the current 3.75%, but there will be a proposed supplemental budget to increase it to 5%. This is projected to increase state funding for Sanford schools by $530,000.

Barbara Crider, Executive Director of York County Community Action, gave a presentation. See separate story.

Superintendent of Schools Matt Nelson gave a lengthy presentation on the school budget which was recommended by the Budget Committee last week. The Council voted unanimously to approve it and approved the warrant to call for the June 8 referendum.

There was no public participation.

Public hearings were held on renewals of four marijuana grower/cultivator licenses: Vetted Cannabis Company LLC, located at 1609 Main Street; and Northeast Exotics, Botanical Compost LLC, and Mr. Green Thumb, all located at 72 Emery Street. There was no public comment, either for or against, and the renewals were granted without discussion.

The second reading of the proposed amendment to the Solid Waste ordinance was held, which would raise the price of a sleeve of Pay-As-You-Throw trash bags from $13.50 to $14.50. Councilor Lanigan asked if it wouldn’t be better to distribute the increased cost of dealing with our solid waste and recyclables over the entire tax base, including businesses, rather than just single-family homeowners. Councilor Ayn Hanselmann replied that the exact opposite would happen with the increase. She said that since some residents create a lot of trash, and some very little, it puts the cost on the actual user as opposed to the single-family homeowner. Councilor Bob Stackpole concurred. “The less you generate, the less you pay,” he said, and pointed out that the amendment was unanimously recommended by the Solid Waste Subcommittee. Mr. Buck calculated that, for the average homeowner who uses one large trash bag a week, the increase would amount to $10.40 for the entire year. The amendment passed unanimously.

The Council approved a short-term land lease with Wanzek Construction for a temporary construction laydown area for the Sanford Airport Solar project. Airport Manager Allison Navia explained that some minor construction remained that couldn’t be finished before last winter, and that the three-month lease for Wanzek’s base of operations should be sufficient, but if there were any delays, the lease would be renewable on a monthly basis for up to six months.

The Council approved an Overlimit Permit for the Maine Department of Transportation to bring some extra-heavy equipment into Sanford for work on two road projects this year. One project is on Route 109 south of the traffic circle, to Wells. The other is on Route 202, from just past the hospital to Alfred.

Mayor Mastraccio reappointed Councilor Lanigan to the Subcommittee assignments he was removed from in February after a controversy about a Facebook post. “I want to thank Councilor Tuttle and Councilor Martell for stepping up in his place, and welcome back Councilor Lanigan,” she said. [Editor’s note: Councilor Lanigan posted on Facebook last week that he planned to settle with the city, as the legal costs necessary to keep fighting his removal would be prohibitive.]

Sanford Recreation Coordinator Lori Hegarty gave a short presentation on summer activities. After some discussion of possible problems with groups who don’t follow Covid guidelines, the Council voted to authorize the Parks and Recreation Department to fully open parks, trails, sports fields and recreational facilities to the public, and to run day camps and other events. Any groups utilizing City fields and facilities must submit a COVID-19 safety plan for approval when making a reservation. Councilor John Tuttle thanked Ms. Hegarty for her thirty years (so far!) of service to Sanford.

There was some contentious discussion about a Resolution in support of Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging. The Resolution would encourage the Maine Legislature to work on developing a policy to encourage greater use of recycled materials in packaging, by creating incentives for producers to use it, or disincentives for not using it. Councilor Lanigan said the end result would be the consumer would pay more, and called it “just another hidden tax.” Councilor Jonathan Martell said the resolution was well-intentioned but that he agreed with Councilor Lanigan. Councilor Hanselmann and Mayor Mastraccio expressed concern about the Council weighing in on statewide matters that didn’t specifically concern Sanford. The Resolution failed on a vote of 2-5.

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