Camden’s taxable value in real estate grew by $45,277,284 over one year

Camden Town Manager’s Report: EMS, Megunticook River dams, Sagamore Farm and broadband

Mon, 09/02/2019 - 5:15pm

CAMDEN — Camden Town Manager Audra Caler-Bell issued her monthly report Aug. 30, noting that: “much of the focus this summer has been on EMS and the dams along the Megunticook River. As the summer draws to a close, I wanted to provide a status update, as well as some clarity, on each of these major projects:

EMS

I think it’s important to emphasize that while Camden is certainly going to do our due diligence in determining what the best level of service is for our community and investigating a variety of service models that can best provide this desired level of service, it’s important to reiterate that this does not preclude the Town from working with our current EMS provider to strengthen our current system.

Despite any challenges we may have with our current service model we want to work with North East to make sure we’re providing the best care possible to those using EMS in our 4-town region. North East also has an important perspective on options for how we move forward with EMS. We appreciate their willingness to continue working with the Town and provide us options that will contribute to determining the best path forward.

Making a significant change to any municipal service is a big decision that takes time. It requires a great deal of research, analysis and planning.

Camden is only in the very early stages of doing the tremendous amount of work needed to determine the best path forward with EMS.

Additionally, we there are a lot of ongoing conversations that need to happen with our neighbors who we currently partner with in providing EMS.

I understand there may be confusion or concern regarding what Camden’s plans are in relation to EMS.

For this reason I wanted to be very clear that no decision has been made on how Camden will move forward and that we fully intend to involve our current EMS provider and our neighboring communities in any decision made by the town.

Montgomery Dam

The feasibility study on the Montgomery Dam has been completed by Interfluve. It’s very clear from the findings of the study that the most cost effective, flood resilient and environmentally beneficial solution will involve the full or partial removal of the Montgomery Dam.

We have heard concerns from a handful of residents that this may compromise the aesthetics of the waterfall and park and they feel it’s important to have a design for how this will change the appearance of this area.

The Town couldn’t agree more.

For this reason we applied for and received $50,000 in grant funding from the Island Institute and Maine Coastal Program to do the engineering and design work required to come up with a plan for the full or partial removal of the dam.

I am confident that the removal of the dam and restoration of the river channel can be designed in a way that enhances the beauty of Camden Harbor and Harbor Park.
Rebuilding the dam and seawall in their current configuration, even with a fish passage solution, will not be a financially or environmentally wise decision for the Town.

The Town will continuously be investing in costly repairs and businesses and properties around the Montgomery Dam impoundment will be put at greater risk for flooding during major rain events, which are only going to increase in intensity and frequency in the future.

Sea level rise and more frequent storm surge is going to continue eroding the Harbor Park seawall.

We need to recognize that the impacts of climate change on our coastal infrastructure and plan accordingly.

This includes completely reimaging the nexus between the Montgomery dam and Harbor Park seawall. While I understand the historical value and sentimentality many people feel toward this area, we can’t continue investing tax payer money in rebuilding infrastructure that needs to adapt.

Other town business

The Charter Commission held its organization meeting on August 12.

The members have scheduled the first public information gathering meeting on September 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the French Conference Room.

The Town’s Charter defines how Camden is organized and how it functions. For example Camden’s form of government as a Town Meeting/Select Board/Town Manager is defined in our Charter. The Charter also also outlines the roles and responsibilities of various elected and appointed officials and how municipal elections are conducted.

The purpose of the Charter Commission is to make recommendations on changes to Camden’s Charter to voters. They will hold a series of meetings, public meetings, workshops and public hearings over the upcoming year to gather information and feedback that will be used in forming their recommendations.

Assessor’s Office

Please see the attached memo:

To: Audra Caler-Bell, Town Manager From: Kerry Leichtman, Assessor
RE: 2019 commitment
Date: 8/30/19

Audra,

Commitment is in progress as I write this. I won’t know when tax bills will go out until the process concludes, but I wanted to update you on where we are.

Camden’s taxable value in real estate grew by $45,277,284 from April 1, 2018 to April 1, 2019. Of this, $6.2 million is attributed to new construction and parcel splits, and $39 million is attributed to market growth.

The market growth is captured by making appropriate adjustments to the cost tables in our assessing software system. Camden’s overall ratio after the revaluation two years ago was 97%. Before my adjustments that ratio had fallen to 85%. This represents market growth at a 6% per annum rate. Adjusted, our April 1, 2019 overall ratio is now 95%.

In 2017, it had been 13 years since our previous revaluation. No adjustments were made in the intervening years. As a result of this 13-year lapse, the 2017 reval captured $167 million in market growth and many taxpayers suffered sticker shock at their individual new values. To counter this, I promised to make adjustments up and down as dictated by clearly established market trends. After two years of 6% growth I made the first adjustments this year.

With $39 million in new value, the mil rate increase was limited to 3 cents per $1,000 in value, or $14.91, a rise of two-tenth of 1 percent (0.2%), from 2018’s $14.88. This despite a rise of $530,891 (4.54%) in the schools’ appropriation. The county appropriation increase was a more modest $42,327 (3.13%), with Camden’s appropriation, after subtracting revenue sharing and non-property tax revenues, rising only 1.46%, or $88,856.

We’ve been having an inordinate amount of trouble with Trio this year. Trio’s phone lines have been down for over a week and their email response times are so far below acceptable parameters I don’t know what words to use to describe their inexcusable inability to provide adequate customer support. I will let you know a tax bill mailing date as soon as possible.

Thank you, Kerry

Public Works Department

Performed ditching, culvert and storm water structure replacement on Cobb Road and Marine Ave in preparation for upcoming paving.

Performed ditching, culvert and storm water structure replacement on Oak Street.

Followed up on Roam Street light connection issue, the factory representative has been contacted and will be coming down to complete set up.

Met with Gartley & Dorskey to review the current open projects:
Parking lots on Washington and Mechanic Streets.
o Sand Street-sewer, water and storm water replacement and resurfacing
NorwoodAvenue-sewer, water and stormwater and resurfacing.
o PearlStreet-sewer,water ands torm wate replacement and resurfacing.

Cobb Hill Road culvert replacement.

Maple & WillowStreet Drainage improvement.

Conducted voluntary safety audit with Safety Works of Maine.
Conducted interviews for current open positions.

Planning and Development Department

Tannery:

In order to address data gaps in prior assessments and the issues of solid waste along the riverbank, the Town has been working with the environmental consulting firm, Silar Services Inc.
 
We reached out to the USEPA for guidance on how to address these concerns prior to redevelopment and the USEPA has verified that they will be providing “targeted assessment funds” to hire an EPA contractor to do the assessment work at no additional cost to the Town. Once we more fully understand the issues, we will better be able to plan for the cleanup and redevelopment of the site. Contractors and our consultant should be on site in October.
 
Washington Street Sidewalk -MDOT Locally Administered Project: The Planning and Development Director has been working with Gartley and Dorsky Engineers, our appraiser, and impacted property owners on final plans for the sidewalk that will go from Matthew John Street to Shirttail Point. It is our hope to put this project out to bid in the fall for construction next year.
 
Solar Feasibility Study: The Town’s solar consultant, Rich Roughgarden from Maine Solar Engineering, is finalizing a PV feasibility study for the Town. We hope to bring it to the Select Board in September.
 
Marijuana Business Licensing Ordinance: The marijuana cultivation zoning amendments that were approved by voters this past June included a requirement for an applicant to obtain a marijuana cultivation business license from the Town. The Planning and Development Director has drafted a business licensing ordinance that will go to public hearing on September 3rd, and to voters in November.
 
Ragged Mountain Recreation Area / Camden Snowbowl:

The Planning and Development Director has been working with Parks and Recreation Staff, the Coastal Mountains Land Trust, and Side Country Sports, and on trail planning and maintenance activities.

The intent is to ensure that sections of the trail systems are better suited for novice users, thereby providing a better experience for these users.

Ragged Mountain Recreation Area Access: The town has received a $94,000 stream crossing grant from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to replace the failing culvert at Hosmer Brook. The new stream crossing will be an open-bottom structure that will promote the natural movements of fish and wildlife and normal stream processes that support healthy habitat in a diversity of flow conditions.

Building Permit Fee – Update: The Select Board has approved Code Enforcement Officer Steve Wilson’s recommendation to add a new building permit fee category for non-structural work that requires a permit under the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code.

If you have any questions about when a building or use permit is required don’t hesitate to contact the Planning and Development Department. We are here to help guide you through the permitting process.

Zoning and Ordinance Amendments:

The Planning and Development Director will be working with the Select Board and the Planning Board over the next couple of months to prioritize ordinance amendments that will go to voters in June of 2020.

Broadband – Fiber to the Premises:
The Planning and Development Director and the Camden Economic Development Advisory Committee (CEDAC) will be collaborating with the Town of Rockport on efforts to bring a “cheaper, faster and better” internet service to our communities.

Be on the lookout over the next couple of months for educational efforts that will be followed by a community survey that should inform the group and internet providers of the need for a “cheaper, faster and better” option that will not only benefit every property owner, but will spur increased economic opportunities.

Sagamore Farm:

CEDAC and the Planning and Development Director have begun efforts to figure out what to do with the Sagamore Farm property.

The Comprehensive Plan clearly envisions development on the site. A traffic engineer has looked at a number of development options in order to determine what types of off-site traffic improvements would be needed.

Under the scenarios that the engineer applied, there would be no off-site traffic improvements required.

The Sagamore property is a unique property and an asset to the Town.

CEDAC understands that there are existing users of the trail systems on this property and it would be the intent to ensure that whatever use is envisioned for the property, that it would be compatible with the recreation that occurs on the site.

 

Fire Department 

AC Lowe has been working on apparatus & equipment maintenance project so annual ground & aerial ladder testing has been completed

Annual SCBA testing and maintenance has been completed

Annual preventive maintenance of apparatus is ongoing

He has also been leading the town's safety committee.

FF Heath has been developing a Table Top Exercise involving various town staff

TheDam Emergency Action Plan for the Seabright Dam will be utilized

We anticipate conducting an exercise in the town's Emergency Operations Center in October

Most town departments will be involved in the exercise

FF Beveridge has been leading our in-house training program

Training sessions with Hope Fire have been planned for September

Training sessions with Rockport, Hope and Lincolnville are planned for October

We are working towards conducting multi-town training sessions on a regular basis

We have lost two, active on-call Firefighters this summer

JackHauprich enlisted in the USA rmy with a goal of becoming an airborne

Isaiah Backiel enlisted in the US Army with a goal of becoming an airborne Ranger

Our ranks of on-call Firefighters is gradually diminishing, which causes us to rely on mutual aid even more

Firefighters have been discussing ways t oactively recruit new members

Chief has been attending meetings about EMS

Multiple meetings have been attended with the KRCC Executive Board regarding the upcoming retirement of the KRCC Director

Chief has met with the CountyAdministrator and Sheriff regarding the future leadership of KRCC

• There have been two fires within a five day period on one Central Street block

An Investigator from the Stat eFire Marshal's Office has assisted with the cause & origin of each fire.

One has been determined accidental with the origin being lithium batteries in an electric car

One has been determined accidental with the origin being an electrical short in a piece of shop equipment

The Code Enforcement Officer will likely be following up on this with the homeowner

Several Life Safety Code inspections for victulers and lodging licenses have been completed

oe have been  conducting a weekly walk-through of the new CRMS building with the CEO and project managers