Cape council OKs sharing Scarborough harbormaster

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CAPE ELIZABETH — Despite disagreements over the process, the Town Council on Monday unanimously approved an agreement to share Scarborough’s harbormaster.

The pact must still go to the Scarborough Town Council for approval. 

Councilors also briefly discussed the proposed fiscal year 2017 budget before sending it to the Finance Committee.

Utilizing the services of Scarborough Harbormaster Ian Anderson would cost Cape Elizabeth $5,500, compared to $4,000 the town now spends on the position. Anderson would be expected to do weekly checks of the town’s moorings, of which there are fewer than 100, for 28 weeks out of the year, for up to 155 hours a year.

According to Town Manager Mike McGovern, Walt Gibson, Cape Elizabeth’s current harbormaster, works “very part time” and doesn’t provide enough service. He will be let go if Scarborough approves the new arrangement.

The agreement was first discussed by the council Feb. 8, and several mooring holders said they wanted more information before it moved forward. A meeting with Anderson and Police Chief Neil Williams has been scheduled for March 23 at 5 p.m. at the police station.

Some councilors said it wasn’t fair to vote on the agreement before residents could meet with Anderson.

“Doing it this way feels like we’re pre-empting citizen input,” Councilor Sarah Lennon said.

McGovern disagreed, saying it would be “awkward” for residents to meet with Anderson if the agreement hasn’t been approved. He said residents don’t typically meet with new personnel before they are hired.

Councilor Caitlin Jordan said mooring holders don’t want a time to meet with Anderson; they just want information about what the agreement includes and how it will affect them.

McGovern said the town is already aware of the concerns mooring holders have,  and officials feel the agreement is a solution to problems they’ve faced with Gibson.

“We have listened to your complaints for the last several years, and this is an attempt to take all those complaints and to come up with a new workable system to accomplish addressing all those issues,” he said.

Council Chairwoman Molly MacAuslan said councilors and residents have never expressed so much concern about such agreements in the past. Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough already share school food services and a tax assessor; each agreement was reached within the past year.

Budget

Councilors on Monday also sent McGovern’s proposed fiscal year 2017 budget to the Finance Committee.

McGovern has proposed a budget of $12.3 million, which is an increase of more than $443,600 from the current year. It would increase taxes by 2.4 percent, or 10 cents per $1,000 of valuation.

Councilors didn’t discuss the budget before moving it to the Finance Committee, which is a committee of the entire council. The committee will meet on March 21 and 22 to discuss the budget; a public hearing is scheduled for May 9, and the Town Council will vote May 23.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.