Town of NewSalem Selectboard
January 16, 2018
Stowell Building, New Salem, MA 01355
Convened: 7:00 pm
Present: Randy Gordon, Chair; Wayne Hachey, Lisa DeWitt, Selectboard members; Nancy Aldrich, Town Coordinator; Ken Bright, Planning Board; Kathy Soule-Regine, MaryEllen Kennedy, Broadband; Tamara Conde, Jean Clayton, Recreation Committee; Cameron Woodcock, Athol Daily News Reporter
Selectboard Reviewed & Signed the Following:
Ø Payroll & Vendor Warrants
Ø Special Town Meeting Warrant
Ø DEP Grant Agreement
Recreation Committee Budget
Nancy started off by updating on the last meeting and asking the Recreation Committee to delineate what its budget covers. Tamara explained that the committee oversees four programs. They oversee a swim program which has a separate budget and for which the Town of Wendell also contributes. That costs about $560. The Rabbit Run comes from the revolving account, which is monies raised by the committee through various donations and fund raising. Nancy noted that year to date, the committee appears from the Accountant’s report, to be a little over $198 spent. Tamara postulated that the money from Wendell might not have been properly deposited into the account. Jean suggested something could be crossing over the financial year. Nancy responded by explaining how the fiscal year closes out and the new budget starts in July. Tamara responded that the swim lessons would definitely be after July 1st. She then reported on other activities the committee does. Such as helping the Tweens & Teens program at the Library and some funds expended for Halloween. Again, monies in excess of that $560 is through fund raising. There’s still about $1,859 left in the Playground Recreation Fund. Tamara explained how those monies will be spent. There’s about $200 in the donation account. Randy inquired about how much of a set budget the committee has. Most of the town entities have set plans for when and where to spend funds. Tamara responded that for the first 7 years the committee’s fundraising went into the towns general fund. For a long time, the monies ended up going to places like the Playground Equipment fund. They initially raised about $3,000, but have slowly spent that down to the $1,800 figure for the Playground. They’ve added money back in through fundraising efforts, so it hasn’t yet depleted.
They’re only otherwise spending a few hundred dollars every year that is fundraised. Randy noted that the Rabbit Run has made close to $1,000 a year the last few years. Tamara responded that it hasn’t consistently made $1,000, often less, but there have been a few good years. Randy turned discussion back to the issue of budgeting practices and the need to understand what is actually spent, what is anticipated to be raised, and what the costs and goals will be going forward. He noted that some programs are not well attended. It was suggested that the swim program is one of those. Jean responded that the swim program is well attended, and of that $500 figure, only really about $250 is actually spent by the town once Wendell reimburses for its portion of the cost. Randy responded that he has sent his kids to the program and from what he understands only 4 to 5 kids appear to attend regularly. Tamara stated that in her opinion, to save a kid from possibly drowning, the $250 the town ultimately spends is worth it for even those few kids. Randy then asked for more of an outline of what is done by the committee. Jean responded by explaining that the committee sponsors annual Halloween and Easter programs, the swim program, and sponsorship of the Teens & Tweens program. Tamara noted that several movie nights at the Library are also sponsored throughout the year. Randy suggested that the committee look more closely at what it raises, what it spends, what it supports, what attendance of programs are, and how to budget moving forward. Jean noted that most of the funds, those that go into the revolving fund and support the playground, are fund raised. Only the swim program uses actual tax dollars. The rest is private money, and I her opinion, is less accountable to the town in that sense, so long as it is used for what it was donated for.
Nancy responded that if other people and groups are getting help, such as the Tweens & Teens program, they should know what resources are available and able to determine how to respond or budget themselves accordingly. Randy suggested knowing specifics such as what funds are being raised for, and what those funds might be expected to be. Goals, essentially, should be part of the process. Tamara went over the particulars of how the committee fundraises and how they handle their budget in that regards. Nancy noted the Playground Fund is a donation account and not a revolving. This would require specific donations. There are various things that still need to be done at the playground which Recreation wants to pursue. This prompted discussion about how revolving funds work versus donation funds and how the Treasurer and Accountant account for these funds. Jean suggested combining the Revolving Fund and the Playground Donation Fund. Nancy explained that this could not be done given the way the accounts are set up. Revolving can be used for virtually anything the committee has a mandate for and can raise funds for. Donation accounts can only use the funds donated for the intention of the account. So funds in the Playground Donation Fund may only be used for the playground. A few suggestions were mooted for future budgeting and how to properly account for Wendell’s contributions. Randy noted that all of this indicates there has never been a proper accounting and tax funding for other activities besides the swim program. So much is predicated on fundraising. Jean elaborated on the past and how the committee has functioned and funded.
They’ve purchased some equipment which is stored in the old Town Hall. These include nets, soccer balls, and a few other things. Lisa noted where they are stored in the building, stating they are stored with a few other town entities such as Old Home Day materials. Wayne suggested the Recreation Committee keep track of its materials and its expenditures. Jean noted that the committee votes every time it votes to spend money and tracks its activities. Tamara outlined some requests for more activities, such as the ice rinks done in the past. Randy suggested they put forward an outline of a maximum of funds expected to be spent. Jean asked why there needs to be such budgetary planning if the funds are raised through donations rather than tax dollars. Randy responded that such a budget allows the committee to manage the details and every other department and entity of the town is expected to budget. Tamara stated that it would be guesstimates because they aren’t certain what will be spent. The Halloween party, for example, costs the committee about $60. The Easter event costs about $80. Jean noted that in the past people have donated candy and materials for these events, which impacts what the cost will be. Wayne suggested merely keeping better track of what is spent and what is hoped to be raised. In essence, what the goals are. Randy agreed stating that there needs to be set budgets for events and tracking of what is being spent with projections as to what might be raised. Wayne noted that if the committee tracks what its raised and spent in the past, it can help with projecting into the future. Randy suggested that if the committee is budgeting $60 or $80 and more needs to be spent, then the budget for events should be readdressed. There should be a budget and a plan. Especially when there is fundraising involved. People should know what they are fundraising for. Tamara stated that the committee has always stated what it is fundraising for and spends its funds on those stated goals. Recreation agreed to attempt to meet the requests of the Selectboard regarding this matter.
Old Academy Building
Nancy gave a brief update on the situation with the New Salem Academy Board of Trustees. They have been unable to appear before the Selectboard. Lisa suggested that the trustees are divided about the topic and not ready to sign a lease. Nancy suggested that if the trustees are unable to appear at the Selectboard’s next meeting or sign a lease, that other tenants be considered.
Personnel Board Meeting to Discussion Evaluation Forms
There is a meeting set to discuss the evaluation forms. Nancy will be unable to attend this meeting. Wayne and Lisa were both available. Wayne inquired about whether the forms are necessary to keep. Nancy explained that the forms help supervisors evaluate employees and if need be they can be used as a paper trail for discipline of employees and if necessary at the worst termination. The problem appears to be how the forms work, how they compute, and so forth. As things stand, the forms are simply problematic. Wayne suggested the Personnel Board should hold a yearly meeting and go over the forms with employees. Nancy responded that they aren’t aware of what employees are doing and wouldn’t be able to fully evaluate them. Discussion ended with the consensus that the solutions need to be found, but the forms remain of value.
Tree City USA Proclamation
Nancy reported that the paperwork hasn’t been provided to her, so there is no proclamation to sign as of yet.
Request from Broadband Committee to Contact Town Counsel for Easements on Private Roads in town
Kathy started off by reporting on the continuing whirlwind. Broadband wants to wait on a few things, in particular the MLP board, for the time being given various interpretations of the law and the positions of the various departments of the Commonwealth. Things appear to be working the way the town is currently doing things. Broadband is making decisions with the municipal light plant manager, reporting on what it’s doing, and ensuring all parties are satisfied. They will continue to research other options for the MLP board, but the best thing for now is to wait on that front. It will also help avoid some of the pitfalls of elected officials. Kathy and MaryEllen apologized for going round and round on some of this, but it’s just the way things are working. One of the things that Broadband needs is permission to speak to Town Counsel on some private roads. These include the neighborhood around North Spec Pond and more specifically Michael Lane. Landowners are all on board, but a proper easement needs to be drawn up. Broadband needs guidance about how to do this. There are some general questions and specific questions about ingress and egress, and such. Wayne inquired about whether there is a template for this. MaryEllen responded that what exists as a template is not satisfactory and Broadband wants to ensure that all the bases are covered since private property is being dealt with.
Kathy followed up by stating she intends to speak with Town Counsel to not only get the right answer but try to understand the process better. She then outlined what private property would be impacted, and the concerns of Broadband. On public roads the easements already exist. But on private roads, those easements don’t exist. Lisa inquired about Michael Lane and if there are light poles already. MaryEllen explained that the houses on North Spectacle Pond get their power from lines that run over the lake crossing ultimately from Athol through Hagerville. Wayne clarified that the landowners are in agreement. Kathy responded affirmatively stating that the easement is a formality at this point, all the private landowners are for it. Discussion then shifted to how much of Town Counsels time would be used and what the cost might be expected to be. Nancy suggested putting together a bullet list of items to discuss with Counsel. Kathy then inquired about the Special Town Meeting that was planned for February. It appears unlikely that such a meeting will be needed at this time. Wayne suggested waiting for the Annual Town Meeting. Kathy turned discussion back to broadband asking if pole hearings will be needed for poles erected on private roads. Nancy responded affirmatively. Kathy then inquired about hazardous trees and whether they require tree hearings. Nancy responded that if they are hazardous they can be taken down without a hearing. Kathy then went over trees on private roads and if those need hearings to be cut. Wayne suggested asking Town Counsel to be sure, but it isn’t likely necessary. Kathy and MaryEllen finished up there.
Wayne made a motion to approve the request for Broadband to talk to Town Counsel about its easement questions. Randy seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Wayne reported on an issue with the front loader that will require the expenditure of funds. This prompted some discussion of stabilization funds, and how to pay for a rebuild. The rebuild would likely be done by John Deere and certified. Lisa asked if this means it would be under warranty. Wayne was uncertain but thought it possible. This is a unique situation given the new loaders and all the technology in them. Nancy suggested consulting with the Treasurer over the setting of a date for a Special Town Meeting later in the year. Originally it was intended for there to be one held in February for Broadband. Some research has to be done for the MLP Board, but there is a lot of contradiction from the Commonwealth on whether the town can set one up by itself or needs special legislation from the General Court.
Nancy had the Selectboard sign the DEP Grant agreement.
The Selectboard approved the ordinary minutes from January 2nd, 2018.
A motion to adjourn at 8:00 pm was made by Lisa. The motion was seconded by Wayne and carried without objection.
Jakob K. Hamm, Selectboard Clerk