May 23, 2018
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Veazie holds off on passing deed for school to district, superintendent hints at legal action

By Nick McCrea, BDN Staff

VEAZIE, Maine — Citing uncertainty over the future of RSU 26, the Veazie Town Council will ask the school district board to give the town more time before it passes the deed for the Veazie Community School over to the school district.

Under the state statute that established RSUs in 2009, towns were required to give the title for the school to the school district, according to town attorney Thomas Russell.

The school district has been waiting for two years for Veazie to transfer the school property and assets over to the school district, according to board members and Superintendent Douglas Smith.

Orono and Glenburn each did so within a year of joining the school district, Smith said.

Council Chairman Joseph Friedman requested another six months to see how the withdrawal process progresses before the town hands over the deed.

“We’ve been quite patient for the last two years,” Smith said, adding that he might recommend at the next school board meeting that the board take the matter to court.

The council voted to have Town Manager Joseph Hayes draft a letter to the school board requesting time to hold one or two more meetings to discuss whether the town would turn over the deed during the withdrawal process. If the petition process fails, keeping Veazie within RSU 26, the council said it would certainly give the school district the property.

If Veazie were to successfully pull out of the school district after handing over the title, it would regain the deed.

In other business, the council voted to offer the code enforcement officer position to John Larson, who fills that role in towns including Surry, Northport and Stockton Springs.

If he accepts, he would work one day per week, making $30 per hour.

Councilor Jon Parker questioned the pay rate, pointing out several towns and cities larger than Veazie that paid as much as $10 less per hour. However, some of those are full-time positions and include benefits that the Veazie position would not.

Parker also asked why the council hadn’t met Larson before voting to offer him a job and how the town would balance the role of a new code enforcement officer with the role of Brian Stoyell, who was named acting code enforcement officer after Allan Thomas quit in June when the council decided not to reappoint him.

Four councilors voted to go ahead with the job offer, while Parker voted against the motion.

The council also voted 4-1 to ban the sale and use of fireworks in Veazie. The planning board plans to amend the existing fireworks ordinance at its next meeting on Feb. 7.

Also at the meeting, the council voted unanimously to collect proposals from firms for a townwide revaluation, which town assessor Ben Birch said should cost the town between $75,000 and $100,000.

Though the current valuations fall within state requirements, there are many holes in the data and the town hasn’t had a full revaluation since 1981, according to Birch.

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