by Mary Grow
Vassalboro selectmen spent most of their Dec. 14 meeting planning ahead, including proposing multiple events in which town voters will – or should – take part.
One of the longer discussions was over the Christmas holiday schedule. State employees have been given holiday time from Friday, Dec. 22, through Tuesday, Dec. 26, and some municipalities follow the state schedule.
For Vassalboro, selectmen eventually agreed on what they consider fair treatment for town office and transfer station staff. The town office will be open until noon Friday, Dec. 22, and closed through Monday, Dec. 25. The transfer station will be open as usual Saturday, Dec. 23; on Sunday, Dec. 24, it will close at noon. Both facilities will open as usual Tuesday, Dec. 26, the transfer station at 6:30 a.m. and the town office at 8 a.m., and will be open all day.
Town Manager Mary Sabins presented a draft schedule of 2018 selectmen’s and budget committee meetings leading up to the annual town meeting. In 2018 the open town meeting is scheduled for Monday evening, June 4, with local elections and any other written-ballot items to be decided Tuesday, June 12.
As requested by selectmen, Sabins had a cost estimate for mailing a postcard reminder of the town meeting to each voter: about $1,000. Considering the expense is not in the current year’s budget, and doubting the cards would influence many voters, selectmen agreed by consensus not to do a mailing.
Also on the Dec. 14 agenda was the selectmen’s schedule of their own meetings. They agreed not to meet Thursday, Dec. 28, and to schedule their normal 2018 meetings, beginning Thursday, Jan. 11, at 6:30 p.m. instead of 7 p.m.
Not included in Sabins’ draft 2018 schedule are two other major items, one definite and one possible.
Alternative Organizational Structure (AOS) #92 officials asked Vassalboro officials to hold a Tuesday, March 13, referendum on dissolving the AOS. Sabins had a ballot question prepared by the AOS’s attorney. She said polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the vote; she believes state law now requires that absentee ballots be available 60 days before the vote, instead of 45 days.
Selectmen were reluctant to schedule the referendum without a request from and discussion with the Vassalboro School Board, but given the absentee ballot timeline went ahead. Board Chairman Lauchlin Titus commented that either the school board or the selectmen should hold a public informational session before the vote.
Vassalboro voters might have an amended ordinance and a new ordinance to approve or reject either June 4 or June 12. If the planning board and selectmen agree to present one or both, public hearings will be required.
Codes Officer Richard Dolby gave selectmen drafts of the ordinances at the Dec. 14 meeting, an amended Building Permit Ordinance and a suggested new Tiny House Ordinance.
Dolby and planning board members have discussed the need to update the Building Permit Ordinance. Major changes are additions of references to relevant sections of the International Building Code, the International Existing Building Code and the International Residential Code. The codes are in a stack of books more than six inches high; Dolby showed selectmen a more reasonably sized summary that he said covers most local situations.
Dolby got a draft Tiny House Ordinance at a recent conference. Tiny houses, defined in the draft he has as residential buildings with less than 400 square feet of floor area, excluding lofts, are becoming more common, he said, and do not necessarily fit under building codes designed for larger residences.
Dolby also discussed with selectmen two ongoing land use violations, and board members mentioned other properties in town that appear not to conform to local regulations. Since the town attorney has not had time to address the violations, Dolby said he intended to find out procedures for beginning court action under his authority as Codes Officer. Selectmen did not object.
In other business Dec. 14, Sabins and Titus reported complaints and queries from residents visited by assessors asking to inspect their properties, part of Vassalboro’s routine quarterly reviews. Sabins said in addition to the sign on the vehicle door, assessing agents carry an identifying letter from her. Anyone uneasy about admitting them can ask them to return at another time, for example when more family members will be at home, or can refuse admission and let the assessors estimate the value of the property.
Board members approved Sabins’ draft request for bids for a new contract for solid waste hauling, with one addition. Sabins has a list of waste haulers who will be invited to bid; bids are due at the town office by noon Monday, Jan. 22.
Cemetery Committee member Jody Kundreskas asked selectmen to waive the town procurement requirement that says any purchase of goods or services over $2,500 needs to be bid out, in order to spend $3,500 plus expenses for an expert from New York State to do five days’ worth of stone repairs in Cross Hill Cemetery. Selectmen unanimously approved the waiver and asked for a more specific figure before they decide on the actual expenditure, which Sabins said would come from the Cross Hill Cemetery account.
The next regular Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 11.
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