HALLOWELL — City councilors are retreating on Saturday to the Hallowell Fire Station to lay out a long-term vision for the city.

Goals, such as a new budgeting process, will be discussed at the 4.5-hour retreat. Other items on the agenda include reviewing the city’s comprehensive plan and overarching vision, among a number of open-ended items. No action is expected to be taken, but councilors plan to go into executive session to review the job performance of City Manager Nate Rudy.

The budget is expected to take the most amount of time. Councilor and Finance Committee Chairman George Lapointe said councilors will discuss a number of items relating to next year’s budget, including potential purchases of a firetruck and other city department needs.

Changes to the budget process were floated in September after hundreds of thousands of dollars in errors delayed the completion of this year’s budget. A proposed change would have the assessor review the budget in May, before the final reading by councilors in June. This year, the assessor review didn’t take place until after the budget was approved by the council.

Lapointe said an assessor’s check on the budget always should have happened before the ultimate reading, but the process never was changed because no procedural shortcomings were exposed.

“I just think it was one of those things,” he said. “We did business a certain way and it didn’t bite on the rear end — until it did (this year).”

The city’s 8-year-old comprehensive plan also will be a topic of conversation. Big components of the current plan included developing Stevens Commons, ensuring that 10 percent of new housing is “affordable” and preserving farm uses in the rural areas of the city.

Lapointe said he floated the idea of inviting community members who worked on the plan to discuss where work needs to be done.

“We need to get that process started,” he said. “It would be interesting to get some of the people on the (comprehensive plan) committee last time to see what was effective (and what was not).”

Councilors also will review the city’s vision, which was set at last year’s retreat. The long-term vision was to make Hallowell “the most livable community in Kennebec County for the 21st century.” That vision included maintaining “historic and cultural assets” and promoting Hallowell “in a way that attracts new business investment and residents.”

Mayor Mark Walker said councilors will discuss goals as they pertain to the vision for the upcoming year, including what to do with some city-owned historic property.

“I think the one item of unfinished business the city has … is what do with the old fire station,” he said.

Newly-elected Councilors Patrick Wynne and Maureen Aucoin will attend the retreat, and outgoing Councilors Lynn Irish and Lisa Harvey-McPherson declined invitations. Walker said the retreat is an opportunity to get new councilors up to speed on some complicated municipal processes.

“We have a new city councilor (Wynne) that’s never dealt with passing a budget,” he said. “I think George (Lapointe) and (City Manager) Nate (Rudy) are going to lead us through where we are now and go over what our budget priorities are.”

Wynne said he was looking forward to discussing staffing issues in the Public Works and Police departments, as well as preventing the property tax rate from rising.

“I’m excited to get started,” he said. “I think we have departments doing good work with the equipment we have, (and) my priority would be getting the city adequate staffing.”

Rudy said the retreat is a good opportunity for councilors to speak to each other in a low-pressure setting.

“We just need some time to talk where it’s not associated with a vote,” he said. “This is more of a visioning section and an opportunity to reflect on last year.”

The retreat will conclude with a luncheon and round-table discussion. The meeting is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Sam Shepherd — 621-5666

[email protected]

Twitter: @SamShepME

filed under:

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.