Members present: George Fuller, Jeanne Pryor, Mark Karlberg-late
Others Present: Craig Kleman, Bill & Maddy Elovirta, Robert Ronzio, Julia Maynard, Jeanne Morano, Sandy Sayward, Ann Spadafora, Beth VanNess, Rita Furlong, Pat Mullins-BRPC, David Bonney, Pat Portieri, Maria Wallington, Kathy Hayn, Colleen O’Connor, Dan Andrews, Glenda & Mike Hamling, John Amato, Paula Cianfarani
7:00 PM Meeting opened.
George took over as chair of the meeting because Mark was not in. George asked if anyone from the audience was recording this meeting. The Select Board was advised that no one was recording now but Bob Ronzio would be recording when he came in. George would ask if he was recording when he came in.
7:02 PM Mark entered the meeting. The chair was turned over to him.
Selectmen’s Comments and Announcements: George gave Craig his job description and had him read a section regarding supervision which reads as follows: “Employee works under the policy direction of the Board of Selectmen. Employee exercises administrative and management responsibilities over town operations and departments under the jurisdiction of the Board of Selectmen in conformance with general directives and objectives set forth by the Board of Selectmen. Employee seeks direction of the Board of Selectmen on matters of policy adjustment or where required by law.” George stated that as they went through the meeting they would know why he made him read this. He also asked Craig how long they give him before he is evaluated. Craig advised that he looked at his letter and it
did not state anything about a evaluation period. Mark thought it was similar to Tony Blair’s contract.
Town Administrator’s Report: Craig advised that he was contacted by Mass Broadband about Community Anchor facilities. They are coming on November 10, 2011 to look at Town Hall and Fire Stations #1 and #2 to see if those facilities are adequate for a hub. They advised him that DPW garages are too dirty to have a hub installed.
Craig advised that he had an emergency management meeting on October 20th to discuss a variety of issues including the Hurricane Irene event. One thing that was brought up was the need to have a public relations liaison during an emergency event. This could be the select board chair or someone designated to act as the liaison. Craig advised that there is training for this. Beth VanNess would like to be notified about these meetings so she could attend. Craig advised that these meetings are for members of the staff. She would still like to attend these meetings. Craig will notify her of these meetings. Beth also advised that she is going for training for public information officer so she thought she could be appointed the public relations liaison. Craig will
discuss this with her another time.
Craig advised that he spoke with the Board of Health and the Council on Aging regarding the Lee Regional Visiting Nurse Association. Joan Moylan advised that the LRVNA gave flu shots at town hall and they were billed to Medicare. In addition to the flu shots, LRVNA does blood pressure screenings and also is doing a six week program on exercise at the senior center. Beth VanNess advised that she spoke with Ginger Conner about doing a free flu clinic for the public.
Craig advised that Lenny Tisdale has almost finalized the town’s FEMA reimbursement paperwork for the snow storm and the hurricane. Len received $16,000 from a previous snow storm and Craig thinks he will be getting that amount for this past storm.
Craig advised that he will be attending the MMA Annual Trade Show on January 20 & 21, 2012 in Boston. He will pay for the registration from his expense account but would pay for his hotel room at his own expense. George feels that Craig should be reimbursed for his hotel expense and asked the other Selectmen if they had a problem with this. They both feel the same way that the town should pay for his hotel.
At this point Bob Ronzio entered the meeting and advised that he was audio taping the meeting.
George would like the minutes of the October 19, 2011 meeting to be placed on hold because he advised that the comment about the State Police taking up to 45 minutes to get to a call was made by Maddy Elovirta and not Mrs. Grace. George motioned to accept the minutes of the public hearing on the Lake View General Store on October 5, 2011 as presented, Jeanne seconded. All in favor.
Public Input: Rita Furlong reminded the Selectmen that the town turns 250 in 2015. She advised that only two or three people have been appointed to the 250th Anniversary Committee and is asking that something be put in the Country Journal and on the website to see if they can find more people to appoint to this committee. Ann Spadafora advised that she would like to be on this committee and Rita advised her to write a letter to the Selectmen.
Colleen O’Connor advised that a public record document is anything that was referenced at a public meeting. She stated that notes or documents used at a meeting are considered public record documents. She also advised the Board that there have been fourteen meetings where the police chief status was discussed. She does not understand why the chief was reinstated while the legislation is pending. She advised that it is against the law and does not understand why so much time is spent discussing this issue. She feels that the town has spent a lot of money writing the legislation and also spent a lot on attorney fees.
Maddy Elovirta asked if the three trailers that are on the property by the Becket Motel are being lived in. She asked if there was a permit issued for this. George advised that the building inspector acts as the code enforcer so this should be brought to his attention. Craig will check with Bill Girard about this. Bob Ronzio feels that this property is not a trailer park but it is starting to look like one. He asked if this corner lot was part of the motel property or is it owned separately. Beth VanNess advised that she sold the property to the owners of the motel. Dan Andrews advised that he spoke with the owners of Bonny Rigg Camp Ground and they told him that the trailers are being kept on this property until the roads in the camp ground are repaired.
John Amato advised that Becket Woods has had a series of break-ins through the summer and he figures that other developments that have second homes are having the same problem. He asked if the police department could hire another fulltime officer to cover the midnight to 8:00 a.m. shift. He heard that people know that Becket does not have coverage during these hours and that is why burglary is up quite a bit. He can submit his request in writing if the Selectmen wish. Jeanne asked John to submit this request in writing.
7:30 PM George motioned to close the Board of Selectmen meeting to open public hearing as Local Licensing Authority, Jeanne seconded. The Selectmen’s meeting will reopen after the public hearing. All in favor.
7:35 PM Meeting re-opened.
Kathy Hayn addressed the Board regarding hourly increase for Assistant Tax Collector. She is asking the Selectmen to reconsider giving her assistant a slight increase. She advised that she is planning on retiring in 5 to 7 years and needs someone who will be able to jump into this position knowing her job fully and who will be certified by the time she is ready to retire. Ken Bilodeau has hit the ground running and is very bright and has the skills needed to run her office. She advised that Ken will be trained to know every aspect of her job and she will be able to take vacations knowing that he can handle everything that comes up. Kathy explained the software that she uses in her office. The reason they chose the KVS software was so that all of the offices could electronically transfer
all receipts to the treasurer and accountant. But a few years ago, the town hired a new accountant who did not like the KVS software and the town administrator at the time allowed her to order the software that she liked without even considering the other offices. Because of this, all transfers had to be done manually and brought to the treasurer’s office. When this is done, there is more of a chance for errors to occur. Ken has installed quick books under his license which will make her office much more efficient. George asked if Ken was promised an evaluation period when he was hired. Kathy advised that he was not but feels he should get a $.50 raise. She explained that there is nothing in his contract but there has always been a verbal agreement that a person would be evaluated after a certain period of time. She advised that when Richard and Craig were putting the budget together she had not even hired someone yet so they
put enough in the budget so there would be some wiggle room. Right now there is enough in the budget to handle a $1.30 increase. She is asking for an increase of $.50. Jeanne apologized to Kathy because of how she voted at the last meeting. She did not have all of the information at that meeting. Jeanne does not feel this should have gone to the Selectmen. She feels that the Town Administrator and the department head should have discussed this and made the decision without having gone to the Selectmen. Ann Spadafora feels that as long as there is money in the account to cover an increase and he is deserving then he should get a small increase. John Amato feels he is deserving of this increase because he has dealt with him on a weekly basis and he knows what he is doing. George advised that it is the Selectmen’s decision to increase an employee’s salary. Jeanne motioned to approve the increase, George
interrupted her because someone in the audience had their hand up. Jeanne advised that it is up to the chairman to recognize a person in the audience. Mark allowed Colleen O’Connor to speak. She advised that the policy that Jeanne referred to did not mention that the employee would get a pay increase. Jeanne advised that this has been done in the town in the past and she feels that this should be included in the policy. Bob Ronzio asked if this was going to be the practice from now on that the town administrator could give raises to anyone that the department heads feel should get raises. Jeanne explained that the town has a town administrator form of government. The Town Administrator should not have to go to the Selectmen every time he wants to make a decision about an employee. Kathy suggests that the town revisit the salary survey that was done in 2003. She stated that some employees received an increase after 90 days
and some new employees received the rate that the seasoned employee was making when they left the position. She feels that there should be policy that makes it fair to every employee. Bob Ronzio feels that the town should not be working under someone else’s quick book license. He feels that this software should be purchased by the town. Kathy advised that they just wanted to make sure this software would work before they purchased it. She plans on purchasing this software. Jeanne motioned to increase Ken Bilodeau’s salary by $.50 per hour, George asked for Craig’s opinion before he seconded the motion. Craig advised that the salaries are skewed because the town is not consistent with salary increases. He explained why he brought this to the Board and why he did not recommend that Ken get an increase. He is also concerned about the software that does not belong to the town. George seconded the motion.
All in favor. Jeanne motioned to have the town purchase two licenses for Quick Books, George asked if the town has money in the budget for this item. Kathy advised that the cost of the Quick Books would be coming out of her expense account. Jeanne withdrew her motion.
Patricia Mullins addressed the Board regarding the CDBG Administrative Contract. She advised that in July the town was awarded the CDBG grant so the Selectmen need to sign a contract with BRPC for the administration of this grant. She explained everyone’s role in this grant from BRPC, the consultants that will be procured, and the town officials. She is here to request that the Selectmen vote to sign this contract. George motioned to sign the CDBG Administrative Contract with Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, Jeanne seconded. All in favor. Pat advised that once the funding is available there will be an informational meeting so that everyone will know what is going on and can ask questions. The Selectmen thanked her for her work on this grant.
Rita Furlong and Maddy Elovirta of the Parks Commission addressed the Board regarding town beach improvements. Rita advised that the Parks Commission voted at their last meeting to pay for the tree cutting at the town beach. She advised that she spoke with Lenny Tisdale about the highway department doing the beach improvements in the spring. As long as the winter work is completed, he does not have a problem with the highway department doing the work. She advised that Craig did a little work to see how much it would cost to go out to bid for this project and he advised her that it would cost approximately $5,000 to go out to bid. She feels that it is cost prohibitive. Dan Andrews asked what it would cost the town to do the work. Rita advised that if the highway department did the
work then they would be paid what they normally get paid to do highway work. George asked how Craig came up with the cost to go out to bid. Rita explained the costs. Ann Spadafora feels the highway department should be working on town roads and if they work on the beach it would be taking them away from the work that should be done on the roads. Rita explained that Len Tisdale has already told her that as long as the highway work is done, they should be able to complete the work at the beach. Bob Ronzio feels this should go before the town voters. Briefly discussed the cost associated with the town versus a bidding contractor doing the proposed work and the Conservation Commission’s authority over this project. George motioned to put this on hold until the Conservation Commission and the Highway Department could come in to explain what they could do, Mark seconded. All in favor.
George asked why they are going to vote to reinstate Bill Elovirta for the third time when our attorneys have been saying all along that the town should not do this. He advised that all the letters we have received from PERAC has said the same thing. George asked Jeanne if she had looked at the email from town counsel that answered all of her questions. She advised that not all of her questions were answered. Jeanne asked if the Board of Selectmen voted to contact PERAC. George advised that they had. Jeanne advised that she did not see this in any of the minutes. George asked Bill Elovirta why Dan Hamill’s position was not filled when he left back in July. Bill advised that Dan was originally hired to cover while Nicole Miller was on maternity leave. She is back
now. George asked how often Maddy Elovirta works as a police officer. Bill advised that she works occasionally. Bill advised that Maddy was originally hired because they did not have a female police officer on the force. Maddy advised that she fell down last October and had a shoulder injury on her own time and could not pull her gun so she could not work. She also advised that it did not cost the town a penny while she was out. Bill advised that if Dan Hamill did not leave, his hours would be cut when Nicole came back and he was never down three officers. Bill also advised that Dan Hamill chose to work for the Town of Otis as a full time officer because he knew his hours would be cut once Nicole came back. Pat Portieri asked why Maddy was working detail if her arm was injured. Bill advised that she does not need to carry her gun to do detail work and she only did it because no other officer was available to do the detail.
Colleen asked why Bill continues to work when the Secretary of State told him he could not work even on administrative duty while he is waiting for the legislation to pass. She does not understand how someone could say that it is in the best interest of the town to break the law. She feels that Bill is holding the town hostage by his behavior. John Amato expressed his concern about the conduct at this meeting. He feels very uncomfortable and feels that everything discussed at the meeting should be directed to the Board. Bill Elovirta explained that none of this would be happening right now if the Berkshire County Retirement Board had told him in the beginning that he would need to seek special legislation. They did not tell him that; they told him he was fine to continue working as police chief. Craig advised that he thought the town was turned into the attorney general’s office because they voted to reinstate Bill at their last
meeting so he thought they should redo the vote tonight but it was the PERAC office that requested the minutes from the last meeting. He said it is up to the Selectmen whether they want to stand by their vote or not. Jeanne stated that she is staying with her decision to reinstate Bill to normal police duties. George stated that he was still against this. Jeanne still wants to know if the Selectmen voted to contact PERAC because she did not find it in any of the minutes. They can advise her at the next meeting. The reason she would like to know this is because the Board should be acting as a Board and not doing things individually. Jeanne explained her reason for voting the way that she did.
Mark asked if item 10 “Selectmen to discuss Police Chief search” could be tabled until the next meeting because he has not been able to digest the information from Craig. George motioned to put the police chief search discussion on hold until November 16, 2011, Jeanne seconded. All in favor. George asked if the other selectmen had an issue if he came to speak with Craig about this. They do not have an issue with this. Jeanne will send her comments to Craig.
John Amato asked the Board if any district would have first choice to purchase town owned property in their district. George advised that he should let the town know that they are interested in the property. Bob Ronzio advised that at the last land auction the town sold 29 pieces of property in Sherwood Forest but did not allow the district to purchase any of it. George asked if they notified the town of their wishes to purchase these properties. He did not know because he was not involved at the time. He advised that in the past there were properties that were considered common land that were sold to private individuals but at the same time the town sold property to the Land Trust for $1. He feels the same consideration should be given to the districts and if you are going to set a
precedent then it should be fair to all districts. Jeanne explained how this property offer came about. Briefly discussed whether the town should be paying road district taxes on property they own. The town is tax exempt and does not pay road district taxes. George read the letter sent to the Board from the Sherwood Greens Road District with their offer to purchase two lots in Sherwood Greens. George motioned to accept the letter and sell the two lots to the Sherwood Greens Road Improvement and Maintenance District for $12,000, Mark seconded. Jeanne abstained from voting. Motion passed. Bob Ronzio asked if the SGRD was exempt from taxes. Jeanne wrote a letter to the assessors asking the same question but has not heard from them yet.
The Selectmen reviewed the letter from CBRSD from Superintendent, William Cameron, regarding scheduling a meeting with Selectmen and Finance Committee. Briefly discussed when to schedule it and if this should be done at a regular Selectmen’s Meeting. Craig will check with the Finance Committee tomorrow to see what date would work for them.
The Selectmen reviewed the Chapter 90 Project Requests. One project request is for County Road in the amount of $63,000 and the other project request is for Wade Inn Road in the amount of $10,000. George motioned to sign the Chapter 90 Project Requests, Jeanne seconded. All in favor.
The Selectmen reviewed the monthly report of the Ambulance Department.
Any other business: Nina advised that most of the employees use the day after Thanksgiving Day as a floating holiday or as a personal day so the Selectmen should vote to close town hall on that day. George motioned to close Town Hall on November 25, 2011, Jeanne seconded. All in favor.
Jeanne would like the Selectmen to schedule a meeting to discuss the speed limit on Fred Snow and Johnson Roads and invite the residents who live on these roads. Ann Spadafora would like to see “Go Slow” signs placed on certain areas of Fred Snow Road. George would like Craig to check with Lenny on this to see if he has it in his budget to purchase these signs.
Jeanne wanted to know why some agendas do not get posted on the website. Nina advised that she spoke with the town clerk and he has agreed to give her copies of all agendas that he posts so she can put them on the website.
George asked the Selectmen to request that Bill Elovirta provide the information that he claimed at a previous meeting about being the lead in his drug arrest, about his illegal gambling ring and about his claim that George’s girlfriend called and harassed him. George’s attorney advised him to speak with the other Selectmen about this and have them request this information. Mark motioned that Bill Elovirta turn over to the Board all the information he has regarding Mr. Fuller’s activities by November 16, 2011, Jeanne seconded. All in favor.
Nina advised that a Wage and Benefit Agreement was never done for Ken Bilodeau. George said to put it on the agenda for the next meeting on November 16, 2011.
Jeanne advised that on the minutes of the annual town meeting, the town clerk forgot to put in the minutes that all items not having a hold placed on them passed. Craig will check with him about this.
9:25 PM George motioned to adjourn, Jeanne seconded. All in favor.
Reviewed payroll/expense warrants.
Respectfully submitted, _______________________________
Nina Weiler, Secretary Mark L. Karlberg, Chairman