Municipal Bulletin Board
(from the February 2009 Maine Townsman)

AROOSTOOK SEMINAR

Maine Municipal Association, the Aroostook Municipal Association and the law firm of Bernstein Shur are cosponsoring a seminar on “Financial and Economic Issues” in Presque Isle on March 11.

The seminar will be held from 12 noon to 4:30 p.m. at the Turner Memorial Library.

Topics to be covered include: municipal borrowing, tax increment financing, LD 1 and regionalization. Speakers include Lee Bragg and Amanda Meader, attorneys with Bernstein Shur, Kay Ray of Bernstein Shur Government Solutions, and Michael Starn of MMA.

There is no registration fee for the seminar. For more information, contact Michael Starn at MMA, mstarn@memun.org or 800-452-8786.

MUNICIPAL BUDGETING

MMA will be offering its annual “Basic Municipal Budgeting” workshop on March 6 at the Paris Fire Station in South Paris.

This full-day workshop is designed particularly for municipal officials in small towns who have responsibility for budget preparation and management. Topics covered include developing the budget, transferring the budget into warrant articles, revenue and expenditure tracking and forecasting, and a brief look at internal controls and budget presentation.

Jim Bennett, Lewiston city administrator, and John Eldridge, Brunswick finance director, are the workshop instructors.

The registration fee is $50.

For more information, go online at www.memun.org or call MMA’s Educational Services office at 1-800-452-8786.

TAX LIEN PROCEDURES

The Maine Municipal Tax Collectors & Treasurers Association (MMTCTA) is sponsoring a “Tax Lien Procedures” workshop on March 12 in Bangor and on March 18 in Portland.

This workshop focuses on the tax lien process and procedures. Attendees will receive up-to-date information and forms. Instructors are Gilberte Mayo, Lincoln treasurer, and Paul Labrecque, Lewiston tax collector.

The registration fee is $45 for MMTCTA members and $55 for non-members.

For more information, go online at www.memun.org or call MMA’s Educational Services office at 1-800-452-8786.

MORE MARCH TRAINING

Don’t miss out on all the MMA training offerings in March. In addition to those workshops mentioned above, the Planning Board/Board of Appeals workshop series begins March 12 in Saco, MMA’s Grant Funding workshop is March 24 in Augusta, and the MMA Technology Conference is March 27 at the Augusta Civic Center. You can register online for any of these workshop by going to www.memun.org or call MMA’s Educational Services office at 1-800-452-8786.

Model Cable Franchise Deadline Extended

Municipalities that are in the process of negotiating cable franchises may be interested to know that under a law passed last session (known as LD 2133), the Maine Office of Information Technology was charged with facilitating the development of a Model Franchise Agreement that could be used by towns during their negotiation process with the cable operators.

Since the cable and telephone industry has also been participating in the development of the model, over 80% of the standard cable franchise language will already have been “blessed” by representatives of the industry, Maine Municipal Association and the Community Television Association of Maine. The remaining 20% would be subject to negotiation to meet the needs of the individual communities.

In early February at a Utilities and Energy Committee hearing, an Interim Report was presented and it was agreed that a deadline of June 1 would be put in place. The legislation provided that at a minimum, the committee should consider franchise fees, build out requirements, PEG access channels and reasonable facility support for each channel, customer service standards, the disparate needs of the diverse municipalities and the policy goal of promoting competition in the delivery of cable television service.

“We have made significant progress in standardizing the language in a format that is recognizable and acceptable to all stakeholders” said Tony Vigue of the Community Television Association of Maine. “Ultimately, our success will be evidenced by a reduction in the time and money that it takes a town to negotiate their cable franchise while maintaining an equitable agreement for both parties.”