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Lincolnville to post selectmen meeting information on website

By Susan Mustapich | Jan 15, 2021
Source: Zoom Video Conferencing Lincolnville Board of Selectmen meeting information packets will be posted to the town website for the first time.

LINCOLNVILLE — Lincolnville residents will see information about topics discussed at Board of Selectmen meetings posted on the town website this month.

Selectmen voted Jan. 11 to allow the use of electronic information for board meetings and voted separately to make them available on the town website. The information will be posted Mondays prior to scheduled board meetings.

Selectman Josh Gerritsen has supported electronic selectmen meeting information packets for more than a year.

Electronic packets will replace the five sets of three-ring binders Town Administrator David Kinney has been preparing for selectmen for decades. Information in the packets is used by selectmen to prepare for, and to review, during meetings.

Gerritsen prefers to access the information electronically, and sees the benefit of reducing the time it takes Kinney to assemble and distribute the binders. Selectman Jordan Barnett-Parker pointed out the benefit of reduced use of paper.

Selectman Mike Ray likes the idea of electronic packets, so members of the public can more easily view the information. Board Chairman Ladleah Dunn had selectmen vote separately on publishing the information on the town website.

Before selectmen voted on posting the information to the town website, Dunn asked Kinney to talk about issues of putting packets together, whether electronic or paper.

Kinney asked for a change to the noon Wednesday deadline for requests to add items to the agendas. He said requests often come in at the last minute, which creates delays in the review and approval of agendas by the board chairman. Completely new issues on the agenda may need additional guidance, and need more time to review, he said.

He asked that the deadline be moved up. Selectmen agreed to a Tuesday noon deadline for adding new agenda items for the upcoming meeting, and a Wednesday noon deadline for providing needed information for the meeting packet. These deadlines pertain to the week prior to scheduled Monday selectmen's meetings.

By July, selectmen may have their own town email accounts, if voters approve a proposed $1,500 upgrade to the Town Office computer system.

Preparation of the 2022 budget is underway, with the first budget committee meeting taking place Jan. 13. Voters will decide on the municipal budget at the town meeting in June.

The computer upgrade includes a new server with email accounts for selectmen and staff, higher internet speeds and improved security.

Selectmen currently do not have town email accounts and use their own personal or business email accounts to conduct town business.

In early December, Ray spoke about the use of town email accounts. The Maine Municipal Association recommends officials use town rather than personal emails, he said, particularly in reference to Freedom of Information Act requests from members of the public.

Ray's suggestion coincided with Kinney's recent discussion with James Arseneau, a representative from the company that handles information technology for the town.

In preparation for budget review, Kinney was researching the possible replacement of the town server, and email accounts and tablet computers for selectmen to view electronic copies of documents for board meetings.

At the Dec. 28 meeting, Barnett-Parker asked to talk about town email accounts again. This would provide transparency in regard to town business, according to Barnett-Parker, who wants to keep personal and business email separate.

Discussion centered around the cost of creating new email accounts for selectmen quickly, or incorporating this into an upgrade that would require budgetary review and voter approval.

Initially, Gerritsen supported adding the new email accounts as soon as possible, then later agreed with Ray, Barnett-Parker and Vice Chairman Keryn Laite to authorize Kinney to research both options for their Jan. 11 meeting.

Arseneau provided an overview Jan. 11 of upgrades to increase internet speed and security, and accommodate new features including email accounts for the five selectmen and additional town staff.

Selectmen learned that Town Office internet speed is so slow that needed software upgrades take a long time, and security needs to be improved. The office is connected to fiberoptic cable, so internet speed can easily be upgraded, Arseneau said. He advised selectmen to look at the upgrades as a package, to include the new email accounts, instead of trying to add this feature to the current, outdated system.

Their vote was unanimous to add to the proposed 2022 town budget the upgrade to the Town Office server and email accounts for selectmen and Town Office staff.

Budget committee meetings will continue through March. The time and date of committee meetings are posted on the town website calendar. Board of Selectmen, Budget Committee and other municipal meetings can be viewed on the town of Lincolnville's YouTube channel. For more information, call the Town Office at 763-3555.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Keryn Laite | Jan 20, 2021 08:30

It is well more than a 1500.00 upgrade but why tell it like it is.

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