PORTLAND – The Peaks Island Council is losing members and could cease to exist before the end of this year.

Three of the advisory board’s seven members have announced that they will quit as of Nov. 2. Three others have decided not to run for re-election. And the board’s chairman is contemplating quitting.

Council members say they are frustrated that they have been unable to persuade Portland officials to provide adequate public safety on the island and lower the costs of ferry transportation and parking.

The biggest obstacle appears to be the political structure itself, said Lynne Richard, a council member who will not seek another term.

Created three years ago after the island’s failed attempt to secede from Portland, the Peaks Island Council was seen as way to give islanders a stronger voice in city government.

Although the island council is advisory, Richard said, the City Council doesn’t listen to any of its advice.

Despite the hard work of its members, the council has been unable to accomplish much of anything, she said. “The structure is not going to work,” Richard said.

In addition to Richard, council members Suellen Roberts and Thomas Bohan said they will not run for re-election Nov. 2. Council members Judy Piawlock, Marjorie Phyfe and Rob Tiffany have announced they will resign even though their terms won’t end this year.

Portland’s election rules require that the City Clerk’s Office be notified of a resignation 120 days before an election. Because the three council members missed that deadline, there will be only three open seats on the ballot Nov. 2, for the members whose terms will expire.

If the council’s chairman, Michael Richards, decides to resign, the council won’t have a quorum after Nov. 2 to hold meetings or appoint people to fill the empty seats. Richards said Wednesday that he will decide in the next week or two what he will do.

The City Council has given the island council a little power — the ability to decide how to spend money from a fund set aside for Portland’s islands. The island council requested $361,000 this year, with nearly half to be spent on the Casco Bay Lines ferry service.

The City Council has given the island council $50,000 in the past. This fiscal year, it cut the allocation to $30,000.

The island doesn’t need an elected board to figure out how to spend such a meager sum of money, Richards said. “A little old lady can do that on her own,” he said.

Richards is also upset with the City Council’s decision to reduce police coverage on the island from two full-time officers to one. The City Council replaced one of the police officers with a firefighter who is trained in emergency medical response.

City Councilor Kevin Donoghue, whose district includes Peaks Island, said the City Council has addressed several problems on the island, despite a recession that has reduced city revenues and forced layoffs of city workers.

He said the City Council helped to establish a taxi service on the island, provided a shared-use car parked in the garage at the Casco Bay Lines terminal, and arranged free on-street parking for island residents on Thames and Hancock streets.

Donoghue said the council decided recently to give Peaks residents a $20 monthly discount to park at the Ocean Gateway garage. And emergency medical services on the island have been improved, he said.

If the island council ceases to exist, Donoghue said, he will continue to represent the interests of Peaks Island. He would recommend that the City Council use the island’s special fund to provide discounted monthly ferry passes for island residents.

Richards said the city should consider adopting a different political body for the island. Freeport’s Bustins Island, for example, is governed by a village corporation.

The island pays taxes to support Freeport’s school costs, but much of the tax revenue is returned to the island, and property owners decide how to spend the money. The island also makes it own land-use decisions.

Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at:

[email protected]