Last night was the council workshop and on the agenda was: Finance Committee Discussion; Charter Amendments; Davis Street Well Discussion; Parks/Recreation Discussion and finally Trails/Conservation Committee Discussion. But first Scott Benson updated the council on the progress of the Library Workforce Development Grant Application. The grant application for $20,000 dollars was submitted on June 8th and the DECD/OCD selected the application on June 26th. On August 2nd the DECD/OCD Project Manager Tammy Knight visited the town reference to the grant. There will be a Public Hearing held on August 21st at the Town Council meeting to hear Public comments on this project.
Finance Committee Discussion – The town council is trying to replace the current Budget Advisory Board with the Finance Committee. The council is going to require the Finance Committee to review and audit the procedures of the town. The review and audit is a great idea with the exception that no matter what they discover they cannot change anything because they are ONLY advisory. This is identical to the Budget Advisory Board. The town council did not and does not listen to anyone except Councilor Bowie. Changing the name from Budget Advisory Board to Finance Committee without any additional authority is a pure waste of time. Why not have the Budget Advisory Board perform the review and audit of town procedures? As long as any board or committee is advisory and the town is ignoring them; why waste everybody’s time?
Charter Amendments – The town attorney made the changes to the Charter Councilor Bowie requested. The people are going to be able to vote on the municipal budget twice and then the councilor’s budget will automatically go into effect. These changes to our Charter are completely meaningless and have absolutely no value. This defeats the purpose of having the people vote on the budget. Councilor Mark Lunt finally got it and asked “Why don’t we use last year’s budget instead of the councilor’s budget?” This would provide the council an incentive to prepare a budget the town’s people can live with because the way it reads now; the council gets its budget after two NO votes by the people. Of course, no member of the council spoke up at all. It was like the rest of the council totally ignored the comment.
Councilor Lunt is absolutely right there is no incentive for the council to reduce spending and lower the town’s operating cost. They simply spend whatever they want because they realize the towns' people will reject the budget both times and then the council gets everything they asked for and our taxes continue to rise. Councilor Bowie and his puppets do not get it. It is imperative the people tell the council this is not what 2025 citizens voted on last November. Call or email your councilors and tell them you want to use last year’s budget instead of the councilor’s budget after two votes.
Chairman Fern LaRochelle – 353-2329 email@example.com
Vice Chair Lori Pomelow – 353-8822 firstname.lastname@example.org
Councilor Bowie – 353-2607 email@example.com
Councilor Bickford – 353-8946 firstname.lastname@example.org
Councilor Mason – 353-9086 email@example.com
Council Lunt – 353-9903 firstname.lastname@example.org
Councilor Ward – 353-7306 email@example.com
Davis Street Well Discussion – The council is still not sure as to who is responsible for the well. Councilor Bowie wants to know the town’s liability from the town attorney. Councilor Mason stated the STATE paid for her father’s well when it got contaminated. Chairman LaRochelle asked the town manager to put out a Request for Procurement (RFP) to see what it is going to cost to resolve the situation. This will be discussed further in September.
Parks/Recreation Discussion – The council is considering the possibility of combining the Parks and Recreation Departments. Councilor Bowie pointed out there is insufficient data to arrive at a good decision. Vera Brooks is against the consolidation. Mark Stevens did not sound like he was in favor of this either. Chairman LaRochelle asked the town manager to provide additional data. The Parks Department took on the additional duties of maintaining the gardens and mowing this year. Councilor Bickford comment “Why fix something that is not broke?”
Trails/Conservation Committee - The council is considering combining the Trails Commission with the Conservation Commission. According to Councilor Bowie, the Trails Commission ONLY designs the trails. The creation and maintenance of these trails is another department’s responsibility. The council has no understand of the by-laws and mission of each of the committees so they asked the town manager to provide this information and to schedule both of these committees to come before the council in a workshop to provide additional information prior to making any decision.
Finally as a note and not part of the agenda, Chairman LaRochelle asked the council how they wanted to handle the Water Department discussion. Apparently, a survey was sent out to certain members of the community by Councilor Bickford and the result indicated the people wanted to put the Water Department under the town. In my personal opinion, this is extremely underhanded and illegal. If you want to ask a question of the citizens of Lisbon, it should be done on a ballot in November and not by a handpicked group to represent the town people’s wishes. However, this is the way business is conducted by this council. Remember, when the question of whether or not to have the people vote on the municipal budget came up; it was put on the November ballot. The decision was decided by the entire town and not a handpicked group. This is supposed to be a democracy and not a dictatorship. In this country, the majority speaks for the people. Don’t you think the entire community has a right to vote on this critical question?
Remember the Public Hearing on the 2% wage increase in this year’s budget, everyone who spoke out stated they did not want a 2% wage increase this year and what did we get? The 2% wage increase was left in the budget and higher taxes. Now, after two unsuccessful votes by the people to approve the municipal budget; the proposed budget by the council is automatically approved and will be the budget for the next year. These councilors do just what Bowie tells them to do. Apparently, none of them are capable of making decisions of their own.
VOTE THEM OUT IN NOVEMBER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ok I have a few questions maybe someone can answer ...
Replace the current Budget Advisory Board with the Finance Committee ...
- why bother? the council didn't seem to folow their recommendations so changing the name isn't going to help ...
Budget Charter Amendment ...
- Using last years budget is a good stop gap, but may not be the best answer to promote a change ... But acceptance after two no votes is beyond a waste of time and money ... its an insult ...
Davis Street Well Discussion – "The council is still not sure as to who is responsible for the well" ...
- Can anyone shed light on this? and if this is a workshop item, why wouldn't this have already been addressed BEFORE you get all the counselors together to discuss it in a workshop?
Parks/Recreation Discussion – "The council is considering the possibility of combining the Parks and Recreation Departments. Councilor Bowie pointed out there is insufficient data to arrive at a good decision."
- Ok, so why was this a workshop item, is it a cost savings to combine the two departments? Insufficent data? Same as the well, shoudln't this have already been addressed by the Town Manager and the respective department heads BEFORE you get all the counselors together to discuss it in a workshop? Isn't that what the Town Manager and Department heads are paid to do ... the Council should be the final approving authority not the ones physically running the town/departments.
Trails/Conservation Committee - "The council has no understand of the by-laws and mission of each of the committees"
- Ok, I have an issue with this, but shouldn't this be a topic for the Town Manager to have knowledge of ... or at least, if this was on the adjenda for the workshop - shouldn't the two committees have had representation at the workshop so they could brief the council ...
Water Department - "a survey ... indicated the people wanted to put the Water Department under the town"
- Isn't this considered a "public utility" and as such regulated by the State Public Utilites Commission? Has this been addressed by the town attorney to ensure this whole process isn't a waste of time? What are the Pro's and Con's ? I haven't seen any survey ...