Town of NewSalem Selectboard
June 17, 2019
Stowell Building, New Salem, MA 01355
Convened: 7:00 pm
Present: Randy Gordon, chair, Wayne Hachey, Jean Derderian, Selectboard; Nancy Aldrich, Town Coordinator; Carol Hillman, Terry McCue, New Salem Cider LLC; Richard Nicoll, Community Garden; Ken Bright
Selectboard Reviewed & Signed the Following:
Ø Payroll & Vendor Warrants
Ø Jumptown USA Permission Letter
Ø FY20 Appointment Slips
Ø End of Year Budget Transfers from Finance Committee
Ø Acceptance of Easement
Farmer Series Pouring Permit Hearing
Nancy reported that there is an application for a Farmer Series Pouring Permit from New Salem Cider LLC. She provided information regarding the area that the permit would cover. This hearing was posted in multiple locations including the Athol Daily News. Terry then spoke to the Selectboard to explain the purpose. He sells sweet cider for $8 a gallon, and the farm can get far more selling it as hard cider. This would increase the profitability of the farm. For the last 50 years Carol has kept her apple farm as a labor of love and has often barely broken even. This whole plan is to seek sustainability. The idea is to sell off the farm and not seek wholesale elsewhere. They would sell mostly by the glass. They have an area for parking and for service. They have obtained the proper licensing for production from the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) and are now here to get the license to pour. Nancy noted that the license to produce the hard cider comes directly from the ABCC, but for the ability to pour and serve they must obtain this pour license from the town and with the ABCC. Terry interjected to provide further information, explaining that they would only have certain hours, primarily Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Wayne clarified about the role of other town bodies in this. Nancy responded that under the process setup for New Salem the Selectboard is the issuing authority. Jean outlined the Planning Board process, which is not pertaining to the liquor licensing or the pouring, but would still need approval for the business operations. They may require special permit. That said the Selectboard was not opposed and it was decided to proceed with issuance.
A motion was made to approve the license by Wayne, which was seconded by Jean. The motion passed unanimously.
Library Surplus Furniture
Nancy reported on a letter from the Library Director outlining some surplus furniture that should be disposed of. The Library has recently completed a small renovation to its building and has surplus furniture as such. Most of it is furniture relating to children. The furniture would be sold at Old Home Day for fundraising.
A motion was made by Wayne to deem the furniture surplus and allow for its disposal. The motion was seconded by Jean and passed without objection.
Meeting Invitation: Upper Pioneer Valley Veterans Services
Nancy reported on some of the information relating to this, including information for elected and appointed town officials. The date is July 16th, 2019 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm in Greenfield.
FY20 Appointment Slips
Nancy reported that these are the Annual Appointments. She highlighted a few of the appointments and noted that if there are any slips that cover members of the Selectboard, that member should not sign the slip. Randy noted that if there are any objections, the member should hold them out. There was a question of the Fire Chief holding a 1-year term. There was brief discussion about whether to seek a longer term, such as 3-years in the future. Another question arose, this time regarding the Building Inspector. The current Building Inspector works for multiple towns. There were a few questions regarding various titles. Nancy elaborated. One example being the Sexton, which is a term for the official in charge of burials. There was a question regarding the Tree Warden and whether or not there is a matter of qualifications involved. Nancy reported that for towns under 10,000 in population there are no qualification requirements. Randy noted that having the Tree Warden be the official that it is, currently the Highway Chief, makes sense. Wayne concurred noting that consultation has been had with the Tree Committee and they support the Tree Warden being a Highway employee. Some questions arose about Special Police Appointments. Wayne elaborated on that subject. These police officers rarely are called upon and usually work in other police departments in the region. There was some ensuing discussion regarding police training. Nancy finished up discussion by noting a few vacancies. Cultural Council in particular is in need of new members as that particular entity has statutory term limits. She then noted the town doesn’t have a Fence Viewer, Field Driver, or Veterans Grave Officer. If anyone is interested they should contact her office.
Letter from Leonard Kopelman
Attorney Leonard Kopelman has changed firms, leaving Kopelman & Page. He has sent a letter to former clients soliciting their business. Kopelman & Page has to date providing excellent service to the town, and Nancy didn’t see a reason to change unless the Selectboard did. The general consensus was to stay with Kopelman & Page, although Jean felt it prudent to look into the rates of this new practice.
Risk Assessment Survey – Fire Department
Nancy reported on this survey, which was part of the mock OSHA inspection that was done by the towns insurer MIIA. This assessment included photographs and various materials regarding several potential risk areas. MIIA provided suggestions of what to change and what steps the town should take to lessen risk. Nancy reminded that the Fire Department has asked for $5,000 for work to comply with OSHA. Jean asked where that number comes from. Nancy was unsure where Chief Cuneo came up with that number. Jean expressed reservations as to whether that would be sufficient. Wayne generally concurred noting some of the suggestions made by MIIA regarding Fire Department could easily surpass that.
Review of Annual Town Meeting Warrant to Determine Which Articles the Selectboard Will Support
Nancy provided the Selectboard with the motions for the articles and provided some information from the Finance Committee. Most of the articles should be uncontroversial. Randy had some questions relating to the budget. Specifically, the COLA figure for town employees. Nancy reported that the COLA is 3 percent this year across the board. Randy asked Nancy regarding which articles are likely to spike debate. Nancy responded that that is impossible to predict. Randy then asked about where the town is seeing savings. Nancy outlined a few areas. One area where there is clear savings is the towns cellular plan. She noted that Town Building Maintenance will likely go up while insurance costs have mostly remained the same. Nancy finished stating the Finance Committee will have more details. Wayne brought up Swift Rivers window project. No matter what, the town is going to have to invest in this and the current project involves funding from the Commonwealth. So this will be a lot cheaper than if the town had to go alone. Jean had a question about the petition article on the warrant. Randy elaborated that this article and how it got on the warrant. Nancy recalled that for petitioned articles the Selectboard usually takes no opinion. Discussion then shifted to how the motions are made, seconded, and handled in general. Randy elaborated on the process. He noted a few annual questions that come up, mostly regarding acronyms and so forth. It’s good to have concise answers that can be given when such questions arise. Nancy reminded that this will be the first Annual Town Meeting for the Town Moderator who was freshly elected this year. It was then determined that the Selectboard supports the warrant in its current form while taking no position on the petitioned article. Discussion ended with the Selectboard stating for the record that the house on Lovers Lane that is in tax takings remains in Land Court. The town is doing the best it can, there have been some complaints, but unfortunately the Land Court moves slowly.
Carry Forward Accounts from FY19
Nancy reported on a letter from the Town Accountant reporting on carry forward requests. The Accountant is requesting that such requests be submitted by the end of June. Nancy reported on some of the reasons for these carry forwards. She noted a few areas where this will likely be necessary, such as for the Tree Committee and the Swift River Design Committee. Randy inquired as to whether any of these would be questioned, Nancy felt they would not.
1794 Meetinghouse License/Lease Process
The Meetinghouse is trying to obtain grant funding which will support their operations in that building. In order to sign a long term lease the town would have to go through the Request for Proposals (RFP) process under MGL Chapter 30B, per Town Counsel. Randy suggested that we want to see this building continue to be used so this process should be seen through. Jean agreed, but noted some concerns about the maintenance of the building as it is a historical town property. Nancy responded that some of the grant funding is to cover maintenance.
Request from Tax Collector Regarding Envelope Stuffer for Broadband
The Tax Collector is asking to put an informational slip in the envelopes with tax bills when they are sent out. This would pertain to Broadband. There were no objections to this. Jean submitted that if this is less expensive and provides more information to the public it’s a good idea.
Update on Old Academy Building Maintenance Issues
Jean provided an update on the Old Academy Building. She’s been pursuing a company to take care of the bat situation. Thankfully, she’s found a company that does wild animal control and repair work on exterior and interiors of buildings as a result of such animals. There are windows that need repair work, the chimney needs to be capped, and interior work on the first floor walls, as well as stripping of paint off of the second floor ceiling. The tenants, the New Salem Academy Trustees, are perfectly fine with the work. The full cost is $9,000 and the buildings endowment fund can pay for that work. The way the lease is setup is that the Historical Commission controls those funds, but the Selectboard still has the opportunity to comment and express any concerns it may have. Randy asked how much money there is for this kind of work on the building. Jean reported that one of the funds has close to $11,000 in it and the second account, a trust fund, has close to $10,000. She explained that the principle cannot be used, but the interest can. There should be more than enough money to cover the costs. Randy inquired as to why these funds haven’t been used in the past. Jean explained that the endowment fund can only be used for that building in particular. The second account is a trust fund that was setup by Eleanor Schmitt. This fund relates to the Quabbin Reservoir and was set up for historical preservation for the towns surrounding the reservoir. The work to the Old Academy Building qualifies. Finally, since the bid is under $10,000, MGL Chapter 30B doesn’t require the RFP or formal bid process. Just sound business practices. She finished by reporting that the Historical Commission will be meeting to discussion and vote on the matter.
It was felt prudent that the Police Chief and Highway Chiefs both be asked to appear before the Selectboard to appear on different topics.
Town Recreation Facilities
Jean asked that for one of the upcoming meetings the Recreation Committee be invited to discuss some of the equipment and facilities in town and what can be done to improve things.
Jean asked that efforts be made to improve notice and information to residents. Including asking the local newspapers to report on the town again. Nancy noted that there used to be an Athol Daily News reporter at meetings, but they haven’t had someone in a while. This could be due to the purchase of the Athol Daily News by the same owner as the Greenfield Recorder. It may be that the area has fallen under The Recorder and they may not have settled on sending someone out.
Jumptown USA Permission
Nancy provided the Selectboard with a request for permission. This was in the form of a formal letter. The Selectboard saw no reason not to approve and proceeded with signing.
Year End Budget Transfers
The Municipal Modernization Act of 2016 permits the town to make end of year transfers between town accounts in the last two months of the fiscal year. This permits the town to use funds from lines where expenses were less than expected to cover accounts where expenses were greater than expected. The Finance Committee signs off on these as well as the Selectboard and they have already approved the requests. The Selectboard saw no reason not to do the same.
Easement for Broadband
Constance Blakely has signed the easement with the town to permit broadband to run across her property. This will permit broadband service to William Rice Rd. The Selectboard saw no reason not to signed the paperwork and determined to do so.
The Selectboard considered and determined to approve the minutes from June 3, 2019.
A motion to adjourn at 8:15 pm was made by Jean. The motion was seconded by Wayne and passed unanimously.
Jakob K. Hamm, Selectboard Clerk