December 4, 2006
Present were: Mayor Danderson, Councilors Roy, Nelson, Poulin, Grenier, Lafleur and Danderson; absent were Councilors Donovan and Chagnon. Blandine Shallow, Andre Caron, Pamela Laflamme, Ernie Allain, Patrick MacQueen, media and public also attended.
Mr. MacQueen explained that every three years the City puts out a recycling schedule. Mr. Allain added that the schedule is usually distributed by mail; however there are no funds budgeted. He went on to say that he has priced an alternative method of getting the information out to the public through newspaper ads at less cost.
Councilor Grenier noted that it may be time to have a meeting with rental property owners as there is little or no recycling from many tenants. The calendars should be sent to people along with a letter encouraging a renewed effort for recycling. The city could add an ordinance that would allow citations for not recycling and the result of being cited too many times would be to lose the service.
Mr. MacQueen indicated that a representative from the State has been invited to next Monday's meeting to talk about solid waste. Berlin=s recycling is low and we may not be doing enough to promote recycling. If we can increase the recycling, everyone wins. Mayor Danderson asked what it would take to have the recyclables picked up every week. Mr. Allain reported that we would need another truck and two more people.
Councilor Roy voiced that he did not want to see penalties put on the landlords since they don't have much control over what is done by their tenants. Mayor Danderson stated that many municipalities have apartment houses take care of their own trash pick up. Councilor Grenier commented that, in his neighborhood the single family homes and owner occupied multi_family homes have the recycles at curb side on time. Others see fit to mound the trash and not put out any recyclables. Some throw the bags from the upper floors onto the sidewalk. He added that if the city does impose penalties, they should be targeted toward the offenders.
Councilor Lafleur questioned whether there would be legal issues when treating one homeowner differently from another. Mr. MacQueen reasoned that there is no problem with making a different rule for large apartment buildings. Mayor Danderson agreed that large apartment buildings need to be reviewed carefully; they use a lot of services but do not pay high taxes. Councilor Grenier suggested that the City make one more effort to educate the public, then if there is no cooperation, regulate.
Mr. Allain reported that many citizens come in to get a recycle bucket and we don't have any. We suggest that they purchase a blue container from WalMart. Councilor Danderson asked if recycles will be picked up if they are in a white bucket and Mr. Allain noted that the blue bucket is what brings the truck to the container. Councilor Grenier suggested that two letters be sent to the public, one for single family, owner occupied and one for multi_family. The City should be letting people know that there are consequences to not recycling. The multi family building is a commercial business and the city does not have to provide curbside pick up. Once there are landlords that have to have a dumpster in their yard, others will take notice.
Mayor Danderson stated that the City is on the verge of making some changes. An effort should also be made to break out the container costs from the city=s district bill. Copy and postage expenses will be charged to solid waste advertising
Mr. MacQueen related that a web site for the city is being developed. Ms. Laflamme inquired about what information council members would like to see on the web page, including frequently asked questions. Councilor Grenier stated that the City Council's name, address and phone number should be available. Councilors were not opposed to having their group photo on the site. Suggestions for content included, the recycling calendar, directions to Memorial Field, Community Field, Center of the Arts, Berlin High School, Notre Dame Arena, Moffett House, and City Hall. Locations with free parking and information regarding the parking ban were also suggested.
Mr. MacQueen reported that the Capital Improvement Program has been updated and will soon be reviewed and adopted by the planning board. There is an elementary school included in the last year of the plan. He noted that the City has not had the money to do most of the projects but this effort gives and idea of what is needed. If Council members have a project that is not in the CIP, it should be brought up. The first year CIP projects are included in the budget requests.
Coos County Budget
Mayor and Council received a communication from the County regarding their budget. Councilor Grenier explained that this is a worse case budget for the county representing a 4% increase or $871,350. The biggest increases are in Medicaid shortfalls and added burdens of state programs. Due to a recent court decision, there could be a reimbursement to the county of as much as $595,000. which would be used to reduce taxes.
Mr. MacQueen suggested removing the sewer ordinance from the agenda because there is still no response to a request to Water Works to install meters on the City's behalf. Councilor Grenier moved to remove the ordinance from the agenda; Councilor Roy seconded and the motion carried unanimously.
Non _Public Session
Councilor Grenier moved to go into non_public session per 91_A:3 Nonpublic Sessions (d) Consideration of the acquisition, sale or lease of real or personal property which, if discussed in public, would likely benefit a party or parties whose interests are adverse to those of the general community; and 91_A:2 (b) Strategy or negotiations with respect to collective bargaining; Councilor Poulin seconded and the motion carried unanimously by roll call.
The City is being offered land off Blais Street for $25,000. Council members respectfully declined the offer to purchase. Councilor Grenier so moved, Councilor Poulin seconded and the motion carried unanimously by roll call.
There was a brief discussion regarding collective bargaining.
Councilor Roy moved to come out of non_public session; Councilor Nelson seconded and the motion carried unanimously by roll call.