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Select Board Minutes 6/6/12
Members present:        Mark Karlberg, Jeanne Pryor, William Elovirta

Others Present: Craig Kleman, Colleen O’Connor, Eva Birkette, John Amato, Angela Hilton, Patricia Portieri, Maria Wallington, Rita Furlong, Helen & Steve Goetz, Karen Karlberg, Bruce Garlow, Ann Spadafora, Jeremy Dunn, Robert Gorden, Steve & Gale LaBelle, Beth VanNess, Harry Roff, Geri Walter, Liz Will, Amy Lane, Chris Bleau, Bill Cavanaugh, Geoff Rogers & Ken Elstein-Hampshire Council of Governments, Kathy Hayn, Ken Bilodeau

7:02 PM Meeting opened.

Mark asked if anyone from the audience was recording this meeting.  No one is recording.

Select Board’s Comments and Announcements: Jeanne and Mark welcomed Bill Elovirta to the Board.  Jeanne also thanked George for his service on the Select Board.  Bill thanked everyone who voted for him and for those that did not vote for him he hopes he can earn their trust.

Jeanne advised that there is an Open Meeting Law Seminar in the Town of Huntington on June 21, 2012 for anyone who wishes to attend it.  Jeanne would also like to discuss at the next Select Board meeting the town meeting suggestions that she gave the other Select Board members to review.  

Bill advised that at the Memorial Day Parade there were some people driving their cars in the parade and he received some complaints about squealing tires.  He feels the parade is a solemn event and out of respect for veterans and their families this practice should stop.  Jeanne feels the Select Board should speak to Bill Mulholland about this.  He is the Veterans’ Grave Officer and puts the parade together every year.

Town Administrator’s Report: Craig advised that he walked the property in North Becket with the appraiser for the Nature Conservancy.  The NC is working with a Federal Agency and they need to have the value of this property.

Craig advised the Board that he went to a Department of Energy Resources seminar to discuss ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) funds and the Energy Retrofit project at Fire Station #2.

Jeanne motioned to approved the minutes of the May 16, 2012 Select Board meeting, Mark seconded.  Bill abstained from voting.  Motion passed.

Public Input: Colleen O’Connor read a list of people who she states were in full knowledge that the school’s septic system was in need of an upgrade but they chose not to do anything.  She has taken photos for the past ten years of the pipe that goes through her property which she claims is leaking.  She advised that the town will have a seven million dollar building that is not worth anything if she cuts the pipe that goes through her property.  She is tired of the town doing nothing to fix this problem and if the town does nothing then she will cut the pipe.  The Select Board is in agreement that something should be done to resolve the issue.  

Rita Furlong updated the Select Board about the beach improvements.  The highway department has been to the beach and has done the work that needed to be done.  She spoke briefly about the stone wall that was removed at the beach.  She also mentioned that she has received complaints about the sign up at the end of the beach road.  The sign states that the beach is for all Becket and Washington residents but the Town of Washington no longer contributes to our recreation committee so she feels the beach should be open to just Becket residents.  The Select Board will have to decide what should be done.

Eva Birkette congratulated Bill Elovirta and said she hopes that the Board will be diverse and they will do a good job.

Bill Cavanaugh advised that as this new board starts to work together they need to consider when there is a lawsuit against the town.  The Board needs to be careful about what it can do.  When there is a lawsuit against the town, the town attorney usually advises not to speak about it unless they speak to the attorney first.

Ann Spadafora would like the Board to encourage grant writing so the town can get money to assist it whenever possible.

Gale LaBelle advised the Board that the building inspector sent a notice to the Crystal Pond Association about removing the sign but they do not want to remove it.  She advised that the Planning Board allowed them to put up a chain across the road but did not approve the sign.  She would like the Select Board to advise her as to how to handle this.  Briefly discussed the sign and whether or not the Crystal Pond Association can legally post it.  Jeanne expressed her concern about the other boards and committees in town.  When a road is permitted to be closed she feels that all the boards and committees should be advised of this so if they need to go on site visits that can.  Jeanne was also concerned because the Planning Board gave the Crystal Pond Association permission to put up a chain at a meeting and not at a public hearing.  The Planning Board will discuss this at their next meeting.

Gale also advised that the Town of Chester is completing 2 wind turbine wind feasibility studies for its property located in Becket.

Briefly discussed reorganizing the Board.  Jeanne feels the Board should follow the guidelines that they approved.  Mark motioned that Bill Elovirta become the Clerk of the Select Board, Jeanne seconded.  Bill abstained.  Motion passed.  Bill motioned that Mark Karlberg remain Chairman of the Board, Jeanne seconded.  Mark abstained.  Motion passed.  Bill motioned to have Jeanne become Vice Chair of the Board, Bill seconded.  Jeanne abstained.  Motion passed.

Mark read the Disclosure by Special Municipal Employee from Bill Elovirta.  He is a special municipal employee because he is a Select Board member and also the Police Chief.  Bill explained that if you hold more than one position in town you would need to file a disclosure form.  Mark motioned to approve the exemption for William Elovirta as a Select Board member and the Police Chief, Jeanne seconded.  Bill abstained.  Motion passed.

Briefly discussed space at town hall and Mullen House.  The Historical Commission has an office downstairs at town hall next to the police office.  The police department has needed extra space for some time and would like to utilize the historical commission office.  The Select Board thought that the historical commission could move their office to the Mullen House.  Rita Furlong advised that the Mullen House will charge the Historical Commission rent to occupy office space there.  This would be approximately $210 per month.  She also advised that the Mullen House is only handicap accessible on the first floor.  Briefly discussed holding Historical Commission Meetings.  It would be difficult to have all of the Historical Commission meetings at the town hall if all of their records are at the Mullen House.  Jeanne would like to view all of the rooms at town hall and the Mullen House before she can make a decision.  Jeanne motioned to follow-up and bring to another meeting, Bill seconded.  All in favor.

Bruce Garlow addressed the Board regarding a town meeting bylaw that he and Jeanne have been working on.  He has gotten some information from other towns and would like a committee appointed who can go over the rules and consolidate them into one document that people can refer to at a town meeting.  This document will be easy to understand and will help the voters to understand what appropriate procedure at a town meeting is.  He is asking the Board to appoint a five member committee who will work to get this document completed.  Rob Gorden advised that he would like to be appointed to this committee.  John Amato also expressed interest to be on this committee.  Jeanne asked Bruce to write something up that can go on the website and also in the Country Journal.  He will do this and get it to Nina.

Ken Elstein of the Hampshire Council of Governments gave a presentation on Municipal Aggregation of Electricity.  He explained how this program worked.  If the Town wanted to join the twenty eight other towns in Western Massachusetts in changing how supply is purchased, it would require approval at a town meeting to authorize the Select Board to enter into a contract with an entity such as the Hampshire Council of Governments that would seek to obtain lower prices for all residential and business customers who have not signed up with another supplier.  He explained that WMECO would still deliver the electricity but the town would have the option of who would supply the electricity.  Residents could opt out of this program and choose another supplier if they wish to.  Jeremy Dunn was concerned that a town meeting would decide who supplies the electricity for the entire town.  Ken advised that every resident would get a postcard explaining the program and a chance for them to opt out if they wish.  Geoff Rogers gave a presentation of his program which just deals with town governments, school districts, not for profits and businesses.  He explained the pros and cons of this program but he advised that this program beat the price that WMECO charged five out of six years.  Jeremy Dunn recommends that the Select Board should approve the town administrator’s decision on the program that Geoff spoke about since he is the chief procurement officer.  He feels that the program that Ken proposed was a good program but this should wait until the Annual Town Meeting so a larger percentage of voters can decide if they want the town to join this program.  The Select Board thanked them from coming and giving their presentations.

John Amato gave a synopsis of the work that the Police Chief Search Committee completed.  He thanked Chief Bartels who assisted the committee and feels a letter of thanks should go out to him.  He also feels that all of the applicants that were not chosen should get a letter from the town.  He advised that anyone who had any questions about what the committee has done they should call him.  He also advised that the PCSC recommends that the Select Board conduct the final interviews in open session.  He gave the names of the three finalists which are: Thomas Ralph, Steven Palmer and Marc Portieri.  Jeanne thanked the committee for their hard work throughout this process.  Craig advised that he disagrees with the PCSC’s recommendation and would like to complete the interviews by himself or with the assistance of Bill Elovirta if he wishes to be there.  He will present the final candidate to the Select Board if they agree to have him conduct the interviews.  Mark would like copies of the three finalist’s resumes.  Craig advised that he spoke with the attorney general’s office and because he and Bill are town officials, they do not need to conduct the interviews in public.  Bill does not know if he will be present during the interviews but he will recuse himself when the Select Board votes to approve the final candidate unless there is a tied vote.  Colleen O’Connor feels that the Select Board and Town Administrator should listen to the people and do what the people have wanted them to do and conduct the interviews in public.  Maria Wallington advised that she does not agree with Colleen’s statement because she feels that the Town Administrator is the one who deals with the personnel and is the one who is responsible for the conduct of the personnel.

Bill Girard, Building Inspector, gave a presentation of the building permit fees.  He gave the Board information with proposed fees that he would like to increase to cover the costs of the new building permitting software.  The Select Board will look this information over and digest it before they make a decision on the fees.

Briefly discussed adjusting the Assessor’s office hours.  Two of the assessors come in at 7:30 a.m. and work until 3:30 p.m.  The head assessor comes in at 8:30 a.m. and works to 4:30 p.m.  Craig would like all the assessors to come in at the same time because they are not being supervised for the first hour.  He has spoken with Liz Will and Geri Walter about this and they could not come up with any compelling reasons why they need to come in at 7:30 a.m.  Craig feels that if the head assessor, David Zagorski, will be conducting evaluations then he needs to have a better handle on his employees.  Jeanne was under the impression that the assessors came in early as a service to the residents because some cannot come in during business hours so they come in early to do business.  She feels this is a good thing.  She asked if Craig checked with David Zagorski about this to see if he spoke with his employees about this.  He did not because he spoke with them.  Bill feels that if it is not broken do not fix it.  Craig said he would change his hours to be here to see what is being done for the first hour if they want.  Jeanne advised that this should be David’s job to check on his employees and when he was hired he knew the hours were from 7:30 to 3:30 everyday so his hours should not have been changed.

Briefly discussed the custodian’s hourly rate of pay.  Craig advised that the custodian is currently being paid $15.73 an hour and has not received an increase in two years.  She also works as the ZBA and Planning Board secretary and makes $11.00 per hour doing this.  He feels the budget could absorb a 2% increase for her.  Jeanne asked Craig why this was not included in the budget.  The budget was just accepted at the Annual Town Meeting so why wasn’t this done then.  Amy Lane feels that she should have gotten the cost of living increase if everybody else did.  Jeanne feels that her supervisor should have asked for an increase but did not and there is a process that should have been followed but was not.  Kathy Hayn asked if the custodian was at the top of the pay scale for this position according to the salary survey.  Bill advised that the maximum for this position is $15.35 so she is already above it but he feels she should be making more than $11.00 for doing secretarial work for the ZBA and Planning Board.  Rita Furlong advised that in the past the custodian worked after hours so that departments that were trying to get their work done would not have to put up with the vacuuming noise but this is not the case now.  She was at a meeting in the morning and had to deal with the noise of the vacuum.  Kathy Hayn feels we are setting a bad precedent if we increase her pay when it should have been done at the annual town meeting.  Mark motioned to kill the increase in hourly rate of pay for the custodian, Jeanne seconded.  All in favor.

Mark motioned to appoint Eva Bonney, William Cavanaugh, Beth VanNess, Ruth Glazerman and Jeanne Pryor to the Senior Housing Committee, Bill seconded.  Jeanne abstained.  Motion passed.

Bill motioned to appoint Beth VanNess and Jeanne Pryor to the Housing Rehab Advisory Committee, Mark seconded.  Jeanne abstained.  Motion passed.

Bill motioned to transfer $1,779.00 from Town Counsel Expenses to Legal Expenses, $4,500.00 from Town Counsel Expenses to Tax Title Expenses, $1,632.00 From Veterans Benefits to Municipal Building Utilities, $11,000.00 from Health/Life Insurance to Payroll Taxes, $51.35 from Ambulance Radios and Pagers to Ambulance Salaries, Jeanne seconded.  All in favor.

Kathy Hayn, tax collector, explained that an attorney contacted her office to say that he sold a piece of property to someone but that part of this property was taken for taxes but should not have been.  She advised that the original subdivision plan for Sherwood Greens from 1970 shows two parcels in Sherwood Greens one of which had a beach area but the plan was revised in 1975 that shows that the beach area was removed from the parcel to become a common area.  This attorney and all of the attorneys who wrote up deeds for this property always referred to the original plan which included the beach property.  The beach property was taken for taxes and the town now owns this property.  She is asking permission to contact our town counsel to see if the tax taking was done properly and to see how they should proceed with this issue.  Craig feels the town should not incur any costs because the attorney who sold the property did not refer to the new plan so it is his fault.  Jeanne feels we should find out if the tax taking was done properly before they proceed with this.  Jeanne motioned to have Town Counsel check into the legality of this property taking, Mark seconded.  All in favor.

Mark motioned to approve the Town Administrator’s appointments as follows: James Kupernik, Ambulance Director; Albert Goodermote, Animal Control Officer; Timothy Sullivan, Emergency Management Director; Ray Tarjick, Fire Chief/Fire Warden; Leonard Tisdale, Highway Superintendent; Gary Danko, Assistant Building Inspector; Leonard Tisdale, Pest Control; Allen Meyer, Plumbing/Gas Inspector; Mark Levernoch and Brian Middleton, Assistant Plumbing/Gas Inspectors; Leonard Tisdale, Tree Warden; Doug Mann, Veterans’ Agent; William Mulholland, Veterans’ Grave Officer; John Daniels, Wiring Inspector; Jim LaPier, Assistant Wiring Inspector terms to expire June 30, 2013, Jeanne seconded.  All in favor.  Mark motioned to approve the Town Administrator’s appointment of the following: Marc Portieri, Police Sergeant, Madelaine Elovirta, Leonard Tisdale, Kristopher McDonough, Nicole Miller, Steven Hilton, Michael Hunt, Police Officers terms to expire June 30, 2013, Jeanne seconded.  Bill abstained.  Motion passed.

The Select Board reviewed the monthly reports of the Police Department and Citations Issued.

Any other Business: Craig advised that he received a letter of resignation from John Deacon as Harbor Master effective this Friday.  Bill advised that it may be hard to fill this position because there is some training that is required that the person would eventually need to have.  The Select Board would like to post this on the website and at town hall and any interested person would need to know that they would need to go to school to continue as harbor master.  

Craig advised that the contract with Berkshire Regional Planning Commission to administer the Green Communities Grant will expire on June 30, 2012.  We would need to extend this agreement until the Green Communities Grant is completed.  Jeanne motioned that the Select Board approve the third amendment that extends the agreement by and between the Town of Becket and BRPC, Bill seconded.  All in favor.

Nina advised that the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority needs a representative to be on the BRTA Advisory Committee and it usually is the chairman of the Board.  Mark advised that he never could get to the meetings because they are at 4:00 in the afternoon.  This committee meets on one Thursday a month.  Bill would be able to go to these meetings as long as it is not the second Thursday of the month.  Nina will check and get back to the Board.

Nina advised that they have a Becket Ambulance Department Request for Write-Off report that needs to be submitted.  There are two requests; one was the one that the Select Board wanted information about and the other one is a new one.  The new one had a hardship application filled out and Nina advised that the amount of the other one was what was left over after the person’s insurance company paid what it owed.  Jeanne motioned to send all to the collection agency except for the hardship, Bill seconded.  All in favor.

Jeanne wanted to know why on the expenditure report it shows that we spent so much on winter roads when we hardly had any snow.  Craig will check with Len Tisdale about this and get back to the Select Board.

Reviewed correspondence.

Bill feels the highway department guys should attend some of the Baystate Roads Programs that are available.  There is one that will take place in Otis and one that will take place in Hinsdale.  He advised that they will not find any training closer than that.

Jeanne would like to know if Bill Girard got a response from Crystal Pond Association about the violation notice that he sent them.  Craig will check on this.

Jeanne advised that she is very concerned that the overlay surplus deficit is $50,000.  Craig advised that this was from a glitch that involved salt box houses.  Jeanne feels that they should pay special attention because this is a lot of money.

Briefly discussed Craig’s appointment and evaluations.  Bill advised that years ago there were evaluations but Richard never did any and he feels we should start doing them again.

10:25 PM Bill motioned to adjourn, Jeanne seconded.  All in favor.

Reviewed payroll/expense warrants.

Respectfully submitted,                                                         _______________________________
Nina Weiler, Secretary                                                          Mark L. Karlberg, Chairman

Documents discussed at meeting:

  • Disclosure by Special Municipal Employee
  • Electricity Aggregation for your Community information from the Hampshire Council of Governments.
  • List of Town Administrator’s Appointments