Going to the birds
A few weeks ago, we were reporting on turkeys at the airport. This week, neighbors complaining about seagull droppings put Rockland in the national news.
With feathered friends like these, who needs enemies?
At Monday night's city council meeting, residents from Camden Street Terrace complained about their neighbor, who has been feeding the gulls every evening with crates of bread. The situation has caused two problems: First, the feeding frenzy of the birds is so loud with the "squabbling and hollering" that goes on it creates a noise nuisance. The second comes when nature takes its course and the gulls bomb the neighborhood.
Code Enforcement Officer John Root noted in a memo to city government that this has been a complaint in various parts of the city for years. In most cases, he has found he was able to reason with those who like to feed the gulls.
In this case, however, reason and diplomacy has failed. He said the only way to get the bird feeder to be neighborly will be to create an ordinance protecting the rest of the neighborhood from the gull-related fallout.
The council will revisit the issue next Monday night, and hopefully will take Mr. Root's wise advice. The city has an attorney on the payroll, so make use of him and create an ordinance that can be enforced by the code office and police to protect neighbors.
While we have nothing against seagulls, the residents of this neighborhood should not feel imprisoned in their homes. The feeding of wild animals often leads to an unhealthy dependence on human support that is good for neither the animals or humans.
Who will be person of the year?
We are looking forward to finding out who receives awards at the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Dinner & Gala Saturday, May 12 at the Samoset Resort.
This will be the first dinner since the merging of the two local chambers. The awards will include Building Improvement, Economic Enhancement, Small Business Development, Public Improvement, and Community Service. The most prestigious award, Community Person of the Year, will also be presented.
We look forward to bringing you the story and pictures.
County budget fight continues
It's not often that the Knox County Commissioners are still finalizing their budget after the tax bills have already gone to the towns. The process that started Dec. 1 likely ended May 8 with the commission deciding to reinstate the pay "adjustments" for county employees, creating increases of more than 9 percent in some salaries.
This budget process has been a mess, and it has left county leaders looking incompetent and indecisive.
Three key mistakes have been made. The county tried to do too much in one budget to bring all of the employees into their proper pay ranges. They should have phased in the pay adjustments (pay raises for the most part) over a longer period of time.
The second failure came when the December budget meeting was held without proper notice and with one voting committee member on speaker phone. Over the years, we have added layers of administration to the county government and the number one priority for these administration employees is to get the budget off the launch pad each year. More care needs to be taken to follow the law so the budget cannot be contested.
Once those mistakes were made, it was difficult to salvage the situation. Residents and town officials complained about the soaring pay increases, so the commissioners caved in to their demands on March 15, only to flip-flop May 8 on the issue. This vacillation was probably their third mistake.
County employees have protested the March 15 vote to cap pay increases at 9 percent, saying it has hurt morale. We would argue that for most, 9 percent is a pretty generous pay increase.
If this budget is ever truly finalized, we hope the commission will strive to avoid these problems in future proceedings.