Town of NewSalem Selectboard
August 13, 2018
Stowell Building, New Salem, MA 01355
Convened: 7:00 pm
Present: Randy Gordon, chair, Wayne Hachey, Selectboard; Nancy Aldrich, Town Coordinator; Ken Bright; Jean Derderian, Historical Commission; MaryEllen Kennedy, Broadband; Jennifer Haggerty, Bruce Turner, Swift River Elementary School; Kelley Sullivan, Principle Swift River
Selectboard Reviewed & Signed the Following:
Ø Payroll & Vendor Warrants
Ø Primary Election Warrant
Ø Borrowing Renewal Notes
Ø Acceptance of Easement forms for Broadband Installation
MaryEllen began by providing the Selectboard with some paperwork relating to the hut and how it would be procured. The procurement process has already been done by Westfield Gas & Electric on behalf of the New Salem Municipal Light Plant. The hut would be located near the Highway Department’s garage. The cost will be $76,819 and will include a generator. Randy had some questions about the cost of the generator that is included in the price. MaryEllen elaborated on the process and how it would be installed on a concreate pad. This total cost does not include the cost of the crane to install it. The hut would be prefabricated and need to be placed. Wayne had some questions regarding whether a crane would truly be needed. MaryEllen explained that the materials the hut would be built out of would preclude the use of the towns equipment and is what necessitates the crane installation. Wayne had questions about how it would be heated and cooled which MaryEllen answered. This hut is recommended by Westfield Gas & Electric. Randy inquired about what made up the costs besides the generator. MaryEllen went into the costs in a bit more detail and promised to send any further materials that the Selectboard might wish to see. Randy then inquired about the funds and making sure that the town doesn’t spend more than the it has received from the Commonwealth. MaryEllen responded that this is a concern, but the costs won’t truly be understood until the make ready. This will have to be paid for from the Commonwealth’s broadband funds.
So the funds are there to pay for this, but there is a concern about ensuring that funds are available for the make ready. Wayne inquired about the generator some more. MaryEllen explained how the cost was ascertained and how the installation would work. It was noted that the town has already approved borrowing authority, but there is no need to exercise that as of yet given the fact that the town hasn’t spent all of the Commonwealth’s funding. MaryEllen then informed the Selectboard about the Governor and Lt. Governor who will be at Westfield and New Salem has been invited to have someone present. The topic is of course broadband. MaryEllen will be there. If the Selectboard is interested in sending someone, it is a public meeting. Wayne then asked when the poles will be going up. MaryEllen stated that things are moving forward, but there are two owners that are being harder to lobby then the General Court. One is asking for maintenance of a private road, and the other wants special dispensation for a possible solar project. Wayne had questions about the solar question. MaryEllen felt that it could work, but it’s unascertained. The Broadband Committee isn’t opposed, but it’s not something that could be put in the easement as a “promise.” The main concern would be over the poles and Broadband would be willing to allow access. It just can’t go into the easement. In the meantime, they’re trying to work with both parties. Still, things are looking up and remaining on schedule with the plan to put up poles as soon as possible.
Gail spoke about some difficulties she’s experienced for putting out a reminder for dog licensing. She isn’t legally required to remind anyone. This was simply a prudent measure. Still, some citizens were upset and many have complained about the Town Clerk’s hours regarding this. On top of it there was the dangerous dog hearing where the magistrate was dismayed at the towns level of enforcement of the licensing requirement. There are also some citizens who are known to have dogs that they refuse to license. The town won the dangerous dog hearing, which was good news. But the town lost its nuisance dog hearing. Some of this may be uneven application of the law. MGL is clear about licensing and the town needs to see to enforcement. Further the towns own by-laws set out when the licensing is to occur and what the dates are. So Gail would like to start with a letter to be sent out reminding people to license their dogs. Wayne suggested it could be done by the Town Clerk along with notices about taxes and the street listing. Gail noted there are about 50 houses in town that have never licensed their dogs and appear unwilling to do so. Randy inquired as to the Commonwealth’s penalties. Gail responded the penalty under MGL is to be not less than $50. If they don’t comply with licensing or the fine, the only option left is to take them to court. The fine can be increased from $50, but only by by-law. Ken spoke about the licensing scheme and how the entire point of it is to ensure that all dogs are properly vaccinated for rabies. Gail then turned discussion to a dog that was found wandering in town around July 4th week that was in a terrible state. The dog was taken care of by some citizens in town who then contacted Gail. Gail ended up with custody of the dog shortly thereafter. She was initially unable to determine who the owner was.
Eventually a minor reached out to her asking if their unlicensed dog had been found. There was very little paperwork relating to the dog and the dog appears to never have been licensed and rarely taken to the vet. Gail had great difficulty getting proper proof of ownership. Nonetheless she worked with the family to return the dog. There were a series of events that put Gail in uncomfortable situations relating to it. People don’t understand that the licensing is important. It not only confirms rabies vaccination, it helps establish ownership in the event the dog is lost and later found. Randy had some questions about if a fine is issued for non-licensing what the compulsion would be. Gail went over the MGL and the towns by-law. In the end the town has to go to the courts. Nancy noted that any change to the towns by-laws will require town meeting. Wayne inquired as to whether a temporary policy could be adopted. Nancy responded that it would have to be a by-law. Randy followed by recommending the existing fines be enforced. Gail responded by outlining some of the difficulties she has with fines and noted she would need police support. She further noted that ACO’s are usually affiliated with or supported by their communities Police Departments. Without that support it’s hard. Most of those who don’t follow the law simply don’t care and it’s hard to get them to do the right thing. Randy had some questions as to the fines and how that enforcement can be done. Nancy suggested some follow up discussion with the Police Chief. There are a lot of problems with fines like this in the small towns because apart from going to court, there are few mechanisms for enforcement.
Jean inquired as to where the licensing fees go. Gail noted that they go through the Town Clerk. Nancy reported that there is a revolving fund that the fees go into. Jean asked if the problem is merely an inconvenience one or something else. Gail explained that it is about safety. Wayne noted the problem is apathy. The cost is nominal. The cost is $6 and $14 depending on variables like sex and whether the dog is neutered or spayed. Gail honestly felt that it isn’t the cost. She noted that even the rabies vaccine isn’t that expensive, it can be procured at Tractor Supply in Orange for about $19. Nancy asked Gail what other towns do. Gail explained how most ACO’s get help from their Police Departments. Randy noted that the towns department is small which may be part of the problem for New Salem’s Police in helping. Nancy elaborated on how Wendell worked away at their list of unlicensed dogs. Randy then had some questions about how the fines work and if once fined, whether further fines may be added. Gail explained that there are various mechanisms. Discussion shifted back to updating the towns by-laws to better conform with MGL and to ease compliance. Ken inquired as to who precisely does the citation. Gail responded that it would be best as a police officer. The problem is that the police then have to back it up in court. Which unfortunately is not something the town can do easily. Nancy then agreed to work with Gail on a letter to send out. Randy noted that figuring out the citation process is going to be critical to resolving this. Sending out citations, keeping track of them, and having a process are all important to this. Gail felt it is entirely doable. The goal is not to make money off any of this, it is to ensure that the law is complied with for the public’s safety. Wayne agreed to speak with the Police Chief to see if some kind of solution can be found to ascertain what support the department can provide. Randy felt that having a process in place with documentation will help the town if and when court action is necessitated.
Window/Door Replacement at Swift River School
Jennifer started by explaining that the project will include potential window and door replacement. Although the custodians have been very diligent to maintain and repair, they are in need of significant repair that is beyond their scope. The first step is a design study and is part of an invitation to work with the Commonwealth to identify the buildings needs which in this case are the windows and doors. This is an accelerated repair program. These repairs should result in direct operational savings. This program is administered by the Massachusetts School Building Authority. The building authority would assign a project manager and would look at identifying the best options for the school. The school will have to prove due diligence in upkeep of the property and provide compliance on 33 different items. Approval for funding for the design portion has to be done by August 22nd. Randy noted that gives the school two weeks. Bruce responded by stating that what is needed from New Salem is a commitment to the project. Jennifer spoke about where most projects of this type fall and what the costs can be expected to be. She then spoke about the reimbursement amount, which would be 76 percent of the cost of the project. The total project cost estimate from start to finish would be around $2 million, and again the reimbursement would be 76 percent. Jennifer then provided the Selectboard with pictures of some of the windows that show the problems with them. Wayne then asked if the windows were insulated. Kelley responded that they were originally, but due to their age and corrosion are no longer effective. Multiple windows have broken seals as well. Bruce noted the windows were originally vinyl over wood and essentially a sliding glass door type. Many of the window stills are damaged and at this point are causing more damage through exacerbation. Wayne noted some other structural issues with Swift River that are likely not helping things. Some of the issues are with topography, not just the building structures. Bruce then provided the Selectboard with the figures. The share for New Salem at least at this step would be $27,000 with reimbursement. Randy clarified that the funds would have to be spent first. Bruce elaborated on this explaining that yes, the town would have to put forward the full amount through a town meeting and wait for reimbursement.
Wayne asked what the total number of windows are. Bruce responded about 12 windows that are the biggest problem, 10 small windows, 7 medium windows, and 5 small miscellaneous windows. There are about 22 exterior doors that would need replacement as well. This prompted some discussion about the necessity for doors to the exterior from each classroom. Jennifer explained how that works and noted that not every classroom must have such an egress assuming that there are ways to go from one classroom to another. Randy then inquired as to how long the reimbursement takes. Bruce responded by outlining the rules and how the reimbursements would work. In his experience, the reimbursement comes pretty quickly into the process. Nancy noted that the town would have to borrow for this and debt exclude it. So that would be less of a concern so long as the town receives the reimbursements. Wayne than asked how soon the work could be done. Bruce responded with some thoughts on how quickly it could be done noting that windows can take some time. Nancy clarified about the time to order and install and whether it would affect the reimbursement. Kelley responded that it would not. Nancy noted that to move forward with this, the town will need to call a Special Town Meeting in September. This prompted some discussion of dates. The earliest would likely be either September 12th or 25th. Wendell has planned a Special Town Meeting for September 20th, 2018. Jennifer promised to provide the wording for the warrant. Randy suggested holding a special Selectboard meeting to get any signing done. Nancy felt that it could be left until the Selectboard’s next meeting. Otherwise the commitment that the school needs is obtained by it being noted in the minutes that the Selectboard is in favor, and is in the process of calling a Special Town Meeting, which it is. Nancy then promised to reach out to the Town Clerk and Town Moderator to ensure their availability and nail down a precise date.
Wayne made a motion to support moving forward with the window and door replacement at Swift River and in calling a Special Town Meeting. The motion was seconded by Randy. The motion passed by majority vote.
Oldest Citizen Recognition
Nancy provided the Selectboard with paperwork recognizing the Oldest Citizen. Having no objection, the Selectboard signed the certificate. Nancy further reported that she will present a pin to the citizen as well.
Continuation of MIIA Safety Committee
Last year the town had the MIIA Safety Committee which helped earn credits back on the towns premiums for doing a number of things. It was unclear what the exact savings is for the town. It appears to be about $400-$500 in total savings. It’s hard to quantify if these things should continue. Randy saw no reason not to continue since most of the things MIIA wants are reasonable and ordinary prudent measures to save costs and improve employee safety.
Request from Library Trustees to Consult with Town Counsel Regarding Grant Funds
The Friends got a $10,000 grant and one of the things they want to do in the Library is to put in a small kitchenette. When something like this is done in a town building, prevailing wage still applies and the town has to oversee it even if the funds are for a private group like the Friends. The problem is that the grant has a clause that could be problematic. As a result, the Trustees would like to receive permission to consult Town Counsel to determine what to do. The Town Accountants concern is that the funds ought to run through the town and the warrant process to ensure proper supervision. This boils down to getting a legal opinion. Randy noted that this would come at a cost and if Town Counsel just ends up agreeing with the Town Accountant, then what does that serve. Nancy responded that its likely a quick answer and that it wouldn’t cost that much and they would likely accept Town Counsels answer and once they have an answer recalculate and decide on a different plan.
Stowell Building Second Bathroom Issues
Nancy went over an issue that arose at Old Home Day as to a second bathroom in the Stowell Building. The bathroom is unused and in need of repair. The toilet and sink are not working properly. Wayne had some questions as to why the bathroom is not working and whether it would be feasible to repair it. Randy suggested that it should be ascertained what the problem is and a decision one way or the other should be made. Either repair or dismantle. Nancy agreed to look into the matter further.
Letter for Support for Preservation Massachusetts
Nancy started off by providing the Selectboard with the letter of support which was requested by the Historical Commission. Jean then provided some information in support of the letter. Randy had a few questions about the non-profit which Jean answered. The amount of time and attention that they can give depends on how many projects they accept. Jean then went briefly over the history she has written and stated she would send copies if the Selectboard would like.
Primary Election Warrant
The Selectboard reviewed and signed the warrant for the Commonwealth and Federal level primary election warrant. The primary will occur in early September.
Renewal of Bond Anticipation Notes
The Treasurer could not attend the Selectboard’s meeting but has sent the documents to Nancy asking for the Selectboard to sign. Seeing no reason not to do so the Selectboard determined to move forward with signing the notes which have already been signed by the Treasurer and sealed by the Town Clerk.
There are some serious washouts in town that need to be repaired. Unfortunately, the Highway Departments backhoe has broken again and is in need of repair.
The Selectboard tabled the minutes from July 30th, 2018 until the next meeting.
A motion to adjourn at 8:19 pm was made by Wayne. The motion was seconded by Randy and passed by majority vote.
Jakob K. Hamm, Selectboard Clerk