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Board of Selectmen Minutes 11/18/09
Members present:        William Cavanaugh, George Fuller, John Murray

Others Present: Tony Blair, David Bonney, Bill Brownhill, Colleen O’Connor, Madeleine Swindlehurst, Gene Pike, Stephen LaBelle, Kathy Hayn, Gail McGeer, Mike Falk, Ann Spadafora, Bruce Garlow, Bill Elovirta, Eva Bonney, Alice Briggs, Chris Bleau

7:02 PM Meeting opened.  Reviewed minutes.  George advised that the information that Bill Girard gave him at the last meeting states that only indoor heating appliances need to be inspected and permitted.  Bill advised that he checked the state laws and building codes and he interprets it to apply to any heating appliance that heats the interior of a building.  John feels that we should not have done anything because the Beckwith’s starting using this furnace back in 2004.  Bill advised that the Beckwith’s will be able to appeal this and will get their answer at the hearing.  George motioned to approve the minutes of October 21, 2009, John seconded.  All in favor.

Public Input: Colleen O’Connor advised that she has not showered in her house for thirty months.  She also advised that she has spent over two thousand dollars in gas in order to take showers and also purchased thousands of gallons of water waiting for someone to do the right thing.  She stated that her property is in the middle of a 15,000 gallon septic field which does not even have a Title V.  She would like to know just how long she has to wait for someone to do the right thing.  Bill advised that they cannot talk about this since it is in court.  She advised that she spoke with Mike Falk to see how much the town has spent to do nothing and he advised her to speak with the Select Board.  She would like to know how much the town has spent in legal fees.  Bill advised that she needs to request this from the proper office and that he would not be chasing down anything.  He also stated that before the lawsuits began he suggested that they test the septic system to see if anything was wrong so if there was something wrong, they could repair it but she would not allow that, so now it is in court.  She advised that the time to speak with her is not when there is a backhoe on her property because by then it would be much too late.

Town Administrator’s Report:

  • Bruce Garlow advised that the town has surpassed the $2,000 mark for the Central Berkshire Fund.  Becket was the first town to collect the funds needed for the matching grant.  He advised that so far $2,533.00 has been collected and the next challenge would be to see how much beyond our goal we could go.  George asked how people could apply for this grant.  Bruce advised that they would apply through the Berkshire Community Action Council in Pittsfield.
  • Tony advised that he spoke with Lenny Tisdale about the Selectmen nominating him for Tree Warden of the year but Lenny did not feel that he should be nominated because he did not meet the criteria.
  • Tony advised that he submitted the Community Wind Assessment Application which is the first step in getting a wind turbine at Town Hall.  He also advised that the Jacob’s Ladder Trail Scenic Byway dropped off a draft of the Corridor Management Plan II for anyone that is interested in viewing it.
  • CDBG Update: Tony advised that the Town received its Slum & Blight approval for North Becket Village which makes this area eligible for grant funding for infrastructure work.  He also advised that the CDBG grant will have a number of grant “elements” that will be focused on a number of things.  These elements have been chosen because they are ranked high by DHCD, and increase our chances of getting a grant.  
  • One element would be for funding housing rehab work.  This work could be used for new roofs, new heating systems, septic system  and well repairs and upgrades, etc.  A person would need to be income eligible to receive this kind of grant and the town would need to hire someone to review this information.  
  • The second element could be the infrastructure in North Becket.  This could apply to the sidewalks, crosswalks, lighting, etc.  
  • The last element could be a planning process and Tony suggests the Jacobs Well property as being an area to look at.  A master plan could be developed to show what would be the best thing for this property such as could it be used for senior housing, a new highway department, etc.  Bill feels that if the town acquired the land behind the town hall the senior housing could be located there.  This would be good for the seniors because it is close to the town hall, post office and a general store. The Board of Selectmen stated that they would prefer to see the planning element look at the question of finding the best site for senior housing in the Town, and not focus just on the Jacob’s Well parcel.  Tony agreed to shift that focus in accordance with their suggestion.
Tony brought these three elements to the Selectmen to keep them updated on the direction that the grant application is going.  Tony advised that the housing rehab would apply to all residents in Becket but that infrastructure work funded because of the Slum and Blight designation only applies to North Becket.  Tony advised that in subsequent years another area could be designated as Slum & Blight such as Sherwood Forest and that if that area was also designated as an area of slum and blight then it would be eligible to apply for infrastructure elements in a future CDBG grant application.

The Selectmen discussed the town accountant appointment.  George asked if the issue with the former accountant was ever brought to the Selectmen’s attention.  Bill advised that Richard complained often about the accountant’s job performance.  She was never in the Town Hall when it was open so she was never available to the employees who needed to discuss any issues with her.  Mike Falk advised that he had many discussions with Richard about the accountant’s performance.  Briefly discussed the accountant software.  George asked why this was never advertised.  Tony explained that he did some research with the Department of Revenue and advised that he would have found out if anyone from Becket was qualified to be a municipal accountant.  George asked if the accountant was ever brought in to discuss these problems.  She was asked but never came in.  Bruce Garlow advised that he spoke with Richard countless times and, having been a former Town Administrator, knew how difficult it was to find a good accountant.  He also advised that the new accountant came in to train the accountant in Richmond and he knew she was a great accountant and would have hired her himself if he could.  John motioned to appoint Amy Lane as Town Accountant, Bill seconded.  All in favor.

Briefly discussed the format of Selectmen’s meetings.  Tony asked the Selectmen if they would be interested in having a section of the meeting designated as “Selectmen’s comments and announcements”.  This could be the first thing on the agenda.  The Selectmen could discuss anything that was brought to their attention and if they had nothing to discuss they could proceed to the next agenda item.  Tony thought that reviewing the minutes could come after the comments/announcements then his report could go next and then public input.  The Selectmen are fine with changing the format of the Selectmen’s meetings.

The Selectmen reviewed the Agreement for WMECO allowing access to pole information.  Tony advised that the Southern Berkshire Technology Collaborative is requesting this information for work they are doing with BRPC on the broadband issue.  In order for this group to access this information, the town needs to sign this agreement that acknowledges that this information is confidential.  BRPC would take the pole information and map it out on GIS to help the Southern Berkshire Technology Collaborative with their task of improving the infrastructure in Berkshire County.  George motioned to sign the agreement for WMECO allowing access to pole information, John seconded.  All in favor.

Tony advised that the dry hydrants will be on the Conservation Commission agenda tomorrow night.  The Town has received three more signed agreements which brings the total to four signed copies.  The four that have been signed are the dry hydrants by Greenwater Pond, Crystal Pond, Becket Woods and the YMCA.  Tony advised that the dry hydrant by Shaw Pond has to go to the National Resource Division because there is an endangered species in this pond.  It will have to wait until this group has looked at it.  Tony also advised that he spoke with some people in Sherwood Forest and the dry hydrant in Sherwood Forest is not working properly because the pipe is too long.  Briefly discussed how to repair this hydrant.  Tony advised that Mr. Attias, who owns Pill Pond, will probably sign the agreement but he will be donating the parcel of land that has the pond on it to the town.  George asked if there is a dam on this pond.  Bill advised that there is only a beaver dam.  George will check this out because he thinks there is a dam on this pond and he does not think the town should be responsible for the upkeep on this dam.  John motioned to sign the license agreements for the dry hydrants located near Crystal Pond, in Becket Woods and the hydrant by the YMCA, George seconded.  All in favor.

The Selectmen reviewed the memo from the Finance Committee regarding Update on FY 2010 Town of Becket Finances.  Mike Falk gave the Selectmen an overview of the budget.  He advised that there is a decrease in the regional school transportation revenue from the State of approximately 44%.  He advised that CBRSD should be able to cover this shortfall from their account that is similar to our Stabilization Account.  Mike also advised that since our old accountant was unable to closeout the last fiscal year, we have not yet received free cash certification.  The Finance Committee recommends that the Selectmen work with them to try to resolve the budget shortfall.  Mike fears that FY 2011 will be worse than this year.  Tony explained the Cherry Sheet.  He questions if the town gets approximately $22,000.00 in service for Mosquito Control.  Every year the town is charged this amount for Mosquito Control and he feels if we are not getting our money’s worth then perhaps we could eliminate this program.  Briefly discussed the effects on other species from the spraying of mosquitoes.

Tony advised that the issue of appointing Senior Work-Off program participants as “Special Municipal Employees” came up from the letter to the Selectmen from Madeleine Swindlehurst.  Madeleine participates in the Senior Work-Off Program but is also paid to fill in for Nina when she is on vacation.  After completing the Conflict of Interest training she contacted the Ethics Commission to see if she was in conflict.  She was told that since the Town of Becket has not designated persons working in its c. 59 sec. 5K Senior Tax Abatement Program as “Special Municipal Employees” she would need to request that the Select Board so designate participants in that program if she wished to take on another town position.  John motioned to designate all participants in the Senior Work-Off Program “Special Municipal Employees”, George seconded.  All in favor.  The Town Clerk will notify the Ethics Commission of this vote.

The Selectmen reviewed the letter from the DEP regarding the removal of two underground storage tanks at the Becket General Store.  George asked if this is being done by Al Lussier or Robert Gerner.  Tony advised that Mr. Gerner is the owner who is completing these tank removals but Mr. Lussier knows about it.

George motioned to sign the warrant for the Special State Primaries to be held on Tuesday, December 8, 2009 from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Becket Town Hall, John seconded.  All in favor.

The Selectmen reviewed the ZBA Dimensional Special Permit for the reconstruction of an existing non-conforming single family residential house on December 1, 2009.  The Selectmen have no objections to this special permit.

The Selectmen reviewed the Notice of Public Hearing of Planning Board for a new Wireless Communications Facility on December 9, 2009.  Briefly discussed the hearing process.

The Selectmen reviewed the letter to Mass Highway regarding the opening of McNerney Road.  This letter is thanking Mass Highway for its assistance during this construction project.  John motioned to sign the letter to Mass Highway regarding the opening of McNerney Road, George seconded.  All in favor.

The Selectmen signed the appointment slips for the Town Energy Committee and the Green Community Planning Grant Energy Committee.  The Selectmen made the appointments at their last meeting but did not have the appointment slips to sign.

The Selectmen reviewed the monthly reports of the Building Inspector, Police Department and Board of Assessors.  George asked Bill Elovirta if the Police Department has been patrolling County Road.  He advised that they have been patrolling County Road.  Bill asked who put up the 25 MPH sign on County Road.  George advised that the highway department put up the sign while they were working on the road.  Bill asked why the sign was never taken down.  George advised that Jeff forgot to take the sign down but he would make sure it gets taken down tomorrow.  Bill asked if this could be done.  He does not think the town should be changing speed limits all over town.  Bill Elovirta explained the different color signs that could be placed while the work was being done.  This 25 MPH sign was not the correct colored sign but the highway department did not have the proper sign so they put this one up.  Bill feels that this is not legal since the State is the only one that can change speed limits.  Bill Elovirta asked George what happened to all of the McNerney Road detour signs.  George advised that he was told that Mass Highway took them.  Bill Elovirta advised that he paid for some of the signs and would like them back.  Tony will look into it.

Any other business: None.

Reviewed correspondence.

8:45 PM  George motioned to adjourn, John seconded.  All in favor.

Reviewed payroll/expense warrants.

Respectfully submitted,                                                         _______________________________
Nina Weiler, Secretary                                                          William F. Cavanaugh, Chairman