Members present: Mark Karlberg, George Fuller
Others Present: Richard Furlong, Colleen O’Connor, Gerry Galliher, David Bonney, Brian Domina, Rita Furlong, David Devane, Maddy & Bill Elovirta, Ann Spadafora, Catherine Hoak, George Roberts
7:02 PM Meeting opened.
It was announced that Colleen O’Connor was audio taping the meeting.
Selectmen’s Comments and Announcements: Mark Karlberg wished Bill Cavanaugh the best of luck. He also asked if the town could raise money for the couple whose house burned down. He advised that two of their pets perished in the fire but one pet is at the vet’s office. He was wondering if the town could raise money to pay for the vet bills. Briefly discussed this issue.
Mark motioned to approve the minutes of the February 9, 2011 meeting as presented, George seconded. Motion passed.
Public Input: Rita Furlong advised the Board that the Becket Athenaeum has been updating its information and programming and does not wish to keep the genealogy and historical materials at the athenaeum any longer. She explained that this material could be housed at the Mullen House since there is no space for it at the town hall. She also thinks there should be a Historical Society in town. The town’s 250th anniversary is coming up and the historical society could help work on the celebration. The historical society could be housed in the Mullen House along with the genealogy materials. If the Selectmen decided to keep this information stored at the Mullen House then she feels that the town should pay for part of the cost to heat the building. She wanted them to think
about this. At this time George advised that he would interrupt Public Input because Brian Domina, of Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, is on the agenda for 7:15 p.m. He advised that the Selectmen would be returning to public input after this.
Brian Domina addressed the Board regarding the draft of the Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan. He advised that BRPC received a grant from MEMA to update the Berkshire County Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan. BRPC is assisting towns that have signed up to update their own Natural Hazard Mitigation Plans. Becket has a plan from 2005 that needs to be updated. He has been working with the town to update this plan. He has met with the emergency personnel and the highway superintendent and Richard back in September and has incorporated what came out of that meeting into the plan. He will take comments from this hearing, if any, and apply it to the plan. Once this is done, it goes to the state for approval. He gave the Selectmen copies of Becket’s section of the county plan.
He gave the Selectmen a quick rundown of the plan and advised that they are accepting comments until March 31st. The Selectmen thanked him for his time.
Public Input continued: Catherine Hoak addressed the Board regarding high-speed internet. She advised that she is having a problem getting high-speed internet at her house because Verizon does not supply DSL and she currently does not have cell service at her house. She asked when the new cell tower would be operative. She also asked when the rest of the town that does not have broadband would be getting it. Richard advised that the town is working with Wired West to get broadband for everyone but he does not think this will be done for a few years. He thought her best bet would be to wait until the cell tower is operating then get wireless high speed internet. Ann Spadafora advised that Susan Deacon complained to Verizon and they managed to get high speed internet at her house.
She asked her to speak with Sue to see what they did for her to get it.
Colleen O’Connor addressed the Board regarding the well and septic survey that was completed in North Becket. She advised that in the village, there are many properties that do not meet the Title 5 requirements. She explained that the septic systems and the wells need to be a certain distance apart and if they do not meet the requirements, a variance cannot be given except by the DEP. She advised that there is no such thing as grandfathering when it comes to Title 5. She is appealing to the Board to consider doing something about this problem.
Richard explained the issue with the Planning Board. The Planning Board voted to change Beth VanNess from the associate member to a regular member but did not have the Selectmen vote on this. At the last meeting of the Selectmen, they voted to appoint Howard Lerner as the associate member. It was realized that Beth was still the associate member since she did not resign as the associate member. Richard recommends that the Board vote to appoint Beth as the regular member until the next election and keep Howard Lerner as the associate member. Mark motioned to appoint Beth VanNess as a member to the Planning Board until the next town election and to appoint Howard Lerner as the associate member to the Planning Board until June, George seconded. Motion passed.
Mark motioned to appoint Barbara Roberts to the 250th Anniversary Committee, George seconded. Motion passed.
The Selectmen reviewed the letter from the town administrator applicant. The letter stated that he is accepting the position and could start on March 21, 2011.
The Selectmen discussed the police chief working past the age of 65. Mark had read through the packet of correspondence from the Retirement Board and the attorneys for the town and the police association and he is confused because the retirement board and our attorneys are saying the chief needs to retire at age 65 and the attorney for the police chiefs association is saying that because he is not in group four that it does not pertain to him. The attorney for the police chiefs association also said that the law that the attorneys refer to has been repealed. Richard advised that the town attorneys have received the email from the PCA saying the law was repealed but they have not responded to this and he also advised that each time you ask the town attorneys about this it costs money. Bill Elovirta
advised that this law also applies to fire chiefs. The Town of Lee just appointed a 65 year old fire chief and other towns have chiefs that are over 65. He also advised that he responded to three different fire calls over the past two weeks and if he had not gone no one from Becket would have gotten to the scene. Mark asked if there was any way that we could call down to Boston to find out about whether this law was repealed. Richard will try to find out. George stated that he called the retirement board and was referred to the attorney general’s office. The man from the attorney general’s office advised that the eastern end of the state has been dealing with this but he had no idea that Berkshire County has so many police and fire chiefs who are over 65. He asked why the police chiefs association did not get a variance like the State Police did when this law was passed. Bill Elovirta asked if the town could put something
on the town meeting warrant that would petition the legislature to allow him to stay longer. Mark does not feel the Selectmen should act until they find out whether this law was repealed. George feels that the town should have its attorney and Bill should have his attorney present at a meeting to discuss this. Mark does not feel that should be done until the town finds out whether the law was repealed. Richard will check on this.
The Selectmen reviewed the Berkshire Metropolitan Planning Organization Memorandum of Understanding. Richard explained how this organization worked. Briefly discussed this organization.
The Selectmen discussed increasing the Town of Washington’s share of fire protection. Richard advised that he put this on the agenda. The Town of Washington has been paying the Town of Becket $6,000.00 for fire protection for many years and the Selectmen need to decide whether this should be increased and if so, by how much. Richard explained that the fire department’s budget is approximately $30,000 a year but this does not count for the capital expenses for fire apparatus. He feels the Selectmen should speak with the Washington Selectmen first and then the Washington Selectmen could go to their finance committee. Bill Elovirta advised that a few years ago they did a study to see how many calls were in Washington and it was approximately 23%. Mark motioned to increase the
Town of Washington’s share for fire protection from $6,000 to $8,000 for fiscal year 2012, George seconded. Motion passed. George will meet with the Washington Selectmen and can discuss possibly increasing it for fiscal year 2013 to $10,000.
The Selectmen reviewed the Household Hazardous Waste Program information. Mark motioned to sign letter of intent to participate in the Southern Berkshire County Regional Household Hazardous Waste Collection Program, George seconded. Motion passed.
The Selectmen reviewed request from the school committee to place an article on Annual Town Meeting Warrant regarding the establishment of a CBRSD Stabilization Fund. Ann Spadafora wants to bring this up at the Finance Committee meeting tomorrow night. She does not understand why they would need this. Richard advised that the Selectmen and Finance Committee could vote to not recommend this article but they could not deny the school committee the right to put the article on the warrant.
The Selectmen reviewed the letter regarding recent ethics violations, conflict of interest charges, Board of Health lack of knowledge, and the Board of Health’s confusion. Richard advised that the letter was sent anonymously and he was not sure what violations and charges they were talking about. The Town was never notified of any violations that he is aware of. The Selectmen decided not to act on this since they do not know who sent the letter in.
Any other business: Richard advised that the fire station and ambulance department energy project is out to bid again. He gave the Selectmen a rundown of the bidding schedule and briefly discussed this project.
Richard advised that he got an email from BRD asking us to pay the outstanding bill from the ice storm work that was done. He also advised that Jeremiah Pollard was the attorney from Sally Bell’s office that was handling this. BRD has never filed a suit against the town and it is Jeremiah’s opinion that he would not have a chance in getting any money from the town if he did file suit. Richard is planning on ignoring this but feels the new town administrator should be brought up to speed with it in case he does file suit. He also feels the Selectmen should decide if they want Kopelman and Paige to handle this. George would like Richard to speak with Lenny Tisdale about this.
The Selectmen reviewed the monthly reports of the building inspector and ambulance department.
Briefly discussed the solar compactors. George feels that we should return them. Richard will look into this.
8:42 PM Mark motioned to adjourn, George seconded. Motion passed.
Reviewed payroll/expense warrants.
Respectfully submitted, _______________________________
Nina Weiler, Secretary George Fuller, Chairman