January 29, 2013

Deadline for potential Gardiner City Council candidates is Friday

Mayor Thomas Harnett's District 3 seat is available, as is a Gardiner Water District trustee position

By Paul Koenig pkoenig@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

GARDINER -- Residents in District 3 have until Friday at noon to submit a letter of interest in order to be considered for the City Council seat left vacant by the election of Mayor Thomas Harnett.

click image to enlarge

Mayor Thomas Harnett's promotion has opened the District 3 seat on the Gardiner City Council, and residents interested in the position have until Friday to file letters of interest with the city.

Staff file photo by Joe Phelan

There's also an opening on the Gardiner Water District Board of Trustees because board member William Baron was elected to the council.

The council will select the replacements at its Wednesday, Feb. 6, meeting after hearing statements and conducting question-and-answer sessions from those interested in the positions.

City Manager Scott Morelli said two people have expressed interest in each opening so far.

The new council position will last until the November election, and the water district trustee position will go through the remainder of the existing three-year term, which ends May 2015.

Morelli said the new councilor will be paid $916 of the $1,000 annual stipend.

Candidates for the District 3 seat must live in the district, which is the northeastern corner of the city, including downtown.

The Gardiner Water District is a nonprofit entity, separate from city government. It also serves Farmingdale, Randolph and part of Pittston.

The board of trustees is its three-member governing body, which meets once a month. The mayor appoints candidates and the council approves them.

The position is paid a $1,000 annual stipend, and trustees can live in any of the communities served, according to Paul Gray, superintendent of the water district.

Besides filling the vacant council and trustee seats, the councilors will begin appointing candidates for various city committees.

The City Council changed some committee structures last year, including folding the missions of the waterfront and Gardiner Common committees into a parks and recreation committee.

That committee's first order is to lead a public process for the design and construction of a new gazebo in the Common. The old gazebo was torn down at the end of last year because of concerns about its structural integrity.

In other business, Morelli will outline the possible effect of Gov. Paul LePage's proposed budget, which calls for the suspension of the state's revenue-sharing program with municipalities.

Morelli said the nearly $1 million revenue loss for Gardiner would force the city to raise property taxes 12 percent or slash services.

LePage's proposal has faced strong pushback from municipalities, and Morelli said he doesn't expect it to pass.

Morelli also plans to ask the councilors whether they want the city to join with nearby communities in sending a request for proposal to the competing natural gas companies, Summit National Gas and Natural Gas of Maine, for providing services to the area.

For more information on any of the openings, contact the city clerk's office at 582-4460.

Paul Koenig -- 621-5663

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