The Sanford City Council met June 21, 2022. It was the first in-person meeting held in almost a year. Councilor Ayn Hanselmann joined via Zoom as she was on vacation. Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Newly elected Councilor Michael Termath was sworn in by City Clerk Sue Cote.
The minutes of the last meeting were approved.
Councilor Hanselmann gave a report on last week’s Public Safety Subcommittee meeting – see this story.
Councilor Bob Stackpole gave a report on the Solid Waste Subcommittee meeting. Two new trash receptacles will be installed, one at the Midtown Mall and one at Number One Pond. He said this is a trial, and if they are not abused, more trash receptacles will be added. He asked that people not attempt to use them to dispose of household trash, as has happened in the past. Bagged dog waste can go in the receptacles. The City is also looking into getting one or more dog bag dispensers, as well as sharps containers for areas where drug users discard needles.
Mayor Mastraccio gave a report on the Municipal Operations and Property Subcommittee meeting – see this story.
Garden Club: Mayor Mastraccio said she attended the Healthy Living Expo at the YMCA. The Southern Maine Garden Club had a table there. “This is the time of year we can see and appreciate all they do to beautify our community,” she said, noting that the Club plants and maintains gardens at Number One Pond, Gateway Park, Springvale Square and the Washington St. island.
Crider Gardens: Mayor Mastraccio and Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy attended the unveiling of the new sign for the Crider Gardens apartments on Amherst St. The building, formerly the Children’s Center, was renovated into eight rental units and named for retiring York County Community Action Executive Director Barb Crider.
Money: She reminded residents that they need to file a 2021 tax return to get a $850 relief check from the state. Free help with filing is available from YCCAC here.
City Manager’s Report
Community Solar: City Manager Steven Buck reported that he participated in a community conference in Augusta and attended the renewable energy panel. He said the state has made solar installations of 5mw or less tax-exempt, which needs to be corrected as it is costing the City of Sanford tax dollars.
Broadband: Mr. Buck also attended a broadband conference where he spoke with the head of the Maine Connectivity Authority and discussed segregating a portion of broadband funds to be directed specifically for business use. Mr. Buck has been asked to write a white paper outlining the differences between residential and business broadband needs.
Board of Assessment Review: The four appointees to the Board received training from legal counsel on June 15, which he said was a very productive session. They will hold their organizational meeting on June 29 to elect a Chair and Vice Chair and establish their rules of procedure.
Communications / Presentations
Recognition of John Tuttle: Mayor Mastraccio presented Ann Tuttle with a Proclamation honoring her late husband, City Councilor and State Representative John Tuttle, with the Sanford, Maine, Spirit of America award. State Senator David Woodsome and Sanford’s other State Representatives, Patty Hymanson and Matt Harrington, presented Mrs. Tuttle with a resolution from the Maine Legislature in his honor.
Growth Council: Mr. Buck introduced Keith McBride, the new Executive Director of the Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council. Mr. McBride has degrees from the Stetson University College of Law and the USM Muskie School of Public Service. He has economic development experience in Westbrook, Auburn and Freeport, and has worked for a planning concern in New Gloucester. Mr. McBride thanked everyone in City Hall for the warm welcome he has received and said in his first week he has been learning about all the projects the Growth Council is currently involved with, and has begun prioritizing them. He plans to meet with each Councilor individually to talk about economic development in more detail.
Westside Village: Public Works Director Matt Hill gave a quick update on the status of the Westside Village project, all of which has now been paved with the binder, or base coat. Crews have started adjusting drainage catch basins and next week the curbs will be installed. Next month the upper end of Twombley Rd. and Kimball St. will have the concrete sidewalks poured. Some on-street parking is now being allowed, but he asked that people continue to park in driveways as much as possible so the project can get done quickly. The contractor estimates substantial completion by October 15.
Public Participation: James Bachelder and other members of the VFW came for Councilor Termath’s swearing-in, but thought the meeting started at 7:00.
Proposed Charter Amendments: Lance Hoenig, Chair of the Charter Review Committee, spoke via Zoom to give a brief overview of the amendments the Committee is proposing, which include the following:
- Eliminating language related to voter approval of the municipal budget. Voter approval of the municipal budget was previously repealed, but this would clean up the language in the Charter to reflect that.
- Expanding the Budget Committee to 17 members, comprised of all seven members of the City Council, all five members of the School Committee, and five members of the public.
- Increasing the percentage of the budget that is set aside for capital improvements from the current 4% to 7.5% by 2037.
- Adding appointment of the City Assessor to the responsibilities of the City Manager, subject to City Council approval.
- Increasing the amount the Council has authority to bond from $250,000 to $1 million.
- Changing the number of Planning Board votes needed for approval, from a majority of those present to a minimum of four.
- Adding definitions for words and phrases that are referenced in multiple places in the charter, including City Office, Department of Education, Municipal Officer, Order, Ordinance and Resolution.
The only public comment came from School Committee member Jonathan Mapes, who said having a quorum of City Councilors and School Committee members on the Budget Committee would be better and more achievable than having all the members. He asked that the City Council consider changing this recommendation.
Under a separate agenda item, The Council voted unanimously to accept the Charter Review Committee’s recommendations under advisement. The Council will review the recommendations over the course of several meetings, not all at once. Another public hearing will be held over the summer. Voters will have the final say in November.
Parking Ticket Enforcement: The Council voted unanimously to approve proposed changes to the City ordinance that will allow the Police Department to have vehicles with three or more unpaid parking tickets towed.
Pride Flag: The Council discussed a request to fly the rainbow flag at City Hall for the last week of June in honor of Pride Month. Councilor Jonathan Martell said he sees it as a political flag, and doesn’t think it is appropriate to fly on public property. Mayor Mastraccio responded that it is appropriate as June was declared Pride Month in the state of Maine. She has purchased a flag and said it will go up the following day if the Council approves. Councilor Hanselmann called the flag a symbol of hope and equality, recognizing diversity and showing that we are a welcoming community. The Council voted 6-1 to approve the request, with Councilor Martell voting no. The Pride flag will take the place of the Maine flag for the week, as there are not enough grommets to fly four flags. Mr. Buck will look into getting a fourth set for the future. The Council was in agreement that a policy should be developed regarding how future flag flying requests are addressed.
Appointments: Jeannie Wood and Aaron Lederer were reappointed as constables. This allows them to serve civil summons for violations of City code on behalf of the City, the Land Bank Authority and the Housing Authority. They have no police power, cannot enforce other laws and do not carry a firearm. Jamie Cole, Alix Horr, Ms. Wood and Mr. Lederer were reappointed as Code Enforcement Officers. Mr. Cole was reappointed as local plumbing inspector, with Ms. Horr, Ms. Wood and Mr. Lederer as alternate plumbing inspectors. All of these appointments are for one year beginning July 1.
Audit Contract: The Council voted to extend the contract with Wipfli for another three years. The contract includes a 5% increase per year. Wipfli does the auditing for the School Department as well. Mr. Buck said putting the service out to bid would end up being more expensive. Wipfli is a national accounting firm with an office in South Portland.
Criminal Forfeiture: The Council voted to accept $737 in criminal forfeiture funds. Deputy Police Chief Eric Small said the funds came from a 2019 case of a suspicious person at a local convenience store, who was found to be in possession of that amount of money. They were charged with aggravated trafficking and ultimately convicted. DC Small said the money would be put toward the purchase of the body cameras (see below).
Streetlight Maintenance: The Council voted to accept a bid for maintenance of the City’s LED streetlights from their manufacturer, Affinity LED. Mr. Hill said this is specialty work that must be done by an electrician who also has a lineman’s license, so his DPW staff cannot do it. The City’s LED lights are still under warranty, but the contract would cover work that falls outside that. The hourly rate for service is $200 during weekdays and $300 on nights and weekends.
Park Lighting: The Council voted to accept a separate bid from Affinity LED to replace the old high pressure sodium lights with LED lighting in parks and on streets, including the following:
- Blouin Field lower parking lot
- High St. side of Carpentier Park
- Benton Park around the building and at the crosswalk to Goodall Park
- Holdsworth Park parking lot
- William Oscar Emery Dr. from the rotary to the Armory
Parks and Recreation Director Brady Lloyd explained that adding new fixtures will create a safer environment, and switching existing fixtures to LED will drastically reduce the City’s electric bill. Mr. Buck said the switch would pay for itself within four years. No new poles will need to be added.
Parks Equipment: The Council voted to purchase two new tractors for Parks and Rec with funds already approved in the 2022/23 Capital Improvements budget. The new John Deere Z920M ZTrak and Ventrac 4520Z machines will replace three older models. One of those will be kept as a backup, while another will be sold to help offset the purchase price.
Road Closures: The Council voted to approve road closures around Number One Pond for a Fall Festival on Saturday, September 24, which is being organized by New Beginnings Christian Church.
Body Cameras: The Council voted to approve the purchase of 42 body cameras for the Police Department, from Axon Enterprises, Inc. DC Small said body cameras are viewed as foundational for building a strong Department and maintaining public trust, and are overwhelmingly supported by the SPD’s Citizen Advisory Group as well as by the City’s police officers. A policy will be written for officers to follow in using the cameras. Officers will turn the cameras on manually before most interactions with the public, but they come on automatically whenever a firearm or taser is drawn. The Department plans to implement the program beginning in August, and have it fully operational in September. The total cost over five years is $161,006, which includes two sets of replacement cameras. Data storage is also included.
Wrecker Contract: The Council voted to approve a new agreement with the towing companies that are called by the SPD to respond to accidents as well as abandoned vehicles. The fee structure had not been adjusted in about fifteen years, so was due for an increase. The wrecker companies will also no longer be dealing with abandoned RV’s and boats, but DC Small said those don’t come up too often and can be dealt with on a case by case basis.
Financial Update: Mr. Buck had good news on the current year’s municipal budget. See separate story.
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