Skip Navigation
This table is used for column layout.
Board of Selectmen Minutes 12/16/09
Members present:        William Cavanaugh, George Fuller, John Murray

Others Present: Tony Blair, David Bonney, Bill Brownhill, Colleen O’Connor, Mike & Bonnie Falk, Alice Briggs, Meredyth Babcock, John Hall, Jeanne Pryor, Doug & Geri Walter, Beth Van Ness, Dan Andrews, Stephen & Gale LaBelle, Bill & Maddy Elovirta, Ann Spadafora, Richard & Rita Furlong, Bruce Garlow, Bud Moylan, Rob Gorden, Barbara Stuhlmann, Bill Fuller, Jeremy Dunn, Martin Schlanger, Ann Krawet, Al Lussier, Kathy Vsetecka, Bill Girard, Ginger Conner, Gene Pike, Mark Sottile, Alison Atlas

7:00 PM Meeting opened.

Selectmen’s Comments and Announcements: Bill wished everyone a happy holiday.

The Selectmen reviewed minutes of the previous meeting.  George motioned to accept the minutes of December 2, 2009, John seconded.  All in favor.

Town Administrator’s Report:
  • Tony advised that Ray Tarjick would be willing to be designated the lead person for the community for the BRPC Hazard Mitigation Plan.  George motioned to appoint Ray Tarjick the lead person in Becket on the BRPC Hazard Mitigation Plan, John seconded.  All in favor.
  • Tony advised that the police department has been monitoring the speeding on County Road as requested and have not found many people speeding.
  • Tony advised that Colleen O’Connor had asked how much the town has spent regarding her ongoing litigation.  He advised that the insurance company has been paying so the town does not have a total cost.  He did speak to our rep at the insurance company and got the amounts that were allocated for past litigations.  The amount of $19,000 was allocated for legal expenses for the incident that took place on Bonny Rigg Hill Road during the 2005 rain storm.  The amount of $18,000 was allocated for the wrongful termination suit and the amount of $15,000 was allocated for the current litigation with Colleen O’Connor.  The insurance company rep explained that all the towns that MIIA covers pool all their claims and resources together and the costs get evenly spread out over all of the towns.  There is no way of knowing how Becket was effected by all of the litigation but the rep thought that our premiums may have increased approximately 10% but our premiums also have dropped because of some of the programs the town has completed.
  • Tony gave each of the Selectmen a copy of the report on the police detail that was requested.  He explained how the police detail works.  Normally the detail is offered to the full-time officers and if they do not want the detail it would be offered to the part-time officers.  If none of the part-time officers want the detail it would go to the police in a neighboring town or to the state police.  The report that was given to the Selectmen had the hours each officer worked and the amount paid for each detail.  George questioned why the hours and amounts did not coincide.  Tony advised that the hours were from all of 2008 and 2009 but the detail amounts were from July of 2008 and all of 2009 so that is why the hours did not match up with the detail amount in 2008.  The Board reviewed some correspondence from 1991in connection with the appointment of Madelaine Elovirta as a police officer, including an opinion from the Ethics Commission.  George asked about a letter that the Selectmen wrote back in 1991 that said that she was a full-time officer.  Bill Elovirta advised that Maddy was never a full-time officer.  Tony advised that this would not affect the intent or the scope of the letter from the ethics commission.
  • Tony advised that the town received $39,591 from the State for ice storm cleanup reimbursement which was not expected and was very good news for the Town.
  • Tony advised that the cell tower public hearing was rescheduled to December 30, 2009 at 7:00 PM.  This proposed cell tower is on Wade Inn Road not Wells Road.  The cell tower hearing was cancelled last week because of inclement weather.  Tony advised that the plans for the cell tower are in the office if anyone wishes to view them.
  • Tony advised that John Hall acquired a brush truck for the fire department for free through a member of the department who works for the Department of Conservation and Recreation.  A tank will be installed on this truck and it will be able to fight brush fires.  This will keep the more expensive apparatus out of harms way when fighting brush fires.  He also advised that John is looking at acquiring more vehicles for the fire department.  These vehicles are older but have low mileage.  The Board and audience thanked John for his initiative.

Public Input: Mike Falk gave the Selectmen copies of memos from various people who worked with Tony Blair and thought he was very professional and worked well with the employees and board members and the general public.  Mike advised that the Finance Committee would be reviewing Tony’s accomplishments at tomorrow night’s meeting and he feels that he is doing an exemplary job.  Doug Walter also spoke about how Tony stepped into this position and has done more than anyone on the town administrator search committee expected him to do.  Beth VanNess also spoke about how accessible Tony is and how easy it is to talk to him and also how much money that he saved the town.  A number of others spoke on behalf of Tony and how great a job he is doing.

Bruce Garlow addressed the board regarding the Neighbor to Neighbor fund.  He advised that Becket was the first town to meet its challenge amount and is in second place for collecting the highest percentage over the challenge amount.  Becket has collected $5,334 which brings the total grant amount to $19,334.  He also advised that the town still has five more days to collect for this program.

Mike advised that last night was the last night to vote to change the Central Berkshire Regional School District Agreement.  He also advised that Dalton was the only town that did not show up at the meeting.  He explained that there may be another change to the agreement that will be forthcoming regarding the closing of any school in the district.

Rita Furlong addressed the board regarding the Wahconah Regional High School renovations.  She explained what has been done and what still needs to be done.

George asked Mike Falk why he had no problem asking him to withdraw from running for Selectman but he did not call him for his opinion regarding Tony’s reappointment.  George advised that a few people called him and said that Mike was asking people what George’s opinion of Tony was.  Mike advised that that was not what he was doing.  He wanted the meeting to be a fair meeting because he knew that George has criticized Tony for his appointment of the new accountant and for the vocational transportation plan that he worked on and other issues.  Tony thanked everyone who spoke on his behalf.

The Selectmen began their evaluation of Tony Blair.  Bill advised that there are three choices the Selectmen have on Tony’s performance.  They are as follows: a.) Unsatisfactory Performance-Town Administrator may be terminated or the agreement extended for another six months in a probationary status and there shall be another review at the end of the second six month period. b.) Satisfactory Performance-Extend the agreement for another six months at the same rate of pay and perform another review at the end of the second six month term. or c.) Exceptional Performance-Extend the agreement for another six months, with negotiated salary increase.  If performance still exceptional after the second six month period, three year agreement to be offered.  Bill advised that he spoke with Tony about his job performance and Tony felt that with the Town’s budget constraints, he would not be asking for an increase in his salary.  Bill feels that Tony has not been a push-over and he is very knowledgeable about the job and is kind and courteous and easy to work with.  Bill feels that Tony has performed exceptionally and after six months if he is still performing exceptionally, the Selectmen should offer him a three year agreement.  George felt that he would be willing to give Tony three more months on probation but this is not a term option.  He and John both feel that Tony should include them more in his decisions.  John feels that Tony is doing an exceptional job.  Bill motioned to extend the agreement for another six months and after the six months offer Tony a three year contract, John seconded.  All in favor.  Tony advised the Board that he is always willing to discuss any issues that the Selectmen have with them.  He would like the Selectmen to come to him with any issues so that there is always open communication.  He told them to call him anytime, stop in to see him, email him, etc.  Tony advised that they have to be careful that they do not make decisions that are a board decision.  He can advise each member about issues but one member cannot tell him to do something that is a board decision.

Bill advised that Alan Lussier, manager of the Becket General Store, was asked to come before the Board to discuss the all alcoholic package store license.  The reason is because there are back taxes due on the Becket General Store property and the Selectmen need to know what the plan is for the payment of these taxes.  Mr. Lussier explained that the State DEP is still involved with the site cleanup so the closing cannot take place until the State has completed the cleanup.  Once the cleanup is completed, the closing will take place and the taxes will be paid.  Mr. Lussier advised that if he purchased the property before the cleanup was completed, he would be liable for anything that happens.  He also advised that Mr. Gerner is working part-time and collecting social security and does not have the money to pay the taxes.  Bill explained that the Town is between a rock and a hard place because if the license is not issued, it would greatly affect the business and this would have a negative impact on the town.  Bill advised that the Selectmen could not issue a three month or six month license.  Ginger Conner stated that there are two different identities involved; Al being one and Bob Gerner being the other.  Bob got sick and had to give up the store.  She also stated that the State got involved with the cleanup, it’s not even a cleanup, it is the removal of two tanks.  The core tests showed that the percentage of contamination was so minimal in the vicinity that there is no need for cleanup.  She said the following: Al cannot take over the property because the grant for the cleanup is under Bob Gerner’s name, Bob just became in arrears for his taxes and he owes taxes not Al, the license was issued to Al.  Tony advised that it does not matter who applies for the license.  If the property has back taxes owed on it then it affects the licensee.
Tony advised that the Selectmen could issue the license but could revoke it at any time if the issue with back taxes was not resolved.  Mr. Gerner wrote in his letter that if the closing did not take place by spring than Mr. Lussier would start making lease payments.  An arrangement could then be made to apply the lease payments toward the back taxes.  George asked why this tax issue was not brought up when the store was opened.  Briefly discussed this issue.  Tony felt that the Selectmen should enter into an agreement now and if the parties fail to comply with the tax payments by the date that was agreed upon then the Selectmen could revoke the license by following the proper procedures.  John motioned to sign the liquor license renewal for the Becket General Store for an all alcoholic package store license with a future agreement, George seconded.  All in favor.

The Selectmen reviewed the letter of resignation from Dorothy Bellavance as an election worker effective December 10, 2009.  The reason Ms. Bellavance is resigning as an election worker is because she would like to be appointed as a Registrar of Voters and she cannot be appointed to both positions.  Jeanne Pryor advised that she has not had a Republican registrar for quite some time and Ms. Bellavance came forward to fill this appointment.  John motioned to accept the resignation of Dorothy Bellavance as an election worker and appoint her as a Registrar of Voters term to expire March 31, 2010, George seconded.  All in favor.

The Selectmen reviewed the letters of interest received from Nina Weiler and Troy Casey to be appointed to the Conservation Commission.  Kathy Vsetecka, agent and member of the Conservation Commission, spoke in favor of appointing Nina Weiler to the Conservation Commission since she is familiar with the procedures of the commission and she felt she would work out fine.  She also advised that she spoke with other members of the commission and overall the members were in favor of appointing Nina Weiler.  George motioned to appoint Nina Weiler to the Conservation Commission term to expire June 30, 2010, John seconded.  All in favor.

Tony advised that Ann Krawet has attended meetings on Green Energy and has expressed an interest to be appointed to the Green Communities Energy Committee.  John motioned to appoint Ann Krawet to the Green Communities Energy Committee, George seconded.  All in favor.

Tony advised that it was brought to his attention that Steven Hilton’s term as a probationary police officer will expire on December 31, 2009 and he needs to be reappointed so he can continue working as a police officer.  The police chief sent Tony a memo stating that he would like to keep Steven Hilton as a probationary police officer until June 30, 2010 because there are a few things that he needs to work on and Steven has agreed to this.  John motioned to approve the Town Administrator’s appointment of Steven Hilton as a probationary police officer term to expire June 30, 2010, George seconded.  All in favor.

Nina advised that Susan Schneider no longer wishes to be a regular member of the Zoning Board of Appeals but wishes to be an alternate member.  She submitted a letter of resignation as a regular member and asks to be appointed as the alternate.  George motioned to accept the resignation of Susan Schneider as a regular member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, John seconded.  All in favor.  George motioned to appoint Susan Schneider as an alternate member of the Zoning Board of Appeals term to expire June 30, 2010, John seconded.  All in favor.  Nina advised that Nicholas Speranzo submitted a letter of interest to be appointed to the Zoning Board of Appeals as a regular member.  George motioned to appoint Nicholas Speranzo as a regular member of the Zoning Board of Appeals term to expire June 30, 2012, John seconded.  All in favor.  Beth VanNess advised that she wishes to resign from the Zoning Board of Appeals.  Tony advised that she needs to submit her resignation in writing.

John motioned to close the Town Hall at 12:00 noon on Thursday, December 24, 2009, George seconded.  All in favor.

The Selectmen reviewed the monthly reports of the Board of Assessors, Building Inspector and Police Department.

Any other business: The Selectmen reviewed the Becket Ambulance Department Request for Write-Off Report and initialed it.

George asked if the Town had an agreement with the Shaw Pond Club to sand their parking lot.  George had to sand it one day and was asked why the town did not sand by their mailbox.  He was told that the school bus turns around in their parking lot so the town sands where the bus turns around.  He does not feel that the town should be sanding there at all because it is a private club.  He feels that the bus should turn around on Dimmick Road instead.  Bill Elovirta explained that the reason the town has sanded by the Shaw Pond Club was because it was the only safe place for the school bus to turn around.  The only time the town could sand a private area is if it is considered a public safety issue.  Tony suggested writing a letter to the manager of the Shaw Pond Club stating that the only place the town will sand is where the school bus turns around and that is it.  The Shaw Pond Club is responsible for sanding everything else.

Reviewed correspondence.

Briefly discussed the Yokum Pond Road Bridge replacement.  There are some deficiencies that will need to be addressed in the spring by the contractor.  Tony advised that the contractor has been made aware of these issues along with Mass Highway and Lenny Tisdale.  He also advised that the town is holding back on the final payment until the final repairs are completed.

Reviewed payroll/expense warrants.

9:20 PM  John motioned to go into executive session to consider the purchase of real property, George seconded.  Roll call vote: Bill-Aye, John-Aye, George-Aye.  The Selectmen will not return to open session.  All in favor.

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