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Board of Selectmen Minutes 6/22/10
Members present:        Mark Karlberg, William Cavanaugh, George Fuller

Others Present: Tony Blair, Hildegarde Freedman, Steve & Ruth Rosenthal, Joan Terry Drucker, Geraldine Galliher, Mike Falk, Sally Soluri, Robert Gorden, Ann Spadafora, Barbara Stuhlmann, Purr McEwen, Jeanne & Richard Pryor, Colleen O’Connor, Joan Monroe, Sue & John Deacon, Rita & Richard Furlong, Bill Brownhill, Dave Bonney, Tina LeVasseur, Brian Bean, Arlene Adler, June Babcock, Margaret Yergatian, Stephen LaBelle, Martin & Barbara Winters, Sandra Sayward, Stanley Oransky, Leroy Chessic, Leo Seligsohn, Dana & Valerie Welts, Robert Ronzio, Ann Krawet, Bruce Garlow, Jeremy Dunn, David Scribner, Harry Roff, Joan Kaiser, Beth VanNess, Gale LaBelle, Steven Schatz, Gene Pike, Joshua Lombard, Michael Richard, Noreen Suriner, Robin Greenspan, Janet Stander, Susan & Len Margulies, Rebecca & Stan Marcus, Bruce Bosworth, Joan Pankosky, and others

7:04 PM Meeting opened.

Selectmen’s Comments and Announcements: George read a statement to the audience.  The town and Mr. Blair have agreed to defer to the next meeting of the Select Board any discussion of Mr. Blair’s performance, evaluation, or contract or status and that discussion will not go forward this evening.  The parties have agreed to make no further comment on this matter at the present time.  In the interim the parties will continue to address their resolutions of their mutual concerns.  George advised that this would take place at the meeting on July 7, 2010.  

George asked Tony if he sent out a letter to Crystal Pond about the barriers on the roads closing off thru traffic.  Tony advised that he has not written the letter yet.  A gentleman who is on the Crystal Pond Association asked if they could send the letter to him.  He asked what the problem was with the barriers.  Tony advised that there may be subdivision rules that may state that the roads could not be closed off.  George advised that the Planning Board will look into this and a letter will be sent to the CPA and it could be discussed at a later meeting.  George asked if Tony got anything back from the Ethics Commission regarding his letter.  Tony advised that he was in contact with the woman who he wrote to and she advised that she dropped the ball but would be sending something soon.  Bill motioned to accept the minutes of the June 2, 2010 meeting, Mark seconded.  All in favor.

Town Administrator’s Report: Tony advised that we have been doing closings for the properties that were sold at the land auction and will continue to do so until all properties are purchased.

Public Input: Steven Rosenthal expressed his appreciation for the outstanding job that Tony has done as administrator for the first year.  He urged the Selectmen to renew Tony’s contract for the maximum term allowable.  He advised that he is holding in his hand a document signed by over 200 residents and taxpayers who are in support of Tony and will hold onto it until the meeting of July 7, 2010. Mike explained the process of Tony’s past evaluation that occurred six months ago.  He has not heard about what he has or has not done since then.  He feels the Selectmen should not meet behind closed doors and should complete an evaluation and if Tony does not cut the mustard then he does not cut the mustard but this should all take place in an open meeting.  Ann Spadafora read a letter from the Finance Committee that states his accomplishments and urges that the Selectmen renew his contract.  She also advised that a check in the amount of approximately $46,000 was received from the state for vocational transportation reimbursement which Tony was responsible for.  Steve Schatz voiced his concern about the posting of the agenda on the website.  He explained that the agenda was changed about three times and it is very confusing.  He very enthusiastically supports Tony and asked if on the meeting of July 7th that the Selectmen put Tony’s contract at the top of the agenda.  Colleen O’Connor asked for a show of hands of the people who came to this meeting for the sole purpose of supporting Tony.  The majority of people raised their hands.  She also stated that one of the papers with about eight signatures in support of Tony disappeared from the Becket Country Store and she thought that this kind of tactic was childish.  George advised that while he was mowing the town hall property someone came up to him and accused him of taking the paper.  He advised that he was no where near the store when this was done.  Meredyth Babcock asked what would happen between now and the meeting on July 7, 2010.  Tony advised that the town just acquired new town counsel and the Selectmen would consult with them to see how to proceed.  Leo Seligsohn asked if it was conceivable that an announcement could be made before the next meeting if the contract was not going to be renewed.  George stated that this could not be answered at this time.  Bill advised that the Board will not make their decision outside an open meeting.  Bruce Bosworth advised that the Town has a wonderful website and should post information on the website about what is going on.  Tony advised that anyone could subscribe to the website and get the information.  Bob Ronzio advised that anyone could call the town hall and ask Nina if they have problems subscribing to the website and she could assist them.  George does not want people calling Nina about every little thing because she has a job to do and should not be interrupted all the time.  Bob responded that this is part of her job description and he would like a copy of this job description.  Rob Gorden feels that the Selectmen and Tony need to have time to work things out.

George advised that there have been complaints about the harbor master removing his boat during the time that the lifeguard is on duty and he should not be doing that.  John Deacon advised that he has never removed his boat during the day while the beach is open.  He thinks that there are questions about him mooring his boat on Camp Greylock’s property.  He advised that he has gotten permission from the camp’s owner to keep his boat moored on their property.  Brian Bean advised that the problem started about three or four years ago when he started mooring his boat by the beach because others started doing this and there were a lot of boats by the beach.  Brian asked if anyone knew who owned the land under the water because he thought that people only own the land up to the water.  He is afraid that if the camp starts allowing people to moor their boats on their property it could result in hundreds of boats being moored on the lake and if this happens people would be complaining to the harbor master who is also mooring his boat there.  He is just trying to come up with a solution that would make it safe and enjoyable for anyone going to Center Pond.  Bill explained that if the harbor master needs to get his boat in the pond because he receives a call then can the town restrict him from doing his job.  He also asked if they do not allow him to keep his boat on camp property then would any guest of any owner of land on Center Pond be restricted from keeping their boats moored on the pond.  George will check with some people at the other end of Center Pond because they used to allow the past harbor master to launch his boat from their boat launch.  Brian feels that the Board may be opening a can of worms by allowing him to moor his boat on camp property.  Sue Deacon advised that John did not become harbor master so he could keep his boat on Center Pond.  He had the boat repaired on his own and took the position because he wanted to do something good for the town.

Noreen Suriner addressed the Board regarding her run for State Representative.  She feels that she should find out what issues the town has and try to address them.  She gave a description of her past experiences and feels she would be ideal as State Representative.  She asked the audience what their concerns were.  Hildegarde Freedman felt that the state should allocate money for emergencies such as storms.  Noreen thanked everyone for allowing her an opportunity to address them.

George advised that he took the excavator bid documents down to Boston to have the attorneys look it over and was advised that this should be re-bid.  Bill was upset with how this was handled.  There were too many discrepancies and there were things that were done improperly.  He feels that it should have been taken care of long before so that it would not impact the highway department’s ability to repair the roads.  He does not feel that because time is running out that the Board should do anything even if it is questionable.  He stated that he is responsible for everything that Tony does but Tony is not responsible for anything that he does.  He feels that if the bid is not handled properly then the town could be faced with a lawsuit.  Bill motioned to throw out all bids and start the process over again, Mark seconded.  Mark asked if this would hinder the highway department’s work.  Someone asked if Tony wanted to respond to what was said.  Tony advised that some of what was said was true but some of it was false.  He did not reject the lease, town counsel did.  He does agree that this should be re-bid.  Rita Furlong feels bad that this happened but feels that the Board is doing what they are being paid to do.  Steve Rosenthal asked if this equipment was for the highway department.  George stated that it was and advised that the State does not want the equipment leased anymore.  If a job would last for years it would prefer the towns to purchase the equipment and then when it is done using this equipment then it could sell it.  Steve Rosenthal asked George if he would not vote on this because he worked for the highway department.  George advised that the ethics commission advised him that he could vote on anything to do with the highway department as long as it did not pertain to his salary.  Ann asked if they could do anything in the meantime while this is being re-bid.  George explained the options and is trying to work out a solution.  All in favor.

George motioned to table the vote to sign the agreement for Shared Vocational Transportation Services because he did not have time to review it, Mark seconded.  Mark asked what Tony did last year for vocational transportation.  Tony explained that he rejected the only bid he received for transportation because it was beyond what was appropriated so he worked with the Town of Chester to have the current bussing done.  All in favor.

Tony advised that the agreement for the Big Belly Solar Compactor needs to be signed by June 30, 2010 or the town could not receive this compactor.  Bill reiterated that he would like this compactor to be placed at the transfer station for a couple of weeks just to see if it operates fine then it could be moved to a new location.  Bill motioned to sign Agreement between the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources and the Town of Becket for the Big Belly Solar Compactor and place it at transfer station for a trial period, Mark seconded.  All in favor.

The Selectmen reviewed the annual appointments.  Bill motioned to appoint members to various boards and commissions (see attached list), Mark seconded.  All in favor.  Nina advised that Alice Briggs was interested in being appointed to the Agricultural Commission.  George motioned to appoint Alice Briggs to the Agricultural Commission term to expire June 30, 2013, Mark seconded.  All in favor.

The Selectmen reviewed the Wage and Benefit Agreements for town employees.  Tony advised that these agreements were the same as last year since the wages stayed the same.  Mark motioned to sign the Wage and Benefit Agreements for the town employees, Bill seconded.  George abstained.  Steve LaBelle asked why the Selectmen are taking over the Finance Committee’s job of recommending what the employees are being paid.  Richard Furlong advised that the Finance Committee is strictly an advisory board; the Selectmen are the only ones authorized to pay employees.  Tony advised that the wages are what has already been agreed on at town meeting and no one is being paid more than what was appropriated.  Jeremy asked if Tony’s agreement was included in the W&BA.  Tony advised that it was not.  He would need to have a contract that would address his wages.  Motion passed.

Tony explained how the BRTA subsidized paratransit service tickets worked.  Gale LaBelle asked that this be brought to the seniors.  Tony advised that the seniors are aware of this service.  Jeanne Pryor thought it would be a good idea to put this on the website so other people could find out about this service.  Mark motioned to sign Agreement between Berkshire Regional Transit Authority and the Town of Becket for the sale of BRTA Subsidized Paratransit Service Tickets, Bill seconded.  All in favor.

The Selectmen reviewed the letter of resignation from Mike Falk from the Finance Committee effective June 11, 2010.  Bill motioned to accept the resignation of Mike Falk from the Finance Committee effective June 11, 2010 with regret and to send a letter of thanks, Mark seconded.  All in favor.

Any other business: Bill asked Tony if he could have a copy of the letter he sent to the Ethic Commission regarding the perk tests that were done.  Tony said he would be happy to give him a copy.

Steve Rosenthal saw that there was a training session for new selectmen and asked if anyone had a chance to attend.  Bill advised that he attended one a few years ago.  Mark advised that he attended a meeting when he first became a selectman twenty years ago.  George advised that he attended one last year.

Rita Furlong stated that she heard George say a few times tonight that they need to learn to work together and she feels that the Selectmen need to work together with whoever sits in the chair up there.

George read a letter to Sally Bell stating that the town has opted to go with Kopelman and Paige for town counsel and thanked her for her service.  Richard Pryor asked if there would be a conflict if the town uses Kopelman and Paige because the Sherwood Forest and Sherwood Greens Road Districts use them.  George advised that when he spoke with the attorneys they said there would not be a conflict because they have many attorneys working in different areas so it should not be a conflict.  Someone asked if there was enough money in the budget to cover the cost of these attorneys because they are expensive.  Bill motioned that when an issue that comes up and there is a need to contact an attorney, that the employee or board member comes to the Selectmen at which time they will vote to delegate someone to contact the attorney to find the answer.  Bill withdrew the motion as long as people adhere to having only one person call with one issue and not have a number of people calling about the same issue.  Joan Pankosky asked if the Board ever sat down to discuss putting a cap on the calls that are made to the attorneys because minutes can lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars fairly quickly.  Jeanne Pryor advised that some times a town official needs an answer in a timely fashion and cannot wait until a selectmen’s meeting to ask if they can call the attorney.  George stated that they are not telling town officials not to call but they want to make sure that they have everything set before they make the call so they do not need to call again.  George Roberts thought that the town could have a policy that states what can be done in the case of an emergency or how to handle things if something came up so that it prevents duplicate calls to the attorney.  Jeremy supports the Board’s decision to go with another law firm and suggests that if they need to they can use the $25,000 that was set aside for legal expenses and then would need to increase the budget for next year.  Richard Furlong stated that the Selectmen do not have the authority to advise elected boards and committees when they can contact the attorney.  Ann suggested that the Boards and Committees keep a log of the calls so they can keep a record of who made what call.  Richard Pryor thought that the Selectmen only had an issue with Sally Bell when it involved Tony so why is it that they just call a different lawyer when something involves Tony and keep Sally Bell.  George advised that on many occasions, because Sally Bell is local, she represents people who are going in front of the town boards so she cannot represent the town and he feels that it is better to go with a whole new firm.  Jeanne Pryor advised that there is a section in the town officials hand book that states that if a board member needs to contact an attorney that they refer it to the town administrator and she thought they should think about changing the language in that section.  Tony advised that there is something in the charter that states that issues involving an attorney should go through the town administrator.

Bruce Garlow reminded the Board that there is a special town meeting on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. and wants to make sure there is a quorum.

8:55 PM Bill motioned to adjourn, Mark seconded.  All in favor.

Respectfully submitted,                                                         _______________________________
Nina Weiler, Secretary                                                          George Fuller, Chairman