November 19, 2013

Town of Cranberry Isles
Municipal Advisory Commission
Meeting Minutes
Cranberry Isles Town Office
Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Attendance: Jim Fortune (BOS Administrative Assistant), Katelyn Damon, Cory Dugan, Denise McCormick (Treasurer); Ron Axelrod; Malcolm Donald and Karen Whitney, and Selectman Phil Whitney (by teleconference)

Public Attendance: None

Call To Order: 4:00 P.M.

Reviewed Meeting Agenda – 2014 Budget Workshop

The overall goal of the workshop is to review big-ticket items and make recommendations on whether 2014 should be an expansion year or a contraction year, or hold the budget steady/stay put.

We expanded quite a bit last year with quite a big tax increase. Given this, should we stay put on the budget or try to roll back some rather than increase. Can property taxes be reduced back to a more manageable amount. Ron Axelrod pointed out that the taxes for Cranberry Isles are higher than they are in the City of Cambridge, which is difficult to understand given the difference in the level of municipal service they receive in each community. Cranberry Isles should be lower, although Cambridge itself is lower than other Boston area towns.

The consensus of the MAC is that the taxes went up too much last year and are too high to sustain over time. The Town has a very high debt ratio, the highest it’s been in years. We should try to keep the budget to a manageable amount, Maybe all we need is a budget that maintains what we have and not take on new big projects.

Motion by Ron Axelrod that the MAC after consideration of last year’s budget and taxes is recommending that the budget for 2014 should be set so that there is no increase in property taxes in 2014. Second by Cory Dugan. Motion passes by unanimous vote.

We will be getting the SW Cole Pavement Management Report December 19th, and the Kleinschmidt GCI dock report by the end of December. The SW Cole report will update the previous 2005 report and account for road work done since them. The Kleinschmidt report will provide us with short-term maintenance and upgrade recommendations for the GCI dock.

The MAC covered the larger budget items and how they might be paid for. Ron inquired about reserve money left over from the roads budget. Denise said there will be some left for 2014, but it is difficult to tell until all of the bills are paid at the close of the year.
Denise explained where we are with expenditures and what might be left over at the end of the year. We may have some left over in roads, snow plowing, and Manset work. We will also have most of the money (about $70,000) that was budgeted this year for the GCI toilet. That money will be spent in 2014 and come from a reserve account. The same will also hold true for the Manset painting job. Most of it was completed in 2013 with reserve funds. The remainder will be done in 2014, also from reserve. These won’t affect the overall tax rate for the Town because money will come from a reserve account.

Should the MC continue to pursue the possibility of constructing a new town office. Do we want to have this on the Town warrant. This could save money in the long run, in terms rent, heating and utilities vs. what we pay for rent at the Town House. Initially, though, this would require financing and more debt for the Town. In year when we are contemplating borrowing $500,000 for the school construction and $220,000 for roads, it might not be perceived well if we also borrowed to build a new Town Office. The consensus is to not pursue building a new Town Office in 2014. It would be tough to do all of this in one year.

Fire/EMS: The MAC supports the fire department and EMS budget as proposed by Katelyn Damon. The MAC did question the removal of the fire chief $3,600 compensation for each zone. Should this be kept in as a place holder. If the money can be in the budget and if it isn’t used it would roll back into the general fund reserve.

Roads: Estimate of $70,000 for paving Cranberry Road on GCI. This number may change depending on the results of the SW Cole report, who is updating the pavement management report for the Town; SW Cole will make some recommendations on road maintenance over the next 5 years, starting with 2014.

We intend to use reserve money to pay for some maintenance and improvements of the GCI dock. We will be getting a report from Kleinschmidt at the end of December.

Donations: Stay with the same donations amounts that we had last year.

Manset: The major maintenance items this year will be roofing for the Mansel House (Marsh Insurance building). The remainder of the painting job will be done in May next year. The roofing and painting jobs will be paid for with Manset reserve funds.

Other Business – Jim Fortune explained the cancelation problems plaguing the commuter boat since October. Several cancelations seemed to be overly cautious on the part of Downeast Windjammers. Steve Pagels met with the Selectmen at the end of November and certain parameters were discussed in-terms of cancelations and how they are handled and posted. The problems seem to have been worked out but we will monitor it and see how things go this winter.

Audience Communications
Adjournment – Meeting adjourned