AUBURN — The City Council voted to accept the recently completed Strategic Plan on Monday, but disagreed on how it should be forwarded to staff and future elected officials.

The plan, which was first unveiled during a workshop Aug. 18, was created by three committees and more than 100 people. It’s meant to guide the work of the City Council and city staff.

While officials said Monday that they support the contents of the plan, the 4-3 vote came after disagreement over whether the council should vote to accept the plan as a council “order” or “resolve.”

Councilor Andy Titus said he’s concerned that if the council accepts the plan as an order, it sets a tone for city staff and future councilors that the plan is a set of instructions rather than a statement of opinion, like a resolve.

“We’re ordering staff to accept the report,” he said. “My feeling is it should be a resolve, saying we support it, it’s good, but that we have to approve items (of the plan) individually.”

Despite Titus’ concerns, Mayor Jason Levesque and city staff said they agreed with the use of a council order to accept the strategic plan.

“It’s an acceptance of the plan, not approval,” Levesque said.

City Manager Peter Crichton said staff looked at the issue and that the purpose of the plan is to guide city decisions, but staff will come to the council and future councils on whether they want to move forward on recommendations made in the plan.

“We’re accepting, not approving,” City Clerk Sue Clements-Dallaire said. “It’s going to be a work in progress.”

While some councilors said the council could consider replacing the order language with a resolve, or adding a clarifying statement, others said the order was meant to show the importance of the strategic plan.

“This is an important document, I think we need to give this more weight,” Councilor Holly Lasagna said.

The 4-3 vote was opposed by Titus, Leroy Walker and Belinda Gerry.

During the Aug. 19 meeting, councilors were supportive and enthusiastic about the plan, but also had concerns over some of its content deemed “political,” including Lake Auburn filtration, which Titus said could hamper implementation.

Feeding Auburn 

Also on Monday, the City Council discussed a plan to provide some funding to fight food insecurity in Auburn.

According to Assistant City Manager Phil Crowell, the “Feeding Auburn” initiative came from $10,000 in funding that was added to this year’s budget at the last minute.

At the time, staff did not have a set plan for the funds, but Crowell presented an initial plan to use the funds in “micro grants” during a workshop Monday.

He said the grants could be an opportunity to build on what is already taking place in Auburn.

He said the proposal is for the city to provide up to $500 for a one-time event such as a community meal, or up to $2,000 for a small project.

Councilors were supportive of the proposal, but urged the city to work more closely with regional organizations already engaged in such efforts.

What’s that smell?

The City Council workshop Monday was halted briefly by the smell of gasoline fumes in the Council Chamber.

The fumes were enough for city officials to put the meeting on hold to investigate the cause, as staff, elected officials and members of the public were told to leave the chamber temporarily.

A few minutes later, the meeting reconvened after Crichton said someone had spilled gasoline somewhere outside the building, and the fumes had entered the Auburn Hall’s air intake.

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