Town Council approves emergency business regulations, extends property-tax interest due date to June 1. FMI see
News icon

News

Share: 

03/26/2020

Limits on public access to town services, office buildings extended to April

Town buildings will remain closed to the public until April 13, 2020, and services aligned with the School Department - Thomas Memorial Library, Community Services programs, Cape Care and After Care, the fitness center and the Richards Pool - will stay closed until schools are slated to reopen April 27.

The dates are subject to change as state reporting of COVID-19 cases caused by coronavirus continue to mount.

Town Manager Matthew Sturgis announced the extended closures and other updates related to the pandemic at the Town Council's special meeting March 25, 2020, the first ever held by video conference.

Projected operating schedule

The town is looking to extend its closure of town office buildings (Town Hall, Public Works, Community Center, Town Center Fire Station) to the public until April 13. Limited staff will continue to work inside and be available by email or telephone. Public access to the police station is available when necessary.

Buildings and services aligned with the School Department will follow the schools directive and remain closed until April 27. These include the Thomas Memorial Library and programs, Community Services programs, Cape Care and After Care, the fitness center and the Richards Pool.

The town has taken advantage of the shutdown to conduct annual cleaning and maintenance of the pool and fitness center, taking extra steps to sanitize equipment, Sturgis said.

The Recycling Center is open for single-sort recycling and waste disposal. The Swap Shop and Bottle Shed are closed until further notice.

Fort Williams Park remains open, but residents and visitors are strongly urged to practice social distancing. Playgrounds are not being sanitized, Sturgis said, and parents are advised to keep children away from swings, slides and other equipment on the playground.

Future meetings of town boards and committees, including the Town Council, will be conducted by video conference, as allowed by emergency state legislation.

Plastic bag fees

The town ordinance requiring businesses to charge a fee for single-use bags issued to customers has been suspended in light of the state postponing its impending prohibition on single-use bags.

Projected budget impact, current and FY2021

Town Council Finance Committee meetings to review the proposed municipal budget, originally scheduled for March 16 and 19, have been rescheduled for April 8 and 9, 7 p.m. via Zoom video conferencing. Links for the public to join the meeting will be posted on the meeting agendas.

Sturgis said business shutdowns, including the town's pre-school and other programs run by Community Services, have prompted a nearly complete "do-over" of the budget proposal, with likely deferral of some capital expenditures. Revenues for this year, however, are likely to hit targets because the pandemic arrived later in the fiscal year. Real-estate taxes, most scheduled through escrow accounts, are coming in, and, people are still buying cars. "We may find that revenue comes in later than anticipated, but much of it is coming in," Sturgis said.

In a related matter, the council voted that night to defer interest charges on real-estate taxes to June 1, two months after the April 1 tax due date. [news article]

Election process update for June 9, 2020

Because the town acts as an agent of the state, Town Clerk Debra Lane said there were still many unknowns surrounding the June 9 primary election. "You hear other states talking about more of a mail-in type ballot," she said. "I have no idea if the state is looking for that," she said. Cape Elizabeth, like many surrounding communities, also schedules it school-budget validation for the same date.

"I wait eagerly every day to hear from the secretary of state's office," Lane said. "I believe they are making recommendations now to the governor," but "I have no idea what that is going to look like." The town will also be looking at protocols for social distancing and sanitation of voting facilities.