The Rockport Select Board approved changes to the town’s purchasing policy, rejected an anti-idling policy, and reviewed work under way on the Gateway 1 process and a salary and benefits review in a meeting that lasted more than two hours on Feb. 14.

Purchasing policy passes as submitted

The Select Board gave unanimous approval to revisions to the town’s purchasing policy after a discussion in which board member Tom Farley suggested the town manager be required to notify all members of the Select Board whenever a large emergency expenditure was made.

“It’s just so we don’t look as though we were caught off guard,” he said.

Town Manager Robert Peabody said he would be likely to let the board know if a major emergency expenditure was made, but that he didn’t think it should be a matter of written policy.

Town plans Gateway 1 workshop

The board agreed to schedule a workshop meeting for them and community members to hear about the status of the Gateway 1 process. Rockport is one of 15 municipalities along the Route 1 and Route 90 corridors to participate in the first formal stage of a process that has been designed by the Department of Transportation to bring communities together in traffic and land use planning.

Rockland, Brunswick and Bath have either adopted or endorsed the Gateway 1 Corridor Action Plan. That plan combines land use and transportation, and recommends a pattern of future development that, it states, “will reduce stress on the transportation system” and “create significant capacity for growth in jobs and population.”

Participating communities have been asked to commit to a basic package of actions, including amending local comprehensive plans to conform to the recommendations of Gateway 1 and revising zoning maps and ordinances accordingly. Other actions include limiting the number of driveways onto Route 1 and Route 90, allowing for increased residential and commercial densities in designated core growth areas, designating visually distinctive and noteworthy segments of the corridor as rural areas, adopting a rural conservation plan, and protecting and planning for infrastructure for alternative modes of freight transportation.

Rockland and Brunswick have also approved an interlocal agreement that voluntarily establishes the Gateway 1 Corridor Coalition, through which coalition communities would work together to implement the strategies contained in the action plan. A municipality may withdraw from the agreement at any time, although Project Administrator Stacy Benjamin said that process could take as long as a year.

Towns that are governed by town meeting must approve that agreement in the public forum. Rockport voters will consider the Gateway 1 Interlocal Agreement at the town’s annual meeting either by written ballot on June 7 or in open town meeting on June 8.

Select Board member Dale Landrith was the only dissenting vote in setting the date for the workshop meeting, which will be held Tuesday, April 5 at 7 p.m.

Salary study will include private employers

A study of salaries and benefits being conducted for the town of Rockport will include some information about the private sector, after committee members presented a progress report to the Select Board on Feb. 14.

The Salary and Benefits Ad Hoc Committee was originally charged with comparing the compensation offered by municipalities that are similar to Rockport, but Select Board members Landrith and Farley said they wanted information from businesses as well.

Committee co-Chairman Peter Ralston said comparing municipal compensation to that of private sector entities was difficult because job descriptions were generally different and private companies were not required to make salary and benefit information public.

It was agreed that the eight-member committee would formally request information from the towns of Bar Harbor, Boothbay Harbor, Camden, Damariscotta, Kennebunkport, Raymond, Thomaston and Waldoboro. Comparable data from Rockport will be included in the final report, which is due March 21.

Committee co-Chairman Mary Gerritson said she would include information from the private sector, but that such data would not be verifiable to the same extent as that received from municipalities.

Results from the survey will be shared with the other municipalities.

Select Board shuts down anti-idling policy

A policy that would have encouraged motorists to turn off engines while waiting outside Rockport schools and businesses was defeated Feb. 14, when the Rockport Select Board voted 3-2 against the proposal that was presented by the Rockport Conservation Commission.

The policy proposed no enforcement, but sought instead to raise awareness as to the environmental and financial costs of leaving engines running unnecessarily.

After a discussion about removing language exempting hybrid cars from the policy, the board turned to the cost of implementing it. No figures were presented on the costs.

Select Board members Tracy Murphy and Alexandra Fogel voted in favor of the policy with Farley, Landrith and Chairman William Chapman voting against it.

The next meeting of the Rockport Select Board is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 21, following a budget workshop that will begin at 5 p.m. Both meetings will be held at the Rockport Opera House. The Select Board meeting will be televised on Channel 22.

For more information, call the Rockport Town Office at 236-0806.

The Herald Gazette Reporter Shlomit Auciello can be reached at 207-236-8511 or by e-mail at sauciello@villagesoup.com.

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