2015-11-20 / Community

City workshop schedule set

By Duke Harrington
Staff Writer

SOUTH PORTLAND — The South Portland City Council has set its schedule for upcoming workshop sessions.

It’s meeting on Monday, Nov. 23 will include proposed amendments to how money generated by various tax increment financing districts can be used. Those funds, generated by setting aside property taxes generated by new development, are generally used to fund infrastructure improvements within the municipality. Also on the agenda for that meeting will be a possible conservation easement for Dow’s Woods Nature Preserve off Highland Avenue, as well as ways in which the city can obtain financial assurance from area petroleum companies, sufficient to satisfy city officials that any spill or business closure can result in site cleanup at minimal cost to taxpayers.

The Nov. 30 workshop will feature a primer on the state’s Freedom of Access Act. Councilor Brad Fox has recently come under fire for mass mailings related to a proposed propane storage and distribution complex at the Rigby Yard rail station. While much has been revealed about the inner workings of the city by Fox sharing internal memos and other documents which, while public, would not otherwise have been distributed publicly, some councilors have complained that Fox has violated state law by lobbying for his position by email. Fox also has come under fire for using a private email address, rather than his city-issued account, when discussing city business.

Also up for debate Nov. 30 is a proposed update to fire code. While Fire Chief Kevin Guimond has said his inspectors already are holding businesses to the latest guidelines of the National Fire Protection Association, those rules have yet to be officially incorporated in city ordinances. Those new codes have featured in recent debate about the Rigby Yard proposal, with some residents calling for even stricter standards, in hopes of limiting the propane project.

Because the mayoral inauguration will take place on Monday, Dec. 7, the regular city council meeting for that night will be bumped to Wednesday, Dec. 9.

Then at its Dec. 14 workshop, city councilors will build a list of goals for 2016. That will be followed on Dec. 16 by a joint workshop with the South Portland Board of Education, at which both groups are slated to receive their first sneak peak at budget proposals for the 2016-2017 fiscal year from City Manager Jim Gailey and school department Superintendent Ken Kunin.

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