Government at a Glance: Auburn

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Board: Auburn City Council

Met: Monday, May 2

Business license fees
Issue:
Lewiston and Auburn have agreed to share a computer program to manage  city services, which includes fees. Both cities have kept different fee structures for years, however. The two cities have been working to make their programs match more closely to make the software adoption easier, and that includes adopting similar fees for business licenses.
The scoop
: Most fees would remain unchanged or rise slightly; the new structure would increase others significantly while creating some new categories. For example, restaurants currently pay the city up to $400 for an initial review and approval. The new schedule sets a variety of fees for restaurants ranging from $150 to $700, depending on size. But at least two councilors said they didn’t like the changes, saying they lacked a review from local businesses.
Up next: Councilors voted to adopt the new fee structure by a 4-3 vote as of the next fiscal year.

Council appointments
Issue: Councilors last week all but settled a disagreement about how volunteers were named to city boards and committees. Previously, two councilors met to review resumes for volunteer positions, then recommended names for councilors to approve.
The scoop: Councilors Mike Farrell and Dan Herrick objected, saying that system gave two councilors too much power in selecting which volunteers would serve. But Councilor Bob Hayes said the two members made the process run more smoothly.
A compromise would have all resumes and applications presented to the full council via email and in council packets. Councilors would be able to take all of those into discussions in executive session.
Up next: Councilors approved the new process.

Council Mondays
Issue: City Council meetings are held on Mondays, according to the City Charter. Monday is also the day on which most government holidays are scheduled. That means holidays force the city to push back, cancel or reschedule many meetings throughout the year.
It won’t happen this month because Memorial Day is scheduled to fall on the fifth Monday of the month when no normal meeting is scheduled. But it is scheduled to happen several times in 2011.
The scoop: Rather than have councilors reschedule meetings weeks or a month in advance, staff asked councilors to adopt a blanket policy and reschedule all of the meetings that would interfere with holidays in the 2011-12 fiscal year. According to that policy, meetings scheduled for Independence Day, Labor Day, New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day and Patriots Day will be postponed to the following Tuesday.
Up next: Councilors approved the measure unanimously as part of their consent agenda.

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Master plan
Issue: Councilors adopted a master plan for New Auburn in April. It’s designed to guide growth and development for the area. Toward that goal, the plan calls for a committee to manage how the new plan is implemented.
The scoop: Now councilors must fill spaces on that board. Staff on Monday asked the council to recommend appointees or suggest a process for filling it. Councilor Belinda Gerry suggested creating an 11-member board made up of New Auburn residents and business owners. But Mayor Dick Gleason suggested councilors collect resumes and make appointments based on those.
Up next: Councilors didn’t settle the matter.

Next meeting: The next regular meeting of the Auburn City Council is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday , May 9.

Contact government reporter Scott Taylor via phone at 689-2846 or via e-mail at staylor@sunjournal.com.

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