On April 26, 2007, the Maine Supreme Court held that where a municipal board is required by statute, charter or ordinance to have a certain number of members but there is a vacancy, the board is not legally constituted and has no authority to act (Stevenson v. Town of Kennebunk, 2007 ME 55).
This decision came as a surprise to most of us and has raised some alarm, not only about the ability of boards with vacancies to function in the future but also about the validity of past actions. Our advice to local officials: Don’t panic.
Kennebunk’s attorney is submitting a motion to the Court to reconsider its decision. MMA sent a letter to the Court in support of the motion to reconsider. In addition, MMA is working to get an emergency bill before the Legislature to amend State statutes and reverse the Court’s decision.
In the meantime, municipalities can mitigate the impact of the Court’s decision by filling board vacancies as soon as possible. Boards with vacancies may also want to consult with legal counsel about postponing significant decisions if possible. Municipalities can also amend their charters or ordinances to grant boards the authority to act despite a vacancy or to provide for alternate members in the event of a vacancy.
We think the Legislature will probably restore the ability of boards with vacancies to act, but we will continue to monitor developments and advise accordingly.
ELECTED OFFICIALS WORKSHOP
The MMA Elected Officials Workshop (EOW) will be held at two locations in June: at the Black Bear Inn in Orono on June 5 and at the Holiday Inn Express in Saco on June 6.
This workshop will help new and veteran selectmen/councilors to better understand their municipal role and responsibilities. It also provides an excellent opportunity to talk with other elected officials.
The workshop runs from 4:30-8:30 p.m. and includes dinner. Registration is $40. A reduced fee is available for newly elected officials.
For more information, contact the MMA Training & Affiliate office, 1-800-452-8786.
A basic and an advanced workshop in Governmental Accounting will be offered by the Maine Municipal Tax Collectors & Treasurers Association (MMTCTA) in June. Both workshops are being held at the Augusta Civic Center and Heather Hunter, deputy finance director in Lewiston, is the instructor for both workshops.
Governmental Accounting I is a two-day workshop being offered on June 7-8. Sessions run from 9:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. on both days. This workshop introduces municipal officials to the principles and practices of governmental accounting, emphasizing internal control procedures. Registration is $80 for MMTCTA members and $95 for non-members.
Governmental Accounting II is a one-day workshop that will be held on June 21. This seminar builds on the basic workshop with emphasis on the implementation of and compliance with GASB 34. Registration is $45 for MMTCTA members and $55 for non-members.
For more information, contact MMA’s Training & Affiliate office, 1-800-452-8786.
A half-day workshop on the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) will be held on June 12 at the Augusta Civic Center. The workshop runs from 8:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
This workshop will cover classification of exempt and non-exempt employees, public safety overtime and activities, outside employment and common wage and hour problems. The instructor is Larry Winger, author of the Maine Employers Handbook.
Registration is $50. For more information, contact the MMA Training & Affiliate office, 1-800-452-8786.
MMA’s workshop for Local Planning Boards and Boards of Appeal will be offered in Presque Isle on June 14 and in Machias on June 20. Both workshops run from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
This workshop is a basic introduction to the various legal rules governing decisions made by local planning boards and land use appeals boards. The instructors are from MMA’s Legal Services department.
Registration is $35. For more information, contact the MMA Training & Affiliate office, 1-800-452-8786.