Town of NewSalem Selectboard
November 4, 2019
Stowell Building, New Salem, MA 01355
Convened: 7:02 pm
Present: Randy Gordon, Wayne Hachey, Jean Derderian, Selectboard; Nancy Aldrich, Town Coordinator; Gabriele Voelker, Town Treasurer; Ken Bright
Selectboard Reviewed & Signed the Following:
Ø Payroll & Vendor Warrants
Ø Cemetery Deeds
Ø State House Note Documents
Loan Renewal Documents
Gabe started off by providing the Selectboard with the renewal documents. These documents relate to the Broadband State House Note The town got a really great interest rate. Gabe then reminded the Selectboard that the town needs an audit. Nancy responded that she’s already reached out to the towns Auditors. Gabe asked for the audit to be done as soon as possible. It has been 3 years since the last audit and the banks are making it clear they want to see one before the next renewal. The town is saving nearly $12,000 with the interest rate this State House Note has. Wayne inquired with Gabe about when the Finance Committee will start its meetings for FY21. She responded that the budget request forms haven’t yet gone out, but will go out soon. The process will enter full swing in January. Gabe then explained the forms that the Selectboard signed for the State House Note. The town is paying $26,850 in interest this year. The town paid $39,000 last year. Same length of term, a 1-year term. Gabe had hoped to add the additional Broadband borrowing to this note, but the vote didn’t occur in time. Jean inquired as to how the Commonwealth’s funding for Broadband impacts this. Gabe responded that the town may not need the full amount of the additional borrowing as a result of the Commonwealth’s actions, but that is uncertain. Nancy agreed saying she’s pretty sure the Commonwealths funding is on a reimbursement basis. So the town has to spend it and then get paid back. So the extra borrowing may still be necessitated. Nancy noted that the way the Commonwealth does this is roughly $500 per household that signs up. Randy stressed that the more people who sign up initially the better as those who miss out on this initial stage will have to pay more for their own connections if and when they do sign up. Gabe inquired about how some of the town phone lines will convert. She operates her office from home and has a town phone line. She is signed up for her home, but not for the town phone line. Nancy didn’t see any reason not to add that line to the other town accounts. Wayne concurred. It was agreed to consult with the MLP Director.
Mahar Veterans Day Assembly
Mahar is having two Veterans Day Assemblies and has invited the Selectboard members. Jean inquired about how long they are. Nancy responded that each one should be about 45 minutes. Jean agreed to attend the first one which will be earlier in the morning.
MOA with FRCOG Regarding Emergency Communications Equipment
Nancy reported on this MOA on the emergency communications equipment. FRCOG is looking for this for December 1. Jean wasn’t yet prepared to talk about the topic yet and noted she was still digesting information. Randy recalled that from what the Fire Chief has said, it doesn’t sound like the town has many choices. To date there really haven’t been any other presentations. It was agreed to table this again until the next meeting. But that would be the last postponement.
Sharing Highway Equipment with Petersham
Nancy reported on her discussions with her counterpart in Petersham. They have not yet had an opportunity to discuss this, but it was suggested that New Salem proceed with the paperwork and send it over to them. They can then consider it and either sign it or decline. Randy asked if a vote is necessary. Nancy responded that a motion should be sufficient.
A motion was made by Jean to enter into an inter-municipal agreement with Petersham to share Highway equipment between the two towns with each town operating it, insuring it, and doing maintenance and to authorize the signing of said agreement. The motion was seconded by Wayne and passed unanimously.
Status of Dog By-Law Updates & Information from Franklin County Dog Shelter
Jean reported she will meet with the ACO soon. Nancy then reported on some options for the town in the event that the ACO ever decides to retire from the position, as she has indicated she might, what options the town has. There is the option of a regional Animal Control Officer that 8 towns are already in and New Salem might be able to join. Jean noted the difficulties for the ACO are with enforcement. Kenneling dogs really isn’t the issue.
Request for Permission to Use Metal Detector on Town Common
Nancy reported on a call from a citizen who would like permission to metal detect on the Common. They promise to turn anything of value over to the town. Randy felt the critical part of this is that no damage be done. There was a general feeling that this person may proceed.
Memo from Bruce Spencer on Behalf of Tree Committee Regarding Roadside Trees Cut on Cooleyville Rd
Nancy reminded the Selectboard of the past discussions on this matter and reported that the Tree Committee would like to fine the person in question who cut the trees which appear to be town trees. The fine would amount to $450. It had been agreed to ask the Building Inspector to have information on trees and town trees in his permit paperwork. Randy noted that there are other parts to this, but felt that there was a lack of clarity for those building new homes. But punishing someone after the fact without them knowing they were in error seems punitive. There was discussion regarding Planning Board and cite approval. It may be a good idea to ask Planning Board to include this information about trees as part of their process. Between Planning Board and the Building Inspector, that could help ensure that this sort of situation doesn’t occur in the future. Nancy felt that the confluence of information from multiple sources makes sense. Jean felt at this point it is kind of arbitrary. If the town is serious about this, then by-law changes should be made. Randy didn’t feel at this stage that this sort of punishment is prudent. The focus should be on preventing this from occurring again.
Sale of Surplus Fire Trucks / Request to Transfer Funds at Town Meeting
Nancy reported on where things stand. The town has sold two trucks and the total is about $11,000. The Fire Chief would like to transfer this money at town meeting into a stabilization fund for fire trucks. Gabe responded that this is legal and it can be done. Shutesbury has done it successfully. Whether it is advisable is open to question. Wayne noted that the town has a vehicle stabilization account. Gabe was hesitant to write an article that reserves those funds exclusively for a fire truck. It’s better to put it into a stabilization account, either the regular one, or capital or vehicle. Otherwise this is miscellaneous revenue and would fall into the General Fund. Wayne inquired as to whether a new vehicle would be procured this year for the Fire Chief. Gabe was unaware of it for FY21. She noted that there is a police cruiser that’s 3 years old. It may be advisable to buy a new police cruiser and give the Fire Chief the old cruiser. Ford is now making a hybrid police cruiser that has built in anti-idling and battery features, so it would benefit the police and have fuel savings that would be good for the towns green community goals. This would likely be the best option. Wayne inquired about the benefit to Wendell in this. Gabe responded that Wendell pays the Chiefs health insurance, which New Salem doesn’t pay towards, so any benefit they get simply evens things out between the towns.
Upcoming MIIA Fall Conference
Nancy reported that this is scheduled for November 6, 2019. She will be in attendance from 8 am until 3 pm.
Wayne reported that the process was started, but was interrupted as the Fire Chief who was assisting was called away on a medical. So the process will have to continue at another date. Randy apologized for missing as he had intended to be present but was forced to miss.
The Selectboard considered the minutes from October 7, 2019 which the Selectboard determined to approve pending modification. The minutes from October 21, 2019 were tabled until the next meeting.
A motion to adjourn at 7:40 pm was made by Jean. The motion was seconded by Wayne and passed by majority vote.
Jakob K. Hamm, Selectboard Clerk