Van Buren has a Town Meeting form of government. The registered voters of the Town vote on all budgets at an annual public Town meeting or at any special Town meetings which may be required to be held for specific purposes. A five member elected Town Council is the principle governing body which delegates administration of Town affairs to a Town Manager appointed by the council.
The Town Manager is supported by the Chief of Police, Fire Chief, Highway Supervisor, Recreation Director, Librarian and an Ambulance Director.
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The Van Buren Fire Department consists of 35 dedicated volunteer members. The department responds to an average of 50 emergency calls a year. The chain of command includes the Fire Chief, 3 Assistant Chiefs, 3 Captains, 3 Lieutenants and one Safety Officer. The Department has in place standard operating guidelines and by-laws which govern operations. The Department also has an extensive training program which emulates the Maine State Firefighter I training program.
With respect to apparatus, Van Buren has two certified pumpers and one 4,000 gallon pumper tanker with a total pumping capacity of 3,500 gallons per minute. The Department also operates one 5,000 gallon tanker, one brush truck, one 55 foot snorkel truck and a rescue unit. Total water carrying capacity of the department is 12,200 with all vehicles included. The Van Buren Fire Dept. also has water, snow and ice rescue capabilities.
The Town has automatic mutual aid with the Grand Isle and St. Leonard, New Brunswick, Canada Fire Departments respectively and mutual aid agreements with Caribou, Limestone and Grand Falls, New Brunswick, Canada.
Businesses and homeowners of Van Buren currently enjoy the benefits of a Class 5 insurance classification.
The Community's Ambulance Service operates on a 24-hour basis and is staffed with 3 paramedics, 12 Intermediate Emergency Medical Technicians and 8 basic emergency medical technicians. The staff has received training, among other things, in the treatment of trauma, as well as in cardiac and respiratory problems.
The customary transport route is to Cary Medical Center in Caribou, Maine, but transports are made to other area medical facilities, as well.
The Department also utilizes the "Jaws of Life", when necessary, for extricating purposes.
The Van Buren Police Department is comprised of the Chief of Police, one full-time officer and five part-time officers and constables.
The Police Department cooperates with the local officers of the U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs, the County Sheriff's Department and the State Police.
Van Buren's Highway Department provides a myriad of services, from prompt and efficient snow removal to spring clean up activities and summer road improvement. It also exhibits a cooperative effort in assuring that a broad range of other projects which arise from time to time are completed in an efficient and timely basis. The Highway Department has, in particular, achieved a reputation of excellence for its winter snow removal. Cleanliness and attractiveness of the Community are a focal point for the Department.
The Abel J. Morneault Library offers a wide and varying array of services. Recent best-selling fiction and nonfiction hardcover books are available. The library has a collection of popular and instructional videos. Recent popular magazines are also available including back issues. The library has a collection of large print and literacy books. Any information not in the library, can be quickly ordered through the libraries on-line inter-library loan system.
One of the recent additions to the library is the Martine A. Pelletier Special Collections Room. This room contains many genealogy books from specific families as well as general marriages. The room also contains historical reference items such as St. John Valley Times from 1962 to present, National Geographic's from 1939 to present, and other periodic reference material. The display cases also contain antique items from the area. Many people from the United States and Canada have utilized this room and its many materials.
Another recent addition is the conference room. This room is available for all organizations who wish to have a quiet place to have meetings. A number of groups are regularly using the room. The room can be reserved for use during normal business hours.
The Library Trustees are an advisory board appointed by the Town Council. They meet on a bimonthly basis. At this meeting, the librarian informs them of past management decisions and upcoming events. The Trustees help provide valuable insight on ways to deal with potential problems that the librarian may encounter.
The Friends of the Library is a group of private citizens formed to support the library. They have an active membership that organize fund-raisers, such as the annual Christmas tree fund, for purchase of library items. The Friends have been instrumental in providing the library with items they could not otherwise afford.
The primary objectives of The Librarian and staff are to assemble, preserve and circulate books and related materials to provide information, self education and recreation for the enlightment, entertainment, intellectual and cultural development of the community. The Library recognizes its responsibility to identify Community needs, to promote the use of the Library services by adults and children, and to serve the Community as a center for reliable information.
|Library hours are:||Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Wednesday from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM
Saturday 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM
TAXES & ZONING
REAL ESTATE PROPERTY TAXES
Real Estate Properties in Van Buren were reassessed in 2002 at a rate equal to 100 percent of fair market value. The taxable valuation of such real estate for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2004, and the mil rate was .02365. Therefore, this produced a tax bill of $23.65 for every $1,000 of real property valuation.
Working in conjuction with the Code Enforcement Officer and in close cooperation with the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Planning Board consists of five members and two associate members, all appointed by the Town Council. Their role has been valuable in advising and assisting Town Officials with planning strategies and recommendations. The Planning Board is responsible for overseeing the preparation of comprehensive plans, the enactment of subdivision ordinances and for the review of subdivision applications.
A portion of the Town's property, consisting of all land within 250 feet horizontal distance of all watercourses (primarily, the Saint John River), is governed by the State of Maine's shoreland zoning regulations.
The Town implemented Town-wide zoning in 1988 and is currently upgrading a new zoning. The Town-wide zoning ordinance divides the Town into Industrial, Commercial, Village District, Residential and Farm/Forest classifications. A five-member Zoning Board of Appeals, appointed by Town Officials, along with two associate members, hears appeals from persons aggrieved by any decision of the Code Enforcement Officer or by the Planning Board. Copies of all ordinances are available for inspection at the Town Office or may be purchased for a nominal charge.
LIGHT & POWER
The Van Buren Light & Power District, comprised of over 1,800 rate payers, was established in 1917. It is a quasi-municipal district governed by a board of three publicly-elected trustees. The District provides electricity to the Community and to certain residential areas of the neighboring Community of Hamlin.
The Light & Power District obtains its power through a competitive bid process. The District utilizes a 7200-volt distribution system and maintains two power substations along with storage facilities and a maintenance garage.
The District strives to maintain reliable service and provide electricity at a competitive cost.
WASTE WATER DEPARTMENT
The Van Buren Waste Water Department was established in 1973 and went to a complete upgrade in 2000. The facility uses an Activated Sludge process in the extended aeration mode to operate. With the upgrade, everything was installed new, all pumps at the facility and the pump station were replaced. Two new circular clarifiers were installed, plus a sludge holding tank of 278,000 gallons to hold the sludge in the winter months. A sludge thickener was also installed. The sludge is now hauled in a 130 acre field that the department purchased during the upgrade.
The following represents the current annual rate schedule:
|Residential (per home or per apartment)||$240.00|
|Small Commercial Business||$240.00|
|Larger Business or those with high volume usage
(based on existing businesses within Van Buren)
|$10,000 & above|
The Van Buren Town Council and its Waste Water Department will negotiate rates for any high-volume waste water/sewer usage.
The Van Buren Water District was established in 1905. It is a quasi-municipal district and serves the urban section of Van Buren, as well as Smith Street and Riverview Drive which are located in the neighboring community of Hamlin. The District is governed by a board of three publicly elected trustees. The district obtains its water supply from a gravel packed aquifier and well system that is located adjacent to the St. John River.
The District maintains a filtration plant, pumping station and maintenance garage, along with transportation and excavation equipment. It also maintains two water impoundments located in neighboring Cyr Plantation. These are used for flood control but may also be used as a source of water in an emergency situation.
Approximately 900 services are supplied through a distribution system consisting of 18 miles of underground pipes and two storage facilities. The 1,100,000 and 500,000 gallon storage structures currently provides in excess of three days of reserve water and also contributes up to 100 pounds of pressure to the 95 fire hydrants located throughout the water system.