Town of NewSalem Selectboard
September 24, 2018
Stowell Building, New Salem, MA 01355
Convened: 6:30 pm
Present: Randy Gordon, chair, Wayne Hachey, Selectboard; Nancy Aldrich, Town Coordinator; Joe Cuneo, Fire Chief; Joe Camden, Chief of Police; Jean Derderian, Historical Commission; Zara Dowling, Green Energy Committee; Ken Bright; Zach Holt, Hampshire Power Group
Selectboard Reviewed & Signed the Following:
Ø Payroll & Vendor Warrants
Ø Standard Commonwealth Contract for Emergency Preparedness Grant
Selectboard Resignation/Special Election
Nancy informed the Selectboard of the receipt of the resignation of Selectwoman Lisa DeWitt. Lisa’s resignation was due to urgent family needs that require her attention. Filling this position would require a special election. Wayne noted the earliest would likely be around the start of December. Nancy reported it is a 64-day window according to the Town Clerk. A letter will need to be written and sent to the Town Clerk to formally trigger the process and determine the exact date.
Electrical Supply Contract
Nancy went over the electrical supply contract along with Zach. The pricing is best for a 12-month term. There is little difference for longer periods, with the rates being higher for shorter terms like 6 months. Wayne had some questions about the cost of making the energy supply to the town entirely green. Nancy spoke briefly about the costs and noted that the town may choose to be exclusively green with it being a small cost to do so.
Emergency Preparedness Grant
Joe spoke briefly about the grants uses. The main use will be for a mobile data terminal which will help with live use of software on site when the need arises. This means essentially a computer with data. The Selectboard reviewed the standard Commonwealth contract and Randy signed in his capacity as chair. There was some ensuing discussion of adopting the one-year contract with only green energy. Zach reported that a lot of towns have become interested in this program. Nancy agreed stating Wendell signed a 3-year contract recently. The program has changed a little, so a year contract is probably the towns best option at this point. The green energy is wind generated power. This program should not be confused with net metering. Nancy noted the town does get net metering credits which come from solar projects. Zach then went through some other ways Hampshire Power Group may be able to help the town and businesses in the town to save on energy while supporting green energy. These included alternative energy credits and ways those can be used. Joe Camden inquired as to whether these are available to private residencies outside of the town wide contract. Zach responded that they are. Randy asked about the availability of information on the program for the public. Zach stated that the information is available on Hampshire Power Groups website.
A motion was made by Wayne to approve the signing of a one-year contract with supply being entirely green energy. The motion was seconded by Randy and passed by majority vote.
Zara started off by asking the Selectboard if they have had a chance to look over the information sheet regarding the telemetrics proposal. From there she gave an overview to Chief Camden and Chief Cuneo. Joe Cuneo had some concerns about if all of the towns equipment can support the technology. Zara felt confident that ways to adapt can be found. She then spoke further about the goals of the software and what the data would do for the town. This included the possibility of technology to help address idling. It is recognized that some departments do need to idle, such as Police while on patrol, so that is part of why this study is useful. Ultimately this would help generate data to help the town find out how to improve fuel savings and reduce emissions. Joe Cuneo stated he is not comfortable with devices being installed on some of his equipment since it could void warranties or impede use of the trucks. Fire trucks by nature idle. The older trucks can’t support the software. He was also not comfortable with GPS tracking. Zara asked some questions about the tracking concerns. Joe Cuneo responded that some of the calls responded to are protected by HIPPA and it could be illegal to track them. Zara responded that the information would not be made available to the public.
So it might be possible to figure out a way to address this concern. Joe Camden noted that this could be useful, but he felt that this won’t provide that much data for New Salem. He felt that larger communities would benefit more from this kind of technology. Zara suggested that this information could still be useful to the town. Joe Camden responded with further information on Police practices noting that Police fuel consumption has actually dropped since new vehicles have replaced older ones. They have also implemented ways to reduce necessary idling. Zara noted that she is not out to criticize anyone, just to try and help the town find ways to save. Joe Camden noted that events in town dictate the use of the vehicles in question. Joe Cuneo again expressed his concerns about the technology and the ways that it might interfere with the operation of firetrucks. Zara responded that she understands there are outstanding questions and she is willing to discuss the matter further with the software company. Wayne noted that it appears that both Chiefs are opposed to the use of this technology. Joe Camden then had a few questions for Zara regarding some possible grant funding for station lighting. Zara responded that the last grant applied for the town didn’t end up getting. She promised to let Joe Camden know if a new grant opportunity is found.
MIIA Safety Committee – New Info from MIIA Regarding OSHA & Safety Concerns
Nancy started off by providing an overview of the OSHA standards that will now be applicable to all municipal employees in the Commonwealth. The Massachusetts Department of Labor & Standards will be enforcing these provisions. They recommend that towns create safety committees to help with implementation. Towns should think about potentials for injuries among other things. The Department of Labor & Standards is willing to do some free inspections that will give recommendations rather than just fining the town. Nancy then went over how the department intends to enforce. They only intend to fine those who are repeat violators as they are seeking to facilitate compliance. Joe Cuneo responded by stating that enforcement is coming. The town has to be in compliance by February 2019. The absolute bottom line is that this is will cost the town money. Joe Camden agreed, noting that there will be an expense. Nancy provided a booklet that she was given with things to look at for compliance and where to get started. These include numerous simple things that can be done. Personal protective equipment, proper grounding, and the like are essential. Joe Cuneo noted that a lot of this involves policies needing to be put in place and that won’t be an easy project. Nancy agreed stating Town Counsel has already warned about that but reminded clients that this is about a partnership with employees. Employees need to alert the town to possible dangers they face. Joe Camden had some questions about the compliance and the issue with how it takes up time. This kind of compliance will require more attention and hours for his department. There are a lot of costs associated with this, new masks, new suits, etc. These kinds of things aren’t currently in the departments budgets. Joe Cuneo agreed stating that the Commonwealth did this without analysis, mid budget cycle, and with almost immediate enforcement. Joe Camden agreed noting that many of the departments most effected are in small towns and are part time.
This means additional training, additional paperwork, and additional costs. Nancy responded that there are grants, but at this point the town doesn’t even know what it needs. Joe Cuneo agreed stating that one of the things it does mean is mandatory physicals that will have to be paid for by the town in all likelihood. This may mean that some firefighters won’t be able to pass the physicals and if so they won’t be able to be firefighters anymore. So that is going to be a possible concern. Nancy suggested talking to Representative Whipps. Joe Camden noted that on the Police side they’re going to start requiring officers go to the fulltime Police Academy, and if that happens small towns won’t be able to afford to sponsor officers never mind retain them. He then addressed how OSHA will impact how the department is handling the opioid crisis. An example of which is how abandoned needles are handled. Joe Cuneo noted that this will include having to ensure vaccination for officials. Joe Camden returned discussion to the concerns he has about being able to retain officers in the face of all of this. Joe Cuneo then reported on what the Fire Department has done to address the policy side of this and what other works are being done by his department. It is all time consuming. It will also require the town to change practices. In the past the Fire Department always required firefighters to get the physicals done at their own expense through their own insurance. But that will have to change. It’s here and the towns have to deal with it. A lot of this stuff was already in place through Federal statute, but it wasn’t applicable in all cases and situations. Now, with this MGL, it is. Supposedly all of this will lower the insurance costs for the town and reduce injuries. That remains to be seen. Nancy then spoke about the MIIA rewards programs and what is being done on that front. Discussion then finished on further trainings that MIIA plans to offer and what the next steps are in light of all of this.
Update on C2 Energy Capital Agreement
Seaboard has helped create a spreadsheet to help tracking. They noted some irregularities that they will look into for the town, but otherwise the bills appear to be correct for the most part. It was found that some fine print in the contract may be of use to the town. Nancy went over what that means for the town. It involves some kind of signing bonus that could be applicable assuming the town becomes a host community. Nancy then went over how the net credits work and how the host aspect works. It appears the town could qualify for about $2,500 which could cover most if not all of the prior fiscal year bill that was due.
New Fire Truck
Joe Cuneo reported on the new fire truck that will be delivered soon. It is being paid for in the warrant that was just signed. He reminded the Selectboard that they will need to declare some old fire trucks as surplus equipment so the town can dispose of the equipment. Wayne asked how old they are. The oldest is 46 years old Joe Cuneo reported.
Wayne made a motion to declare the two old fire trucks described by the Fire Chief as surplus. One is a Ford F800, the other an R Model Mac. The motion was seconded by Randy and passed by majority vote.
Stowell Building Water, Police Station, Septic Design, and Gutters on Building
With recent rain, the Police Station located in the Stowell Buildings basement flooded in part. Nancy asked the Selectboard what actions should be taken. Wayne discussed what could be done with the gutters and made some suggestions of how to address the immediate issue. Joe Camden reported on the situation and asked if it rains again and the flooding occurs whether he can hire help to resolve the issue. Randy had some questions about the flooding and what exactly happened. Joe Camden responded by outlining what occurred with the last rainstorm and the specific issues with the gutters. The gutters aren’t working properly. There has always been a moisture problem in the basement Police Station and they have to use a dehumidifier constantly. Randy asked Joe Camden if he had anyone in mind to fix the gutters and address the issue. Joe Camden noted this is a health risk from mold and suggested some candidates who might be willing to help. Joe Camden stated that his officers are now hesitant to go into the station at this point because they end up spending time dealing with flooding issues. These officers are paid to be on patrol. He doesn’t want to abandon the station, but something needs to be done between now and when a new station can be built out. Nancy clarified whether it is definitely a gutter issue. Joe Camden responded that it is indeed a gutter issue, with some contributions from trees near the building. Randy had some questions about what the next steps are to address this. Joe Camden suggested more than just cleaning them out, recommending that ultimately they be replaced.
Nancy stated the current budget likely won’t be able to pay for a full replacement, but clearly cleaning the gutters out should be done. She noted that those who used to do it for the town in the past just aren’t willing to do it anymore. Joe Cuneo felt confident that a contractor willing to do it can be found, it will just take a little leg work. Nancy then suggested that if need be, the town can hold another Special Town Meeting, but it couldn’t be done until after the tax classification hearing is done which is usually done in November. Randy asked if there is funding in building maintenance. Nancy responded that there aren’t enough funds available. Joe Cuneo agreed noting that prevailing wage will be an issue for that as well which will inflate the cost. It won’t be a few hundred dollars, that’s for sure. Nancy then reported on some of the other issues including the buildings ongoing well issues and concerns about the septic system. A surveyor came in and the planned work to move the Police Station into the Stowell Building Annex will include a septic redesign. Wayne has also gotten bids for soil analysis and architectural work. So far the costs are coming in at $2,000 for the soil analysis and architectural work to date. Wayne noted that the figure for the septic design is predicated on an occupancy and use of 30 people. That should cover the Police Station and the Stowell Building itself. Wayne than expressed some interest in ensuring that there is no asbestos in the current structure and ensuring that if there is, it is removed. There is one piece of the architecture, a steam pipe, which Wayne suspects might be wrapped in asbestos fire retardant.
Wayne made a motion to spend up to $2,000 on the septic design and soil analysis. Seconded by Randy and passed by majority vote.
Dog Licensing Letter
Nancy reported on a letter she has drafted along with the Animal Control Officer to send to residents in town reminding them to license their dogs. This letter includes information about the applicable MGL, the need to see the Town Clerk for the license, and the license fee amount. The goal is to get dog owners in town who have not licensed their dogs to come into compliance. Wayne made some recommendations on sending the letter out, including sending it with the annual street listing.
The Selectboard approved the minutes from August 27th, 2018 and the minutes from September 13th, 2018.
A motion to adjourn at 8:15 pm was made by Wayne. The motion was seconded by Randy and passed by majority vote.
Jakob K. Hamm, Selectboard Clerk