Town of NewSalem Selectboard
May 6, 2019
Stowell Building, New Salem, MA 01355
Convened: 7:00 pm
Present: Randy Gordon, chair, Wayne Hachey, Selectboard; Nancy Aldrich, Town Coordinator; Ken Bright
Selectboard Reviewed & Signed the Following:
Ø Payroll & Vendor Warrants
Ø Budget Transfer Requests
Highway Department Hiring
Nancy reported on the latest hiring for the department. The Highway Department is now back to full staffing. There was a question about succession planning for Highway. In light of the towns planning with Wendell for the Police Chief it seems prudent to consider the fact that the Highway Chief will eventually retire at some future date. It is also advisable to consider other positions as well given the importance of such officials to the operations of the town. Wayne clarified this discussion isn’t about regionalizing or sharing a Highway Department. Nancy responded that would be difficult given the way Highway Departments function. Randy agreed noting that Police and Fire are different and in those cases the departments can be more readily combined in part or in management positions. Discussion shifted to other models for governance. There was brief discussion regarding a Roads Commission. Wendell created a Roads Commission, but Nancy noted, after the first initial people serve on, it like any other board in a small town, you end up always looking for people to run for it in later years. That was Wendell’s experience.
Parking Ban Sign on South Main Street / Request for Removal
A citizen has requested the removal of a parking ban sign. The sign is unenforced and it is felt it doesn’t add anything to the town. Randy asked as to why the sign was installed. Nancy was uncertain but it likely went up for snow plowing reasons. Randy suggested asking the Highway Chief to weigh in on whether the sign should stay for some roads purpose. Wayne agreed. Nancy agreed to follow up.
Question About Location of Town Hall Septic Near Community Garden
The Agricultural Commission has asked some questions regarding the leech field for the Town Hall and whether it is close to the community garden. Wayne was familiar with the septic system and noted that the area of concern should be beyond the existing garden and its fenced perimeter. He was able to elaborated on the system and felt it is safe.
Vacant Property on Lovers Lane
Nancy provided the Selectboard with a letter about a property on Lovers Lane. Randy noted that various town officials are already working on this both from a public health angle and from a tax angle. Wayne agreed stating the building should be torn down. Nancy stated that the property is under a tax taking, but is bogged down in the usual slowness of Land Court. She agreed to check with the Town Treasurer, who is the official designated by MGL over tax takings, as to the status.
Upcoming Mock OSHA Inspection
Nancy announced that the upcoming mock OSHA inspection is scheduled for May 15th, 2019 at 10:00 am. MIIA will have its Risk Manager present for the event. It is estimated to take about 3 hours.
Annual Report Cover
Nancy provided the Selectboard with some pictures that have been provided for the Selectboard to choose from for the Annual Town Report. Several include birds common to the Quabbin Reservoir. One of the birds is a loon, another an owl, and a third being a bald eagle. Nancy noted that the bald eagles are the result of a program to restore the eagles to Massachusetts. A number of the bird’s nest in the Quabbin. There were also a number of landscape pictures as well. The Selectboard narrowed the choices down to a loon and an owl. Nancy agreed to make mock ups of both pictures for the next meeting.
Dog Licensing Fees – Request from Town Clerk
Nancy reported on the current fee structure and explained that the Town Clerk would like to see the fees adjusted. The Town Clerk recommends increases of about $1 to all fees. The costs have increased with postage as part of the process. The Town Clerk also receives part of the fee as pay and asks that her portion be increased as well. Randy expressed the feeling that this isn’t a huge cost and conceded that costs for this have clearly been increasing. Nancy noted that the goal is to make it enough to cover the costs not to be prohibitive. A $1 increase across the board doesn’t appear to break anyone’s bank. Issues with ensuring licensing of dogs is clearly not due to the fees which are only a few dollars. Randy reminded that ensuring compliance with this part of MGL is to the public benefit as the process is truly to ensure rabies vaccination. The town enforces it to the best of ability.
A motion was made by Wayne to approve the Town Clerk’s recommended fee increases for dog licensing. The motion was seconded by Randy and passed by majority vote.
Lease Fee from New Salem Academy Trustees
Nancy reported that the first year’s annual payment has been received. The building is up and running. Randy asked when the next elevator inspection will be. Nancy reported March 2020.
Tree City USA Designation
Nancy reported on the designation. New Salem has been sponsored by the Arbor Society.
Budget Transfer Requests
Nancy provided a list to the Selectboard from the Finance Committee regarding accounts that are currently over. These are accounts that will require end of year transfers from other accounts. Such transfers must be approved by both the Finance Committee and the Selectboard. These transfers, thanks to the Municipal Modernization Act of 2016, become available to the town in the last two months of the fiscal year.
Update on Items from Previous Meeting
Nancy reminded the Selectboard about prior topics. The first being concerns about parking on a part of Rt. 202, which is also known as Daniel Shay’s Highway, which occurs near the town line with Orange. Nancy reported on her discussions with MassDOT officials. MassDOT is willing to take action, but will require some maps and related materials. The other topic being the lease for the 1794 Meetinghouse. Nancy reported she hasn’t heard back from Town Counsel on the existing lease. The third being the Town Hall. The building has a mouse problem that is still being followed up on. The issue is mostly with plugging holes and fixing other issues. Wayne noted some of the structural issues the building faces. Randy agreed reminding that the costs for addressing them are significant.
The Selectboard determined to table the minutes from April 22, 2019.
A motion to adjourn at 7:43 pm was made by Wayne. The motion was seconded by Randy and passed by majority vote.
Jakob K. Hamm, Selectboard Clerk