Wanted: Bath residents for bevy of committee vacancies

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BATH — It’s been tough enough lately for City Clerk Mary White to drum up interest among residents in serving on various city committees.

The issue is now the worst she’s experienced in 23 years working for Bath, with only one person remaining on the city’s five-member Board of Assessment Review.

“The Board of Assessment Review, at this state, that’s the worst we’ve had,” White said Aug. 16.

The neighboring towns of Brunswick and Harpswell are also looking for volunteers to fill vacancies on boards and committees. 

Bath’s Community Forestry Committee has four vacancies. But at least that panel’s 11-member complement means that seven people are still left, allowing the group the necessary quorum to continue meeting. Three of the vacancies are due to the group’s recent expansion.

For the assessment review board, which only in recent months became so sparsely occupied, the city needs one member with a term expiring next July, one in July 2020, and two in July 2021. One of the seats has already been empty for a full three-year term.

“We’ve been trying for three years, and now we’re going for another three,” White said. “All we have is one person left on that board. That’s kind of like the red light, and the bells and whistles and everything is going off. … We’re in dire straits, that’s what I’m saying.”

That board can’t meet until it has at least two more members, White said. Fortunately, it tends only to convene when residents take issue with how their property is assessed on their tax bill.

“When somebody brings in a complaint, then they have to meet,” she noted.

Tax bills tend to be sent the first week of September and are due back Oct. 15.

The Bath Recreation Commission, which has six members at full capacity, has two vacancies, while the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals has just one vacancy among its seven-member capacity.

Deaths of members is one reason for the vacancies, White said. For instance, the late Joseph “Chic” Marchette was on both the recreation and zoning boards. Other residents have simply moved out of Bath, or opted not to reapply, figuring it was time to pass the torch to someone else.

The problem is, few have been clamoring to fill those empty seats. It’s a change White has noticed the past five years.

“We need some more people out there, and hopefully younger,” White said. “… We do need history on these committees, but we’ve got to have some of these younger people step up here and help out.”

Those residents 18 and older interested in serving can obtain an application form at White’s City Hall office, 55 Front St., or under the “Government/Board & Committees” tab at cityofbath.com. The City Council chooses members.

The positions are volunteer, “but that’s what communities are made of,” White noted.

Neighboring towns are also looking for more members. Terms in Brunswick to be filled immediately include one member of the Davis Fund Committee, three on the Downtown & Outer Pleasant Street Master Plan Implementation Committee, two on the Fair Hearing Authority and four on the Marine Resource Committee.

Topsham’s vacancies include the Board of Appeals (two openings), Historic District (two), History Committee (one), Topsham Town Meeting Committee (up to five), Comprehensive Plan Committee (one), Tree Committee (two), and the Topsham Housing Authority (one).

Harpswell’s one vacancy, by contrast, is on its Energy and Technology Committee.

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.