2017-10-13 / Community

News Briefs

PORT IN NEED — As they do every year at this time, selectmen adopted new state allowances for general assistance, the aid of last resort given by towns to residents in need, half of which is later reimbursed by the state.

According to Alison Kenneway, director of the town’s public health program, the new maximum allowance for those who meet guidelines based on income versus expenses is $745 per month per person, an increase of $11.

For a family of four, the new maximum payout is $1,457. The new maximums cover needs such as housing, food, clothing, and personal items, and will be place through Sept. 30, 2018. But under general assistance rules, towns have leeway in examining spending patterns of applicants, and can make those who apply liquidate assets, such as requiring that they first sell any recreational vehicles before doling out funds.

Last year, two people in Kennebunkport qualified for general assistance aid, Kenneway said.

“However, we do have several people in town who are in need but do not qualify under general assistance through the state,” she told selectmen. “So, we’re very blessed to have this generous community that we live in. With Community Outreach Services, we are able to meet many of their needs.”

COS is supported by donations from the public and serves Kennebunkport residents, as well as those from Kennbunk and Arundel, from a food pantry located at St. Martha’s Church on Route 1 in Kennebunk. COS also supplies vouchers for fresh produce, dairy products, and meats at Hannaford, as well as delivered food boxes to those unable to get to the store.

Last year, Kenneway said, COS provided $6,421 in food vouchers to Kennebunkport residents, as well as 60 boxes of food. COS also helped to provide emergency home heating fuel to 20 Kennebunkport families during the previous winter season, she said.

“The town is very generous in supporting that and that’s certainly a very welcome thing,” board chairman Patrick Briggs said.

WASTE TRUCK — The board approved the purchase of a new half-ton pickup truck for the town’s wastewater department, voting unanimously to buy a 2018 Silverado double cab from Quirk Chevrolet in Portland for $25,500.

Selectmen had budgeted $38,000 for the purchase as part of this year’s annual budget.

Quirk’s was the low offer of three bids, which ranged as high as $31,191. According to wastewater superintendent Allan Moir, the town actually solicited 13 local dealers for bids. The new vehicle is expected to be delivered within 8-12 weeks, which won’t be soon enough for Moir.

“Our little half-ton pick-up we use now for running around and getting parts and checking things and whatever is getting to the point where it’s not going to be roadworthy,” he said. “I’m surprised we got a sticker on it this year.”

The town could have got a single cab unit for $23,867, Moir said, but he preferred the larger cab with two extra seats so that employees can be sent to trainings in one vehicle, among other uses.

“For less than $2,000 I figured it was worth it. We’ll get more use out of it than not. Plus, it was well within the budget, Moir told selectmen.

PLAYGROUND SALE — Selectmen did not have much luck selling some of Kennebunkport’s old playground equipment, agreeing to let two sets go for just $200.

The town has replaced the playground equipment located in Rotary Park on Beachwood Avenue and is in the process of swapping out the set in Parsons Field, located beside Kennebunkport Consolidated School. Both old sets, made by Miracle Recreation Equipment Co. of Monett, Missouri, are thought to be between 25 and 30 years old.

After advertising the equipment for sale, the sole bidder was Mt. Kineo Road resident Richard Francoeur.

“We’ll let him take the best of what he wants from both piles, and we’ll take whatever remains to the metal recycling,” Town Manager Laurie Smith told the board.

CRUISER BUY — Kennebunkport selectmen have agreed to buy a new 2018 Dodge Charger for the $20,543 offered by Southern Maine Dodge/Jeep of Saco.

Police Chief Craig Sanford told selectmen he solicited eight dealers and got back three bids. Although the offer from Newcastle Dodge was the low bid, the difference was only $45.

“By the time I make trips up and back — in gas, tolls and personnel time I would spend far more than the $45 difference,” Sanford said, in recommended the price tag of the southern Maine dealer.

The purchase price includes a $2,000 trade-in on a 2009 cruiser, the last Ford Crown Victoria in the police department fleet.

“We didn’t get much. It was pretty rough,” Sanford said of the old ride.

Sanford said he expects to pay an additional $6,000 to equip the new vehicle for work as a police cruiser.

SAND IN HAND — Kennebunkport has chosen a supplier for the sand it uses to maintain roads during the winter, and this year, it won’t be using sand at all. Instead, selectmen agreed unanimously to buy 1.4 tons of stone dust from R. H. Brown/ Hissong Development of Kennebunk for $4.20 per cubic yard, to be picked up and transported by Kennebunkport road crews.

The town’s usual sand supplier, Dayton Sand and Gravel, offered a price of $5 per cubic yard picked up. That, Public Works Director Michael Claus said, was $1 more than its price last year. The other companies were invited to bid for the contract, but did not respond.

In a Sept. 25 memo to Town Manager Laurie Smith, Claus wrote that stone dust is an “acceptable performing winter abrasive.” And, as a bonus, he noted, the product has a different density than sand, such that by weight the town will get 8 percent more material per cubic yard.

The town will take its first delivery Dec. 1.

CONSENT AGREEMENT — Selectmen have reached a consent agreement with the owner of a home at 9 Community House Road in the Goose Rocks neighborhood over a property setback violation.

In 1999, the property owner, Linda Pichette, obtained a building permit to add a 14-by-24-foot garage to the lot. However, when Pichette put the home on the market recently, it was discovered the garage was only 15 feet from an abutting private road, rather than the 20 feet required in town zoning rules.

In a Sept. 28 presentation to selectmen,

Town Planner Werner Gilliam said the discrepancy was due to a difference between a plan contained in the town’s files, and the actual recorded deed for the lot.

“What I believe occurred, and this is common practice, is that when the property owner came to apply for the building permit and looked in the property file, and I believe they used a copy of an old plan reviewed and approved by the planning board back in the mid-1980s for another application without any follow-up in looking for consistency with the deed.

“I don’t believe this to be a malicious error,” Gilliam said.

The consent agreement essentially says that while the town does not consider the violation to amount to the creation of a nonconforming lot of record, it will not pursue enforcement action, which would amount to forcing Pichette to move the garage back 5 feet from the road.

The decision clears the way for sale of the property. Pichette will reimburse the town for its attorney costs in the matter, but will not be subject to any additional fine.

“This is partly the fault of the town,” Selectman Allen Daggett said.

“I can easily imagine this happening to anyone,” Selectman Stuart Barwise agreed.

PORT VALUES — Selectmen, meeting in their dual capacity as the Kennebunkport Board of Assessors, voted unanimously to accept the state’s annual valuation return, a document which gives a snapshot of the town as it stands.

According to the return, filled out by town assessing agent Rebecca Nolette, Kennebunkport witnessed the construction of 28 new single-family homes during the 12 months prior to the April 1 deadline for tax commitment, along with the demolition of eight homes and the removal of two mobile homes — good for a net increase in property values of $14.49 million.

Overall, Kennebunkport has 12,470 acres of land now divided into 3,789 individual lots, with a total real estate value, according to the state, of $1.92 billion. That includes $1.05 billion in land values and $879 million in building value.

The town also is able to tax for $7.7 million in production machinery located within its borders, as well as $1.9 million in business equipment. Ten BETE applications were approved last year, exempting $188,860 of that equipment from taxation. Meanwhile, 776 homestead exemptions on primary homes were granted, at $20,000, each, removing $15.5 million from the $356 million assessed values for those properties.

Also exempted from taxation was $15.1 million in town property, $63.7 million in RSU 21 school property; $7.6 million in federal lands, and $607,900 in state lots (excluding roads).

Other properties excluded from taxation included $14.3 million belonging to charitable nonprofits, $4.5 million owned by “literary and scientific institutions,” $393,300 belonging to veterans groups, $1 million owned by fraternal lodges and $10 million in churches and parsonages, as well as $5 million in pollution control facilities.

Other qualified exemptions (among those set aside from taxation) include: 707 acres on 14 lots ($273,860), classified as forest land under the tree growth tax law; 77 acres on seven lots ($33,800) listed as farmlands; 76 acres on five lots ($47,600) classified as open space; one lot of 0.13 acres ($40,000) deemed to be “working waterfront.”

Also, set aside in $6,000 exemptions was $288,000 in property value for 48 Mainers who served in the military during federally recognized periods of war, as well as $456,000 in similar exemptions for 76 veterans who were not Maine residents at the time of their enlistment.

Also of note on the form, during the fiscal year that ended June 30, Kennebunkport took in $944,541 in vehicle excise taxes, as well as $15,104 in excise tax on boats and other watercraft.

The upshot is a total valuation base for Kennebunkport of $1.94 billion. From property taxes on that amount, the town needs to pay this year $9.94 million for its share of RSU 21, $8.46 million for the municipal operating budget, and $1.2 million in taxes to York County.

Deducting revenues from excise taxes, certain state reimbursements, draws on the town’s undesignated fund balance, and other sources, the total need from taxation is $16.88 million.

The result, when allowing for an overlay of $74,001 to pay any qualifying tax abatement requests during the coming year, is a mil rate of $8.73 per $1,000 of assessed value on non-exempt properties.

The town is currently allocating taxes at 100 percent of the state assessed value for Kennebunkport, a calculation that generally runs about two years behind changes in the market logged by actual property sales. It’s quality rating — a measure of the high and low misses from that 100 percent valuation on individual properties — is currently scored by the state at a 14.

“Anything below 20 is thought to be a good quality rating,” Planning Director Werner Gilliam told selectmen.

That means a town-wide revaluation is not in the immediate future for local taxpayers. However, between now and April 1, 2018, there may be a need to make some neighborhood adjustments, in order to maintain an acceptable assessment score.

“We are seeing some changes in the quality rating is some areas of town, and you can imagine waterfront would be at the head of that class,” Town Manager Laurie Smith said. “Right now we are at 100 percent but she [Nolette] is seeing movement and watching that.”

Compiled by Staff Writer Duke Harrington. He can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

Return to top