July 02, 2020

Dexter ponders spending ordinances

DEXTER — A proposed ordinance that would change the way Dexter town officials review and approve municipal spending was discussed Thursday by the Town Council.

Until recently, disbursement warrants could only be approved during a formal board meeting, but a change in state law now allows greater flexibility, Dexter Town Manager Bob Simpson said Thursday evening.

Because the Town Council meets only once a month, Simpson said presenting the warrant for approval by the council at that meeting doesn’t allow them time enough to review the warrant in which spending is typically $300,000 or more a month. It also often creates delays in the warrant process, he said.

“The [Maine] statute has now finally recognized that municipalities themselves are in the best position to determine how disbursements should be reviewed and approved,” Simpson said.

The new law sanctions the practice of allowing municipal officers the opportunity to review and sign a warrant individually so long as it is provided by local charter or ordinance. The proposed ordinance, which will be on the agenda next month for approval, will do just that, he said.

The council also will act next month on a request by Simpson to spread the town’s wealth among investment firms.

Currently, the bulk of the town’s investments are held by Legg-Mason, which manages much of the town’s undesignated general fund money. In an effort to diversify some of the town’s managed assets, Simpson recommended opening an account with MBIA, a financial institution that specializes in municipal investments.

Shortly after announcing that Dexter is in good financial condition, Simpson dutifully reported that 93 30-day foreclosure notices had been mailed out to residents.

Also to be discussed next month is an ordinance to regulate the installation and maintenance of business signs in the town as requested by Ron Goldstone, a newly elected councilman. Under the proposed ordinance, the town would become the agency responsible for the management and maintenance of a function currently administered by a state agency.

Simpson said there were about 75 signs that would fall under the permitting process under the proposed ordinance. With the proposed fee schedule, the town would receive about $2,100, which he believed would not cover the cost of the undertaking.

Dexter High School students got their wish when the council approved their request for two crosswalks near the schools. The council agreed this spring to paint crosswalks on Abbott Hill Road from the Dexter Regional High School parking lot to the sidewalk adjacent to Summit Road and on Pine Street from the Tri-County Technical Center entrance to Crosby Park.

Mandy Casteel, a senior and secretary for the Dexter Regional High School student council, who made the request, said Friday that she was pleased the council had voted to make the crosswalks. “In the morning when we came to school, the traffic was so great that the kids would be stuck waiting on the other side of the road.”

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