NEW SALEM SELECTBOARD
Monday, February 19, 2013
Stowell Building, New Salem, MA 01355
Convened: 7:00 pm
Present: Randy Gordon, Cathy Jones & Wayne Hachey, Selectboard; Nancy Aldrich, Town Coordinator; Joe Cuneo, Fire Chief; Hugh Field, Planning Board Chair; Gabe Voelker, Treasurer; Ken Bright
The Selectboard Reviewed and Signed the Following:
Vendor and Payroll Warrants Minutes from February 4, 2013 Meeting Non-disclosure Agreement with National Grid Letter to Town Clerk regarding Debt Exclusion Vote
Discussion Items Wayne Hachey reported that he had looked at the Assessors’ maps and met with Tow Swan to measure J. Vaughn Road. In the absence of any evidence that the road was discontinued, it was agreed that there is ample frontage along the road for building lots. The Assessors and Planning Board have been notified.
Joe Cuneo met with the Board to update them on the latest Fire Department activities. He reported that the cascade system to refill SCBA bottles has been installed and is functioning well. A budget request has been submitted to the Finance Committee and Capital Improvements Committee to finish the siding on the gable ends of the Fire Station. The other portions of the building were sided as part of a recent grant funded insulation project, but the gable ends were not covered under this grant. A quote of $11,500 has been received. Since it seems unlikely the town can afford to re-do the entire building, Joe felt we should at least address this project. He has also requested $4600 to purchase an extended warranty for the new brush truck. The 10-year, 100,000 mile warranty is needed due to the complexity of the truck’s mechanical systems. The equipment for the internet connection has still not been installed in the Fire Station. Wayne Hachey will contact G4S for an update. Joe indicated he would like a pay raise over and above any COLA; the Board agreed to look at the numbers with the Finance Committee to see what might be possible. The paperwork for the DCR firefighters grant just arrived. It is a 50% reimbursable match grant. Joe will apply for new wildfire boots under this program.
Still no word on the Assistance to Fire Fighters’ Grant, under which we have applied for a new fire truck and a new set of air packs. In the absence of any grant funding for these items, Joe will be speaking with the Capital Improvements Committee about the need to put these on the list of items to be funded. He noted the newest structural fire-fighting truck is a 1987 model; the other two are from 1972 and 1980. The lifetime of a fire truck is considered to be 25 years. A bill from Orange Oil for $3100 was inadvertently paid from the Fire Department Account; Nancy will contact the Accountant to make sure the funds come out of the account established by town meeting for the purpose of repairing the radiators in the Fire Station meeting room.
The Board reviewed a letter from Town Counsel asking for authorization to proceed with changes to the Seaboard Solar contract. Currently, there are conflicting articles in the contract—one that authorizes the town to terminate the agreement if the solar facilities are not operational by June 1, 2013, and a second article that states the town may terminate the agreement unless Seaboard Solar begins and continues to make monthly payments to the town for the full 10MW system, regardless of whether or not the system is complete. The Board agreed that as long as the town was receiving the financial benefit from Seaboard Solar, the completion date of the project did not matter. Nancy will contact Attorney Doneski and authorize him to proceed with the revision to the contract.
Larry Ramsell, the town’s custodian, sent an email to the Board summarizing his recent conversation with the Fire Chief about cleaning the Fire Station. Larry agreed to clean the Fire Station bathroom and classroom on a weekly basis; he will continue to order supplies and bill the Fire Dept. account for their portion of the order. He will also dispose of any trash on the classroom side of the building. Larry noted a number of upgrades should be completed in the Fire Station bathroom, including the replacement of the sink, urinal and toilet, as well as a new locking door, adding a shower station for emergency use, and epoxying the floor. Joe Cuneo agreed to get quotes on the plumbing work to be done.
In addition, Larry requested that three additional lightweight tables be purchased for use at Town Hall functions to replace the old, broken ones. He would also like a small window air conditioning unit in the Stowell building to replace the antiquated large unit. Finally, he has requested 2-3 fans to circulate the air in the Town Hall bathrooms to help alleviate moisture issues.
The Board reviewed a list from the Town Clerk showing which town offices are up for election in May and giving deadlines for obtaining and filing nomination papers.
The Personnel Board has requested an article be placed on the Annual Town Meeting to amend our current Personnel Bylaw. Currently, the bylaw calls for a five member appointed Personnel Board. Although there is now a full board, in the past there have been difficulties obtaining five members to serve. For this reason they have asked for the following change to be made: “The Selectboard shall appoint a minimum of a three-member Personnel Board for terms of three years each so arranged that a maximum of two members’ term of office expire each year.” Nancy Aldrich will check with Town Counsel to see if the wording passes legal muster.
The Board reviewed a request from Police Chief Joe Camden to be paid for an additional 50 hours to cover part of the time he spent working to solve recent housebreaks in town. The Board voted to allow the payment, but indicated this would not be a regular occurrence. Nancy will notify the Treasurer to of the Board’s decision. 2
The Board appointed Wayne Hachey, Ricardo Conde, and David Gauthier to the “Stowell” Committee. This group will look at zero net energy options to replace the Stowell Building, incorporating the Police Department and additional office space.
The rising cost of the town’s cell phone bill was discussed. It was suggested that rather than have the town pay for an employee’s cell phone plan (especially when the cell phone is used for both business and personal use) we might consider giving employees a monthly stipend towards their own phone plan. It was noted that this is likely to be a very unpopular suggestion, but the Board feels the costs have gotten out of hand. It will be discussed in greater detail with the Finance Committee and affected department heads at the upcoming Budget Hearings. Nancy will gather a list of current town cell phones and air cards by department for the next meeting.
Hugh Field, Chair of the Planning Board, met with the Selectboard to discuss possible candidates for the newly created Associate Member position. They decided that Dawn Hamel was the best choice, although she sometimes has difficulty making it to early meetings due to her current job. Hugh agreed that the Planning Board can try to work with her schedule. He will call her to confirm her interest in serving; if she agrees, an appointment slip will be signed at the next meeting.
Hugh also brought up another Planning Board issue. The Special Permit for the cell tower on Shutesbury Road is up for renewal, and the Planning Board would like to include provisions in the new permit to compel the owners of the cell tower to install a back-up generator to keep cell service operational in the event of a power outage. Planning Board member Carl Seppela has expressed his concern that if the cell tower owners won’t agree to this condition and the special permit is denied, the town might be sued. Hugh Field will forward the current special permit language and Nancy Aldrich will check with Town Counsel for his opinion on the matter.
Wayne indicated Amy Fagin is interested in using the Old Academy Building for a show on genocide during the months of April and May. She will submit a proposal to the Board in the coming weeks. It was noted that the Friends of Historic New Salem will be in at the next Selectboard meeting to discuss a possible lease of the OAB. If a lease is signed, it would still be possible for Amy to work with the Friends to move forward with the show.
There was a brief discussion regarding the opening of the Transfer Station during a declared State of Emergency. Since it seems unlikely this scenario will re-occur, the Board chose not to pursue the issue any further.
The Franklin County Retirement Board has sent information to towns regarding mandatory retirement of public safety officers (police, fire) at the age of 65. There have been conflicting opinions as to whether or not this law applies to volunteer/part time departments. The official word from the state oversight commission, PERAC, is that call and part time fire and police personnel are included in this provision. Currently, we do not have anyone in our departments over this age, but we should keep it in mind for the future.
Information regarding the FY13 DCR PILOT payment has been received. The payment will be $592,774.99, up from the FY12 payment of $506,651.72.
The Town Clerk has asked for the Selectboard to weigh in on a recent purchase she made for which the Accountant has refused to pay. Flowers were sent to the funeral of a long-time election poll worker; they were sent on behalf of the town and paid for with the town credit card. The accountant feels this is an illegal use of funds. The Board supported the Clerk’s position, but there was some question as to whether or not the accountant could be compelled to pay the invoice. Gabe Voelker, the Treasurer, explained that she had spoken with the accountant on the matter; he agreed to provide the Mass General Law supporting his position. Because we cannot carry a balance on the credit card, either Gabe or Stacy will pay the bill; if Brian agrees to pay it from town funds, reimbursement will be made. Several people have offered to share the cost if town funds cannot be used.
It was noted that the SPED Director from Union #28 and the principal of Swift River School have both announced plans to retire this year. The Board asked Nancy to inform the Treasurer so that funds can be budgeted to cover the cost of retirees health insurance.
Upon motion made and seconded, the Board unanimously voted to adjourn their meeting at 8:50 pm.
Respectfully Submitted, Nancy Aldrich Town Cooordinator