China select board approves one consultant; postpones another

by Mary Grow

At their Sept. 12 meeting, China select board members discussed hiring consultants for two different projects. They postponed action on a municipal building consultant until they know the price, and approved a consultant to assist with meeting state Department of Labor regulations.

They also talked about town committees, appointed and elected. Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood gave them the list of candidates on the Nov. 8 local ballot.

Sheldon Goodine has served 62 years on the South China Volunteer Fire Department. (The Town Line file photo)

Municipal Building Committee Chairman Sheldon Goodine presented another revision of the plan for a new storage building to contain the overflow of town records. This plan calls for a room on the south side of the town office, off the meeting room, 12 feet by either 22 or 24 feet.

In July, B. R. Smith Associates, Inc., of Presque Isle, proposed translating committee sketch plans into a formal plan and, if town officials approved, assisting with permitting and overseeing the process of getting construction bids.

Hapgood explained in an email that Keith Whitaker, a consulting engineer with BRSA, designed the new section of the present town office – hence the reach to a northern Maine company.

Selectmen favored the revised plan. They unanimously accepted Hapgood’s recommendation that they ask BRSA for a cost estimate for the company’s proposed services.

Last fall, select board members contracted with Lynn Gilley Martin, of Fire Service Compliancy Associates, to help bring town facilities and departments into compliance with state labor regulations. Now, Hapgood said, China’s three fire departments and China Rescue needed similar assistance.

To work with the fire and rescue chiefs, she recommended another contract with Martin. The consultant told select board members last October that she works with, but not for, the Department of Labor, offering municipalities advice on complying with labor laws and regulations.

Hapgood said for a fee of $1,850 per department, Martin would advise them for a year, including providing each department with a $450 manual with information on training requirements, record-keeping and other necessities. Money would come from the fire departments’ and China Rescue’s reserve funds, she said.

Select board members Blane Casey and Wayne Chadwick and board chairman Ronald Breton asked if the town could save money by treating the four departments as one. Hapgood said her discussions with the chiefs indicated a combination would not work.

Casey asked Goodine his opinion on the issue. Goodine, who said he started his 63rd year as a member of the South China volunteer fire department May 1 (and who celebrates his 86th birthday on Sept. 16) replied that volunteer fire departments all over the country are having trouble getting members, and complex regulations don’t help, but the department will follow the rules.

Board members unanimously approved the contract with Martin.

When they turned to the agenda item titled “How to increase participation to join committees?” Hapgood said the local transfer station and comprehensive plan implementation committees and the Regional School Unit #18 cost sharing committee all need members.

Selectmen started by volunteering themselves for various positions. Then they discussed how the town committees relate to the select board – are they sub-committees, or advisory committees, or something else? – and whether it was a conflict of interest for a select board member to serve on a committee that reported to the select board.

Hapgood’s list of candidates on the Nov. 8 ballot revealed pending vacancies on elected boards, too.

For Planning Board, she said, at-large member James Wilkens is on the ballot; there are no candidates for the District 2 and District 4 seats.

Timothy Basham and Elizabeth Curtis are seeking re-election to the budget committee, and Trishea Story has said she will accept re-election as secretary if she gets the most write-in votes. There is no candidate for the currently vacant District 2 seat.

District 2 is the northeastern part of China. District 4 is the southwestern area.

Any China resident interested in being considered for membership on any town committee is invited to contact the town office.

Hapgood said on Nov. 8, there are three candidates for three seats on the select board, incumbents Blane Casey and Janet Preston plus Brent Chesley.

The only contest on the Nov. 8 local ballot is for one of China’s two positions on the Regional School Unit #18 board of directors. Incumbent Dawn Castner seeks re-election; Wallace Pooler III and Darrell Stevens are also on the ballot, Hapgood said.

In other business, Hapgood said applications for Maine’s new property tax stabilization program are keeping town office staff busier than usual. (See the front page of the Aug. 4 issue of The Town Line for an explanation of this program, aimed at stabilizing property taxes on qualifying senior residents’ homesteads.)

Staff has already received 150 applications from current residents, Hapgood said. Because the program allows homesteads in multiple Maine municipalities to count toward the required 10 years’ residency, town office staff members also need to check former residents’ tax records for information the residents’ current municipalities need.

The next China select board meeting, on Monday, Sept. 26, will be preceded by two public hearings, beginning at 6 p.m. in the town office meeting room. Hapgood said one hearing will be on the local referendum questions for Nov. 8; the other will be the annual hearing on adjustments to the appendices to the general assistance program.


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