Bridgton selectmen say ‘no’ to nonresidents on committees

By Gail Geraghty
Staff Writer
Nonresidents will not be allowed to serve on town committees after all, Bridgton Selectmen decided Tuesday.
The board had considered the idea of appointing nonresidents to committees after the Community Development Committee suggested it would be a good idea to have the executive director of the Greater Bridgton Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce serve. Currently, Sue Mercer of Naples is the chamber’s executive director.
Town Manager Bob Peabody had drafted a proposed revision to the policy governing appointed committees for the board’s consideration. His revision would allow nonresidents to serve on committees, but only as ex-officio, or non-voting members.
The board agreed that many nonresidents, some of whom are business owners or summer residents, have a wealth of expertise that could be of value to the town. But in the end, they decided that nonresidents who have an interest in town affairs could be tapped as consultants without making any formal policy change.
Resident Glen “Bear” Zaidman weighed in on the issue, saying “You’re walking a real fine line by taking people from out of town” and appointing them as members. He said back when the Woods Pond Water Quality Committee was formed, its membership included people from across the country, “and I didn’t think that was right.”
Selectmen Paul Hoyt did not see a problem with allowing nonresidents to serve. When discussion turned to whether the nonresident should also be required to be a taxpayer, he said, “I think all nonresidents who want to serve” should be able to do so.
Peabody said former Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz has been attending meetings of the town’s Finance Committee as a non-voting member. His service has been of value, Peabody said, by virtue of his institutional knowledge of the town’s trusts during his eight years as town manager.
Revenue sharing
Selectmen discussed their hope for a large turnout next Tuesday, Jan. 20, when the board is hosting a regional gathering on the crisis faced by municipalities from reduced state funding for revenue sharing. Board Chairman Bernie King said he was dismayed to learn that the latest message from Gov. Paul LePage is a threat to eliminate all revenue sharing funding to towns in this year’s state budget. Legislators and selectmen from many surrounding towns have been invited to the meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m. in the downstairs meeting room of the Bridgton Municipal Complex. The gathering will feature a keynote talk by Geoff Herman, a revenue-sharing lobbyist from the Maine Municipal Association. The MMA has made the issue one of its highest priorities in the upcoming legislative session.
New 302 turning lane
The state Department of Transportation has plans to add a two-way left turning lane to improve traffic flow in front of Macdonald Motors on the Portland Road, Peabody told the board Tuesday. The work is scheduled for sometime in 2016, but might happen as early as this year, he said. King said he assumed the lane was deemed as needed because of the number of accidents along the stretch of highway. He said he had seen survey workers taking measurements there over the summer.
The work involves a widening of the roadway to accommodate a 12-foot center two-way left-turn lane, with 11-foot travel lanes and five-foot shoulders. Culvert replacement, shim and overlay, along with restriping and signage are included in the plans, and the state will hold two public informational meetings prior to when the project is put out to bid.
New phone system
Peabody said it took quite some time and several meetings to decide which vendor to use in upgrading the town’s phone and voice mail system. The bid went to GWI of Portland to provide phone, voice mail and Internet service at a cost of $18,320, or $1,526 a month. Other bidders were Fairpoint, of Portland, at $15,321 a year, and Communication Technologies of Falmouth, at $23,780 a year.
Peabody said the town will lease the phones and will also provide the 13th month of service at no charge. The new system will be installed in around six to eight weeks.
Selectmen appointed members of the Budget Committee as follows: Art Triglione Sr., Vanessa Jones, Earl Cash Sr. and Bill Vincent. The committee will begin its work after the 2015–2016 Fiscal Year budget is submitted to selectmen by the end of this month.
Selectmen also appointed Planning Board Alternate Phyllis Roth to serve as a member of the Community Development Committee.

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