2013-02-08 / Community News

Town Council establishes goals for year

Municipal, school budgets viewed as top priorities
By Michael Kelley Staff Writer


Scarborough Town Manager Tom Hall puts one of Town Councilor Judy Roy’s 2013 goals on paper as her fellow councilor, Jessica Holbrook, at right, looks on. The council meet in a workshop session last week to come up with goals for the new year. The group was expected to finalize the list this week. (Michael Kelley Scarborough Town Manager Tom Hall puts one of Town Councilor Judy Roy’s 2013 goals on paper as her fellow councilor, Jessica Holbrook, at right, looks on. The council meet in a workshop session last week to come up with goals for the new year. The group was expected to finalize the list this week. (Michael Kelley In 2013, Scarborough Town Councilors will strive to adopt a fiscally responsible budget, improve communication with their constituents and create a more pedestrian- and business-friendly community.

Those were four of the 10 goals councilors laid out in a workshop session Wednesday, Jan. 30.

“This is something we do every year and last year, I think we reached most of our goals,” said Town Council Chairman Ron Ahlquist.

This year, the council limited its goal list to 10 to ensure the goals set out are indeed met.

The biggest goal of the new year is related to the municipal and school budgets.


Scarborough Town Council Chairman Ron Ahlquist said he would like the council to focus on creating a more business friendly town, improve pedestrian access along Black Point Road and adopt a realistic budget that maintains services and infrastructre in 2013. (Michael Kelley photo) Scarborough Town Council Chairman Ron Ahlquist said he would like the council to focus on creating a more business friendly town, improve pedestrian access along Black Point Road and adopt a realistic budget that maintains services and infrastructre in 2013. (Michael Kelley photo) “It’s going to be very difficult with all the things going on in Augusta as it trickles down and when it trickles down,” Ahlquist said. “It seems like we go through this every year. If we (prioritize goals), my priority would be the budget. It would be number one.”

Councilor Judy Roy said she would, like in years past, like to create a budget that keeps essential services and infrastructure and avoid layoffs, if possible. Her fellow councilor, Jessica Holbrook, suggested limiting an increase in expenditures to no more than three percent.

Town Manager Tom Hall said his intention as he works on the budget is to create one that will meet council approval. He is scheduled to present the municipal budget for the first time Wednesday, March 20.

“I am quite confident on the municipal side we can control expenditures to that expectation,” he said.

While the budget remains his biggest focus, Ahlquist said there are a few other goals he has for himself and his fellow councilors in 2013.

Ahlquist said he would like to continue working towards making Scarborough a friendly place to do business in.

“Whether we do it through ordinances or town departments, there’s got to be a way we can capture a business-friendly environment,” Ahlquist said.

Possible ways to do that would be to review the Scarborough Vision, a 2011 survey outlining what residents liked and disliked about the community, hold a community forum on the business climate or reach out to town departments to see if town employees have ideas on how to improve the business climate.

“They are experiencing this every day, so they have some ideas, I am sure,” he said of municipal employees.

Ahlquist said he would like to see the council continue its work on creating better pedestrian safety in town, especially on Black Point Road from Route 1 to the Eastern Trail. Hall said the council will soon see a list of ways the traffic committee has recommended to improve pedestrian access and flow in the Oak Hill section of town.

Several councilors said they wanted to continue exploring cost-saving measures such as cooperative purchasing and shared services between town departments and with other towns. Ed Blaise, who was elected to the council in November, said there might be a possibility of doing that in the police, fire and assessing departments. For years the fire department has worked with the Gorham Fire Department to man and equip a fire station in North Scarborough.

Town Councilor Jessica Holbrook rehashed a goal she had in 2012 of chronicling town-owned land and preserving historical sites in town.

Roy said she would like to see the town continue “the road to alternative energy” by monitoring energy conservation and reducing the municipal carbon footprint.

Kate St.Clair, who was also elected in November and was participating in her first council goal-setting workshop, said she would like to see better communication with the public. St. Clair said in a digital age there are countless ways to keep the public informed about what is transpiring on the local government level, including through platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, email blasts, or a better constructed website.

“Whatever it is, I think there is a better way to let people know what we are doing,” St. Clair said, adding the Scarborough Police Department has a very active and informative Facebook page.

Hall said embracing social media is an issue a lot of other towns are looking into.

While St. Clair thinks there is still value in the more traditional communication models, engaging the public through social media could be a crucial tool in the town’s communication strategy.

“I just think this is another way to engage people in some of the issues we are facing (in town),” St. Clair said.

Another goal she had was having the council support the Health, Safety and Security Committee formed late last year to prepare for and respond to health and safety concerns and emergencies in the schools and throughout the town.

“I hate acting after the fact,” St. Clair said. “I like to be proactive.”

In an effort to improve communication between town boards, committees and groups, Councilor Richard Sullivan said he would like to see town groups do a better job sharing their meeting minutes and agendas with the council and file, at the least, quarterly committee reports outlining progress made.

Sullivan said it would help him and other councilors know what is going on with other town officials.

“I think those reports are important, but, as councilors, I think it is important for us to go to some of those meetings,” Roy said.

The council was expected to formally accept these goals at its Feb. 6 meeting.

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