Prior to its regularly scheduled meeting on August 18, the New Gloucester Board of Selectmen (BOS) conducted a Board of Assessor’s meeting in order to set the mil rate for financial year 2015 and to sign the certifications for the tax commitment and assessment. The town’s property valuation increased by approximately $4 million or about 1 percent. New Gloucester’s contracted tax assessor advised that the state approved mil rate ranged between $14.46 and $15.18. Ultimately the board voted to approve a mil rate of $14.50 reflecting an increase of 7.8 percent over last year. Town Manager Paul First noted that a combination of a reduction in Maine State funding and an 11 percent in the MSAD 15 assessment to New Gloucester were contributing factors to the increase. The board unanimously approved the mil rate and certified the assessment and commitment of taxes.
At the regular BOS meeting, the board conducted a bid opening for professional design services for the design to mitigate deficiencies in the Outlet Road bridge. Based upon a DOT inspection in April, the “southwest wing is cracked and rotated” and there is “deteriorated concrete in abutment and slab”. Four bids were received and ranged between $11,000 and $47,000 for design services with construction inspection services fees quoted at hourly rates between $65 and $90. The board moved that town staff review the bids and prepare to make a recommendation at a special BOS meeting prior to its regular September 8 meeting.
Manager First reported that the search for a new town planner was complete and that the recommendation is Will Johnston. According to First, Johnston, one of 20 applicants, has an impressive resume and experience as well as a maturity that will well serve the community. Johnston resides in Pownal, and First noted that having a planner living within 15 minutes of town is also of great benefit given the varied hours required of the position. The manager indicated that he anticipated a September 8 start date for Johnston pending BOS confirmation. The board voted unanimously to confirm the hire. In a conversation after the meeting, Paul First noted that there is one planning board vacancy, and applications are available at the town website.
Chair Steven Libby reported on the resignation of Jenny Sprague from the MSAD 15 school board due to her family’s relocation to Gray. School board members representing New Gloucester are required to reside there. When a school board member leaves office before his or her term is complete, the local municipal body is charged with appointing a replacement to serve until the next scheduled school board election, which in this case is June 2015. The BOS will be accepting applications (available at www.newgloucester.com) until 6 p.m. on September 15 and is expected to make an appointment at its meeting that night. Applicants are required to be present at that meeting.
Jane Sturgis was appointed to the Community Fair Committee. The 2014 New Gloucester Fair is this Saturday, August 23 from 9 a.m. through 7 p.m. at the fair grounds on Bald Hill Road.
Libby noted that the town office will be closed on September 1 in observance of Labor Day, and that the next regular meeting is scheduled for September 8.