Glad to hear that the Finance Committee finally backed off the Port. From what I hear though, they are going after Augusta now to change the formula permanently. Yikes! These people remind me of spoiled kids who when they don't get their way will stomp and cry until someone does SOMETHING. While LD 1 has been a real kick in the pants to some towns, there is no way I think the state should come to Kennebunk's rescue. The real answer is to scale back the budget, as many have said.
As far as the illegal meetings,etc... I hope you and others like you from Kennebunk will keep after these guys. Wellman is a disgrace. Marta Badyk's letter in the York County Coast Star hit it on the head when she suggested he should step down. That man is an embarassment, and it seems he could benefit from anger management training.
Kristi, thank you for the kind words. I will let Marta know you liked her letter.
It's really Scott who should be praised, for providing the means to keep everyone informed and updated. AMG continues to be a priceless resource for Maine! (hint - anyone who hasn't made a donation to Scott for the site in the past year, please consider doing so! He can use the added money to buy bandwidth, and better coffee for those late-night editing sessions). :wink:
As for the SAD 71 troops going back to Augusta, I think they're going to be out of luck. The Taxation committee made it very plain that unless both towns were in agreement on changing the funding formula, it wasn't going to happen.
I believe the other plans for the SAD 71 brass (and Barry Tibbetts, of course) are to ask (again) for more transitional funding, in order to stem the tide of red ink in Kennebunk. However, as our reps and senators indicated the night of the All-Boards meeting, the state cupboard is bare.
As for the chairman of our board of selectmen, we have indeed suggested privately and in print that Mr. Wellman needs to resign. The temper tantrum you witnessed last Thursday was a mere piffle compared to the way he is capable of treating the voting public in Kennebunk. You are very fortunate to have a board that sincerely cares about doing things properly, and about safeguarding the welfare of those who elected them to serve.
Over here, what we have is "self-serve." As in, I fear some of ours only ran for election for very self-serving reasons.
Which, coincidentally, is what Mr. Wellman said about YOUR board. Isn't that special???
You were right Naran, Scott deserves thanks too. This site is very educational and informative. I really enjoy hearing opinions from across the river to across the state. Helps us all understand the issues on a deeper level. Thanks Scott and John for your work to establish and maintain this forum.
For those who may not have caught it, the Port selectmen's meeting will be rebroadcast tonight and Sunday night at 6:00 pm, Adelphia channels 2 and 16.
Note the public forum right up front on the meeting agenda, in which residents are encouraged to address the board with ANY concerns, on ANY issues. Unlike our board, which grudgingly admits public comment (if they have to), but only at the very end of the agenda.
At the Port public forum, Parker Dwelley presents the board with a copy of Barry Tibbetts' bogus calculations on the funding issue, including Tibbetts' attempts to defend Kennebunk's claim on the Port's tax relief, erroneously using local valuations instead of the correct state valuations. It's amusing watching the Port officials' disbelief that Mr. Tibbetts could possibly be so misinformed.
You may then observe the difference in how two boards treat residents coming forward with similar concerns. Parker asks his board the same questions we asked ours this week, regarding a proposed executive session on the school funding issues - with diametrically opposed results.
The Port board responds with measured, polite explanations, and goes to some lengths in order to reassure the public that their executive session is truly warranted.
AS contrasted by our board's surly and ungracious response to the same concerns raised on this side of the river, along with the peremptory demand that we vacate the premises.
Please also note the following agendas for the upcoming week:
BOARD OF SCHOOL DIRECTORS
Monday, March 13th, 2006
Televised on Adelphia Channel 5
TOWN OF KENNEBUNK
Board of Selectmen
Monday, March 13th, 2006
7:00 P.M. (NOT televised)
Town Hall Room 300
Article 1. To Meet with the Planning Board to discuss the proposed impact fee ordinance.
Article 2. To Discuss any other business that may legally come before the Board of Selectmen.
TOWN OF KENNEBUNK
Board of Selectmen
7:00 P.M., televised on Adelphia channel 5
Room 301, Town Hall
PUBLIC HEARING #1
The Municipal Officers of the Town of Kennebunk will hold a Public Hearing on Tuesday, March 14, 2006 at 7:00 p.m. at the Town Hall in Room 301 to act on the following Renewal of a Malt Restaurant Liquor License application:
Chris Kennard d/b/a STEFANOS BISTRO
Article 1. To Accept, Amend or Reject the Minutes of the Meetings of February 28 and March 7, 2006.
Article 2. To Examine and Sign the Treasurerâ€™s Warrants.
Article 3. To Discuss Amending the Process for Victualer and Lodging License Renewals.
Article 4. To Discuss the Floodplain Management Ordinance.
Article 5. To Discuss a Special Mailing Regarding Vernal Pools.
Article 6. To Discuss a Voluntary No Smoking Policy in the Town Parks.
Article 7. To Discuss the Bicycle Cabs Ordinance.
Article 8. To Discuss Amending the Parking Ordinance.
Article 9. To Discuss Budget and Funding Issues.
Article 10. To Discuss the Contract Agreements for the New Fire Station.
Article 11. To Discuss the Merrill Currier Property.
Article 12. To Discuss the Dedication of the Annual Town Report.
Article 13. To Discuss any other business that may legally come before the Board of Selectmen.
under the not to odd category, the most important part way down at #9. That should make it after 9pm.
and there I thought they had gone and forgoten about the Currier property.
~Shameless Commercial Department Bump to Keep Upcoming Agendas in View~
We now return you to your regularly scheduled broadcast.
As for the proposed impact fees, to be instituted on all new residential and commercial development - if the revenues are truly used to reduce the current tax burden, they might be worth considering.
If, however, (as I fear) they will be just one more vehicle to finance additional new spending initiatives from town hall, no thank you.
We're already hearing how impact fees would be used to finance the new fire station, and I can see the Cash Cow mentality clear as day. More piggy banks for the taking.
One more thought on impact fees. Every town has a finite amount of developable, buildable land. I know we do here, and we're fast approaching the day when every back lot will be built, and no more to come.
If we use impact fees as a cash cow, and build new town facilities on the basis of those revenues coming in to pay for them, eventually, we will run out of new development and building, and thus, the fees.
We will then have new town facilities and infrastructure needing monetary support for staffing, operation, and maintenance, and no more impact fee revenues to support them.
Where then will town hall get that money? From future taxpayer's pockets, that's where.
If not used judiciously, this impact fee scheme is just another way to mortgage our future through taxation. Fortunately, the issue will have to undergo public hearings and a town meeting vote, so there will be opportunities to ask these questions - what safeguards will be used to ensure that our future isn't mortgaged by imprudent spending now?
Who will pay for the new facilities and their upkeep when the impact fee monies run out down the line, as they surely will?
School Board update - the superintendent and board chair indicated they went back to Augusta last week, requesting (again) transitional funding for Kennebunk. They got precisely nowhere. The Cupboard is Bare, according to Susan Gendron.
However, the school board chair said they will persevere, and make the trip northward again this week.
Part of the selectmen's discussion tonight on the funding agenda item will most certainly be the effect of the SAD 71 budget needs on our projected town budget, and what the selectmen intend to do about it.
Will they simply pass the $1M shortfall on to the taxpayers?
Will they take money out of our present $4.5M surplus to pay for the shortfall?*
Will they initiate town budget cuts?
*(note - except for $260K, this sum represents the two-months' cash flow they like to have on reserve for 'emergencies.' Somebody please - tell me the last time we had a $4.5M emergency around here).
Well, last night's meeting was very interesting. As a result, the selectmen will be having a joint meeting with the budget board on 3/23, to re-examine the proposed budget, in light of the school funding shortfall. Good job on your presentation, leftout! Excellent ideas, and I hope the board takes them to heart.
The last part of the meeting was certainly worth seeing. After several weeks of research and ground work, we tackled our board chairman and the town manager, for their alleged participation in a secret meeting held Feb 1st to discuss the school funding debacle.
The following are alleged to have participated in the meeting, and last night this was confirmed by the town manager and the board chair:
Thomas Wellman, Selectmen Chair; Christopher Babbidge, House Rep; John Sharood, School Board Director; Barry Tibbetts, Kennebunk Town Manager.
To me, having such a meeting in their official and elected capacities without public notice or public access smacks of improper behavior. However, it's the alleged result of that meeting that is likely food for the AG's office.
The Kennebunkport Town Manager has gone on record, stating that Barry Tibbetts met with him on Feb. 2nd, and relayed a proposal that if the Port would cooperate on the $300K tax relief Kennebunk wanted, then Kennebunk officials "wouldn't oppose or contest" a replacement school for the Port in the future.
All anyone has to do is look up "Extortion" in the dictionary to see that such an offer would likely be considered bribery and blackmail. Because along with such an offer, goes an implied threat. Wouldn't one reasonably suppose that if the Port didn't cooperate on the funding, the same Kennebunk officials might then indeed contest such a replacement school?
If we examine the manner in which the secret meeting was held, and the subsequent meeting with the two town managers, it further lends credibility to a backdoor deal. No written records exist from the secret meeting, no written records exist from the town manager's meeting.
The purported purpose of the meeting on Feb. 1st was to acquaint all the town officials present with Babbidge's 50/50% funding freeze proposal. However, this could have been simply (and publicly) accomplished via one email from Babbidge to the entire boards, on the record. And the same holds true for notifying the Port, and extending the invitation for the All-Boards meeting.
Why wasn't all of this done "on the record," and via email, as per usual? If it weren't for the Port board publicly stating at the All-Boards meeting that this took place, we, and the public, would never have known about any of it.
Is this right, and proper behavior from elected and appointed officials, who are sworn to do the public's business publicly? What ever happened to that new buzz word, "Transparency"?
What happened to the brand-new Code of Conduct, recently forced through for the selectmen by Chairman Thomas Wellman, forbidding any board member from discussing the board's confidential information with anyone outside of executive session, formally convened?
Kristi - you might also want to notify Nathan Poore (Port town manager), that Barry's first response last night was that no such offer on the Port school was ever extended at the meeting with Nathan Poore on Feb. 2nd.
When asked whether he was saying Nathan was lying about such an offer, Barry then stated that it all depended on what one's perception of an "offer" was, and what a "threat" was.
Shades of Clinton, huh?
We have the entire meeting on tape, should any of your board members or Nathan care to see it.
Thank you again Naran, my suggestion of an impact fee to off-set some of the cost of the recreation department could possible prevent an impact fee to help turn the park street school into - dare I say it - a community center. That phrase was thrown around quite a few times at the impact fee workshop.
Alas, the library folks will burn me in efigy.
The library does do a pretty good job fundraising now, what with book sales, bake sales, and their annual fundraising mail drive. But I agree that there's always room for improvement. The demand for more technology from their clients is putting a real financial strain on things over there, however. I can't believe how many people are in there every single day using the computers - they are always full, with people waiting. They could easily put in ten more and still have all of them in full use.
Personally I wouldn't mind seeing the library institute a $10 yearly residential fee to raise some more revenues, but then again, it is called the Kennebunk FREE Library. So, likely that ain't going to happen.
I wondered if the director of Parks & Rec was going to have a conniption fit while you were speaking about their department. I think it makes total sense to split the Parks part off and give that to the highway department. I've never understood the present combination, maybe it worked better in the old days. Let the Rec department have their 402 Pokemon and paintball programs, but NOT in the old Park St. School. No way, no how.
We need to sell that to a nice medical group or high-end condo developer, and put it onto the tax rolls. Parks and Rec themselves estimated just the demolition and renovation costs on that building at $1.5M three years ago. (without building the community center itself). Plus they said the site was too small. We still have the brochure they sent out, explaining exactly why they couldn't use Park St. for the community center they wanted, and detailing precisely why only a nice, new building would suffice.
So, if it was $2M+ three years ago, what would it be now? Same people, same plans. After all, these same administrators say the new fire station cost increased $650K in only six months, when the proposal was delayed via town meeting vote.
If six months = $650K increase in the town construction price books, what would three years' increase yield? Gracious, I simply don't think we could possibly afford it! :wink:
Kristi, thank you for the PM, and I am glad you had the chance to watch our board meeting. Since, unlike your town government, which cares about the rights of residents to see their meetings, our meetings are never re-broadcast on this side of the river (that's why we tape all of them).
I have suggested that our town administration implement a re-broadcast schedule several times, but it's fallen on the perennially hard-of-hearing.
Town manager contract still unsettled
By Joshua Bodwell
KENNEBUNK â€” Kennebunk Town Manager Barry Tibbetts is still working without a renewed contract; his current contract does not run out until July.
On Tuesday, March 7, over three months after initial negotiations began, selectmen presented Tibbetts with a final contract. Tibbetts has not yet signed that contract.
I certainly hope the new contract includes a Code of Conduct, similar to that enforced upon our town's selectmen recently.
Funding fall-out focus of tri-board workshop
By Liz Gold
In an effort to clear the air between Kennebunk and Kennebunkportâ€™s governing boards and to move through confusion surrounding the stateâ€™s new school funding formula, MSAD 71â€™s Board of Directors held a workshop to discuss how the latest calculations affect each town.
Link to main page, look for story headline
Finance Committee provides forum for funding fall-out
Members of MSAD 71â€™s Finance Committee heard feedback from residents from both Kennebunk and Kennebunkport regarding the upcoming budget process and the result of the new school funding formula, Essential Programs and Services [EPS].
The discussion stemmed from a public workshop held on March 2 in Kennebunkport to address how EPS and LD 1 has affected both towns.
You get 'em...keep making the answer public questions...
Reprinted in full with permission of the author. From the Kennebunk Post Letters section.
Wellman should lose his seat for losing his cool
At the all-boards meeting held last Thursday night [March 2] in Kennebunkport I found the behavior of Thomas Wellman, the chairman of the Kennebunk Board of Selectmen, to be incendiary, classless, and above all else, a disgrace and embarrassment to the citizens of the town of Kennebunk.
I recommend his immediate removal from our board of selectmen.
As a representative of Kennebunk, as a guest in another town, at a meeting in which both Kennebunk and Kennebunkport Boards of Selectmen, and the school board of both towns knew would be filled with tension and the distinct possibility that thoughtless remarks could cause irreparable damage to the relationship between the two towns, Thomas Wellman felt it was his right to fan the flames of dissension.
Tom Wellman handled himself in a manner completely devoid of professionalism, losing control of himself to the point of using foul language to emphasize his response to the measured and thoughtfully crafted remarks made by Bob Sullivan, a member of Kennebunkportâ€™s Board of Selectmen.
It was merely a few weeks ago that this community was reminded of Mr. Wellman insistance that a â€œcode of ethicsâ€ be put into place to regulate the behavior of the members of our board of selectmen.
As has happened all too often in the past, as witnessed in prior board meetings, Mr. Wellman has repeatedly demonstrated that regulations such as his â€œcodeâ€ apply to all others, save him.
That nightâ€™s disgraceful performance by Mr. Wellman should not have surprised anyone who is a resident of Kennebunk. It was however, a shocking display of arrogance, ignorance, and insensitive behavior for those who reside in Kennebunkport.
They are not used to being spoken to in such a debased way nor, would this behavior be tolerated in Kennebunkport where residents and other board members are treated in a civil, respectful manner at all times.
Therefore, I believe that it would be in the best interest of the Kennebunk Board of Selectmen to remove Tom Wellman, not only from his position as board chair, but from the board completely, before he is allowed to visit more harm and dishonor upon this town.
Naran...sounds like this selectman was a dope...is this how he acts normally?
Absolutely. He's got a very thin hold on his temper, seems incapable of conducting meetings in a professional and reasoned manner, and certainly doesn't abide by his own Code of Ethics, which he insisted on forcing through a vote, despite vigorous protests from some selectmen.
In fact, that new Code of Ethics had only been in place about two weeks when he had his little temper tantrum at the All-Boards meeting.
In which he told the Kennebunkport Board of Selectmen that they "should stop trying to say they've been SCREWED all these years" on the school funding. In a tone simply laced with petulance and toxicity.
You can imagine how angry and insulted the Kennebunkport board was, and rightly so.
Man, what terrible behavior....!! How can the Kennebunkport Select people work with a guy that is such a butt. He needs to realize he is doing a professional job...and clean it up.
Wellman is a Kennebunk selectman, unfortunately. The KPort board is composed of true gentlemen, who would never dream of acting that way.
The two towns do get very confusing, because of the name similarity.
I'm very pleased to say that the Kennebunk GOP has a stellar candidate for the Legislative Seat in House District 141 - Kevin Rheaume. Kevin is also the vice-chair of the Kennebunk GOP, and has been doing a great job.
After working with Kevin on various local fiscal issues, I can give him my wholehearted recommendation. Kevin is one smart guy, he does his homework, he pays attention to details, and he cares a great deal about accuracy and accountability, and playing by the rules. Something we could use a great deal more of, both locally and in Augusta.
Congratulations and thank you, Kevin, on making the decision to run for the House!
so I take it as Mr. Rheaume has formally announced. Super.
Yes, Kevin filed papers on March 10th.
For everyone in House District 141, here's a refresher on why I feel Christopher Babbidge needs to go back to teaching American History classes.
Reasons Babbidge does not deserve re-election in 2006:
* Voted for, and has continually endorsed LD1. Which destroyed our traditional school funding formulas between Kennebunk and the Port. LD1 has also proven to be a specious piece of legislation, which has done nothing to create tax reform in Maine.
* Lobbied for, and obtained paid teaching leave worth approx. $35K in 2004/2005, in addition to his legislative salary and per diems, unlike every one of our former legislators, who paid their own way without complaining. This arrangement was later deemed illegal by the school board, and despite vigorous attempts to renew the agreement by Mr. Babbidge, was rightfully denied by the school board in 2006.
* Opposes TABOR.
* Never met a town or school spending initiative he didn't support.
* Created a further divide between the Port and Kennebunk by proposing a permanent 50/50% EPS funding split to the state, without obtaining the Port's endorsement first.
* Participated in a questionable secret meeting with other Kennebunk town officials, which resulted in a potentially improper secret offer of new school endorsements for the Port.
For all the above reasons, I hope that the voters in House District 141 will send Mr. Babbidge back to the classroom fulltime in 2006, by voting for Kevin Rheaume.
BTW - for anyone who hasn't seen it yet, there is an article on the secret meeting/improper offer to the Port in this week's Kennebunk Post, starting on page two. (It's not online yet). On the same page is an article outlining suggested cuts to Kennebunk's town budget, in order to cope with the impending school funding increase.
this from the Star:
Thanks for posting that.
From the link above:
Candidate outlines how to cut budget
KENNEBUNK â€” At Tuesday nightâ€™s meeting of the Kennebunk Board of Selectmen, Al Searles, a member of the Budget Board the past two years, asked for a slot on the eveningâ€™s agenda. Searles, who recently announced his intentions to run for selectman, wanted to throw out his ideas for lowering Kennebunkâ€™s 06/07 budget.
â€œI think weâ€™re in a real financial disaster here,â€ Searles said as he took the podium.
It will be very interesting to see who takes out papers on March 20th, when they become available. Since there are two seats up for election on the board of selectmen, it could be a very lively race this time around. Especially with all the local issues.
I will not vote for either of the two incumbents, that much I already know for sure. Neither will I vote for the two incumbents on the school board who are also up for re-election.
We need a clean sweep, and a brand new start on both boards.
It sounds to me like the answer is simple, although not likely to happen. Close the school for one year, do the cleaning that needs to be done fiscally, save an entire years educational budget, and start again. Sometime its better to tear down an old house and build a new one rather then try to keep patching what will never keep the winter cold out.
It is a solution. Time for some tough love and putting the bad boys in a time out situation.