VASSALBORO: Advisor assures selectmen investments are in good shape

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro selectmen heard a report on town finances and continued town meeting plans at their March 18 meeting.

Investment advisor Matt Weaver, senior vice-president at First National Wealth Management’s Damariscotta branch, assured board members their investments are in good shape. The portfolio’s value continued to increase over the past year, he said, and he is moderately optimistic about the future, despite continuing uncertainty.

Weaver recommended no changes in Vassalboro’s investment policy. Selectmen unanimously renewed the policy.

Selectmen continued to make final adjustments to their budget recommendations and to the warrant for the annual town meeting.

Main topics March 18 were a decision on hiring a wage consultant and continued discussion of proposed changes at the transfer station.

Town Manager Mary Sabins sought approval to contract with LBouchard and Associates, Human Resources Consultants, based in Jefferson, to develop a wage and salary plan for town employees. Company owner Laurie Bouchard was recommended by two unrelated sources, she said.

Sabins wanted to have Bouchard develop a plan to be implemented in the coming fiscal year. She proposed a town meeting warrant article authorizing up to $3,800 from surplus for Bouchard’s work, plus a to-be-determined figure to increase wages in fiscal year 2021-22, if needed. She plans no pay decreases, even if Bouchard finds that some Vassalboro employees earn more than their peers in similar towns.

Selectmen voted unanimously to authorize Sabins to contract with Bouchard, to have the study done in the fall of 2021 and to implement results in fiscal year 2022-23, funding the process as part of the administration budget.

Additional consideration of the much-discussed transfer station project led to a consensus that at a minimum, two things should be done promptly: the electrical system needs a complete upgrade, and Vassalboro needs either a new compactor or major repairs to the current one.

Other components of the plan developed by Al Hodsdon, of A. E. Hodsdon Engineers, of Waterville, include siting a new compactor at an angle, to allow adding a second compactor and to improve the traffic pattern; putting trash containers under cover so the town will no longer pay to have rainwater hauled with its trash; and adding a second transfer station driveway off Lombard Dam Road.

Selectboard members Robert Browne and Barbara Redmond leaned toward a new compactor and an electrical upgrade for the coming year, with the possibility of a second phase of improvements later. Browne thinks a roof to keep the rain out is a good investment

Board Chairman John Melrose proposed Sabins ask Hodsdon for an estimated price for a new compactor and an adequate electrical system.

Selectmen have limited time to agree on what they want done if they are to ask town meeting voters to fund the work in 2021-22.

In other business March 18:

  • Sabins said China has offered to let Vassalboro share its April 24 on-site paper shredding program, for $100. Selectmen did not object. On April 24, Vassalboro residents may bring confidential documents that should be shredded to the China transfer station between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Selectmen authorized Road Foreman Eugene Field to buy a new generator for the town garage from Augusta Fuel for $11,050, installed. Funds will come from appropriations voters approved in March 2019 and March 2020.
  • Melrose reported briefly on on-going discussions about a land swap with the Kennebec Water District.
  • Sabins said she has been asked to rejoin the Maine Municipal Association Board of Directors, to fill the past president position after the incumbent resigned, and wanted to make sure selectmen did not object. They did not.

The next regular Vassalboro selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, April 1, at Vassalboro Community School.

Town meeting set for June 7

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro’s 2021 town meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 7, at 6:30 p.m. It will be in person at the Vassalboro Community School gymnasium, as it was last year.

On Tuesday, June 8, polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the school for written-ballot voting: annual municipal elections and decisions on three referendum questions.

To be elected this year for three-year terms are one selectman (John Melrose’s term ends) and one school board member (Jolene Clark Gamage’s term ends).

Candidates must submit nomination papers signed by at least 25 registered Vassalboro voters to the town office by noon Friday, April 9, to have their names on the ballot. As of the morning of Monday, March 22, Town Clerk Cathy Coyne said the following people were circulating nomination papers: for the Board of Selectmen, Michael C. Poulin; and for the School Board, Chris French, incumbent Gamage and Poulin.

The June 8 referendum questions ask voters if they want to:

  • Adopt the new “Town of Vassalboro Marijuana Business Ordinance,” which would replace the 2017 “Ordinance Prohibiting Retail Marijuana Establishments”;
  • Affirm the 2021-2022 school budget approved the previous evening; and
  • Continue the school budget validation referendum process for three more years.

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