Warren begins goal-setting for 2019

By Beth A. Birmingham | Jan 03, 2019
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham Warren Town Manager Bill Lawrence discusses goal-setting for 2019 with the Board of Selectmen Jan. 2.

Warren — Planning for the new year was on the mind of Town Manager Bill Lawrence at the Jan. 2 Board of Selectmen meeting.

Lawrence invited ideas from members of the board on priorities for the town in 2019, before outlining his own list.

Selectman Jan Macdonald said she would like to see the town start the process of developing a charter, something it has not instituted. A charter sets the rules for what various town bodies can and cannot do with regard to municipal functions.

Lawrence said it is a lengthy process, but agreed. "The process may take a good year and a half to two years to accomplish," he explained, adding that a nine-member committee would need to be established, with some appointed and some elected members.

He suggested once that is done, the committee would need to research other towns with charters of similar population to Warren's.

Once the process was begun, the committee would draft a charter, have it reviewed by the town attorney, have it voted on at town meeting, then send it to the Legislature for final approval.

Macdonald asked Lawrence if a town charter could help with a more equitable division of the school budget, to which he answered, "No."

Warren's share of the Regional School Unit 40 budget increased by $571,539 -- a 14.47 percent increase -- for fiscal year 2018-2019.

Lawrence did, however, recommend the board contact new State Rep. Bill Pluecker, who he said is eager to help.

According Lawrence, Code Enforcement Officer Melody Sainio reported the town brought in more than $6 million in property values in new single-family construction, which will definitely help with town finances.

However, he did note he is not certain what the school and county budgets will be.

"I am hoping with the new leadership that the state funding will be increased and the school budget will be more appropriate," Lawrence said, but he admitted he does not know what that all means at the present moment.

Selectmen Chairman Wayne Luce's recommendations for 2019 included discontinuing town ownership of Storer Road, which is the last town-owned road and has one resident on it; incorporating meetings with town department heads to share ideas and keep up to date on issues; and developing job descriptions for town positions that do not have them.

Lawrence added updating, mostly painting, of the TownOoffice, inside and out; updating personnel policies to include possible step increases for employees; and gearing up for budget planning.

As for the budget season, Lawrence said he has already begun working on the budget, and booklets should be ready the third week in February. A workshop with the Budget Committee and the selectmen will be held around the third week of March.

He said selectmen should expect a presentation by Fire Chief Greg Andrews on the need for a new truck to replace a 1970 engine. Lawrence said depending on the make and model of the vehicle, there may be funds in the Reserve Account to help with the purchase.

He also said that at some point in the near future, a problem facing other area towns and the country will need to be dealt with -- the ambulance service.

"They are specialty trained and they don't get paid anything," Lawrence said of the service's volunteers.

He noted that December EMS calls were high at 61, and that not only is scheduling an issue, but the equipment is taking a beating as well.

"I think we need to put some money into it and look at paying full-time," he said.

He suggested figuring out some way to get into area schools and encourage people to get into EMS and other emergency services.

Lawrence said Waldoboro's EMS is stressed as well, with assisting Warren when called to the Maine State Prison.

He said Pluecker is working on a bill to try to get more money from the state for prison coverage.

The Board of Selectmen next meets Wednesday, Jan. 16, at 7 p.m. at the Town Office.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at bbirmingham@villagesoup.com.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.