Wiscasset Town Manager John O’Connell on Jan. 7 announced Town Treasurer Vernice Boyce’s resignation. O’Connell said her last day of work would be Jan. 13. She has accepted a job in Winthrop. Selectmen accepted her resignation with regret. Selectman Ben Rines Jr. said he recalled when selectmen announced the tax commitment numbers “with fingers crossed.” He said Boyce changed that. “She knew what she was doing, and she was good. That should be the standard for any new treasurer for the town.”
Boyce’s departure so near budget season leaves a serious issue with the town’s budget and tax commitment process, O’Connell said. He offered to serve as treasurer until a candidate is identified, which he expected to take weeks. He agreed to ask Maine Municipal Association if was permissible to serve in both capacities, however briefly. Selectman Kim Andersson asked if there were temporary accounting services; O’Connell said selecting a candidate from a service like Accountemps would create a steep learning curve. If MMA had reservations about O’Connell serving as acting treasurer, he said he would ask his assistant, Kathy Onorato, to serve until a candidate could be found. Other possible candidates for acting treasurer declined, he said.
The town scheduled a 6 p.m. Jan. 23 meeting with Ransom Engineering on the work planned for the Mason Station coal ponds. The work was underwritten with a $400,000 Environmental Protection Agency brownfields grant last year.
Outgoing Wastewater Treatment Department head Rick Gaeth said the Department of Environmental Protection report he received was “very favorable.” He asked that selectmen do what is necessary for grease trap inspections, which he said haven’t been done for a while. Selectmen approved the inspections.
Police Chief Larry Hesseltine acquainted selectmen with some of his concerns, especially that, he said, selectmen are unaware of many of the things going on in the department. He said arrests in 2019 were up 100 percent from the year before, not counting arrests made by Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office when Wiscasset police are off duty. Since 2015, he said, 11 full-time police officers have been hired. One hire, who recently finished the academy, is looking for new employment, he said. Hesseltine, however, said he is happy in his job and has a good working relationship with other department heads.
Selectmen agreed to review Federal Aviation Administration rules for leases at Wiscasset Municipal Airport after Don Falvey, who has held a lease for a proposed large hangar since 2007, but has not yet constructed the hangar, explained he had put more than $300,000 in materials into the site. He said he put the hangar project on hold when Brunswick Naval Air Station closed and hangar space was made available for free or at extremely low costs. At the time, he said, he granted back some of the land for the town to keep its snow removal equipment on, and had a lower lease rate of $1,000 per year. He has paid that since the price had decreased, and hoped not to lose his investment. His issue was tabled for two weeks to give selectmen time to review FAA guidelines.
Stantec was selected to do the airport’s planning and engineering work.
Selectmen approved the Maine Department of Transportation Receivable Agreement for manholes and sewer work associated with MDOT’s downtown project, in the amount of $33,175. They also approved the modification agreement to pay that bill on July 15, 2020, rather than June 30, 2019.
Plans are in place for the Main Street Pier inspection, O’Connell said. Public Works Director Ted Snowden planned wire mesh around the perimeter, and installing a pole to prevent vehicles from entering the pier. Other items to address are the use of extension cords, poor wiring, permitting for events such as Marketfest, the ATM machine which O’Connell said should have a business license, and the fact the pier has not had a DEP inspection.