Before the special town meeting began, recently elected councilors Carolyn Biegel, Louis Stack and Margaret Spencer were sworn in by Town Clerk Mary Chapman.

After taking their oaths for public office, the three officers took their seats at the table, some facing Standish residents as town representatives for the first time.

“I’m eager to work for the people and make this a better town to live in,” Stack said after the meeting.

“It’s excellent,” said Margaret Spencer, referring to the feeling of being on the council for the first time. “I hope we have a good year.”

During the meeting, Terry Christy was voted chairman and Stack was voted vice chairman.

The town voted to spend $20,000 for “legal services,” the first and only issue to be discussed during the meeting.

The sum includes the last bill the town still has yet to pay for its legal battle against the Portland Water District.

During the public debate section of the meeting, Bill Orr, a Standish resident, asked for an overview of the cost for “3,000 hours” of legal services.

“The town has expended $85,000 this year in legal fees,” said Town Manager Gordon Billington. “We did budget $50,000, carried over $11,500… anticipating quite a lot of legal (problems) from the lawsuits of the Water District against the town of Standish. A majority of your legal expenses have been in support of citizens’ rights to access Sebago Lake.”

John Keith, a member of the budget committee, took to the podium to discuss the problem he sees with the track record of the town’s lawyers.

“In the last three-and-a-half to four years since I moved to this town, I do not believe I have ever read of a situation where whoever is representing this town has won,” he said. “Is there a contract where we’re obligated to pay to continue to lose?”

However, Billington took some time to make a correction, saying that the town has been sued on several occasions in the past year, winning every lawsuit.

“There has not been a single lawsuit that we have lost since I became town manager five years ago,” he said.

Billington pointed out that the ongoing lawsuit with the Water District “has not yet been settled,” although he admitted that there had been some “adverse rulings” against the town in the lower courts.

Councilor Carolyn Biegel said that she would like to “speak as a citizen,” questioning Billington’s statement that every lawsuit the town engaged in was ruled in favor of Standish, referring to her lawsuit with the town of Standish to block the construction of a Pit Stop gas station on Ossipee Trail. “If anyone had read that judge’s decision, in my opinion and that of several others… it was an embarrassment to the town.”

Biegel declined to go into any further detail after the meeting concerning the lawsuit to which she was referring.


Facebook comments