February 18, 2014

Town of Cranberry Isles
Municipal Advisory Commission
Meeting Minutes
Cranberry Isles Town Office
Tuesday, February 18, 2014 (at 4:15 P.M.)

Attendance: Jim Fortune-BOS Administrative Assistant, Cory Duggan, Jim Amuso, Katelyn Damon, Denise McCormick-Town Clerk, by teleconference Ron Axelrod, Chairman, Malcolm Donald and Karen Whitney
Others in Attendance: Ben Fulves, Barbara Meyers, Jeri Spurling, and Selectmen Phil Whitney

The purpose of the meeting was to respond to Barbara Meyers’ Jan. 25, 2014 response to MAC Chairman Ron Axelrod Jan. 17, 2014 memo on providing a temporary school building on GCI at a significantly lower cost than the Warrant #15 for $610,000 ($733,000 with interest) to complete renovations to the Longfellow School and Ashley Bryan School. A Feb 16, 2014 MAC DRAFT Memorandum was developed to focus discussion and distributed before the meeting to the school representatives Feb. 17th. (Memo attached).

The discussion started with Warrant 15-School Construction and was a dialog amongst School Committee representatives, Barbara Meyers, Jeri Spurling, and Ben Fulves and MAC members.

School Construction Budget: The discussion revolved around the MAC’s Feb. 16th Draft memo that focused on criteria needed to understand the near and long-term cost of renovating the Longfellow School, enrollment projections, and other building options.

The MAC members discussed their issues:

1. There are no enrollment projections and what is the School Committee plans for operating two schools or alternating school building use.

2. The School Committee has developed a cost based on a Scope of Work for improvements without the benefit of construction documents and a definite bid that would confirm the actual cost of improvements. A review of the construction estimate showed a 5% contingency on Schematic Design documents for the Longfellow School Renovations, 15 to 20% is the usual contingency at this preliminary stage of development. This would increase the overall estimate by approximately $43,000 to 64,000 depending on a 15 or 20% contingency.

3. Because the cost estimate is based on schematic drawings, the nature of a renovation project and unknowns, and that two recent building projects bid (the GCI Toilet and INH Renovations were significantly over the estimated construction cost, the Town should get firm construction costs before the Town approves the cost.

4. Improvements are heavily weighted (83%) of the Warrant for the Longfellow School, and are proposed by the School Committee for a building improvement that may not be used as a school in the near future or ever. If it is to be used as a town facility for the residents of GCI, the Heliker-Lehoton Foundation, and other non-educational functions. The Town, through MAC, in support of the Board of Selectmen should propose this reconstruction.

5. The School Committee has included a Construction Manager, Heartwood Builders for $68,000. We do not believe the Town can enter into a sole-source procurement of that magnitude.

6. We don’t know what the cost will be to operate two schools in terms of maintenance, utility, and yearly upkeep; as well as what will be the total renovation costs. It’s a lot of money to spend without having a long-term budget impact statement.

7. The presentation prepared by the School Committee is not ready. There are no cost projections for operating 2 schools; the budget number is only an estimate, what is the cost for future upkeep. Let’s do a good thorough study before proceeding.

8. The MAC recommends a study of possible options:
i. Renovating the Longfellow School
ii. Separating the Library from the School Building
iii. Selling/donating school to non-profit to operate and fix
iv. Siting and building costs for a new school

School Committee representatives and others made the following points:

1. The whole issue isn’t just about renovating the building and opening it for a school. It is also to save the whole Longfellow building, which houses important community functions such as the library, school, art hall and gymnasium.

2. Past and current School Committees have always planned to re-open Longfellow as a school. It is also used for many other community functions and is an important asset to the community.

3. The interest rates on borrowing are currently very low right. Doing this piecemeal year after year without getting it done is not working. Different people are doing the work and there is no one with singular responsibility for all of the work.

4. The State Fire Marshall may close the building if improvements are not made.

5. The master plan for schools was developed through public meetings and has already been approved and adopted. This year the School Committee is asking to borrow the money to fully complete the master plan.

6. In terms of enrollment, it is volatile that total enrollment may not be known until the first day of school what it may not known be in a given year. There is currently no thought on the part of the School Committee to discontinue its use as a school. It isn’t the School’s intention to operate two schools at once. The thought right now is to alternate every 2 years between islands unless or until there are enough students to operate 2 schools. This still needs to be thought out more. At this point, with the current enrollment, it doesn’t make sense fiscally and educationally to operate 2 separate schools at the same time.

7. Maine Statutes clearly gives the authority and responsibility for spending, safety etc. to School Committees. If the School Board decided to discontinue the buildings use as a school, it would be up to them to decide how to dispose of it.

8. A lot of the improvements are catching up and having to pay for twenty years of neglect. This project will bring the building up to modern building standards and make it safe. Library, Futures Group, and the Heliker-Lahoton Foundation. None of these groups is prepared or able to take over this building.

In order to move the discussion towards a conclusion, the following Motion was presented:

Motion by Ron Axelrod to recommend the following: The MAC appreciates the efforts and work of the School Committee to develop a reconstruction plan for Longfellow School; based on existing information provided by the School Committee, more work needs to be done to understand a firm price for construction costs, projected operating, maintenance costs, and other possible building alternatives; that the MAC and Board of Selectmen work with the School Committee to undertake a two-month long study to understand those issues and present at a special Town Meeting in June to be voted on. Second by Cory Duggan.

Vote: Karen-No, Ron-Yes, Cory-Yes, Malcolm-Yes, Katelyn-abstain, Jim Amuso-Yes

Motion Passes 4-1-1

2014 Budget Discussion (Roads): Ron consulted with Jeff Birzinis about the need for this type of work on the Town’s roads. Jeff felt that there is currently no vital need to do all of the work stated in the report, at least not at this time. We should fix potholes and take care of drainage and cracks to preserve the roads, but we do not need smooth paved roads that allow people to drive much faster. We should allocate $80,000 per year and do maintenance.

Consensus is that the $202,000 budget under capital improvements for paving in the 2014 Warrant be rejected and the road maintenance budget increased to $80,000. That amount to be budgeted each year for road maintenance to include pothole patching every spring (April) and fall (September), for both islands. Each year the MAC will do a needs assessment to determine where to spend the $80,000 and make that recommendation to the Selectmen for final determination on prioritizing.

Other Business: Next meeting scheduled for February 27, 2014 for further discussion about the roads budget after MAC members have collected additional information on what is needed for work in 2014.

Audience Communications: Audience participation throughout the meeting and discussion on the school construction budget.

Adjournment: Meeting Adjourned at 6:45 P.M.

This Memorandum is for discussion purposes at the MAC meeting, Feb. 18, ’14.
It is meant to be a format for discussion and currently does not represent the sentiment of the MAC.

DRAFT

To: Board of Selectmen Feb. 16, 2014

From: Municipal Advisory Commission (MAC)

Subject: Town Budget and Warrants: Road Improvements and School Construction

At MAC’s Nov. 19, 2013 meeting, devoted solely to the 2014 Town Budget preparation, the MAC unanimously adopted a principle that there should be no increase in taxes from 2013, and a budget should be crafted to reach that goal.

Based on MAC’s Charter, it is to:

1. Inform, advise and assist Board of Selectmen on matters relating to municipal activities and operations within the Town of Cranberry Isles, including owned or leased properties in other communities.

2. Inform, advise and assist Board of Selectmen on matters relating to budget and warrant preparation and oversight.

MAC’s review of the final 2014 Town Budget has discovered a few large mandatory items and two large expenditures that would significantly increase taxes for 2014 and the future.

The Mandatory items that are an increase from 2013 include:
• $53,000 for Revaluation
• $18,000 for new GCI fire station septic
• $30,000 for GCI Dock Repairs
$101,000 Total

The purpose of this Memorandum is to review and make recommendations on the two Warrants: #15 Warrant School Construction for $610,000 #17 Road Reconstruction for $202,000 and for the Town Meeting, March 15, 2014 that significantly increase the 2014 Town Budget over the 2013 Town Budget by %

Warrant 15 – To see if the voters of the Town of Cranberry Isles will authorize the
Officers to borrow no more than$ 610.000 to finance the costs to renovate
and improve the Ashley Bryan and Longfellow school buildings and
facilities (the "Project"),and further to authorize the municipal officers
general obligation bonds of the Town as security for the financing and
any and all action, including but not limited to the expenditure of the
funded described above as may be necessary or appropriate to accomplish the project
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The Jan. 12, 2014 MAC Memo by Ron Axelrod offered a significantly less costly option for the School Committee to offer a school on GCI instead of the significant cost of renovating the Longfellow School for future school option. Barbara Myers responded writing a letter that discussed a concerted effort by the School Committee to plan for a complete renovation of the Longfellow School whether it is to be used as a school or community building.

We see the following issues with this proposed Warrant:

1. There is very little information on the Town website or distributed to taxpayers and residents that describe the improvements, construction documents, cost estimates and implementation schedule to support the Warrant.

2. The School Committee has developed a cost based on a Scope of Work for improvements without the benefit of construction documents and a definite bid that would confirm the actual cost of improvements.

3. These improvements are heavily weighted (83%) of the Warrant for the Longfellow School, and are proposed by the School Committee for a building improvement they may not be used as a school in the near future or ever. If it is to be used as a town facility for the residents of GCI, the Heliker-Lehoton Foundation, and other non-educational functions, the Town through MAC in support of the Board of Selectmen should propose this reconstruction.

4. The School Committee has included a Construction Manager, Heartwood Builders for $68,000. We do not believe the Town can enter into a sole-source procurement of that magnitude. Town Counsel should review the applicability of this procurement and the cost. Construction Managers or Owner’s Project Managers usually charge 1% to 3% of the construction value depending on the complexity and length of the project. The current budget for the Construction/Project Manager is 12%.

The MAC recommends further work and action for this warrant as it is currently drafted and offers the following recommendations:

1. The Town or School Board initiate a feasibility study of proposed uses or disposition of the Longfellow School. This study report should build on the extensive work to date and consider the library in its current or another location, the options for a future school within the existing building and a completely new school building, options for reuse of the facility for other uses than a school, and disposition. The MAC would be glad to work with either body in 2014 to develop the study for future use. Results of this study of options and funding will be presented at a Special Town Meeting summer 2014.
2. Considering the need to increase GCI population to warrant consistent use of the Longfellow, employment opportunities are needed on GCI to maintain and grow the population. Towards this end, a consultant versed in economic development should be contracted to develop a plan to bring employment opportunities to GCI.

Warrant 17 – To see if the voters of the Town of Cranberry Isles will vote to authorize the Selectmen to expend funds up to two-hundred two thousand dollars ($202,000) for capital roads projects on Great Cranberry Island, and to further authorize the Selectmen to do any and all things necessary to award and enter into necessary design and construction contracts on behalf of the Town; expend the funds; and all other things reasonably necessary to accomplish the purpose of this article.
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In the fall, 2013, the MAC initiated engineering design and construction documents for Dog Point Road and The Lane based on deteriorating roads and associated drainage issues. Also, the MAC and BOS initiated an update of the S.W. Cole 2005, Five Year Pavement Management Plan. The S.W. Cole 2013 Plan was submitted mid-December 2013.

To summarize the report findings relative to the Warrant:

1. The Cole report says the quality of paved roads (PCI – Pavement Condition Index) on GCI and LCI improved from PCI grade 74 (fair to good condition) in 2004 to 79 (good condition) in 2013.
2. Two road segments were recommend below recommended 72- 79 grade range:

• Cranberry Road (before Harding Pt. Rd. to The Lane) – 0.29 mi. length rated 62 recommended for ‘Shim and Overlay” – estimated repair cost $115, 230

• Islesford Main Rd., Mosswood to Bar Road) 0.28 mi. length rated 61 recommend for “Reconstruction” – estimated reconstruction cost $156,119 (SW Cole lists two estimate sections $128,241 + $27,878)

The Warrant asks for funds to Shim and Overlay the Cranberry Road before Harding Pt. Road to the Lane noted above, and another section Dog Point Road going east .022 mi. rated 72 for a total cost of $202,000.

We must remember that our town roads are also our sidewalks for pedestrians and bicyclists for young and old. Smooth pavement invites faster driving and some “self-induced” older, less smooth ( without potholes) pavement slows cars.

Based on our target of no increase in taxes from 2013, we recommend:

1. Budget long term to fix and maintain roads of approximately $80,000 per year
2. Prioritize the two most critical road sections to accomplished.
3. Allocated engineering costs to accomplish oversight of each years improvements