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Board of Selectmen Minutes 3/3/10
Members present:        John Murray, George Fuller
                        William Cavanaugh-absent

Others Present: Tony Blair, David Bonney, Bill Brownhill, Colleen O’Connor, Jeanne Pryor, Mercedes Gallagher

7:05 PM Meeting opened.

Selectmen’s Comments and Announcements: None.

The Selectmen could not approve the minutes to the last meeting since John was absent at that meeting and Bill was not in attendance to approve them.

Town Administrator’s Report: Tony advised that BRPC has asked him to publicly read an email from them regarding the 2010 Federal Census.  BRPC is asking everyone to make sure they submit their census forms since it is vital to our community and region as it will determine our congressional representation as well as impact the funding of numerous programs.

Public Input: Colleen spoke regarding the last Selectmen’s meeting regarding Title 5 inspections.  She feels that to ask someone to get a loan to repair his septic system when it was already paid for is comparable to stealing that person’s money.  Tony advised that that is why Mr. Boisseau is suing the former owner.  She also feels that there are not nearly enough tight tanks in town that there should be.  She also feels that if the town would just bring all of its buildings up to code, there would not be a problem with the water.  She had heard that there were three houses on Main Street that were depositing their septic waste into the Westfield River back in the nineties.  She feels that the town needs to have someone who can identify a Title 5 for what it is because right now a Title 5 document has no meaning.  She said she has about four Title 5 documents that are fraudulent.  She said her own property now has grass growing and is swampy in areas which has never happened before.  Tony advised that he met with Mr. Boisseau and Mr. Fuller after last week’s meeting and Mr. Fuller wrote a letter stating that if the septic system looked like it did back when the Title 5 was done it would not have passed.  Tony felt that Mr. Boisseau left feeling like he received what he needed to go after the former owner of the property.  George asked Colleen if the town could do a pipe inspection to see if there was an issue with the schools septic system pipe that runs through her property.  She advised that she and her lawyer would need to approve something written up before she would allow the camera test to be done.  George advised that he could not leave a blind eye if there was something wrong with the pipe that runs through her property.  Tony will check into having the camera test done on her property.

Mercedes Gallagher addressed the Board regarding the Westfield River Wild and Scenic Advisory Committee.  She gave the Selectmen a copy of the annual report of the WRW&SAC.  She gave a history of this group and explained how the Westfield River got designated as Wild and Scenic.  She advised that the WRW&SAC has never received any federal funding because of the way it was designated Wild and Scenic but about a year and a half ago it received federal funding as a partnership river.  She explained how the money was spent and what they plan on doing in the future.  She advised that they are out there getting things accomplished and said that the WRW&SAC meets once a month and are interested in what the town wants so she encouraged the Selectmen to come to their meetings.

George motioned to sign the warrant for the Annual Town Caucus to be held on April 6, 2010 from 12:00 noon to 7:00 pm at the Becket Town Hall, John seconded.  Motion passed.

The Selectmen reviewed the upcoming FY 2011 budget.  Tony advised that this is a flatly funded budget.  There are no raises and expenses are flat or cut for the most part.  He would like the Selectmen to decide how they want certain things handled.  For example, the highway department needs two truck beds which will cost approximately $50,000.  The Selectmen need to decide if they want to borrow the money and start paying next year or raise and appropriate the money this year.  He explained that he increased the litigation account because of the situation with the ice storm cleanup contractor.  He also explained that this year one warrant article would address the ambulance department.  He would like to fully fund the ambulance department so that there will not have to be any account transfers throughout the year.  To do this the town would have to set up an Enterprise Fund for the Ambulance Department.  This fund would include all of the ambulance costs and revenues, including salaries and benefits and will give the town a better sense of the operation of the ambulance department.  Reviewed the remainder of the budget.  Tony advised that the Finance Committee has not made its recommendation of the budget yet.  One item that Tony increased was the salary for the fire chief.  He feels that he is underpaid.  George asked if Tony could find out how much fuel John Hall uses a year for the fire vehicle.  Tony also advised that he has done a survey on the Animal Control Officers in other towns to see how they get paid.  He advised that Becket pays the second highest amount for our animal control officer.  Williamstown has the highest paid animal control officer and has a much higher population of residents and dogs.  George asked if the other towns do as many calls as Bert does for wild animals.  Tony advised that Bert should not be going on wild animal calls.  If there is a rabid animal, the police department should be called.  He is suggesting that the town go back to the $5,000 salary for the animal control officer.  John does not think we could find anyone to do the job at $5,000.  Discussed the remaining budget which included the highway truck bodies, accounting software, the Cherry Sheet figures, etc.

The Selectmen reviewed the Warrant for the 2010 ATM.  Tony explained that Articles 1-4 are the basic articles that are on the warrant every year.  Article 5 is the article that would establish the Enterprise Fund for the Ambulance Department.  Article 6 is asking the town to spend half of what they spent on ongoing municipal building repairs.  Article 7 is various items included in one article.  Article 8 was for the highway department truck bodies.  Article 9 is for the chassis of the ambulance.  This would be a debt exclusion article.  Article 10 and 11 are property donations.  Article 12 is to authorize the Town to take some land in Jacobs Well that is owned by an individual.  This is the only property in Jacobs Well that is not owned by the Town.  Article 13 is the article for the installation of dry hydrants throughout town.  Articles 14, 15 and 16 are Zoning Articles; one is Large Scale Ground-Mounted Solar Photovoltaic Installations, one is for Accessory Apartments and one is to amend the current wireless communications bylaw to add a section that allows the Town to install emergency communications antennas to the towers.  Articles 17, 18, 19 and 20 are Community Preservation Committee articles.  This is to appropriate funds that were raised annually for the CPA.  Article 21 asks the town to change the Board of Selectmen to a five member board from a three member board.  The last article would be to see if the town wanted to get out of Berkshire County Mosquito Control.

Tony advised that he has advertised the principle assessor position and has about 4 resumes.  Two of which are qualified.  He also received a letter from a company that works in the Town of Egremont that does all the work involving the revals and the annual evaluations of properties and works with DOR.  Tony described how other towns do their assessing.  Many towns use consultants to do the basic assessing.  Tony would like to know how the Selectmen want to conduct interviews.  He thought that he and Sue Donnelly could conduct the initial interviews and see if they are qualified and then have the applicants who are the most qualified come back to meet with the Selectmen.  The Selectmen feel that this is the way to go.  Tony asked the Selectmen if they want him to call Egremont and Lenox to see how the consultants work for them.  The Selectmen agree that he should do that.  

George motioned to accept the resignations of Nancy Botta, formerly Nancy Svrida, from the Becket Cultural Council effective immediately and Kathy Furtado from the Parks Commission effective February 10, 2010, John seconded.  Motion passed.

George motioned to sign letter of intent to participate in the Southern Berkshire County Regional Household Hazardous Waste Collection Program, John seconded.  Motion passed.

The Selectmen reviewed the monthly reports of the Building Inspection, Animal Control Officer, Police Department and Citations Issued.  George motioned to accept the reports, John seconded.  Motioned passed.

Any other business: Tony received four energy audit reports from the company who performed the energy audits.  This company audited the highway department, both fire stations and the town hall.  They reviewed the lighting to see if we could cut the cost by using more energy efficient fixtures.  With each report the company included proposals to replace the older fixtures with newer ones.  They did not do a proposal for fire station number one because it does not get used enough to warrant changing anything.  Tony explained that WMECO pays 70% of the cost to replace these fixtures and the town would pay 30%.  Tony advised that if the town went ahead and did the replacement itself, it would cost almost $21,000, but by doing it through the utility company, WMECO would pay about $14,500 and the town would pay $6,200.  The money the town would save by using less energy would pay for the cost in a short amount of time.  Tony feels that this program is a great one without a down side.  George motioned to proceed with the proposals, John seconded.  Motion passed.  George asked if we have the money to do this.  Tony advised that the town would pay approximately $100 more a month on the electric bill to cover the cost.  

Reviewed correspondence.

9:05 PM  George motioned to adjourn, John seconded.  Motion passed.

Reviewed payroll/expense warrants.

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