Brownville town meeting warrant will include a charter revision for budget committee

By Stuart Hedstrom, Piscataquis Observer
Posted Dec. 24, 2012, at 1:14 p.m.

BROWNVILLE, Maine — During the last two municipal elections no citizens has taken out the necessary paperwork to run for open positions on the budget committee.

As a way to keep the advisory group full, the selectmen are proposing a revision to the Brownville Town Charter, to be voted on at the annual meeting in March via secret ballot. Under the revision, members of the committee would be appointed by the selectboard if not enough candidates run for positions. The number of committee members would also be reduced from 11 to seven.

“They can still take out nomination forms to get elected,” Town Manager Matthew Pineo said during a public hearing concerning the proposed charter revision on Dec. 12. “Or the selectmen would have the authority to appoint the entire seven-member board.”

After some discussion on which term to be used on the warrant, such as resident and/or property owner, the selectmen opted to include “registered voter” in specifying who can serve on the budget committee, which reviews and makes recommendations on the spending plan for town officials to consider before bringing the document to town meeting.

The selectmen considered several options for the length of terms on the budget committee to be included in the proposed revision, but decided on four seats for three years and three seats for two years apiece. The variation allows for the committee members’ terms to be staggered for a mix of continuity and potential new members.

In the event of a year in which no committee members are up for re-election, town officials said they would work to find a way to allow any interested citizens wishing to serve to assist in the budget process.

“The board can also authorize to have more people on there,” Pineo said.

The selectmen voted to place another item on the annual town meeting warrant: a proposed ordinance that would require a safety inspection by the fire department on mobile home units being brought into town.

Existing mobile homes would be grandfathered, but town officials would like all residences in Brownville to be fully safe, such as by having working smoke detectors and several methods of exiting in the event of an emergency.

“We don’t have a lot of mobile homes in town, but we don’t want a tragedy,” Pineo said. He said the fire department would conduct inspections on the dwellings “to make sure the unit is safe for inhabitants.”

Inspections by the code enforcement officer are already required by law in areas such as the plumbing and electrical systems.

Pineo provided an update on the budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year, which will be broken down into a number of articles for vote at town meeting. He said the budget approved for the current year is just over $1,421,200.

“The budget going to the committee right now is almost $31,000 under,” he said in comparing the total to the previous year.

“I think we are going to stay pretty close to that,” he added, with a few figures still to be finalized in the next couple months.

During past town meetings, residents have voted to put money into a police department reserve account, currently at about $33,000, and funds from the account will be used to purchase a new cruiser. Pineo said the cruiser will be purchased from Quirk Ford for $26,369 via a three-year lease and “at the end of the lease the town owns it free and clear.”

With the cruiser purchase the police department’s Silverado 4×4, which Pineo said gets about seven miles less per gallon than the to-be-purchased vehicle, will be put out to bid. The minimum the town is seeking for the Silverado is $10,000, and bids are due by the February meeting with the money to go back into the reserve account.

“The truck has 134,000 miles and just had transmission work,” Pineo said. “It’s running fine right now, but I don’t want to take a chance.”

When asked by Select Chairman Walter Cook if the cruiser would fit his needs, Police Chief Nick Clukey said the vehicle would indeed be suitable.

Clukey said the last new cruiser was purchased in 2009, and buying a new vehicle now would let the town avoid having to acquire two new police vehicles in the same year in the future.

Following a brief executive session, the board gave permission for Dave Boxwell to be hired as a reserve police officer.

“We needed another reserve officer; we lost one of ours a couple of months ago,” Pineo said, adding that Boxwell also works as a reserve officer with the Milo Police Department.

Clukey said Brownville has had some trouble filling shifts due to reserve officers’ other obligations, but said Boxwell should be “a quick hire for us. He knows the area, he knows the jail system we use.”

He said the addition to the police department will not entirely solve the scheduling difficulties, “but it is a step in the right direction.”

Pineo said he has purchased a home in Brownville per town charter obligations for his position, and “I plan to do a $60,000-$80,000 remodel on it.”

“I’m very happy to have bought a residence that will shorten my commute, and it’s a great location,” Pineo said about his new home on Main Road.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/12/24/news/piscataquis/brownville-town-meeting-warrant-will-include-a-charter-revision-for-budget-committee/ printed on September 17, 2014