The December 20, 2021 Rangeley Board of Selectmen’s meeting was held remotely.  Due to the recent uptick in Covid 19 community spread all Town meetings will be held via Zoom until further notice.
A decision to hire a law firm for Town legal services was tabled at the last Selectmen’s meeting until all Board members were present.  With a full Board present, the Selectmen used score sheets to evaluate the two firms that responded to their request for proposals.  Three Selectmen had higher scores for Preti Flaherty while two Selectmen assigned higher scores to Jensen Baird.  The ensuing discussion indicated that the Town would be well served by either candidate.  The Board voted to continue with their existing counsel Preti Flaherty.
Plan Administrator Deanna Doyle gave a presentation on Maine PERS at the Selectmen’s request.  Maine PERS is the Maine Public Employee Retirement System.  Maine PERS is a defined benefit plan that uses a set formula and rates based on gross pay.  The plan is paid for by contributions from both the employer and employee.  Stable retirement income, pre-retirement death benefits and disability retirement income are features of the plan.
There are currently 309 Maine PERS districts in the state with 35,000 active members.  Accumulated benefits are transferable within the network of districts.  Towns find that offering this retirement plan helps retain and recruit employees.
The Selectmen are educating themselves on how Maine PERS works so that they can share this information with Town employees for their consideration.  A Town Meeting vote is required for the Town to become a Maine PERS participant.  The Selectmen’s goal is to have a Warrant Article ready for the June 2022 Annual Town Meeting.
Alyssa Tibbets the Town’s TIF (Tax Increment Financing) attorney discussed the second draft of the TIF Policy with the Selectmen.  She offered policy guidance on voter approval, consistency, credit enhancement agreements and the Selectmen’s role in the process.  The Selectmen will continue working to improve the TIF Policy with a March 2022 completion goal.
The Selectmen discussed an inquiry report prepared by Town Attorney Stephen Langsdorf that looked into the Annual Town Meeting 2020 warrant article EX10.  Article EX10 contained a $15,000.00 Fire Chief pay raise that the Selectmen and Budget Committee had not discussed.  At the time the Fire Chief reported solely to the Board of Selectmen.  When the Selectmen voted via Zoom to accept the draft and final versions of the 2020 Town Warrant they did not realize that Article EX10 contained an unapproved increase to the Fire Chief’s salary.  The Selectmen seek to understand how this happened so they can prevent it from happening again.  The previous Select Board Chairman and a couple of the Town’s Department Heads are the only ones who could have made this happen but none accepted responsibility.  Several Selectmen felt that the attorney’s report missed some important points and lacked adequate fact finding.  Selectmen are frustrated by the breach of trust and lack of accountability but feel that continuing the inquiry is unlikely to provide further insight.
The December 13th public workshop on Chapter 38 of the Rangeley Zoning Ordinance was postponed and has been rescheduled for January 10, 2022 at 6:00pm.  Discussion of the Land Use Tables which control what activities are allowed in each zone and who has the permitting authority will be an important portion of this meeting.
Donald Nuttall a former Selectman was appointed by the Board to a three year term on the Airport Commission.
The next Selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for January 3, 2022 and will include a presentation and discussion of a Rangeley attainable housing report and a possible housing project.
Stay healthy and have a joyous holiday season!

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