MAINE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEETING MINUTES
THURSDAY, MARCH 25, 2004
A meeting of the MCDA Executive Committee was held at the Target Development Center, Conference Room in Orono on Thursday, March 25, 2004 at 11:00 a.m. Attendees were:
Mathew Eddy Chris Spruce
Isaac Wagner Mary Walton
Orman Whitcomb Peter Lyford
Don Keiser Al Smith
Dan LaPointe Stephen Dyer
1. MEETING CALLED TO ORDER: Vice President Isaac Wagner called the meeting to order at 11:00 a.m.
2. LEGISLATIVE UPDATES: Chris Spruce updated the Committee on LD 1025, An Act to Ensure Uniform Code Compliance and Efficiency Oversight of Construction in the State, which lays the groundwork for licensing building contractors. The law is voluntary but if a municipality adopts/changes their code, it must be to this one. LD 1930, An Act to Promote Intergovernmental Cooperation, Cost Savings and Efficiencies, is a regionalization bill that will provide the basis for incentives for regional cooperative activities. An Intergovernmental advisory group has been established but was a long way from resolving many issues.
Orman stated that a bill had been introduced that would force labor rates for all projects within the State of Maine but that the bill did not pass.
State attorneys are still working on housing TIF legislation but if their work is not completed soon, it will not be accomplished this legislative session.
A MCDA Meeting will not be held during CD Day because of the activities. Orman stated that several communities will be receiving checks and recognition awards from the State around 12:30 p.m. that day. He was asked if a TA Provider meeting would be held afterwards and he replied that if Mike Baran was planning on scheduling one he would be letting people know in advance.
The group also discussed formulating MCDA award criteria for presentation at CD Appreciation Day in August.
The Maine Downtown Center will be conducting a workshop on Downtown TIF’s on April 7th in Augusta from 1-4 pm. It was decided to list this meeting on MCDA’s website.
Mat stated that SPO still hasn’t finished their comprehensive plan review criteria revisions. He had not recently heard anything from the Maine Association of Planners and the fall MCDA meeting (September) with them will be contingent upon completion of that task.
He also mentioned that MMA has sent out a Housing Survey related to training and workshops and encouraged members to participate.
4. TREASURERS REPORT: Mat stated that the group has approximately $13,000 and that there was an outstanding bill from MMA for Contract Services that needed to be paid.
5. APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Motion was made by Mary and seconded by Don to approve the December 4, 2003 meeting minutes. Voted on and passed unanimously.
6. STRATEGIC PLAN/LOGO UPDATE: Mat stated that Joella was going to go through the Plan and list accomplishments to date and tasks to be completed. She was also working on the final format of the MCDA logo.
7. BUDGET: Mat stated that Ron had been asked to establish budget line items and related costs for the organization. The following is a draft list:
Training & Workshops
Office Supplies (Including meeting costs)
Travel (Officers to national conference)
Promotional Materials (including newsletter)
Events – MMA Annual meeting, CD Appreciation Day, etc.
Resource Directory CD
Community Development TA dollars from HUD/OCD
Membership Revenue ($2400 halfway through the year and currently have approx. 60 members)
Charges for Workshops?
Possibility of Raffle at MMA Conference
The group decided that costs should be tracked and set during the June meeting and that the budget should be set prior to the new officers coming on in the fall and that it would be a good transition tool.
8. MMA CONTRACT: Mat stated that the MMA Contract ($1,214) does not include charges for MCDA’s website, which was another $340.00. He has spent a fair amount of time with MMA staff and mentioned that there has been some changeover and that Karen Gigure was now our staff contact for administrative services and Jeri Holt the contact for the website. Mary asked about the updating of the membership listing and Mat replied that MCDA will ask for an updated list from MMA and a mailing should be sent to members to update their info and ask their permission for their contact info to be listed on the website. Mat also stated that some confusion has existed concerning who does what for us at MMA and he would ask for further clarification.
A motion was made by Al and seconded by Chris to authorize execution and payment of the MMA contract in the amount of $1,214. The motion was amended to include payment of $340.00 for MCDA website. Motion was voted on and passed unanimously.
9. JUNE MEETING: Tony Levesque asked that his comments regarding the June meeting be read at this meeting. Suggested format for the meeting is Panel format with Q&A at the end. He had his speakers lined up and requested that Isaac confirm his speakers. Mat related that an agenda should be nailed down as soon as possible and that he will request Tony to compile a paragraph about the meeting to send to the membership, MAP, Chamber directors and DECD tourism.
10. OTHER BUSINESS: Orman mentioned that the website/email address for the State of state.me.us will no longer be valid as of May 1st and everyone should now be using maine.gov. The reason for the change was the amount of spam the other address seemed to generate.
Some members felt that although Executive Committee meetings were open to all members that not everyone was aware of that and it sometime precluded members and others from attending or feeling welcome. A suggestion was made that Executive Committee meetings be changed to General Membership meeting but would require a change to the By-laws. This will be an agenda item at the next meeting.
11. CDBG DISCUSSION: Consensus of members present was not to go into Executive Session to discuss this issue. A summary of the discussion follows:
Mat pointed out that several months ago Orman had raised the issue of examining the CDBG scoring process and would be soliciting input from MCDA for the next round of funding. He stated that he had received many calls recently about the process: its fairness, the way OCD staff looked at scoring, etc., and that now was the time to act in advance of the rulemaking process. He asked Orman to comment.
Orman stated that OCD has been struggling with the scoring system, admitting that it is “not perfect” but that they are open to suggestions going forward. He summarized the basic criteria as outlined within the Program Statement and pointed out that past performance, which has been looked at liberally in the past will have to be tightened up. He explained that after the applications have been scored by the five reviewers, the staff meets to discuss them and there is an opportunity to adjust scores if something was missed. He also noted that he had heard several complaints about the announcement process and that they were having to go through the Governor’s office this year and OCD was not always aware when those announcements would be made. He emphasized that allegations that the Governor’s office was involved in funding decisions were false and that if funding was awarded without documentation and DECD were audited, those funds would have to be repaid to HUD. One of the biggest issues OCD is struggling with are the so-called “distressed figures based on population and the application itself, especially with some of the categories that seem to all say the same thing differently and then have to be objectively scored. He mentioned that there was some thought given to outside scoring, such as Maine Downtown Center for DTR applications, Historic Preservation for Public Facilities, etc.
Members present brought out the following points:
· In the past, applications have been reviewed by OCD staff prior to submission and suggested changes made, with promises that it should be funded unless beat out by a better application
· Comments received by scoring team have often been vague, inaccurate and in some cases, insulting
· If applications are scored “in relation to each other” then a minimum number should be funded. This was not the case with the DTR applications, where only one was funded out of six applications.
· Many communities feel that process has become political and has nothing to do with the merits of the application itself.
· Feeling that OCD staff should not be involved in both technical assistance and scoring. Personal feelings can and do enter into the process, as evidenced by the point spread in reviewers scores.
· Scoring needs to be conducted on measurable criteria as opposed to subjectivity.
· The Downtown funds were transferred and awarded to a category that had no matching funds requirement (Façade Improvement)
· Concerns with “cookie cutter” approach and OCD staff involvement in the communities and unfair bias as a result.
· Scoring should place more value on match, public participation etc.
· The Downtown Program is an important statewide initiative and three applications should have been funded.
· Perception that some information is not given a score if not in the order it was asked for and should be scored regardless of order because that is not pointed out in the criteria.
· Should be checks and balances for making sure that reviewer’s comments/scores are not deficient.
Orman stated that he felt that community impact should have some bearing and that assigning points to individual criteria, with a number value assigned to measurable criteria were ideas to be considered. There are pros and cons to eliminating individual interpretation and he felt that the process needs to have some qualitative scoring and some fresh eyes and blood. He also felt that we need to look at increasing maximum awards for projects that were set many years ago based on current costs. He pointed out that committed funds needed to be spent in a more timely manner in some cases.
Orman stated that the Public Hearing process for the 2005 Proposed Program Statement begins soon and he typically meets with his staff in early May to solicit input. He invited MCDA to meet with OCD prior to the public hearing rounds to solicit comments and ideas that will go into the Statement. A meeting to discuss the process will be held in the West Wing Conference Room at DECD in Augusta for 12:00 on Friday, May 14. This is a brown bag lunch meeting and all members are encouraged to attend.
The meeting adjourned at 2:00 p.m.
Mary A. Walton
For Joella McBrearity