LISBON — The Town Council decided Tuesday night that there will be no more town government meetings until May 5 as it follows recommendations for restricting public gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.

Councilors also made several other decisions related to the crisis, including paying town employees for the time being and delaying sewer, tax and loan payment deadlines.

The move to cancel government meetings comes amid budget season, when the council had scheduled meeting each week through May 1, rather than the biweekly schedule its maintains for most of the rest of the year.

Councilors discussed options for virtual meetings over the internet, but the town manager said the state Legislature would need to allow municipalities to do so.

Meanwhile, however, the town plans to explore its options for virtual meetings, which could allow residents to watch and give comment without being present.

“If we can make it so that taxpayers can ask real-time questions without coming to the meeting, it might be beneficial to them and to us,” Councilor Norm Albert said.


The budget workshops that were scheduled over the coming six weeks are not required under current rules, though the councilors will continue to work on the issues.

“I’m not comfortable having them out of sight out of mind,” Councilor Allen Ward said of the missed meetings.

Ward asked the council to keep up with the budget recommendations as they come in, emailing questions to other councilors and the town manager to avoid delays in timely adoption on the budget in May. The budget process will continue to include public hearings, which are mandated by ordinance and charter.

Further, councilors noted that the overall budget will likely not see large increases over the previous year.

“We are very fortunate that we are not in a budget position” where large increases are required, Ward said.

He recommends “no new programs or increases on this budget,” particularly given the forecast of a possible economic recession.


In other changes due to the pandemic, no trash that requires fee payments, such as large items, will be accepted at the Lisbon Transfer Station for the time being. The change will be reassessed May 1, Public Works Director Randy Cyr told the council. He said he has also instructed employees not to touch anybody’s trash.

“We are trying to stay away as much as possible,” Cyr said, saying that collecting money and helping people with their trash is too close of contact. “We want to protect employees as well as the public,” Cyr said.

Dumping regular household trash, recycling and composting remain active at the station.

Other townwide changes including closing the Town Office, library, parks and recreation programming and schools through March 31, with reassessments at the end of the month. The council resolved that all employees will remain employed and paid through that period even if they need leave for child care or illness.

“We’re checking in,” Albert said. “We’re going to keep monitoring the situation. These are funds that have already been allocated.”

There will be no public access to the town garage or sewage plant for two weeks as well.


Public assistance applications will be taken over the phone.

The town will defer payment on March and April sewer bills without interest through May 1. The second installment for 2020 taxes will be extended through May 1 without interest. Also, March and April loan payment deadlines will be extended through May 1 without penalty.

“We’re going to do as much as we can for the public, but this is fluid and changing daily,” Town Manager Diane Barnes said.

The Police Department lobby will remain open to the public.

“I don’t think we’re in panic mode, we’re in work-hard-and-get-through-it mode, and I think that’s a good thing,” town Emergency Manager Lisa Ward told the council, noting that the town is staying abreast of all the latest information and recommendations about the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the Lisbon School Department is close to completing a plan to conduct remote learning to continue the schools’ curriculum.

“They are building a plan that will allow them to go longer if needed,” Albert said. The plan will allow staff and students to do remote learning.

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