Crying WolfCrying Wolf
View the Warrant for the Thursday May 4th
Special Town Meeting.
In the last issue:
Shortfall Haunts New Municipal Complex
Jump to May 4th edition with the results of the Special Town Meeting
Analysis of the Articles at the May 4th
Special Town Meeting
by Dick Jarrett
For close to two years now, selectpersons Herbert Ramsdell, Barry Gammon, and Kathy Maddocks have told us that we had all the money we needed to build the new multi-purpose Municipal Complex. Then after they obtained a narrow margin of voter approval, a wooden structure, for which only a single bid proposal was received, was substituted for the steel building that we were promised. However, our selectpersons countered the negative fallout by spinning to the public that the town could afford a few extras if we instead built the wooden structure. Now it turns out that many basic features were not included and we are being asked for even more funding at the Special Town Meeting on Thursday May 4th. Like with the little boy who cried wolf, how many times will we believe them when they say we already have all of the money we need to complete this building? Were we misled?
Peekin' Through the Bushes
Why do the selectpersons want shutters on the new Town Hall? Maybe so that the hatches can be battened down when the taxpayers revolt at the ever-increasing costs that they are being asked to shoulder for this new building. But wait - were not the costs for the bushes and shrubs already included in the original appropriation? The answer on the official site plan for the Limington Municipal Complex may surprise you. The taxpayers paid $7,000 to have pretty pictures of shrubs and trees put on these plans.
Who is responsible for the 217 plants that were specified on this official site plan? Well, Sheet 6 of the plans state: "The contractor is responsible for all plant material installation as shown on plans". But in the haste to get this building up, maybe our town officials saw eliminating the landscaping as a way to cut costs. In contradictory statements, the Invitation to Bid said that the price for the complete project was to include improvements and that the sitework shall be completed as shown on the site plan, but in another section it said the town will install the plants. So it looks like the taxpayers are left holding the bag again.
[official shrub from site plan]
Did the selectpersons have the authority to ignore these requirements in the site plan? Sorry, no can do. Even if they wished to ignore the site plan that they submitted for Planning Board approval, they cannot receive a certificate of occupancy until the CEO verifies that the complete project meets the plans as approved. And the plans show all of the bushes and trees. (See zoning section 9.8.G.2). And a certain number of trees is absolutely required by the Limington Zoning Ordinance (section 7.6). Should the town be held to a standard that is lower than the standard that an ordinary citizen or business must follow? It looks like we were misled again and are being locked into spending more town money.
[Article 2 asks for $4,000 for bushes, shrubs, and shutters.
The Limington Free Press position: NOT IN FAVOR]
Picking the Taxpayer's Pockets Again
Maybe another cost cutting measure on the new Town Hall was to eliminate the ductwork for ventilation. Now we are being asked to rip through the ceilings and walls of our brand new building so that ventilation and air conditioning can be retrofitted into the offices. Would it not have been a lot easier and cheaper to install this ductwork when the walls and ceilings were still open? Where are all those extras that the selectpersons promised us?
The Limington Free Press noticed the fine print in the warrant which stated that only the municipal offices will get this air conditioning. Is this just a perk for the town house regulars or will all the people who utilize the municipal complex be treated fairly?
We will probably be told that we need the air conditioning for the computers, not for the comfort of the select few. But if that is the case, why weren't these costs included in the funding for the original proposal? Why are we being asked for additional money after the fact? What other basic facilities are missing that we will be asked to pay for down the road? What other surprises will we have waiting for us?
[Article 1 asks for $9,000 for air conditioning and ventilating the office area.
The Limington Free Press position: NOT IN FAVOR]
Much Ado about WaterTestGate
How much energy and taxpayer dollars will our town leaders waste on this non-question? If you look at the warrant for the special town meeting, it would appear that the majority of the selectpersons are in favor of spending this $600 that was approved by the voters in March. But, oh, how appearances can be deceiving! If two of the selectpersons were honestly in favor of following the will of the voters, they could just approve the expenditure and the issue would be over. The money would have already been sent to the water quality testing program. End of story. No more wasted time. No more wasted money. And Limington would have done our share in testing a resource we may need someday in the future for our own drinking water. The $600 would be matched by $1,800 in federal and state grants.
Maybe the selectpersons feel their hands are tied by legalities? Surely not by the opinion in the March 9th Memorandum which was based on false information. Maybe they got a second legal opinion? If so, that would absolutely guarantee that they have wasted far in excess of $600 on legal expenditures in an effort to prevent the $600 from being spent in the first place! Where is the common sense? Are we being served?
What's the harm in asking again? Plenty. In March, the Planning Board was allocated their full requested budget on the condition that $600 of their budget be spent on water quality testing. This still left $456 more in the budget than was used last year. (See the March 9th edition). However, the defective wording of Article 7 is such that, if passed, the Planning Board may legally be able to spend only the $600. The rest of their $4,500 budget would not be in compliance with Article 22 as passed by the voters at the March meeting. Town officials did not like what the voters decided at the Annual meeting and now they are wasting our time and our money in an effort to thwart the will of the March voters.
[Articles 6 and 7 deal with the water quality testing re-vote.
The Limington Free Press position: Article 6: (To resolve the issue once an for all) IN FAVOR; Article 7: (Too dangerous) NOT IN FAVOR]
Fire Barn Giveaway
For how much would you sell a structure that you have invested years of time and money in building? How much would you sell your own house for? How about $5,000? Of course since it is being sold to
SAD 6, the other towns are getting quite a nice gift. But wait - Were we not told that the sale of these buildings was going to offset the expense of the new Town Hall? Could we have been misled again? We must have heard wrong because this $5,000 will go to fix up the fire barn down in South Limington. You know the one - the one that the selectpersons accidentally deeded to the White Brothers along with the gravel pit next to Coventry North. Mr. White was nice enough to deed it back however.
Why the change in plans? Maybe somebody realized that the fire insurance rates for homes more than five miles from a fire station will go through the roof. In fact, the East Limington Fire station was located where it is so that the people in the Sand Pond area would be within the five mile radius (down the Hardscrabble Road).
[Article 5 deals with the sale of the Fire Barn.
The Limington Free Press position: NOT IN FAVOR]
Right now, if a group of our kids makes a home video of their band or whatever, they can submit it to the cable station and get free air time. One problem is that professional quality results are hard to achieve with a typical home video camera. The towns in the Saco River Community Television district are getting together to build a small TV studio in Hollis where professional equipment will be available for anyone's use. But here is the catch: To be eligible to use the facility, each town must contribute their share. Limington's share is tiny and quite the bargain because Limington is small. One hundred percent of the money can come from the franchise fee that the cable company pays to the town, money that cannot be used for anything else. This question was turned down in March because the voters were not given any information. They were not told that eighty percent of the homes on roads that today do not have cable will be able to get cable by the end of August of this year. (Please see the story in the March 17th edition.)
No one has mentioned what will happen if Limington turns this article down and contributes nothing. If Limington chooses not to participate, then after August, our kids and everyone in Limington will be prohibited from submitting anything for broadcast on the public access channel: No local "Wayne's World". No opportunities for learning about TV broadcasting. One less opportunity for our children. No use of the facility that is being funded primarily by the other towns. Limington will be left behind again. The Limington Free Press agrees with the selectpersons on this article and recommends passage.
[Article 4 is the funding for the Regional Public Access Facility.
The Limington Free Press position: IN FAVOR]
Big Bucks for the School Board?
By state law, school board members can be paid anywhere from $10 to $25 per meeting. In order to increase the rate, the question must be brought before the district voters at a town meeting. For comparison purposes, each town planning and appeals board member is currently paid $10 for each meeting attended. This remuneration has always only been intended to offset the cost of attending the meeting. No mention has been made of where this money is going to come from, what the current compensation is, or why this article was added at the last minute even after the original warrant had been posted.
[Article 8 asks to pay $15 per meeting for school board members.
The Limington Free Press position: (until more information is made available) NOT IN FAVOR]
For more information view the last issue Shortfall Haunts New Municipal Complex
or view the Warrant for the Thursday May 4th Special Town Meeting.
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