by Zendelle Bouchard
The Sanford City Council met July 11, 2023. All members were present.
Mayor Becky Brink reported that she met with members of the Higher Calling Motorcycle Club, who host several rides a year to raise money for charitable causes. This year they donated $10,000 to the Ronald McDonald House and also made a donation to the Purple Iris Pancreatic Cancer Foundation. They also raise funds for veterans, children in foster care, pet rescue and autism awareness. The Club is open to suggestions from the Council for future fundraising projects.
Subcommittee Reports: Councilor Nate Hitchcock reported on his first meeting with the Recreation Advisory Board on June 21. There was some discussion at the meeting about creating Rail Trail signage for the public, updates on summer camp and open jobs. The Board meets again July 19.
City Manager’s Report
Housing: City Manager Steve Buck reported that the state has set January 1, 2024, as the deadline to comply with LD 2023, the new state law designed to encourage higher density housing development. The City is eligible for a $10,000 grant to do the work necessary to amend the zoning ordinances to comply with the law.
Homelessness: Mr. Buck reported that of the 28 families seeking asylum who came to Sanford in May, 22 have identified permanent housing options, but not all have moved in yet. He said 48 people are being housed on a temporary basis at the St. Ignatius Gym, which is being staffed by York County Community Action, York County Shelter Programs and York County Emergency Management. July 19 is the pending date to close that shelter, and Mr. Buck has been meeting with state officials and partner organizations to talk about other shelter solutions for all of Sanford’s unhoused population. He will have more information at the next Council meeting on July 18. Mayor Brink asked that Sanford residents be patient and kind when they see homeless people around town.
Communications / Presentations
New Major: Police Chief Craig Andersen introduced Mark Dyer, who has just been promoted from Sergeant to Major of Operations for the SPD. He has an Associate’s Degree in criminal justice and has been a member of the department since 2001. Major Dyer’s family came up to have a photo taken as he received congratulations and applause.
Dispatch Award: Bill Tower, Director of the Sanford Regional Communications Center, reported that the SRCC’s Assistant Director of Operations, Darcy Valido, has been honored by the National Emergency Number Association as Dispatch Operations Director of the Year. He said since Ms. Valido was promoted to the position in November 2021, staffing and morale have increased significantly, and she has instituted innovative policies and procedures. “She excels in all aspects of her work…if I could clone a dispatcher, it would be her,” he concluded. Ms. Valido was thanked and applauded by the Council.
Public Participation: Jen Davie spoke about the positive things she has seen and experienced while assisting the asylum-seeking families, including the kindness and helpfulness of volunteers and neighbors. “I believe these families are a big piece of Sanford’s future,” she said. Among them are individuals with work experience as painters, accountants, mechanics, truck drivers and more, but she said they are anxious to take whatever jobs are available as soon as their work permits come through, which should help alleviate the shortage of workers that has impacted our local businesses.
Presidential Lane: A public hearing was held on the third and final phase of the Presidential Lane extension at Sanford Seacoast Regional Airport and the $881,000 bond to finance it. Airport Manager Allison Navia gave a brief explanation of the project, which the Council has reviewed at multiple meetings. The bond will be repaid with a combination of TIF district revenues, infrastructure fees and lease revenue. Ms. Navia went over a spreadsheet detailing the revenue and expenses related to the expansion over the next several years, and stressed there is no impact to taxation from the bond for this project. She reported that the pace of development at the Airport continues to exceed projections.
Under separate line items, the Council unanimously approved the contract with Jamco Excavators LLC for $819,648 to do the third phase construction work, and an agreement with the Sanford Water District to extend the water main to the project for $61,306.35.
Consent Agenda: The Council approved the sole item on the Consent Agenda, an off-premises liquor license for Above & Beyond Catering for the Cruising with Friends Car Show at the Midtown Mall on July 28.
Assessor: The Council voted to confirm the City Manager’s appointment of Benjamin L. Thompson as the new Assessor for the City. Mr. Thompson most recently worked for the Cumberland County Regional Assessing Office and has extensive experience with the revaluation process and TIF districts, as well as with assessing software. The Council welcomed him and City Clerk Sue Cote swore him in.
New Truck: The Council approved the purchase of a 2014 Kenworth T800 tractor unit (pictured below) for a price not to exceed $76,000. Public Works Director Matt Hill said the truck, which is located in Mississippi, has been thoroughly inspected by a reliable third party. The inspection report was very positive, noting there is zero salt damage. The tractor will be used to tow the compactor trailer and roll off trailer at the transfer station, as well as being used to move equipment for the highway division. The purchase price is significantly less than what was budgeted and he expects to get many years of service from it.
Online Services: The Council voted to authorize an agreement with InforME to add the Maine Online Municipal Vital Records Request Service (MOMVRS) to the current online services offered by the City. Ms. Cote explained that this service will allow people to request vital records such as birth certificates, death certificates and marriage licenses online. Requests for these records are an almost daily occurrence for her office. Requestors, who are often out of state, will be able to upload their documentation and pay online for rapid delivery of these records. There will be no financial impact to the City for providing this service online.
Criminal Forfeiture: The Council voted to accept $8,155 in drug-related criminal forfeiture funds, from the case of State of Maine vs. Nicholas S. Delahunt.
Arts Commission: The Council voted to approve the Bylaws of the Sanford Arts Commission. The Bylaws state that people from outside Sanford may serve on the Commission, but a minimum of 2/3 of the members will be qualified to vote in Sanford/Springvale. Terms shall be for three years, renewable by reappointment by the Council. Meetings will be held the fourth Thursday of the month at 9:00 am, which is the most convenient time for all members. Meetings are also open to the public. The Arts Commission plans to host downtown Arts Walks on the second Friday of each month beginning August 11, from 4:00 pm to dusk. If you are an artist and would like to set up a table or display, email firstname.lastname@example.org for the guidelines.
Legion Lease: This agenda item was tabled for further research.
Special Revenue Account: The Council approved setting up a Special Revenue Account to support the Special Response Team. The SRT is a regional collaboration of 12 law enforcement agencies in York County. Chief Andersen said the SRT’s vehicles are owned by Sanford, and the new account will allow the other participating departments to help with maintenance, repairs, training and other expenses. He anticipates receiving about $12,000 annually for this effort.
Homeless Shelters: The Council unanimously approved an emergency ordinance to amend City Code to establish licensing, standards and fees for homeless shelters in the City. Among the provisions of the ordinance are requirements for a funding plan, sanitation plan, safety and security plan, standard operating procedures plan, and a plan for addressing neighborhood concerns. New shelters must undergo an inspection and a public hearing. Mr. Houseal said the City’s existing family shelters are licensed as housing and will continue to be licensed as such. Mr. Buck said the City will be asking for equity in funding from the state for shelter services, as the vast majority of state funding for homelessness goes to Cumberland County. This ordinance strengthens the City’s case for state funding, he said. The ordinance will expire after 90 days unless it is renewed. The Council plans to fine tune it during that time, with the goal of creating a permanent ordinance. A permanent ordinance will require a public hearing and two readings before adoption.
Future Agenda Items
Councilor Pete Tranchemontagne asked to look at ways to create additional revenue from Memorial Gym and Goodall Park. Mayor Brink noted that had been discussed at the Property Subcommittee meeting earlier that day, and invited him to work with Mr. Buck and Parks & Recreation Director Brady Lloyd on the effort. Mr. Buck added that getting janitorial services in place for the Gym is part of the plan.