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LISBON/LISBON FALLS, MAINE USA
At the last Town Council
meeting on June 26, 2018, the Town Council decided to hold a discussion on
moving the responsibility of the Moxie Festival from the Economic Community
Development Department to the Recreational and Parks Department.As
usual there was NO advance notice posted on the town website including the
agenda posted for this meeting.However, I am sure the agendas handed out at the meeting included this
change.This is the type of strategy the Town
Manager, Diane Barnes uses to control the input from citizens.
Instead of having this
discussion in a workshop, it was a last minute addition to the already full and
published agenda.Typical action by the
Town Council and the Town Manager!Such short notice does not provide
citizens with adequate preparation prior to the meeting but this is there
Dorothy Fitzgerald offered
the Town Council a different option and as usual it went in one ear and out the
other of the Council.Mrs. Fitzgerald suggested the Moxie
Festival’s responsibility be moved to Positive Change Lisbon (PCL).It was obvious the Council members where not
aware of the history of the Moxie Festival.
The Moxie Festival started
around 1982 by the Lisbon Area Chamber of Commerce.It included businesses and citizen who
volunteered every year.The Moxie Festival
grew and grew every year and prospered very well.Because
it was making so much money, Steve Eldridge, former Town Manager decided he
wanted that money for the town and had the Town Council vote to take over
responsibility of the Moxie Festival.
Now, we all know that Mark
Stevens, Recreation and Parks Director, has his hands full.Mark
does an excellent job and the Town Council has added the responsibility for
parks, gardens, cemeteries to his original duties at the Recreation Department.Mark has done all this with a full-time staff
of one besides himself and the Town Council added a full-time maintenance
position this year.Adding the Moxie
Festival, would cause a major burden on Mr. Stevens and the Recreation and
Parks Department.Over the years, since the town took over the Moxie Festival and the
number of volunteers has continually declined.
POSITIVE CHANGE LISBON MISSION STATEMENT
To bring together the resources of Business people, local
Government and Citizens, partnering together in a positive environment, to
improve the image of our community. Through the efforts of a group of highly
motivated individuals guided by a clear vision of our future, we aim to build
on the favorable attributes of our Town and make Lisbon a more attractive place
to live, recreate and to conduct business.
Now to me, this sound like
exactly what the original Lisbon Area Chamber of Commerce was made up of.Positive Change Lisbon appears to be the perfect place
for the Moxie Festival responsibility.If you review their website, you will see the
majority of the businesses are members.Councilor LaRochelle is the Secretary.Positive Change Lisbon puts on
numerous events throughout the year and this festival fits right in.The Moxie Festival promotes the town of Lisbon
and our many attributes.I cannot think
of a better organization to have the responsibility for the Moxie Festival.
I do realize that because Mrs. Fitzgerald suggested it
and I agree with her; this will never happen because the Council will never admit
this is the right thing to do and they did not think of it.
The Town Council’s agenda for
June 26, 2018 is currently out.It is
important to note that it has a start time of 6:00 PM instead of 7:00 PM.The early
start time is because it includes a Public Hearing on the proposed 2018-2019
Municipal budget.The Town Council wants you to believe
that they want the people’s input prior to them voting on the budget.This is only a myth.
Anytime you think this is not
true, just go back to the results of the November 2011 election where the
residents were asked on the ballot if they wanted to vote on the municipal
budget.The results were almost 3 to 1 in favor of voting on the municipal
budget. Did thisever
happen?The answer is the Town Council then had
no intention of listening to the residents and that continues today.
Another more recent example
is at the last Town Council meeting on June 5, 2018; Mrs. Dorothy Fitzgerald
asked the Council why they are not looking for ways to reduce the operating
cost of the town instead of increasing the spending.Mrs.
Fitzgerald went so far as to offer ways the town could save taxpayers money but
not one councilor responded.It
went in one ear and out the other.Watch
the video of the meeting at 1:23 minutes into the meeting.
I use to attend every Town
Council meeting for numerous years.I
offer suggestions on how to improve the community or save the taxpayers money.Not one of the suggestions I offered was
considered so I stopped wasting my time.This
Town Council, like others before them, is not going to take any suggestions
from the people and they only do whatever they want.The
current Town Council waste been wasting over $200,000.00 a year for the past
three years and they do not care.
The idea of holding Public Hearings is a
legal requirement but nowhere in the law does it say the Town Council has to do
anything but listen.This is
why it is important to elect ONLY those individuals to the Town Council that
will listen to the people.Once these individuals are elected, they no
longer listen to the voice of the people.This is disgraceful!
The Town Council meeting on June 26,
2018 will be the last chance to voice your opinions about the budget not that
it will do any good. The Council has already made up their minds to
raise your taxes again without considering ways to cut taxes.You
will get much more out of staying home and watching “The Big Bang Theory” and “NCIS”.
I listened too many Councils
complain about residents not attending council meeting.These same councilors are the ones that
totally ignore residents when they speak up at council meeting.Why
would anyone want to be ignored especially on TV?
During the June 5, 2018 Town
Council meeting, there was a discussion on MUNIS.MUNIS is the computer software used by the
town to control the majority of its business.This
software package cost the taxpayers $680,000.00 for a period of 7 years.
Apparently, the town was sold
a bill of goods because it is not working out the way it was advertised.This is not surprising to me, because I
remember the initial discussion about getting rid of TRIO.The
Town Manager made two mistakes with this purchase:
first mistake was taking advise from someone who had absolutely no credentials
or certifications in the Information Technology field.She never thought to professional advice
mistake is pushing the Town Council into entering into a 7 year contract
without first having the software installed and seeing how it would work for
This is yet another example
of the Town Manager duping the Town Council into getting her way.On June 5th at the meeting, she
did it again and no one realized it.Instead of
providing all the options and information, she left off a very important fact, “What
is the cost of termination this contract?” To me and the Council because they asked, this
information would be critical to making a sound decision but neither the
Finance Director nor the Town Manager had that information.This
is how she has always manipulated the Town Council.
The Town Council voted to
spend $5,000.00 tax dollars on an assessment verses terminating this contract
and going with another software package.Having the information on the
penalty to terminate the contract early may have had an impact on the decision
by the Town Council.
Chairman Ward should have
tabled any further discussion until the Town Manager was able to provide ALL
information needed for the Council to make a sound and logical decision.It should be a rule that if all the information is not
available at the time of the discussion, the item will be tabled until all
information is available to the Council.Information needed to make decisions by the
Town Council is conveniently not available.This is how our Town Council
is being forced to make decisions that the Town Manager wants.
The Town Manager is being paid over $90,000.00 yearly and
should be providing better recommendations to our Town Council.
At the Lisbon Town Office
there is a door with the wording "General Assistance".
This morning, needing to
contact someone at General Assistance, I went on the town's
website, clicked on "Departments", looking for the
phone number so I could leave a
I clicked on "Departments".
No General Assistance listed under Departments.
I went to :Boards and Committees", no General
Assistance listed there either.
I than called the Town
Clerk's office, asked how to find General Assistance.
No one there knew that
General Assistance was not listed under Departments.
I was told that General
Assistance could be found under the Department of Community
I tried that, and guess
Assistance is not listed there either!!!!!.
My question is; how does
anyone in town, needing General Assistance, contact General
General Assistance in
Lisbon is a part-time position.
I asked Town Manager, Diane
Barnes, why we do not have at least a part-time person in General
Assistance? She said that the only
time anyone is in need of general assistance is in the winter. This
from a person making $95,000+ per year plus benefits.
Judy Goddard, the Town of
Lisbon's General Assistance director also works for the town of
Brunswick. She also works for the City
of Bath. Is it any wonder she is not available for the citizens of the Town of
Our Town Council and Town
Manager recently hired 2 addtional police officers. They also approved a full
time position, part-time for the front counter, part time for the Finance
Department. But they do not see any
need to help those in town most in need of assistance.
Perhaps it is time to
stop wasting money on someone not available to render assistance, when it is needed. Dorothy Fitzgerald Concerned Citizen
EDITOR'S NOTE: According to the latest proposed budget, under General Assistance 05-500 there is a line item 5211 Cell Phone which has a proposed budget of $363.00. If this is the case, why is the cell phone NOT listed on the town web site. When is the Town Council going to force the Town Manager to do her job?
After reviewing the Town
Council meeting of June 5, 2018, I remembered why I no longer attend the Town
Council meetings.For years, I was very faithful about
attending the Town Council meetings, I tried to offer suggestions to the Town
Council on improving our community.No matter what I suggested, the Town Council
ignored everything.My suggestions went
in one ear and out the other.It was a total waste of my time.
Nothing has changed since I
stopped going to these meetings.If you
go to the town website and click on Live Video Streaming and then click on June
and Town Council meeting for June 5th.Go into the video to approximately 1 hour and
23 minutes, you will see the Town Council ignoring Dorothy Fitzgerald.Mrs. Fitzgerald tried to show the Town Council how they could
save the taxpayers over a quarter of a million dollars (250,000.00) and the
council was not interested.They asked no questions and totally
ignored Mrs. Fitzgerald.
I cannot explain why the Town
Council is not interested in saving tax dollars.It appears they are more interested in spending our money
than saving it.This year’s
municipal budget is going to increase roughly $660,806.00 which is a 8%
increase according to the Town Manager, Diane Barnes.Amazing as it may sound, Mrs. Barnes in proud
of the increase.The fact, that Mrs. Barnes and the Town
Council are not looking for ways to either cut spending or lower our taxes in
disgusting and not why the people elected them.
Mrs. Barnes does not realize that the people pay her
salary.She works for the Town Council
and not the people.Mrs. Barnes, our Town Manager, includes a COLA increase every
year in her budget which amounts to a salary increase of over $1,800.00 every
year.The town has substituted COLA for
wage increase in order to fool the people.Mrs. Barnes
does not mind a $200.00 increase in her taxes when she has a $1,800.00 increase
in her salary but those who are on a fixed income are left to suffer.The residents of Lisbon cannot stand a tax
increase every year especially when the town could be saving over a quarter of
a million dollars (250,000.00) by eliminating COLA and transferring dispatch to
Androscoggin County Dispatch.
There is no recession so there
is no need for a COLA.The Lisbon
Communication Center is a duplication of services and could be eliminated with
no loss of service.In fact, it would improve the response time
of First Responder by eliminating the middle man in the process.Four of our Councilors voted to keep the
Lisbon Communication Center open for political reasons (Councilors Ward, Crafts,
Brunelle and Albert).This was a political decision interest
of what was best for the community.
According to Mr. Fern
LaRochelle, the town does not need to give up control of the communication
center.What he failed to tell everyone is that he a sub-contractor for the
town and works directly with the communication center for vehicle recovery.Mr. LaRochelle will be voting on the budget for the
communication center because there is no such thing as “conflict of interest”
in Lisbon. He already has
voted on Chief Hagan’s recommendation to promote a communication specialist to
supervisor and to approve an Information Technology (IT) person for the Police
The people need to vote in November, councilors who are
going to stop spending; look for ways to save tax dollars and listen to
During recent budget meeting,
our Town Council was presented with a unique problem with the Police
Department.Chief Hagan described the major reasons towns are getting sued and
that was lack of training and lack of direct supervisor.These two items create
a liability for Lisbon.In order to help eliminate this liability, Chief Hagan offered the
1.Add a part-time
Information Technology position in the Lisbon
Communication Center; so that the Patrol
Sergeant currently performing these duties can return to Patrol.Cost is approximately $1,600.00 to $4,000.00.
Communication specialist to a Communication Supervisory.
Costing between $1,040.00 to $4,800.00
additional Patrol Officers.Costing
Four members of our Town
Council support this plan to throw more money at the problem instead of trying
to eliminate the liability.These members
are Allen Ward, Chris Brunelle, Norman Albert and Fern LaRochelle.I believe that three of these individuals are supporting this
plan by throwing more of our tax dollars at it because of misguided loyalty and
the four is for personal agenda.
When you are trying to solve
a problem, it is crucial that you look at eliminating the liability.Trying
to eliminate the core liability; will always be the best solution.This will reduces the risk management to the
town and, will to a great deal, to reducing the chances of being sued.These four individuals have overlooked the obvious
answer to the problem.Instead of
throwing our tax dollars at the problem; just eliminate the problem all
together.So how do we eliminate this liability?
The basic solution is to transfer
dispatching to Androscoggin County Dispatch.With this transfer
goes all the liability for this operation.It will eliminate the need for an additional Information Technology
position saving approximately $1,600.00 to $4,000.00 tax dollars.There
will no longer be a need to promote anyone because Androscoggin Country
Dispatch will have this responsibility.This will save the town between $1,040.00 and $4,800.00 tax dollars.SGT Moore will be returned full-time to directly
supervisor Patrol which is really his assigned duty.
It has been verified by two former
Councilors that transferring the Lisbon Communication Center duties to
Androscoggin County Dispatch would save the town approximately $200,000.00 per
cost saving would be more than enough to pay for the two additional officers
needed to meet the 2015 manpower survey of fourteen officers.The town currently has twelve officers.Utilizing the cost savings will eliminate a
need to raise our taxes to cover this expense.
The bottom line is that these four
individuals need to step up and do what is right for the community instead of
wasting more tax dollars.Throwing money
at any problem is never the answer when you can eliminate the problem.
Problem solved at no additional cost to the taxpayers.Try using common sense!
Call these four individuals
and tell them to put what is best for the community first and help our people
Back in early 2015, our Town
Council terminated the contract on the previous Town Manager and rightfully
so.However, that left a critical
vacancy and needed to be filled quickly.In the Town Council’s hurry to fill this critical position; the Town
Council allowed Diane Barnes to include paragraph 5F under Section 5 Salary and
Fringe Benefits which states and I quote “The Manager shall also receive any benefits as the Town
provides to its other employees.”
This minor item has raised
Mrs. Barnes’s starting salary of $87,000.00 per year to last year’s salary of $95,047.00 in just 3 years.So how is this possible?It is possible because Mrs. Barnes is misusing the
Federal government Cost-of-Living Allowance (COLA) program to fill her pockets.Below is
the purpose, the program was intended to be utilized for: PURPOSE AS DEFINED BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT:
A cost-of-living adjustment is made to social security
and supplemental security income to counteract the effects of inflation.
Cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) are typically equal to the percentage
increase in the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical
workers (CPI-W) for a specific period.
However, in Lisbon it has
taken on an entirely new meaning. There
is no inflation in the current economy and the town is not using the consumer
index to determine any COLA adjustments needed.The Town Manager, Diane Barnes
includes a 2% COLA allowance every year in her proposed budget and our Town
Council approves it every year.This
means that every year, Mrs. Barnes receives a $1,900 PLUS salary increase every
year.Have any of you every
received such a salary increase?
Lisbon is a small community
with a tax base made up of mostly residents.This means that our taxes are always going to go up every year to offset
this COLA give away.I always believed
this allowance with to be given to the “Blue Collar” workers instead of those
in management positions.So let’s look to the impact of a Blue
Collar employee making $40,000.00 per year.2% increase is $800.00 which is still a good pay increase every year but
not as substantial as $1,900.00 received by the Town Manager. I believe,Mrs. Barnes is trying to make people believe that she is
looking out for the rank-in-file when she is actually lining her pockets with
our tax dollars.It takes a very special
type of person, in my opinion, to make money off the backs of her employees.
So how do we correct this
injustice to the people?It comes in two
A.The Town Council must immediately re-negotiate the Town Managers’ contract
and eliminate paragraph 5F of Section 5 Salaries and Fringe Benefits.This will eliminate these massive salary
increases to the Town Manager.Mrs.
Barnes should be able to live comfortable on $95,000.00 yearly in Lisbon. B.The Town Council must restrict any salary increase to
ONLY those in Blue Collar positions.Those individuals in management positions make enough money off the taxpayers.Let’s look at the three recent hires”
was hired for approximately $80,000.00 per year.If you filter
in the COLA this salary increases roughly $1,600.00 per year.
2.This is the same with the new Public Works Director
hired for $80,000.00 per year.The COLA is the same.
3.Now, let’s look at the new Fire Chief who was hired
for $70,000 per year. The COLA on this is roughly $1,400.00 per
year.Also, the previous Fire Chief
received $69,284.80, according to the 2016-2017 Annual Report.This was after several years on the job, so
what was his starting salary?
The people in this town need to get a handle on the mismanagement
of our tax dollars before it is too later.Start calling the Town Council, and tell them to stop spending and start
looking for ways to save residents tax dollars.
NOTE:I believe that every employee of the Town of
Lisbon should continue to receive “longevity compensation”.As of July 1 of each year and commencing with
five years of continuous employment with the town, all permanent employees
shall be credited with longevity compensation at the rate of $5.00 per month up
to and including a maximum of 180 months.
I just reviewed the Police
Department’s 2018-2019 proposed budget during the May 8th Town
Council Workshop and Special meeting.Every citizen of Lisbon should review this portion of the meeting
starting a 1:42 of the Live Stream Video.
Chief Hagan outlined his
department’s need for the upcoming year.Chief Hagan made a very important statement and that was the majority of
towns are being sued because the lack of training and direct supervision.I agree totally with Chief Hagan, it is
critical that the Town of Lisbon reduce its liability.
Police Department needs:
1.Add a part-time Information Technology position
in the Lisbon Communication Center; so that the Patrol Sergeant currently
performing these duties can return to Patrol.Cost is approximately $1,600.00 to $4,000.00. 2.Promote a
Communication specialist to a Communication Supervisory.Cost is $1,040.00 to $4,800.00. 3.Hired two
additional Patrol Officers.Cost
These current requirements a
and b can be eliminated; had the Town Council voted two years ago to close the
Lisbon Communication Center by utilizing the Androscoggin County Dispatch.According to two former Councilors; the cost savings to the
taxpayers would be roughly $200,000.00 per year.However, this did not happen.
Last year, this same subject
came up and was again voted done by Councilors Ward, Brunnelle, Crafts and
Albert.The major reason was the town
did not want to lose control of dispatching.Mr. Fern LaRochelle fought
extremely hard to keep the Lisbon Communication Center open.What Mr. LaRochelle failed to tell everyone
is that he is and was an Independent Contractor working directly with the
Lisbon Communication Center.I guarantee you
that id this issue comes before Council, Mr. LaRochelle (now a councilor) will
vote on this issue because there is absolutely no “Conflict of Interest” on
anything in Lisbon.
The option to save taxpayer
dollars is still available but our Town Council has no interest in saving the
residents money instead they had rather raise taxes.This
Council is not looking to cut taxes but to increase our taxes.This, to me, is the wrong approach.Is it NOT a wise decision to put an additional burden on
taxpayers when there is an opportunity to save taxpayers money?
This year, the Town Council
voted to bail-out Lisbon Emergency Inc. at a price to taxpayers of $127,885.00
for the budget 2018-2019.I do not know
where all this additional money is going to be coming from other than the
taxpayers.Add all the additional
requirements to the Town Manager’s already increase of $1,900,000.00 this year
so what’s going to happen to your taxes.But do not worry, according to the Town Manager, Diane Barnes, the
Council has reduced her budget proposal by roughly $75,000.00.What impact do you think this is going to have on our tax bills this
The people of Lisbon elected
our Town Councilors to look out for the best interest of the community.I do not feel we are getting this from our
Town Council when a “political” decision takes priority over a “sound financial”
decision.What is in the best interest of the community
and its people should be the ONLY determining factor when making decisions.
Call your Councilor and tell them to stop wasting our tax
dollars and start looking for ways to reduce our taxes.
I just finished watching the
April 24, 2018, Town Council Budget Workshop and I first want to thank, Mr.
Fern LaRochelle.This budget meeting was
almost two hours long and Mr. LaRochelle asked very important questions WITHOUT
any dissertations.It was very
informative and refreshing.Great job!
I recommend that EVERY
taxpayer in Lisbon review this budget meeting using the town web site.The Town Council is review the 1.9 million
dollar increase the Town Manager, Diane Barnes, is proposing for this year. Keep in mind:
No matter what the Town Manager proposes,
the Town Council is responsible for spending our tax dollars.The residents of Lisbon ELECT these members to be
financially responsible to ensure our tax dollars are spent efficiency.I do not call having our taxes go up every
year responsible when the Town Council is NOT looking for ways to reducing the
operating cost of the town.The Town Council could save over
$200,000.00 a year by eliminating the Lisbon Communication Center and let the
Androscoggin County Dispatch take over dispatching responsibilities.Yet, instead of doing what is financially
responsible for the community; they had rather raise our taxes without looking
to save tax dollars.
I believe that the Town
Council should direct the Town Manager, Diane Barnes, to reduce the operating
cost by at least 10% yearly.Doing this will reduce or even eliminate
the yearly tax increases.Look
at how many foreclosures have been processed since Diane Barnes has been
here.Disgraceful!This is a community with little to no large businesses like
L.L. Beans to help our tax base instead the majority is based on residences.
At our current rate of 18.11%
increase in our mil rate, Lisbon should over take Lewiston in the next year or
two.While other towns are looking to
reduce their operating cost, Lisbon is looking for ways to spend more tax
dollars.These tax dollars that come from taxpayers.
Another way to reduce the
operating cost is by not allowing Department Heads a Cost-of-Living-Allowance
(COLA).The majority, like the Town
Manager, make more than $80,000.00 annually.A 2% COLA increase is a raise of over $1,600.00 per year.A prime example is the Town Manager was hired
at $87,000.00 back in June 2015 and today with her proposed COLA increase will
receive a salary of $96,482.00.This is because
the Town Council approved her contract with a clause in it that states and I
quote:“The Manager shall also receive
any other benefits as the Town provides to its other employees.”This means
that every time the WORKERS receive an increase the Town Manager must receive
the same.The Town Council should not
allow individuals in management positions to receive benefits the workers need.A cap should be established for all individuals in management positions
and definitely those in Department Head positions.
Lisbon is a community that
does not have a very large tax base such as Auburn or Lewiston and so these
costs are passed on to the taxpayers.
Shame on the Town Council for not being able
to recognize this!
Call your Councilors today because once they approved the
budget it will be too late.Please do
not let them snow you with the excuse this is only a proposal.
I just review the Town
Council Workshop conducted on April 10, 2018 and was very upset over the length
of the workshop.Councilor Fern
LaRochelle, I believe, is incapable of asking a simple question.Mr. LaRochelle has to go into a dissertation
on EVERY question.I do not know if Mr.
LaRochelle is really that dumb or he just likes to hear himself talk.I have known Mr. LaRochelle for several years
and do not find him to be stupid so I guess he just likes to hear himself talk.I believe he thinks the more he talks the
more important he is.
The meeting lasted for one
hour and thirty-three minutes and if you eliminated all the dissertations the
meeting could have been reduced by approximately forty-five minutes, if not
more.Mr. LaRochelle has some great
ideas but he need to eliminate all the dissertations on every comment.
I do not know about your time
but my time is precious to me and to listen to Mr. LaRochelle repeat everything
or babble on and on, just waste my time.
Mr. LaRochelle, please
continue to ask all the right questions but without the dissertation.