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Board of Selectmen Minutes 6/17/10
Members present:        Mark Karlberg, William Cavanaugh, George Fuller

Others Present: Tony Blair, David Bonney, Colleen O’Connor, Bill Brownhill, Bruce Garlow, Bill Elovirta, Liz & Bob Will, Laura Lee Bertram, Barbara Stuhlmann, Rob Gorden, Hildegarde Freedman, Madeleine Swindlehurst, Beth VanNess, Ann Spadafora, Sue Deacon, Bob Ronzio

7:01 PM Meeting opened.

Selectmen’s Comments and Announcements: Bill had copies of the new Open Meeting Law that was in The Municipal Advocate for anyone that wanted copies.  It is a little easier to read and understand than the law itself and Bill thought it would be good to give to all boards and commissions.

Bill motioned to table the minutes of the June 2, 2010 meeting until the next meeting, Mark seconded.  All in favor.

Town Administrator’s Report: Tony advised that he received a letter from the Crystal Pond Association advising that they were closing off their roads to thru traffic.  Many people use the private Crystal Pond roads as a shortcut to get from Route 8 to Wade Inn Road and this is causing many near miss accidents not to mention the deterioration of the roads because of the high volume of traffic.  The Crystal Pond Association has placed concrete barriers that would allow only one way in and one way out of Crystal Pond.  They may consider removing the barriers for the fall and winter.  Tony advised that the president of the Crystal Pond Homeowners Association came to speak with him before the Annual Town Meeting to see if the Town would take over the maintenance of these roads but Tony advised him that it was very unlikely that the town would vote to accept these roads.  He also advised that the president spoke with the fire chief and Jim Kupernik of the ambulance department about this and Jim did not think this would be a public safety issue because the ambulance would still be able to get in and out of the development.  Tony did not think he had a chance to speak with the police chief about this.  Bill Elovirta advised that he spoke with someone from the CPA and did not think this was a good idea because it would greatly affect the response time for the police if they had to go all the way around in order to get into the development.  Bill Elovirta feels that the Crystal Pond Association should check with the Planning Board to see how the subdivision was recorded because there may be something that states the roads should remain open.  He also advised that he spoke to the fire chief to see if he okayed the roads being closed off and John Hall stated that he never approved it.  George asked if the CPA ever called the Police Department to complain about speeders.  Bill Elovirta does not recall ever seeing anything logged in but he would have to check to make sure.  Tony felt that the town should get a signed release if they want to continue closing off the road so the town is not responsible for longer response times from public safety vehicles.  The Selectmen would like Tony to draft a letter asking the CPA to remove the barriers until it is determined by the Planning Board whether this can be done.  

Tony advised that the town received a vocational transportation reimbursement for approximately $46,000.  He advised that the Department of Education requires a report from the town accountant every year but the town never received this reimbursement before because the former accountant never completed this report.  Tony and the new accountant completed this report and as a result of this the town received this reimbursement.

Tony advised that the town got notice from the Appellate Tax Board that the telecommunications companies have withdrawn their suit against the town because they felt they were assessed too high for their telecommunications equipment.  This suit has been going on for about seven years.  As a result of this, Tony, the accountant and the assessors will sit down together to see what amount can be released from the Overlay Reserve Account which would impact our free cash for 2010.

Public Input: Barbara Stuhlmann asked the Selectmen if they felt the Becket Arts Center could start raffling off Baskets of Cheer at the Becket Fair.  This was done years ago and she was asked to find out if this could be done.  Madeleine Swindlehurst advised that this came before the Selectmen many years ago and it was stopped because the raffle tickets could be purchased by under aged people.  Bill feels that legal counsel should be consulted about this.  Tony asked why the Becket Arts Center was not consulting legal counsel because it is something they are doing not the town.  Hildegarde spoke about what a fair should be about.  Colleen wanted to know if this is a town fair or a church fair.  She was told that it is a church fair.  Colleen objects to the fair being called the “Becket Town Fair” since it is run by the church.  Bill advised that this would be looked into by town counsel.

Madeleine Swindlehurst advised that there was a petition being circulated that is being signed by people who are in support of Tony Blair.  She did not sign it but she wants to go on record as a supporter of Tony.  She advised that Tony gave her a copy of his contract and she feels there is a flaw in it.  She stated that there are currently only three choices for his performance.  One would be unsatisfactory, two would be satisfactory and three would be exceptional.  She feels that Tony is performing way above satisfactory but would not consider him as exceptional.

George asked if the Selectmen minded bringing item #9 up to where #5 was.  There was no objection.  George advised that he called all of the references for the Principal Assessor candidates.  He felt that all of the candidates were good candidates and he spoke with the assessors and they felt the same way.  Bill motioned to appoint David Zagorski of 64 Clark Street, Easthampton, as the Principal Assessor, Mark seconded.  All in favor.  Tony will contact David Zagorski to see if he will accept.

Tony advised that there are accounts that are slightly overdrawn or will be overdrawn by the end of the year.  The Selectmen reviewed the accounts that were overdrawn.  Bill motioned to transfer the funds as presented (copy attached), Mark seconded.  All in favor.

Tony advised that a couple donated some property to the Town and the Board of Assessors received a form that needs to be signed by the Select Board chair.  Tony explained why this form needs to be signed.  Madeleine Swindlehurst asked if this property donation was accepted at a town meeting.  Tony advised that it was.  Bill motioned to have the Select Board chair sign Tax Form 8283 for property donated to the town by Shaw Pond as presented, Mark seconded.  All in favor.

Tony explained why a pole hearing needs to be done.  Bill motioned to schedule a Pole Hearing for the proposed installation of 4 jointly owned poles to shorten the spans for larger sized wires on Benton Hill Road on July 21, 2010 at 7:30 p.m., Mark seconded.  All in favor.

The Selectmen discussed changing the meeting schedule at their last meeting because the meetings have been quite long.  Bill motioned to schedule Selectmen’s meetings on the first four Wednesdays of the month starting on July 7, 2010, Mark seconded.  All in favor.

The Selectmen discussed the bid opening for the excavator.  George asked if the lease was placed in the advertisement for the excavator.  Tony advised that is was in the original bid advertisement.  George asked why the company that had the lowest bid was being considered when they did not have a lease included with the bid that was submitted.  Ann Spadafora asked if George could be involved in this if it had to do with the highway department.  George advised that as long as it does not benefit him or affect his salary then it was fine for him to be involved.  Tony advised that he was not at the bid opening.  Bill feels that there are too many things that were not clear so he feels that this should be re-bid.  Tony admitted that this was not a well run bid and he should not have delegated so much to Lenny.  Bill feels that the other bidders could protest this bid award because it was not handled properly.  Tony feels that if the Selectmen are not happy with the way this was handled then they could opt to re-bid it.  Bill feels that an attorney should review this before they continue with it.  George feels they should table this.  Bill motioned to freeze anymore activity on the excavator until they seek legal counsel, Mark seconded.  All in favor.

The Selectmen began discussing the status of legal counsel.  George asked how much we pay Sally Bell for the year.  Tony thought it was approximately $5,000.  George checked a couple of firms to see what they charge.  He advised that he spoke with a firm Brackett and Lucas and they charge $145 per hour and do not require a retainer.  He also advised that he spoke with someone at Kopelman and Paige and found out that Dalton, Hinsdale and Peru all use this firm.  They charge $180 per hour and do not require a retainer.  The person he spoke with said they do not charge for each phone call that is made to them but they will charge if they have to do any research.  Bill was impressed by Kopelman and Paige because they offer many free seminars on a variety of issues.  Tony advised that Kopelman and Paige is a very good firm but they will cost more money than what we are currently spending.  Ann feels we should find out from other towns what they spend in a year.  Sue Deacon does not feel that this would be relevant because the towns are not all the same.  Tony feels that the Finance Committee should be included in this discussion.  Tony and Bruce Garlow stated that K&P is probably the best firm in Massachusetts but they will be more expensive and the Selectmen need to decide whether or not it is worth it.  Rob Gorden feels the Selectmen are capable of choosing a law firm.  Colleen advised that the town has $3,000 to use to call a lawyer at anytime and the Selectmen are choosing to not have a lawyer.  Bill motioned to have George contact Kopelman and Paige and negotiate with them and retain them as our town counsel, George seconded.  Mark abstained.  Motion passed.  Bill would like a letter sent to Sally Bell after the town retains new town counsel thanking her for the many years of service.

Any other business: Bill had someone inquire about a street light on the corner of Wells Road and Dragon Way that has been out since the ice storm.  Children get on and off the bus at this location and some times of the year it is very dark and Bill would like Tony to contact WMECO to have this light turned back on.
Tony advised that Bill Elovirta is applying for a U.S. Justice Department grant that would pay for a third full time officer for the town for three years.  If the town is awarded the grant then it would be obligated to pay for the officer for a minimum of one year.  George asked if this happens and the town only keeps the officer for one year after the grant runs out but then decides it does not wish to keep the officer is the town required to pay the officer’s unemployment.  Bill stated that the town would be required to pay the unemployment.  George asked the police chief a while back if he could tell the Selectmen what it would cost to get one more full time police officer and then get rid of the part time officers and make the chief position one of the full time positions but he never got the information.  Bill Elovirta explained why it would be good to hire an officer to cover the mid-shift.  George would like Bill to send the Finance Committee a copy of this information so they can plan to budget for it.

Briefly discussed the solar powered trash compactor that the town will receive from the EECBG.  The Selectmen would like it to be on the agenda for the next meeting.

Tony gave the Selectmen the contract amendment between the town and BRPC for work done on the CDBG.  They can review it and bring it up at their next meeting.  Tony advised that if, and only if, the town receives the CDBG then a portion of this grant would go to BRPC for their work on administering this grant.

The Selectmen received the annual Agreement between the Town and Lee Regional Visiting Nurse Association for services it provides the town.  The amount that the LRVNA is asking the town to pay is slightly higher than last year.  Bill motioned to sign the agreement and pay the Lee Regional Visiting Nurse Association in the amount of $4961.25, Mark seconded.  All in favor.

Tony had given the Selectmen a copy of the contract with the Town of Chester for vocational transportation.  He would like the Board to review this contract and decide at another meeting whether or not to sign this.  George asked if the town could go out to bid for this like it used to do.  Tony advised that we may have five different routes because there are students enrolled in five different schools.  Ann Spadafora advised that this contract saved the town approximately $30,000 last year.  The Selectmen will take this up at a later meeting.

George asked about the flags that the town puts out on some poles throughout town on Memorial Day.  The flags are not in good shape and George would like to have these replaced.  Briefly discussed where the money comes from to pay for these flags.  George will get back to Nina with the amount of flags to replace.

Susan Deacon asked who she should contact in regard to Bancroft Road.  She advised that the section where Bancroft Road meets Wade Inn Road has been deteriorating at a fast rate and she would like to know who to contact.  George advised that she should contact Len Tisdale.

Bill advised that there have been signs placed throughout town which are not legal that advertise for services and he would like to make it stricter if someone is caught placing these signs up.  Discussed the possibility of fining violators.  Bill advised that if someone sees one of these signs they should contact Bill Girard the Zoning Enforcement Officer so he could deal with it.  Bill asked Bill Elovirta if the Police Department could make notes of any signs that are suspected of being illegal and make the zoning enforcement officer aware of them.

9:45 PM Bill motioned to adjourn, Mark seconded.  All in favor.

Selectmen reviewed payroll/expense warrants.

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