Government at a glance


Board: Auburn City Council

Met: Monday night

City manager search

Issue: Councilors decided to enlist professional help finding their next city manager. They selected four executive search firms to help take the search nationwide. They included the Maine Municipal Association, Scarborough-based Human Resources International and Chicago’s Slavin Management Consultants.

Bids for the job were between $22,000 and $25,000.

The scoop: After interviewing company representatives from each firm, Councilors Eric Samson and Ellen Peters and Mayor John Jenkins said they favored a Chicago-based firm, The PAR Group.

Up next:
Pending a review of the company’s references, councilors said they’ll hire The PAR Group to lead city manager search.

Capital spending

Issue: Cities use long-term borrowing in the form of municipal bonds sold to investors to pay for especially expensive products and services. Since those items tend to last at least 10 years, borrowing the money to pay them spreads the tax burden over many years.

The scoop: The city will borrow $6 million later this year and about $4.2 million of it will pay for road and sidewalk improvements due later this summer and next spring. About $900,000 will go for school building improvements and materials and $728,750 will go for new equipment and technology.

Up next: Councilors approved the bond on final reading Monday. That bond issue should be complete later this fall.

Blinking signs


Issue: City rules allow animated electric signs, but they can only flash or change their message once each 20 minutes. Neocraft Signs owner Roy Ulrickson asked the city to ease those rules, letting city staff be the final authority and letting signs update and change every five seconds. The Planning Board met in June and agreed that was a fine idea.

The scoop: Councilors had no problem with the change earlier this month.

Up next: The measure received a final thumbs up from councilors Monday, and Ulrickson can begin selling more animated signs to businesses positioned along Auburn’s streets.

Housing pays

Issue: The Auburn Housing Authority, with state and federal funding backing it, is exempt from paying property taxes. But residents in authority properties, like Barker Mill Arms and the Auburn Esplanade do use city service. The authority’s leaders recognized that and paid a fee instead of taxes for most of its existence, until federal and state grants began to decline in 2003.

The scoop: The authority will begin paying the city again, according to an agreement worked out between housing and city officials. Under the plan, the authority will pay the city $47,000 annually for the properties it operates.

Up next: Councilors approved the agreement unanimously Monday.

Polling ward 5

Issue: Voters in Auburn’s Ward 5 have voted in the Boys and Girls Club on Second Street for 11 years, but City Clerk Mary Lou Magno said there is limited parking there and difficult access for voters in wheelchairs.

The scoop: She suggested moving the Ward 5 polling place to Sherwood Heights Elementary School, which has a larger parking lot and no stairs.

Up next: Councilors approved it Monday night. The change in polling place takes effect during November’s municipal election.

Contact government reporter Scott Taylor via phone at 689-2846 or via E-mail at [email protected]