2015-10-23 / Community

In the News

Police contract approved

The South Portland City Council has approved a new three-year contract for supervisors in the police department. The agreement, which covers three lieutenants and seven sergeants, is good through June 30, 2018. The vote, conducted at the council’s Oct. 19 meeting, was unanimous.

Under the agreement, the police supervisors will get a 9 percent pay raise over the next three years, spread out in 1 and 2 percent intervals.

City Manager Jim Gailey said the pay hike was a concession given by the city as a way to “negotiate our way out of he top, Cadillac plan” for health insurance previously offered.

“It’s not every day we talk about 9 percent, but there was a real need here to really get the concession on the health insurance and continue to move union members of that [top] plan,” Gailey said.

Other changes in the contract include a 20-cent per hour stipend for police supervisors who maintain an intermediate certification though the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, and one-hour of overtime per week, paid in lieu of actual overtime, for up to 20 minutes per day of so-called post-shift administrative duties.

The new contract, with the health insurance savings added in, will cost the city an extra $39,884 in the current city budget. The contract will cost $37,090 more than the previously projected need for fiscal year 2017 and $28,121 more for fiscal year 2018.

Pipeline contract renewed

South Portland has entered into a new three-year

agreement with Portland Pipeline Corp. granting the city access to the Hill Street tank farm as second means of access to Kaler Elementary School in case of a fire, or other emergency. The new contract, good though Oct. 29, 2018, comes with an additional one-year renewal option. The city council unanimously approved the contract at its Oct. 19 meeting.

“Some people may wonder how Portland Pipeline Corp.can be suing the city and yet the city is still doing business [with them],” Councilor Claude Morgan said, referring to an ongoing legal battle over an ordinance adopted in 2014 banning the potential flow of so-called tar sands oil though South Portland.

“The reality is we have so many connections that we are always in negotiations with them,” Morgan said. “Just because we have one disagreement with them on one issue does not mean everything stops, that we take away the sandbox and say no playing here any more.”

The agreement, first adopted in 2003, cost the city noth- ing. It also allows school used to a field, or “muster area” on the tank farm property for emergency preparedness drills by the school.

City Manager Jim Gailey said that without the agreement, the single mode of access to Kaler on the dead-end South Kelsey Street would mean “serious concern” for continued use of the property as a public school.

Councilor Tom Blake noted that development now taking place to the south of the school includes construction of a new street that may in the future create a second means of access to the Kaler property.

Stop signs currently exist on the three streets of the intersection — Mussey, Pine and Sawyer — and area residents asked for the fourth on Stanford in order to tamp down the speed of vehicles on High Street.

“I am very familiar with that intersection and I agree it does need some traffic control,” Councilor Claude Morgan said. “Stanford [Street] itself, where it meets the Greenbelt [Trail] is a bizarre intersection, one that leaves intelligent people wondering what to do.”

“We have a city that is becoming full of stop signs, speed bumps and speed tables,” Councilor Tom Blake said. “To me, if speeding is an issue, I’d like to see more tickets issued.” School that comprised part of the Thomas Memorial Library building until recent renovations.

Most respondents — 410, or 52 percent — said the town should spend to stabilize the remaining Goddard walls, to prevent further deterioration. By contrast, 223 people (28 percent) said the town should sell the property, while 102 (13 percent) said the mansion remnants should be torn down.

A similar 52 percent margin, representing 416 respondents, said the old Spurwink school should be retained for some sort of public use. On the other hand, 142 people (18 percent) said the 19th-century building should be demolished, while 196 (24 percent) said it should be sold to the private sector.

Results were more mixed on a third question, which asked residents to weigh in on the town center intersection, where Shore Road and Scott Dyer Road meet Route 77. No majority opinion was apparent as 385 people (48 percent) said the intersection presents “no problem,” while 294 (37 percent) said “public dialogue” is needed to come up with a better design. Meanwhile, 120 people (15 percent) put a check next to the “other” option.

Town Manger Michael McGovern noted that Cape residents were not content to merely check off boxes on the survey form. The mailer generated 26 pages of comment from the public, he said.

Documents shredded

The main branch of the South Portland library will offer free document shredding service on Saturday, Oct. 31, from 9 a.m. until noon.

“This is the time to clean out your closets and attics and get out all those old tax returns and get them safely shredded up,” City Manager Jim Gailey said. “The service is free, within reason. They don’t want to see large trucks pulling up. Residential shredding is what’s in order for that morning.”

— Compiled by Duke Harrington, staff writer

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