Town of NewSalem Selectboard
December 17, 2018
Stowell Building, New Salem, MA 01355
Convened: 7:00 pm
Present: Randy Gordon, chair, Wayne Hachey, Selectboard; Nancy Aldrich, Town Coordinator; Gabriele Voelker, Town Treasurer; Tom Swan, Highway Chief & Tree Warden; Ken Bright; Karen Duplissie; Carl Johnson
Selectboard Reviewed & Signed the Following:
Ø Payroll & Vendor Warrants
Ø Liquor License for General Store
Ø Class II License for New Salem Auto
Ø Council on Aging State Grant Contract
East Main Street – Tree Cutting/Access to Land
Carl started off by stating that his lot was cleared 32 years ago when he built his house. Since that time a number of big oak trees around the area are leaning over. He’s taken down a hand of them that were near his house on his property. But now he would like to have a professional come in to do more. But to do it, they can’t come up his driveway. Karen then provided the Selectboard with a map showing the property lines and the placement of their house. She explained that town land abuts her land and she and Carl have been in discussions with the Tree Warden about it. They need access across town owned land. Tom noted that there is sort of an access road that they might be able to utilize. Randy agreed noting it runs near the solar panels. Tom felt it wouldn’t be a problem for them to use this to get to their land where the oaks are. Carl then outlined some of the exacerbation of the issues due to weather conditions. The water table has been rising between the rain and snow that’s come down and melted. So this poses a number of concerns. Karen noted the size of the trees is of concern for them. Wayne asked some questions about the disposal of the trees and how that would be handled. Carl responded that the person who would take them down would do it for the value of the oak. Tom agreed that the value of the wood would likely be worth it, but if the town wants the wood that could be asked. Karen noted that they went around and found the boundary markers and ensured that all of the markers are still in place. Nancy noted that at this point the ground shouldn’t be too mushy. Tom agreed. Randy asked when they would have it done. Carl responded that it would be in the near future, sometime in the next few weeks. Obviously it would be after the holidays. Randy asked if all the trees are on their property. Karen responded that the majority are, a few might be on town property. Randy asked if any of those are safe. Karen responded they are not. Tom agreed and noted a tree hearing wouldn’t be necessary for those on town land as they are not on a public road. Carl thought there might only be one or two on town land that are dangerous.
A motion was made by Wayne to allow the removal of the dangerous trees and to authorize access across town property to do so. The motion was seconded by Randy and passed by majority vote.
Building Inspection Results
Nancy reported that the town buildings have been inspected by the Fire Chief and Building Inspector. The only building with reported issues was the Old Academy Building. The Health Agent has also reported a few pest issues in the Town Hall that should be addressed. Gabe suggested a licensed exterminator should be hired.
Highway Department Weekly Activity Form
Nancy started off by reporting on her discussions with the Highway Chief regarding an activity form. The idea is to have the task and the location on the form so that the town can track where Highway employees are at any given time and what they are doing. This would help bring some transparency to the process. Now clearly, if events happen that require changes in plans, that’s one thing. But there should be a concept of what is to be done for the week. Wayne asked if timecards and a time clock should be implemented. Gabe noted that those are expensive, but paper timecards could be implemented. Board of Health does implement timecards. Randy noted that there isn’t a lack of procedure, it’s more that what exists should be implemented. Gabe outlined the legal requirements for timecards and differentiated between union and nonunion benefits relating to them. She then explained the various processes and how they relate to wages and legal postings. Nancy suggested that legal postings should be updated as part of this. Tom then went over the proposed form and what would be expected. Nancy suggested that they be reported to her office once a week for tracking. Randy agreed noting a few ways to go about doing it. Tom was amendable.
Special Town Meeting & Finance Committee
Nancy reported that the first tentative date put out was January 28th, 2019. The Town Clerk appears available as well as the Town Moderator. The only other date option would be January 14th, 2019. Gabe was not sure she would be available on January 14th. Gabe further reported that she will be attending a Finance Committee meeting to get a grapple on the cost of the truck that would need to be purchased and authorized by the town meeting. Nancy looked at the calendar and realized that the earliest date wouldn’t be January 14th, but rather January 16th. Several backups were than discussed. The determination was to try for January 17th, 2019 and if that didn’t work a different date would be determined. Gabe then took a moment to remind the Selectboard that a lot of the members on Finance are looking to retire and replacements need to be found. She won’t be able to stay on for much longer and another member is retiring to Florida. Wayne then had some questions regarding Capital Planning and Finance Committee and whether they could be combined. Gabe was uncertain, but noted some concerns if the Capital Planning Committee was voted in by Town Meeting and not otherwise functioning. That said, she recommended asking Claire McGinnis to serve on the Finance Committee. Claire is FRCOG’s Finance Director and was until very recently the Treasurer/Collector for Amherst. She is also a former Tax Collector and Town Clerk for New Salem.
Highway Dept. New Truck/Funding
Gabe then spoke about stabilization and how that might be able to fund this truck purchase, but noted some concerns for Broadband where it might be more prudent to hold on to the stabilization funds. Tom explained that there is a used vehicle that he has in mind. The main issue is procurement related. Gabe stated as long as the new truck is under $50,000, then the town just needs three written quotes thanks to the Municipal Modernization Act. Tom felt confident that he could do it. Wayne asked if the old truck could be sold anyway. Tom responded it is in no shape to be sold and suggested auctioning the parts off. Gabe agreed and outlined the legal process for doing so. She asked what the worth was in parts. Tom was uncertain but stated he could find out. It needs a new motor and that would cost about $15,000 to $19,000. Nancy asked what the body is worth absent a good engine. Tom felt $4,000 if the town is lucky. Maybe closer to $2,000. A few different options for disposing of the old truck were discussed. Gabe stated that it can be surprising what people will buy. Shutesbury was able to dispose of a firetruck that they didn’t think they could dispose of. Nancy suggested holding off on disposal until the new truck is obtained and Highway Department has taken what it can off the old truck. Gabe then spoke about the funding options in some more detail including the town meeting procedure. Discussion ended with Tom agreeing to seek out the right truck.
Highway Dept. Hiring/Temp. Workers vs. Snow Plow Operators
The town has one Highway employee out on sick for the foreseeable future and another on workman’s compensation. So the town needs to determine what to do in the meantime with winter. A big question is how to pay for temporary work if the town pursues that. Gabe suggested the billing of Snow & Ice for wages. Snow & Ice removal is funded specially and the Commonwealth allows it. Labor, breakdowns, tires, plows, all of which are Snow & Ice. The budget is only $50,000, but it could be raised for next fiscal year. There are also provisions under MGL as to overages that occur due to unexpected weather. Tom had a few questions about how it would work. Gabe explained how to utilize it and noted that special hires for plowing can be put under Snow & Ice. Plowing should be under Snow & Ice. Then if there are wage concerns, end of year transfers may be utilized depending on the situation. The plan would be to hire plow drivers to drive town vehicles and pay with Snow & Ice funds. They would only plow snow. Otherwise Tom suggested no other temporary hires should be made at this stage. Nancy clarified as to the hourly wage and how to advertise this. Gabe went over the rules and how to proceed. The hourly wage would be $20. Tom reported he already has interest, including from former employees of the Highway Department.
Chapter 90 Funding
Gabe noted some issues regarding Chapter 90. Nancy asked Tom about an email regarding the topic. Tom thought he’d already reported back on this. There is a request form that needs to go out to the Commonwealth. Tom agreed to look into the matter. It appears to involve three different roads. Until the matter is settled, the town won’t get all of its funding. Gabe reported that she has handed over everything that her office can, but clearly they need something from Highway Department. Nancy noted the prior MassDOT official who handled this matter used to do a lot for the towns, but the new official is not willing to do as much. Nancy agreed to help Tom get the contact information. There is some issue that isn’t be satisfied and that has to be resolved.
Memorial Plaque for Veterans
Wayne asked Gabe about the possibility of placing a plaque that rather than referencing specific names would reference a page on the town website where names could be placed with biographies and updated. Gabe wasn’t certain about that, but spoke generally about the town’s website and what can be done. She suggested that Wayne get in contact with the company that recently update the website as they are still providing maintenance for it. That said, the town is charged a flat fee for maintenance and additional work could have costs. Wayne understood that, but felt that something should be done. Gabe noted that Board of Health is already working on their page. And she conceded there is some funding. It’s limited, but it is there. Randy suggested seeking out the historical society or the VA to get names and biographies. Wayne agreed, but suggested that the families might be able to provide most of the information. Gabe interjected to state that people are indeed looking at the website. After it went live following the update there was a significant uptick in viewership.
Liquor License – General Store
The Selectboard reviewed and signed the official liquor license for the General Store.
Class II License for the New Salem Auto
The Selectboard reviewed and signed the license for New Salem Auto.
Council on Aging Grant
Randy signed the standard Commonwealth contract for the grant funding for Council on Aging.
The Selectboard determined to approve the minutes from December 3, 2018.
A motion to adjourn at 7:52 pm was made by Randy. The motion was seconded by Wayne and passed by majority vote.
Jakob K. Hamm, Selectboard Clerk