Cumberland, North Yarmouth work out service fees

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NORTH YARMOUTH — The Board of Selectmen has approved a series of recommendations from the town’s representatives on the Cumberland/North Yarmouth Joint Standing Committee that include seeking a two-year contract for services from Cumberland.

Cumberland has also opted not to impose a park fee on North Yarmouth for use of the Twin Brook Recreation Area.

Joint Standing Committee member and North Yarmouth Selectman Steve Palmer last week called the panel’s talks “very professional (and) very informative.”

He said “a good relationship has basically emerged from our being able to have a partnership in the discussions.”

Palmer said the North Yarmouth portion of the committee was tasked with looking into service options with other communities. It ultimately concluded that Cumberland is the most viable option, and also best for maintaining the sense of community shared by the two towns, which comprise School Administrative District 51.

Committee member and Cumberland Town Councilor Steve Moriarty said the Twin Brook Advisory Committee is looking into a fee structure for some users. “We in all honesty could not justify charging North Yarmouth a fee for the use of Twin Brook as opposed to any other town,” he said.

Moriarty said Cumberland had information from a license plate survey that showed a large number of cars parked at Twin Brook are from towns other than Cumberland and North Yarmouth.

Cumberland Town Manager Bill Shane said there would be no parks assessment to North Yarmouth in fiscal 2013, and he doubts there will be one in fiscal 2014.

The fiscal 2012 budget process in North Yarmouth raised questions about some of the services North Yarmouth receives from Cumberland. The committee’s meetings from summer to December 2011 were meant to help North Yarmouth residents better understand how the money it pays Cumberland for those services is spent.

North Yarmouth has paid Cumberland each year for recreation, library, public access TV, snow removal and animal control. But Cumberland also planned last year to phase in parks costs for North Yarmouth over three years, starting with about $11,000 in fiscal 2012 and ultimately rising to about $33,000.

The fiscal 2012 budget the North Yarmouth Board of Selectmen approved last April did not include funding for parks, or about $8,700 in extra library and recreation funds that reflected that town’s population increase between 2000 and 2010.

Residents were faced with losing all six services if they did not add the nearly $20,000 total to their fiscal 2012 spending plan. The issue led to lengthy discussion at North Yarmouth’s June 2011 Town Meeting, where an amendment to add the extra funds produced a split show of hands. The decision was forced to go to a written ballot, where it passed by three votes, 68-65, and was ultimately approved as amended by a show of hands.

But some residents wanted to look into options with other towns over the next year, and to improve communication between the two towns in forging future service agreements.

The Joint Standing Committee members are Shane and Cumberland Town Councilors Steve Moriarty, Bill Stiles and George Turner; North Yarmouth Administrative Assistant Marnie Diffin; Selectmen Andrew Walsh and Palmer, and Budget Committee member Pam Ames.

Palmer, Walsh and Ames presented a series of recommendations to the North Yarmouth Board of Selectmen Dec. 6, 2011, which the panel unanimously supported.

Among those recommendations were North Yarmouth continuing the recreation and community education and Prince Memorial Library programs through Cumberland; seeking a two-year contract with Cumberland; annual renewal of the contract, and the Joint Standing Committee meeting quarterly or at least semi-annually to review contracts, services and any other issues as required.

The committee has been invited to a meeting, led by Cumberland’s Finance Committee, that will take place at Cumberland Town Hall at 8:30 a.m. Monday, Feb. 20.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.