City of Saco Newsletter
April 2021 Edition
Take Part in the Fiscal Year 2022 Municipal Budget Process, Happening Now
The FY2022 Municipal Budget process kicked off on March 22 with the City Administrator, Bryan Kaenrath, presenting his proposed municipal budget for the coming year. The municipal budget details all of the expenses and revenues that the City of Saco needs to provide its citizens' quality services for a full fiscal year (July 1st - June 30th). Each year, the city and schools determine the budgets that are needed to continue service delivery, or in some cases, expanded services.

The School Board approves a school budget to move forward to the City Council for consideration. To follow along with the Schools' budget process, visit www.sacoschools.org.

On the city side, the Council will hear from each municipal department during presentations throughout April, with a public hearing set for April 26th. The public hearing is an excellent opportunity to provide feedback or support for various initiatives and programs. You can find the information about how to participate at www.sacomaine.org/watchmeetings.

If you have any questions about the budget, please email budget@sacomaine.org. We are happy to answer your questions.

As we receive questions, answers will be posted on the webpage, listed below, and shared during the Administrative Update portion of City Council meetings.

Find all municipal budget information at www.sacomaine.org/budget.
News & Updates
Filling the Vacant Ward 5 Council Seat
The City received three letters of interest from Ward 5 residents who wish to serve on the City Council to fill a term set to expire in December 2022.

Here is the final list of candidates who have submitted letters of interest:

  • Phil Hatch
  • William Gayle
  • Jennifer Day

If you'd like to reach out to the candidates and ask questions, you can find their contact information on our website here.

Your elected officials are interested in getting your feedback about the candidates. You can participate in various ways: public comment during city council meetings, submitting a letter of support to the council using council@sacomaine.org, or contacting city councilors individually.

The submissions from interested candidates will be reviewed and discussed publicly during the City Council meeting on April 5.

To learn more about the responsibilities of a City Councilor or to view the ward map, please visit sacomaine.org/citycouncil.

Additionally, we encourage you to take a moment to sign up for e-notify so that you are alerted each time a City Council meeting agenda and packet are published: sacomaine.org/enotify.
Join Us for Earth Day Park Cleanup
Come celebrate Earth Day in Saco!

The Saco Parks & Recreation Department wants to bring the community together to clean up and prepare the local green spaces and parks for spring and summer. It's more important than ever to focus on our green spaces, clean energy, eliminating waste, and becoming an eco-friendly community.

We will be looking for volunteers to help us at Pepperell Park, Jubilee Park, The River Walk Trail, Cascade Falls, Haley Park, Bayview Beach, Diamond Riverside Park, and the Saco Community Center. Volunteers will choose their preferred park location during the registration process.

Please follow this link to register as a volunteer and to find more information: www.sacorec.com

When: Thursday, April 22nd, 2021
Where: Local parks in Saco!
Time: 9 AM - 12 PM
Registration: FREE but must preregister
Saco Main Street Director Sees Bright Future after Difficult Year
March 13, 2020 was the day that changed our world.

Up until then we had heard about an unusual and somewhat unknown virus in China emerging. But we live in Maine, it won’t affect us here right? At Saco Main Street we had been preparing for another great year of helping our businesses and starting the planning for our spectacular events that help make Saco a great place to be. When a National State of Emergency was declared on that day in March there was so much to come that we didn’t know. Masks, Social Distancing, Rapid Testing, Ventilators, Essential Workers, Asymptomatic, Community Spread, Herd Immunity and PPE. All words we may have heard of but they now became forefront in our reality and have brought new meaning.

I remember in March thinking “Well, the Sidewalk Art Festival is not until late June, that should be no problem right?”

Wow, what we didn’t know then.

So as this pandemic began to unfold our year rapidly changed. Normal activities were set aside and new ones took their place. Time to focus on the health of our local businesses, as well as, our community health. As soon as we heard about the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) we made sure our local businesses were aware of the program and knew how to apply for the support. We actually helped a few navigate the process and get the needed relief.

As our restaurants appeared to be at the highest risk we were proud to see how quickly they were able to adapt to “The New Normal” and quickly pivot to take-out and curbside pickup. As the weather warmed we worked with the city to allow for additional outdoor dining options that have proved to be highly successful and allowed our eateries to continue to stay open. None of this was without sacrifice but our Saco small business community like many across the country is very tough and resilient, not willing to give up and willing to do what it takes to make it through trying times.

Come Work with Us!
The City of Saco has a variety of open positions right now, across several departments.

We encourage you to take a look at the job opportunities currently available with the City of Saco on our Careers page. There is so much important work that goes in to keeping the City running, often behind the scenes.

If nothing is a great fit for you, consider passing the listings along to friends and family who might be looking for work.
Arts Commission Holds First Meeting
Saco’s newly formed Arts Commission held its first meeting on March 4.

The purpose of this commission is to provide expertise on visual arts and help improve the aesthetic quality of the City’s public spaces. At its first meeting, members brainstormed project ideas and discussed possible locations for public art exhibits.

Are you interested in being a part of the Arts Commission? Apply to join here.

The commission looks forward to getting to work over the coming months to further encourage and support art in the community!
Thinking Spring? Join a Webinar to Learn How to Foster a Healthy Lawn
Learn ways to grow a healthy and beautiful lawn that’s safe for families, pets, and the environment while saving time, money, and effort. Join the Cumberland County Soil & Water Conservation District during one of their online classes!

  • Wednesday, April 14 from 4:00-6:00 PM
  • Thursday, April 29 from 6:00-8:00 PM

Digital handouts for the class are providing with the webinar link. If you would prefer to receive a printed handout packet, please order one to be mailed to you.

Registration fees are used to improve and increase YardScape program services. If this registration fee is a barrier for your participation, please contact our office (207) 892-4700 for financial assistance. 
A Healthy Yard Benefits Your Area Environment, Too
Do you live, work, or play in the Goosefare Brook Watershed? A watershed is an area of land, where all of the water that falls on it, flows downhill across the land to the same waterbody.

The things you do to your yard can harm the health of your local waterbody. You can have a healthy lawn that's safe for you, your family, and pets to play on by reducing your use of fertilizers and pesticides.

Learn how:
Follow-Up Survey on Proposed Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge across River
As mentioned in the first survey distributed December, we are issuing a follow-up survey about a proposed bicycle and pedestrian bridge across the Saco River, supporting transportation and recreation in the robust downtowns and mill districts in Saco and Biddeford.

With a grant Saco Main Street received from the Sewall Foundation, the City of Saco and City Government Biddeford Maine are exploring the feasibility of building a second bicycle and pedestrian bridge, connecting the Saco Transportation Center to the planned Pearl Street Riverfront District in Biddeford. This preliminary study is an opportunity for us to explore what is possible at this location and, most importantly, hear from you!

Our consultant team, led by Thornton Tomasetti, will complete a concept plan to help us illustrate possible designs based on site restraints and public input, estimate final costs, and identify potential funding sources and a roadmap to construction. Additional information about this project is available online here: www.sacomaine.org/bridge.

Due to public health precautions and your feedback, you can provide your input safely from the comfort of your own home! Please take a few minutes to complete the survey: https://sacopdd.typeform.com/to/D6frMdQW

This survey will be open until Monday, April 5th, 2021.

Questions? Concerns? Want to discuss in more detail? Contact Jessa Berna, Economic Development Specialist, at jberna@sacomaine.org, 207.282.3487 x358
Easter Bunny Hops Through Town for SPR Egg Hunt at Foss Road Rec Complex
Saco Parks & Recreation Department promised a hopping good time at their 2021 Egg Hunt. With the help of the Easter Bunny and 4,000 eggs, they delivered.

Two age groups each had separate events, where families could bounce around between activities, a picture booth with the Easter Bunny, and the Egg Hunt. The pre-registered event lifted us into spring at the Saco Recreation Complex at Foss Road on Saturday, March 27.

The spring activities didn't stop there – Saco Main Street collaborated with Saco Parks & Rec for the 1st Annual Downtown Saco Egg-Stravagant Scavenger Hunt!

This program had community members explore shops & businesses on Main Street, looking for 15 egg posters on display. Participants were entered into a raffle for a prize basket featuring a variety of treats and gifts from local businesses, worth ~$200.

For more information on Saco Parks & Rec programs, visit them at www.sacorec.com.
Receive E-mail Notifications for Council, Planning Board, and More Through E-Notify
Would you like to hear from us more than once a month?

Sign up for e-notify to receive custom e-mail notifications on important City happenings, such as the release of new City Council and Planning Board agendas, RFPs, or updates about the ongoing Comprehensive Planning process.
Stakeholders Gather Virtually to Discuss Coastal Erosion in the Saco Bay
We again brought together stakeholders for a legislative meeting to discuss coastal erosion in Camp Ellis and Saco Bay. The second annual Saco Bay Symposium took place on March 26, 2021, on Zoom, and can be watched in its entirety below.

Panelists included representatives from Maine's congressional delegation, several of our area state representatives, City staff and elected officials, SOS Saco Bay, Maine Geologic, and more.

Focus and presenters:

1) Maine Geologic Update (Peter Slovinsky)
2) Army Corps update (Kevin Roche/Bryan Kaenrath)
3) Regional Dredging Plan (Mayor Doyle/Rick Millard)
4) Alternative Solutions (presentations)
a) Scott Bartkowski, Living Shorelines
b) Peter Hanrahan, Living Shorelines
5) Next Steps Discussion: How do we make alternative solutions a reality
6) Guest Q&A (time permitting)
Saco Fire Department Adds New Engine
After 14 years, the Saco Fire Department moved their gear last week from Engine 3 to Engine 7, a new Ferrara Pumper.

The truck is built on a Ferrara Cinder chassis and has a 1500GPM Waterous Pump, FoamPro 2002 foam system with a 50-gallon foam tank, a 1,000 gallon poly water tank, and a heavy-duty extruded aluminum fire body featuring enclosed ladder and suction hose storage, a low hose bed, and full height compartments on both sides.

This pumper is the seventh apparatus from Ferrara put in service in the City of Saco. Engine 3 will be missed, but it will remain in service in North Saco.
The Saco Fire Department would also like to recognize Poland Spring for its ongoing commitment to providing donations of drinking water to public safety organizations across the state, and especially here in York County.

The generosity of Poland Spring helps to ensure the members of local response agencies, like the Saco Fire Department, can keep hydrated during emergency incidents and training sessions. The donated water is greatly appreciated, is convenient, and helps take a small burden off of local budgets. We feel fortunate to have the company partner with us in providing for the well-being of public safety officials.
Hours Extended at Transportation Center
Thanks to the Saco Public Works facilities division, the Saco Transportation Center is now open earlier, with hours from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily.

BSOOB Transit users can stay warm or dry while waiting for a bus, or the 8:10 AM train as Amtrak Downeaster ridership continues to rise.

To learn more about the Saco Transportation Center, visit BSOOB Transit (https://bsoobtransit.org/) or Amtrak Downeaster (https://amtrakdowneaster.com/stations/saco).
Notice on Future Route 112 / Maine Turnpike Exit 36 Improvements
Significant transportation improvement projects are planned for the Rt. 112 corridor and Maine Turnpike Exit 36 Interchange between 2022 and 2025.

The most substantial of these improvements include:

  • North and Southbound ramps at Rt. 112 to and from the Maine Turnpike.
  • Traffic signals at Jenkins Road, the new Exit 35 ramps, and Lund Road.
  • A 58 car Park-and-Ride Lot just west of the Turnpike.

Multiple agencies may administer projects within this area, including the Maine Turnpike Authority, the Maine Department of Transportation, or the City of Saco. To stay informed on the latest plans and schedules for the proposed work, please visit the following websites:
City of Saco Route 112 Page: www.sacomaine.org/route112

If your property is directly affected by any planned construction work, you will be contacted by the appropriate agency. Additionally, a letter with this notice was sent by the City to abutters in March. Otherwise, this notice is solely intended to make sure Saco residents in the Rt. 112 corridor are aware of the significant construction activities during the next few years.
Governor Mills Marks March 22 as Day to Appreciate Wastewater Professionals
Governor Janet Mills proclaimed March 22, 2021, as Professional Water and Wastewater Operator Appreciation Day. We want to take a moment to recognize our fantastic team of professionals here at Saco's Water Resource Recovery Division.

While their work often goes unnoticed, they're always busy in the background, protecting all residents and visitors' health and well-being through wastewater treatment while protecting one of our most significant resources, the Saco River.

To scratch the surface of what they do, we can categorize it like this:

  • Diligent ongoing treating, testing, and discharging of Saco's wastewater.
  • Maintaining, repairing, and replacing critical infrastructure ranging from sewer lines to pump stations to the treatment plant itself.
  • Ensuring industrial compliance and managing impact fees.
  • Studying for new and recurring certifications as processes change and science evolves.

They are on-call on the weekends and worked in-person throughout the pandemic to provide each community member and business on City sewer with high-quality services. We are grateful to have such a strong team of talented wastewater professionals here in Saco.

Thank you to Wastewater Operators James Ferguson and Keith Anderson, Lead Operator Riley Cobb, Mechanics Andrew Whitaker and John Boucher, Electrical Instrumentation Specialist Ralph Whitney, Office Manager/Finance Assistant Jacqueline McDonough, Industrial Compliance Manager Emily Cole-Prescott, Deputy Director Stacy Thompson, and Director Howard Carter.
Fire Department Administrative
Assistant Retires After 35 Years
March 31 was Nancy Binette's last day at the Saco Central Fire Station after 35 years of service to the community as the Fire Department's administrative assistant.

We're proud of her steadfast commitment to the members of the Saco Fire Department and citizens of Saco over the last three-and-a-half decades.

Thank you, Nancy, and enjoy your well-deserved retirement.
City Administrator's Open Office Hours & Mornings with the Mayor
City Administrator Open Office Hours

Saco City Administrator, Bryan Kaenrath, has scheduled open office hours on April 27, 2021 from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM at City Hall, 300 Main Street.

All community members are invited to share their thoughts, views, concerns, or complaints with the City Administrator directly.

Please call (207) 282-4191 if you have any questions or if you'd like to schedule an appointment with Bryan outside of the open office hours.
Mornings with the Mayor

The monthly Mornings with the Mayor event will continue in April, with the next session set for April 10, 2021, from 9:00 to 11:00 AM in the City Hall Council Chambers.

We hope to see you there for the socially-distanced event designed to increase direct engagement with Mayor William Doyle, especially for those who might prefer the in-person to the virtual.

Meetings are in City Hall Council Chambers until the lifting of pandemic restrictions or conditions allow for an alternative location. The sessions will adhere to all CDC safety guidelines, including social distancing and masking.

If you would like to schedule an individual meeting or a phone call with Mayor Doyle, please contact Executive Assistant Torie Gorman by calling 207.282.4191 or email: vgorman@sacomaine.org.
Featured Video
The Saco Energy & Sustainability Committee, in collaboration with Saco Public Works Facilities Division and Saco Parks & Recreation Department, has helped produce significant cost savings and increased energy efficiency at the Saco Community Center over the past several years.

While not always readily visible to the public, the Energy Committee’s monthly meetings and discussions all result in a keen eye toward energy usage in all City facilities that continues to pay off.
In 2018, when Saco Parks & Recreation Director Ryan Sommer started with the City, the Community Center began seeing a savings of $13,000/year on heating costs thanks to an increased partnership between Saco Public Works Facilities Division and Parks & Rec, facilitated by the Energy Committee. Facilities began more closely monitoring the boiler and thermostats, fine-tuning them for efficiency.

The addition of natural gas in 2019 made the savings even more significant. Facilities Director Don Roth worked with Unitil and agreed to extend their natural gas line to the Community Center for free. Through a 2017 bond, a new HVAC unit was installed on the natural gas system. In the new system’s first year, heating costs were down another $7,000 at the Community Center.

It also provides air conditioning to the gym in the summer months, a plus for summer camp, election voting, and Saco Parks & Recreation Seniority Programs events.

“On top of that, plans for this year include even less oil consumption,” Director Roth said. “In the time after we got that unit installed, we’ve been running the furnace at half of what it was running in 2017.”

There was a significant unforeseen benefit to the new HVAC system. Roth said although it wasn’t a major selling point at the time of purchase, the new unit was ready to receive modern air filtration technology, making the City’s pandemic response more effective. The HVAC unit is now fitted with a cold plasma ion generator, which produces an electric field filled with charged ions that safely clean air as it passes through. These air cleaners are efficient, non-ozone producing units.
“A lot of the talk about natural gas, updating our systems, LEDs, centralizing utility tracking ¬– it all came from our discussions in the Energy Committee,” Roth said. “Having a diverse group of intelligent stakeholders is so important.”

Director Sommer also agreed the partnership has been beneficial.

“Realistically, having a committee like the Energy Committee allows you to bounce ideas and to be able to have the knowledge you need as a department leader,” he said. “Having somebody like Don, who’s in that trade and has that knowledge, it benefits not only my department but also the City and the environment.”

The work continues. In 2019, the Energy Committee helped facilitate a complete conversion to LED light fixtures at the Community Center. Roth is now considering future natural gas improvements in other parts of the Community Center building.
Fortunately, you don’t need your own Community Center to adopt some of these same energy-minded practices. The Energy Committee encourages you to browse Efficiency Maine's website, where you’ll find solutions, incentives, and guides, all geared toward energy efficiency. Homeowners, renters, and business owners will all find valuable information here: www.efficiencymaine.com

If you’re interested in applying for any City board or committee, please visit our boards & committees web page here: www.sacomaine.org/boards_and_committees

And visit the Saco Energy & Sustainability Committee online here: www.sacomaine.org/energy
Employee Spotlight
Information Technology Systems Engineer
Henry Pelletier
Question: You’re part of a 3-person department, so I assume you wear more than one hat. How would you describe your job to someone you just met?
Answer: Primarily, I focus on the deployment, maintenance, and replacement of our computers and servers. I create and disable accounts. I am also the lead on our cyber security training program. Your internal phishing training campaign won a national award last year. What is this program, why is it useful, and what’s the #1 tip to avoid falling for these types of e-mails? KnowBe4 is a phishing simulator and security training platform. It allows us to send everyone examples of real life attacks, track and monitor areas of weakness within the city, and provide additional training when necessary. The best tip to avoid any type of bad email is to treat every email as if it could be malicious.

And what are you doing now to build on that training program and diversify it?
A lot of the training videos KnowBe4 provides are not as engaging as we would like. I am currently working on some videos to add to the platform to use for training and on-boarding. These bite-sized clips will be packed with content that is presented in a fun way. I am very excited about these, and I hope others will be too.

OK -- enough about work. The pandemic has kept us all inside and apart so much. I’ve heard you like to play board games – a tough activity when you can’t gather with friends indoors. Have you shifted to digital? What are you playing these days?
At the beginning of the pandemic, my weekly D&D group went virtual. Nothing beats playing in person, but after a year we have gotten quite used to digital play. A few times per month, I’ll play Among Us or Jackbox with some friends using Discord. I have yet to try a board game simulator though.
Homestead Exemption Application Deadline Extended through Governor Mills' Order
There are several programs designed to provide tax relief to residents. Typically, applications for the programs below are due on April 1. Due to the ongoing state of emergency declared last year by Governor Mills, the deadline has been extended to the City's tax commitment date or 30 days after the end of the state of emergency, whichever occurs sooner. The City of Saco typically sets its commitment date for late July or early August, but we encourage you to get these applications in as soon as possible regardless.

The most well-known is the Homestead Exemption. You can qualify for the Homestead Exemption if you meet these requirements:

  1. The dwelling must be your primary residence and your name must be on the deed.
  2. You must have owned the dwelling for a year prior to April 1st of this coming tax year

With a successful application, your assessed value would be reduced, currently by $20,000.

You may not meet the qualifications for this coming tax year; however you should complete the form and return it to our office. We will keep it on file, when you become eligible we will apply the exemption.

Once you have received the Homestead Exemption you DO NOT need to reapply for that property.

Other Exemptions:

Veteran Exemption is also available, in order to qualify you must have attained the age of 62 for this coming tax year and provide us with your DD214 (discharge papers). A veteran's widow may also qualify for an exemption, with the same requirements. A legally blind person may also qualify for an exemption; a letter from your physician is required.

Once you have received these exemptions, you DO NOT need to reapply.

You may also be eligible for property tax exemptions under Tree Growth, Farmland, and Open Space programs. You may download the appropriate forms using the button below. In order to receive these exemptions, you must re-apply annually.

Please note that the exemptions you may have received in another community will not be automatically forwarded to us.
Guest Column: Saco Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee
Hello out there! We at the Saco Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) wanted to fill you in on what we have been doing and what we have planned in the months ahead.

First and foremost, with vaccines being distributed and the warmer weather coming, we are looking forward to seeing and interacting with you safely out in the community! Look for our table and services at a number of events this summer such as ‘Bark in the Park’ on June 5, where we will have an information table and be available to answer any questions or discuss any ideas that you might have for making this a better community for our cyclists and pedestrians.

We also plan on partnering with Saco Main Street to set up a bike valet service to encourage you to bike on down to some of their most popular summer events such as the art festival and Music in the Parking Lot. We will be available and eager for discussion there as well.

Lastly, we look forward to putting on a small locally sourced music program on Jubilee Park, Saco’s downtown hidden jewel. A destination both walkable and bike-able to anyone in the downtown area and one we hope to highlight and introduce you to as a destination worth checking out!

There is lots more happening behind the scenes but we’ll leave that for another day. And just as a reminder, we are always looking for new and enthusiastic people to join us so if you would like to be a part of it feel free to send an email (SacoBikePedInfo@gmail.com), sit in on a meeting (time and date posted at sacomaine.org/bpac) or fill out an application to be a committee member.

See you out there!
We are always looking for ways to improve communication with our community members. As always, if there is anything we can do to better communicate information, please let us know by emailing ERoy@sacomaine.org. Be sure to check out our Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube pages using the buttons below. You can also see news and updates on the City of Saco website at www.sacomaine.org.