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Home December 15, 2004 Agenda & Minutes

Agenda

MEETING: Maine Library of Geographic Information Board
DATE: Wednesday, December 15, 2004
TIME: 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
LOCATION: Burton M. Cross Building, Conference Room 107

Note: The meeting will start at 10:00 a.m.

1. Approval of November 17, 2004 Board Minutes
2. Subcommittee Reports

a. Finance Committee

b. Policy Committee

c. Technical Committee

Orthoimagery Project Update

Portal Project Update

3. Strategic Planning: Prioritizing the GeoLibrary Board’s present & future action items
4. Other Business/Updates

NEXT MEETING: Wednesday, January 19, 2005 – Burton M. Cross Building – Conference Room 107.

Minutes

Maine GeoLibrary Board Meeting
Wednesday, December 15, 2004 | 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Burton M. Cross Building, Conference Room 107

Members in attendance
Jim Page, Chair
Marilyn Lutz, Co-Chair (via conference call)
Dick Thompson (initially represented by Tom Howker, BIS)
Jon Giles
Robert Faunce
Will Mitchell
Ray Halperin
Ken Murchison (via conference call)
Barbara Charry (via conference call)
Sean Myers
Members not in attendance
Robert Doiron
Paul Mateosian
Dennis Boston
Staff to the Board
Dan Walters
Larry Harwood
Guests
Don Garrold, Searsport
Stacy Benjamin, SPO

1. Approval of November 17, 2004 Board Minutes – Chair

A motion was made by Bob Faunce and seconded by Ray Halperin to approve the November 17th Board minutes as written. Hearing no discussions or amendments to the minutes, the Chair called for a voice vote which was unanimous in the affirmative. The motion carried.

Note: Jim Page has noted that as a general policy matter, he will not vote on Board items. He will only vote if a tie breaker is needed or if 7 votes are needed for an affirmative action.

2. Subcommittee Reports

Finance Subcommittee – Jim Page

Jim Page reported that the Finance Committee had not met there being no pressing activities requiring a committee meeting prior to the December Board meeting. Dan Walters passed out the one page budget summary and pointed out a few items. The production of 10 meter digital elevation models came in under budget, unencumbering $3,708. The Land Cover Project will be boosted from $120,000 to $170,000 and the GeoLibrary Portal stands at $100,000. Essentially the bottom line remains the same.

Ray Halperin took the opportunity to announce that the GIS Executive Council would like to form a joint Finance Committee with the GeoLibrary Board and maintain a working relationship on GIS funding issues. The severe problems with state agency budgets call for a review what can be done with some previous funding methods. This suggestion was well received. Jim Page stated that the Finance Committee will take the lead on this issue and report back to the Board.

The Chair entertained a motion to accept the one-page budget sheet as written. Ray Halperin so moved and Will Mitchell seconded. The Chair called for a voice vote which was unanimous in the affirmative. The motion carried.

Technical Subcommittee – Will Mitchell

The Chair requested that the Technical Committee present before the Policy Committee. Will Mitchell reported that the Request for Proposal for the GeoLibrary internet portal was working its way thru the Bureau of Information Services. It is hoped that this RFP can be issued in January of 2005. The Technical Committee will get one more look at it before it goes public.

Will asked Larry Harwood for a quick update on the next round of grants to municipalities for digital parcel data. He replied that what remained of the original Parcel Grants Subcommittee has been reviewing the applications and scoring mechanisms by e-mail and conference call, but it seemed likely that no significant changes would be recommended. There will be a report to the Board in the matter at the January meeting.

At this point the Board went into a sidebar discussion of taking the case for additional funding before the legislature. Additional bond funding seems unlikely at this point. Bob Faunce suggested pointing out to legislators the number of towns applying for grants that the Board was unable to fund. It would be difficult not to continue an ongoing program and popular program. Staff was asked to prepare a spreadsheet of towns that applied for grants and which ones were not awarded grants.

Will reported next on the orthoimagery project, about which the Committee has had 2 conference calls and innumerable e-mails. The Committee’s findings and recommendations were encapsulated in a 2 page document, with attached graphics, the summation of which was to remain with USGS as a partner in the project. Dan Walters read and expanded somewhat on the Finding and Recommendations section and explained the attached graphics. Figure 1 has been seen before; Figure 2 shows orthoimagery fully funded and orthoimagery subject to funding constraints.

Ken Murchison reported that the town of Houlton had orthoimagery to share with the GeoLibrary and Caribou had new aerial imagery and would be interested in partnering with the GeoLibrary to orthorectify it. This led to a sidebar discussion of how orthoimagery coverage has been determined in the past. It was recalled that the Board had voted on the areas to be covered and on subsequent proposed changes.

The Chair entertained a motion on the Committee recommendations. Ray Halperin moved to accept the 4 recommendations as written in the Technical Committee report and Ken Murchison seconded. There was a long discussion of the budget and what could be allocated for the orthoimagery as proposed. Some clarifications were needed as to what areas exactly were being orthorectified and what areas might only be flown with orthorectification subject to getting more money. One important point was that voiding the USGS contract for aerial photography would not return any money to the GeoLibrary.

Subsequent to the budget discussion, Ray Halperin amended his original motion as follows: Move to accept the 4 recommendations as written in the Technical Committee report with the amount spent to acquire orthoimagery not to exceed $400,000. Ken Murchison reaffirmed his second.

Will Mitchell explained that the unorganized townships or “Tier C” areas are not going to be flown under the current proposal. At this point, Jim Page and Dan Walters explained NAIP (National Agriculture Inventory Program), which has proposed to fly color, leaf on photography of all New England in 2005. This project might be a substitute for the Tier C areas especially if any matching funds could be found to make Maine look more attractive for priority funding.

There was additional discussion of how to allocate flying and orthorectification among the various townships. There was some opinion to the effect that a set process for this should be in place. Marilyn Lutz agreed to have the Policy Committee look at the issue. There was some final discussion of budget issues related to orthoimagery. The Chair called for a voice vote on the standing motion which was unanimous in the affirmative. The motion carried.

Policy Subcommittee – Marilyn Lutz

Marilyn Lutz reported that the Committee had been considering two policy issues, A Private Industry Policy and a Budget Authority Policy. The Private Industry Policy has proved too complex to settle without an additional meeting and the Committee wanted to report it out at a later Board meeting.

The Budget Authority Policy was thought ready to present. Handouts had not been prepared, so Marilyn read the policy statement out twice as follows:

“It is the responsibility of the Maine Library of Geographic Information Board (GeoLibrary Board) to set priorities and authorize the expenditure of funds. Only the Board has the authority to make binding financial obligations for the Maine Library of Geographic Information and only through a formal vote at an official meeting of the Board in which a quorum is present.”

Barbara Charry asked if this was not covered in the legislation that created the Board. Marilyn replied that the language in the legislation was not specific enough. What was needed was a written policy specifically addressing the matter and voted on by the Board. Jim Page noted that this policy statement was also protection for the Board and staff by specifically designating responsibility for budget decisions. Ray Halperin noted that this is a “maturing process” for the Board.

Bob Faunce moved to accept the Budget Authority Policy as read and Will Mitchell seconded. The Chair called for a voice vote on the motion which was unanimous in the affirmative. The motion carried.

There was a brief discussion of the Budget Authority Policy in general. Jim Page, speaking as a representative of the private sector, related that one of the reasons the legislation creating the GeoLibrary was passed was that everyone understood there would be no competition by the GeoLibrary with the private sector and the time has come to flesh out the details of this policy. Marilyn Lutz noted that the policy could nonetheless be written in a positive way. She will attempt to arrange a meeting of the Policy Committee before the January Board meeting.

In a brief sidebar discussion, Barbara Charry reported that she was attending a meeting of the Community Preservation Advisory Committee (CPAC) on Friday. They will be discussing bills to be presented in the current legislature and Barbara asked for help with a brief presentation on GeoLibrary funding needs. MEGIS will provide her with materials for this.

Item #3: Strategic Planning: prioritizing the GeoLibrary Board’s present and future action items

The Board turned to the 2004 Annual Report to the Legislature - Version 2. Jim Page began by asking of this draft: What is missing?

Barbara Charry suggested that the introduction could highlight some of the issues currently on the political front burner. As examples, Barbara cited community preservation, rationalization and the ubiquitous issues of economic development and reducing the cost of government.

Ray Halperin suggested that the report should answer the question “Why a GeoLibrary?” In the process of answering this question, the report would justify the existence of the GeoLibrary.

Will Mitchell suggested some sort of cost/benefit analysis could be done in the report. There was some discussion of this the only drawback being that future economies are difficult to prove.

Jon Giles noted that the orthoimagery project is a good example of cost savings thru rationalization. The point would be, how much would it have cost each individual town to have orthoimagery made vs. cost for a statewide or at the least countywide project. Jon also pointed out that the GeoLibrary tax parcel web services could be a cost savings to towns that would not have to put up their own.

Bob Faunce cautioned that there are many municipalities that do not embrace rationalization. He related some experiences with the Gateway One project (which looks at US Route One corridor issues) in which some towns disdained to participate.

At this point, Jim Page identified what he saw as the two main points brought up so far on the report. 1) Answer the question “Why a GeoLibrary?” 2) Point out cost savings and/or a cost benefit for the municipalities from GeoLibrary functions.

At this point there was a sidebar discussion of rationalization grants administered by the State Planning Office. These must be applied for by a municipality but it was thought possible that the Board could partner with one or more municipalities. Stacy Benjamin, observing the meeting, said that since she works in SPO she will look into this matter for the Board. SPO has a website for the grants at http://www.maine.gov/dafs/fund.htm

Sean Meyers asked with this report, what is the end game? Jim Page replied that it was two pronged. 1) The Board is required to submit an annual report to the appropriate legislative committees. 2) The report gives the Board an opportunity to approach the legislature on funding and support. Jim read out the bullets under “2005 Goals of the GeoLibrary Board” on page 2 of the draft report. It was suggested that ‘testimonials’ from clients would be the best means of impressing the legislature.

Ray Halperin noted that the report alone is relatively unimportant. He appealed to the ideas for approaching the legislature that Bob Faunce had developed in an e-mail, copies of which had been passed out. In addition, he noted that a GeoLibrary bond alone would not stand, but needed to be a small part of a larger bond proposal.

There ensued a wide ranging discussion of funding issues. Tom Howker and Dick Thompson reported on the rather bleak state budget forecast, especially bond issues which are a long shot at best. The problem of paying for maintenance of the GeoLibrary functions was discussed once again. The summation seemed to be that bond money is for capitol expenditures. Maintenance funding, estimated at about $477,000 a year, would have to be found elsewhere.

Will Mitchell asked if there were not some distinct division between the GeoLibrary and state government, especially MEGIS, and their funding mechanisms. There was a further discussion of this dichotomy and the issue of public access, especially if any fees could be charged.

Time pressing, Jim Page briefly reviewed the proposed changes in the report.

  • wordsmith the introduction to reference topical issues
  • pose and answer the question “Why a GeoLibrary?” or perhaps “What if no GeoLibrary?”
  • add information, if quantifiable, on cost savings to municipalities
  • include any testimonials available from users of the GeoLibrary
  • consider adding graphics as submitted by Board members and staff.

Jim asked that everyone submit any graphics or testimonials for the report as soon as possible.

Meeting adjourned 12:30 p.m.