WINDHAM — The Town Council debated a variety of discussion items Tuesday night, including rescue services medical billing, watershed protection grant applications and animal control ordinances.
Fire-Rescue Chief Brent Libby proposed that the town increase its rates for rescue services, which would make Windham’s rates comparable to nearby communities’. The rates have not increased since 2011.
“We’ve had a lot of complaints about the affordability,” said Councilor Donna Chapman. “I don’t think your budget’s going to be broke if we agree to stay flat where we’re at for now.”
Councilors Jarrod Maxfield, Tim Nangle and David Nadeau supported increasing the rates.
“The problem that a lot of members of the council have are with the insurance industry,” Maxfield said. “If we continue to charge lower rates, we are subsidizing medical care for some people in town on the backs of every other taxpayer.”
Chapman spoke to the chief, saying that Nangle and Maxfield are “not out to the same areas that we get out to occasionally in Windham. Everybody can’t afford it. You and I don’t hang out in the same social circles, Jarrod.”
“You have no idea where I hang out, ma’am,” Maxfield responded. “You don’t know who I run with. You don’t know who I talk to. It’s insulting.”
Council Vice Chairwoman Rebecca Cummings said she and Chairman Clayton Haskell would bring up with issue with Interim Town Manager Don Gerrish, who was absent from the meeting, and bring it back to the council for a vote.
Councilors also discussed the town’s animal control ordinance, specifically pertaining to nuisance dogs, after recent complaints about two residences in town.
Police Chief Kevin Schofield said he and Animal Control Officer Jackie Frye would like to improve the language and definitions of the current ordinance in order to make it more consistent and clear.
Attorney Kevin Haskins of Preti Flaherty, which represents the town, said municipalities can be “more stringent” than state law.
“There are lots of areas where state law is entirely silent,” he explained, which allows towns to create restrictions themselves.
The council discussed whether or not the town could seize someone’s dog after multiple complaints and whether fines for infractions should be increased.
Schofield said he and Frye would begin by discussing increasing fines and defining injunctive relief and whether or not the town can seize a dog after a certain number of violations, among other suggestions.
The council also reviewed watershed protection grant applications. The town received five applications asking for a total of $55,000 and has $34,991 to distribute.
Nadeau recommended decreasing each application’s funds by the same percentage.
Chapman wanted to fully fund Forest Lake Assocation, since it did not receive grants from the Department of Environmental Protection last year, and divide out the rest of the funds among the other four applications.
Representatives spoke for each of the five applicants, which included Collins Pond Improvement Association, Forest Lake Association, Highland Lake Association, Presumpscot River Land Trust and Little Sebago Lake Association.
Roger Patterson of Collins Pond Improvement Association spoke of the group’s desire to decrease the lake’s “infestation of milfoil down to where it can be eradicated or at least controlled.” Milfoil is a freshwater aquatic plant that is an invasive species in Maine.
Little Sebago Lake is also fighting milfoil, said Lake Association Treasurer Jim McBride.
“We’ve been fighting milfoil on Little Sebago for 16 years. Little Sebago has a proud history of attacking the issue with a wide variety of tools and approaches,” he said.
The council also received a presentation on the dangers of vaping and marijuana from Laura Morris, the executive director of Be the Influence. BTI is a parenting program that seeks to reduce teen alcohol and drug use.
Morris discussed the impacts that vaping and smoking have on underdeveloped brains and urged the council to spread the word about these effects.
“We have reason to be concerned,” she said. “We want our youth to be healthy.”
Phil Rossetti, assistant principal at Windham High School, also spoke. “The recent increase in vaping and Juuling has become an epidemic,” he said, and the school has been “focusing on healthy decision making.”
In other Windham news, Town Planner Amanda Lessard has been appointed planning director, a position that has been vacant since April 2018.
Lessard has been serving as interim planning director since December 2018. The town is now seeking a planner to fill Lessard’s position. The deadine for applications is March 22.
Jane Vaughan can be reached at 780-9103 or at email@example.com.
Councilor Jarrod Maxfield clashed with Councilor Donna Chapman again Tuesday night during a discussion about rescue services medical billing.
Assistant principal of Windham High School Phil Rossetti spoke about the dangers of vaping and marijuana at the school.