Belfast City Council to discuss new City staff, Waldo County Hazard Mitigation plan, minimum wage increase at regular meeting

Mon, 12/04/2023 - 8:00pm

    BELFAST — The Belfast City Council will meet Tuesday, Dec. 5, for their regularly scheduled meeting. Agenda items on Belfast City Manager Erin Herbig’s pre-meeting report include a Belfast Police promotion, new City staff, Waldo County Hazard Mitigation plan, and minimum wage increase, among other topics. 

    The first item on the Council’s agenda is a request from Belfast Police Chief Robert Cormier, requesting the Council approve a promotion of Officer Jonathan Guba to a sergeant at BPD. 

    A recent retirement left the position open, and Guba was unanimously recommended by a hiring committee responsible for conducting an oral board selection process. 

    Guba has been a BPD officer since May 2015, with his career beginning with the Old Orchard Beach Police Department. Guba transferred to the BPD in 2016, and was confirmed as the K-9 officer for the Department in Sept. 2022. Guba and his K-9 Spud have become an integral part of ensuring the Department is engaged in modern community policing and engagement, according to the request. Guba is also a trained crisis intervention officer, a field training officer, and recent graduate from the 986th FBI LEEDA Supervisor Leadership Institute Course. 

    Belfast Public Works Director Bob Richards is requesting the Council appoint Gary Vannah as a full-time truck driver/laborer for the Belfast Works Department. According to the request, Vannah previously worked as a welder for Bath Iron Works for 33 years before retiring. Following his retirement, Vannah worked for the Maine Department of Transportation as a truck driver/laborer. Director Richards said he believes that Mr. Vannah’s experience and work ethic will be an asset to the Public Works Department. 

    Belfast Fire Chief Patrick Richards is requesting the Council confirm Caleb Heald as a full-time firefighter/emergency medical technician for the Belfast Fire and Ambulance Department. Heald has been working part-time for the City of Belfast since May 2023 and has made tremendous gains in his training and knowledge, according to Richards’ request. 

    “He is at the start of his career and has proven, through taking every opportunity to advance, that he can and is willing to further his education to the paramedic level. When not responding to emergency calls, he can often be found in the bays practicing skills or cleaning equipment,” the request reads. Heald is currently working to obtain his firefighter one and two certificates, and he will be attending advanced EMT training in the spring. 

    Fire Chief Richards is also asking the Council to confirm two potential new part-time EMS and firefighters for the Belfast Department. 

    Mackenzie Teed as a part-time EMT-firefighter for Belfast Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services. Teed is an advanced EMT/firefighter currently employed by the Town of Bucksport full-time. If approved by the Council, she will be filling part-time shifts when available and to further her experience. Teed is cross trained in both skill sets and has worked EMS locally in the past, according to the request. 

    Matthew Wade is the second part-time EMT/firefighter up for confirmation. According to Chief Richards’ request, Wade is currently a paramedic for Central Lincoln County Ambulance Service and has Maine Pro Board Fire one and two certificates. He has 20 years of fire service experience in the Boothbay area, and has recently completed critical care transport classes with LifeFlight of Maine. 

    Deputy Economic Development Director Joellyn Warren has requested for the City to join a county-wide grant request for funds to hire a consultant to create a Waldo County Hazard Mitigation Plan. According to the request, the City of Belfast does not currently have a valid Hazard and Mitigation Plan, with the most recent plan made in 2017, expiring in 2022.

    “Without this plan, the City is ineligible to apply for many federal grant programs, many of which would cover non-disaster related projects. This could include projects such as the breakwater, shore resilience plans, stormwater and wastewater facility upgrades, road following, etc. However, the City would be eligible for future grant funds if we participated in the development and adoption of a county-wide Hazard Mitigation Plan,” Warren’s request reads.

    Waldo Community Action Partners is requesting Council approval to submit a grant to Maine Housing in an effort to widen the demographic that can be served by the group. Waldo CAP President and Chief Executive Officer Donna Kelly reached out to City staff last week looking for approval to submit a grant to Maine Housing to assist the organization in supporting their outreach, housing stabilization, and case management efforts to homeless individuals and families. 

    The funding Waldo CAP uses currently limits them to income eligible households. Receiving funding through the grant Waldo CAP is asking to submit to would allow the group to serve others in need in the community, ensuring greater housing stability over time, according to the request. 

    The deadline for the grant application to Maine Housing was Nov. 30, meaning the request has already been made, and will be retroactive if the Council approves the request. The Council is aware that the submission has already been made.  

    Waldo CAP is seeking $60,000, “which, if awarded, will help support four positions doing aspects of this work,” the request reads in part. The application requires City approval. 

    Another agenda item is a request to approve the fiscal year 2024-2025 City of Belfast wage and salary scale. 

    An updated pay scale for City employees was approved during the fiscal year 2021-2022 budget hearings, and will allow for an overall adjustment to be made each year to the scale based on the minimum wage set in place by the State of Maine, according to the request. Maine’s minimum wage is informed by the National Average Wage Index.

    Beginning Jan. 1, the state minimum wage will increase from $13.80 to $14.15 per hour. The increased amount comes at the latest Consumer Pricing Index for the Northeast, which shows the cost of living has risen by 2.4 percent. 

    Herbig’s full pre-meeting report and supporting materials can be found on the City’s website. 

    Erica Thoms can be reached at