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Select Board Minutes 2/6/13
Members present:        Mark Karlberg, William Elovirta, Jeanne Pryor

Others Present: Joseph Kellogg, Colleen O’Connor, Beth VanNess, John Amato, John Sakata-Berkshire Eagle, Jeffrey Reel, Andrew Madden-Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Ann Spadafora, Jeanne Morano, Julia Maynard, Karen Karlberg, Mercedes Gallagher, George Fuller, Meredyth Babcock, Katherine Hoak

7:00 PM Meeting opened.

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

Select Board’s Comments and Announcements: None.

Town Administrator’s Report: Joe advised that he spoke with Jim Wilusz, Director of Tri Town Board of Health, to see what they could offer the town.  He advised that it could get really expensive to use them and now that we have a full Board of Health, we would not have to depend on them for much.  He met with the Becket Board of Health and they are going to aggressively work hard to get trained so that the board is functioning properly.  The town also belongs to the Berkshire Public Health Alliance so we could use them if we need to.

He also advised that he and Bill will be attending a Town of Washington Select Board meeting to discuss fire protection provided by the Town of Becket to the Town of Washington.  He will report back to the Select Board after this meeting.

Joe advised that the Town Administrator ad is out and we have received 10 resumes so far.  The applicants all seem to have experience so he feels they should have a good group to choose from.  The deadline for receiving resumes is February 28th and he is hoping that the TA Search Committee will have 3 candidates for the Select Board to interview by April 1st.

Joe advised that the Department of Environmental Protection did an inspection at the town hall the other day.  This sanitation survey is done on our water system every five years because the town hall’s water system is considered a public water system.  They had a couple of suggestions and these will be implemented.  There were no major problems and he should get a report in a couple of weeks.

Joe advised that George Fuller received a check in the amount of $1467.31 from the DEP for the town’s recycling efforts.  He said this shows that the town is doing a great job with the recycling.

Joe advised that Bill and Pat Mullins from Berkshire Regional Planning Commission went to North Becket to look at the frost heaves that Colleen O’Connor brought up at a previous meeting.  They feel this is just typical heaving that occurs each winter and there should be no problems once the heaves are gone.

Joe advised that he spoke with the town clerk and also received something from Kopelman and Paige about special legislation that the Governor signed regarding the State election to replace Senator John Kerry.  This legislation allows towns to combine the State election with its own elections to save money but the only date that would work would push our annual election up three weeks.  The town clerk did not think this would work but it is up to the Select Board to decide whether to do this or not.  He will have more information by the next Select Board meeting but he wanted the Select Board to be aware of this.

Joe wanted to make the Select Board aware that there is a problem with the town’s W-2 forms.  We should have received them by January 31st but every time the payroll company sends them there are errors so they need to be re-issued.  He advised that some of the employees are very upset that they have not received them yet.  He also advised that it is not the town’s fault and the treasurer has been working fulltime to try to get this corrected.  He is hoping that by tomorrow they will get the corrected W-2’s.

George Fuller asked Joe if he looked at the guardrail down in North Becket when he looked at the frost heaves.  Joe advised that he did not look at the frost heaves but he would be speaking to him about the guardrail and the rain garden in North Becket.

Bill motioned to approve the minutes of January 16, 2013, Mark seconded.  Jeanne abstained.  Motion passed.  Bill motioned to approve the minutes of the Executive Session of January 16, 2013, Mark seconded.  Jeanne abstained.  Motion passed.

Public Input: Karen Karlberg brought to the attention of the Select Board an issue that is going on at the corner of Route 20 and Route 8 south.  She advised that there is constant work being done on the property but the Special Permit Application was withdrawn so she does not know what is happening.  She brought in photos of a pile of logs that are on the side of the road.  She feels this is a road hazard and would like someone to take a look at it.  Joe advised that these are State highways so he would need to talk with someone from Mass DOT to see if they know what is going on.  He will also check with any town board or committee that would be involved with this to make sure they are allowed to do what they are doing.

Meredyth Babcock is requesting that the Select Board go forward with the plans to have the US Fish and Wildlife purchase the property off Maple Street in North Becket.  Jeanne advised that Craig was supposed to contact the attorneys about this but was not sure where it stands.  Joe was not aware of this but Jeanne will forward an email she had to him so he could familiarize himself on this issue.  Colleen O’Connor stated that she was against this because the property in question is land locked and it would require an easement or right-of-way to get onto this property.  Mark advised that the US Fish and Wildlife was looking into purchasing some property so this parcel would no longer be landlocked.  Colleen also stated that it would be up to the land owner to clean this property if it was found to be contaminated and because there was a lumber company adjacent to this property it could very well be contaminated.  Briefly discussed how this property would be used.  Some feel that if they want to keep it as it is and pristine then it should not be accessible to the public.  Mark advised that when he walked this property in the beginning he noticed snow mobile trail signs all over this property so people are accessing it already.  Joe explained that in order for the town to sell the property to the US Fish and Wildlife it would need to be voted on at a town meeting.  Jeanne explained that they would like to have a public hearing before the town meeting so people would know what they were looking to do with this property.

Mercedes Gallagher updated the Select Board on the Westfield River Wild and Scenic Advisory Committee.  She gave each Selectman a copy of the 2011 Annual Report of the WRW&SAC and is currently working on the 2012 Annual Report and should have something to the Board right after the Annual Town Meeting.  She made the Select Board aware of workshops that will be taking place in March.  She advised that the highway department, conservation commission and municipal officials should attend the “Improving Stream Crossings: Flood Resilient, Fish Friendly” workshop.  She also advised that she spoke with Joe and Bill about attending this workshop since the WRW&SAC will be paying for two people from each town to attend this workshop.  If the new highway superintendent is hired by the time of the workshop, he/she would replace Joe for the workshop.  She gave the selectmen copies of the stream crossings handbook that featured Becket a couple of times.  She advised that the WRW&SAC gave the town $12,000 toward the work that was done in North Becket and explained what the rain garden’s purpose was.  The Select Board thanked Mercedes for coming to the meeting.

Andrew Madden from the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife addressed the Board regarding the beaver dam located off of Tyringham Road.  Mark advised that he tried to get someone from Senator Downing’s office to come to the meeting but they were unable to come but were very interested in the solution to this problem.  Mr. Madden advised that after extreme rain events roads in the development by Shaw Pond have had some bad washouts.  He explained that unfortunately in the days before planning board oversight and the implementation of wetland regulations, road crossings were often under designed for watershed characteristics.  He advised that when the development was put in place, Shales Brook was channelized including an unfortunate sharp turn at the Dawn Drive crossing.  When a stream is channelized, greater flows may occur at road crossings.  He advised that the culverts that were put in place on Dawn Drive and Peterson Road are inadequate to handle large rain events.  Jeffrey Reel, who lives in the development, has requested that the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife install a water leveling device at the beaver impoundment.  However, Mr. Madden does not think this will help the situation.  He explained that even if the beaver dam broke during a large rain event, the additional flow would not be a determining factor as the current culverts would have already exceeded capacity without the additional contribution.  He explained that if the residents feel a water leveling device would work, even though his data shows it would not work, and they have different data that says it would work, the DFW would allow them to install this device only if it was installed by a qualified professional and is maintained properly.  He advised that improperly installed devices or poorly maintained devices may reduce the integrity of the dam and increase the likelihood of failure.  Mr. Reel advised that the only time the roads wash out is when the beaver dam breaches.  He explained that the two times the roads washed out was during a large rain event.  Briefly discussed the development being in a wetlands area and septic system failures due to being in a wetlands area.  Jeanne advised that there are about ten beaver deceivers in the Sherwood Greens Development and they seem to be working fine.  She is not sure if this would work on an area that big but she feels it can’t hurt.  Joe upon the request of a resident will look to see if the town belongs to a septic system loan program.  Mr. Madden advised that as long as Mr. Reel has information that says a water leveling device would work, and he gets the proper permitting and it is installed by a qualified professional and is properly maintained, the State would allow a device to be installed but he does not think this will correct the ongoing issue.  The Select Board thanked Mr. Madden and Mr. Reel for coming to the meeting.

Joe explained that the Town of Dudley sent a letter to all cities and towns requesting that they support legislation to establish a maximum cap on the Local Minimum Contribution portion for school funding from municipalities.  He advised that at first when he looked at this he thought it was a good idea because it looks like the Town of Dudley is trying to keep its school budget from increasing more that 2 ½ percent every year but there are so many factors involved in local contributions and this would not keep the schools from increasing their budgets more than 2 ½ percent.  The Select Board does not feel that this legislation would prevent schools from increasing their budgets by more than 2 ½ percent.

Briefly discussed the phone message system at town hall.  Joe explained that the phone system that we have now can be totally automated so that all callers would need to get to the office they want by going through a menu instead of Nina answering all calls and transferring them to the proper offices.  He explained that Nina answers all calls that come in and most of the calls are for different offices.  It is a waste of time for her to do this and most offices that you call are automated.  Jeanne feels that all offices need to return messages that they get in a timely manner because she hears complaints about offices not returning calls.  Joe will speak with the staff about returning phone calls in a timely manner.  Jeanne motioned that we change the phone system to the automated system so a person will not answer the phone and people will have to choose what office they want to speak to, Bill seconded.  All in favor.  An announcement will be put in the Country Journal and on the website to let people know about this change.

Briefly discussed the FY14 budget.  Joe asked the Select Board if it they could have working meetings to work on the budget.  These meetings would be open to the public but there would be no public input during the meeting.  He has been working on the budget and would like to go over some items with the Select Board.  The Select Board will meet on Friday, February 15, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.

Briefly discussed the FY14 salaries.  Joe advised that the Finance Committee has started working on the budget and he has told the department heads to submit a level funded salary budget until the Select Board could decide what percent of an increase to have across the board for all employees.  He recommends that whatever increase they decide that it be across the board for all employees.  Joe checked with other towns in Berkshire County and most towns are averaging 2% increases for their employees.  He is recommending the Select Board vote to increase salaries by that amount.  He advised that if the budget could not handle this increase they could change it later on.  Joe feels we should look at the level of pay for all employees and briefly discussed doing a salary survey.  Joe does not feel the town should spend approximately $10,000 to have a company do the survey when he could find out what other Berkshire County towns pay their employees.  He will be discussing this with the finance committee.  Bill motioned to support a tentative 2% increase for all employees based on what we know right now, Jeanne seconded.  All in favor.

Joe described how he came up with the rating system for appointing the highway superintendent search committee.  He advised that the top five people that were chosen were Bill Elovirta, Jerry Coppola, Richard Furlong, Meredyth Babcock, Robert Bellavance and George Fuller as a non-voting member.  Jeanne motioned to appoint Bill Elovirta, Jerry Coppola, Richard Furlong, Meredyth Babcock, and Robert Bellavance to the Highway Superintendent Search Committee and to appoint George Fuller as a non-voting member, Mark seconded.  Bill abstained.  Motion passed.  

Joe explained that he followed the same procedure in coming up with the Town Administrator Search Committee as he did with the Highway Superintendent Search Committee.  Joe advised that the top five people were Richard Furlong, Jeanne Pryor, Joshua Lombard, Amy Perlmutter, and Robert Gross.  Bill motioned to appoint Richard Furlong, Jeanne Pryor, Joshua Lombard, Amy Perlmutter, and Robert Gross to the Town Administrator Search Committee.  No one seconded.  Mark does not feel that Jeanne should be on this committee since she would be voting on appointing this person.  Joe advised that there always seems to be a select person on a town administrator search committee.  Nina advised that Doug Walter served on a TA Search Committee when he was a selectman.  Mark would like Joe to get an opinion from the Ethics Commission as to whether Jeanne could vote on the appointments to the Search Committee if she was included as one of the appointees.  The Select Board will delay this vote until they get a determination from the Ethics Commission.

Nina advised that she advertised in the Country Journal and on the town’s website for an interested person to serve as an alternate member to the Berkshire Public Health Alliance but the only person that showed interest was Laurel Burgwardt.  Bill motioned to appoint Laurel Burgwardt as alternate member to the Berkshire Public Health Alliance, Jeanne seconded.  All in favor.

Jeanne motioned to release the Executive Session minutes of December 5, 2012, Bill seconded.  All in favor.

Briefly discussed scheduling a pole hearing for the proposed installation of two solely owned poles on Wade Inn Road by Verizon.  Bill advised that there are a number of double poles in town that should be taken care of and he feels before they approve these pole installations they should require a plan from Verizon as to when they will remove these double poles.  The Select Board scheduled the pole hearing on February 20, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.

The Select Board reviewed monthly reports from the Ambulance Department, Police Department, Citations Issued and Animal Control Officer.

Any other business: Joe felt the Select Board should complete their annual report but they could do this at the working meeting on Friday.  He also advised that because the Select Board report was so comprehensive, the town administrator’s report will be about a paragraph and will refer people to the Select Board report.

The Select Board reviewed the Becket Ambulance Department Request for Write-Off Report.  The Select Board would like explanations of the reasons that the billing company uses before they vote to write-off the report.  Nina will check with Jim Kupernik about this.  The Select Board would like Joe to check with Kopelman and Paige to see if some of these could go to small claims court.

Briefly discussed the highway department equipment replacement schedule, the tree account and the roadside mowing.  George Fuller, interim highway superintendent, feels the tractor should go on hold because some of the trucks should be replaced before the town buys a tractor.  John Amato advised that the Becket Woods Road District could loan the highway department its leaf blower if they need it.

Mercedes Gallagher advised the Board that the Westfield River Wild and Scenic Advisory Committee has funds that can assist the town with things like completing a title search on the property in North Becket, etc. if the town needs it.

Bill would like letters sent to our representatives advising that the Board supports the increase in Chapter 90 funds.  Bill motioned to send a letter to our senator and representatives supporting the $300 million for Chapter 90, Jeanne seconded.  All in favor.

Reviewed correspondence.

Briefly discussed the culverts on Bonny Rigg Hill Road.  Joe advised that he is trying to track down the engineering contract for these culverts.

9:25 PM Jeanne motioned to go into Executive Session under G.L. c. 30A sec. (a) (6) to consider the exchange of real property if the chair declares that an open meeting may have a detrimental effect on the negotiating position of the public body and under G.L. c. 30A sec. (a) (3) with respect to litigation as discussing the matter in an open meeting may have a detrimental effect on the position of the public body and not to reconvene to open session.  Mark seconded.  Roll call vote: Mark-yes, Bill-yes, Jeanne-yes.

Reviewed payroll/expense warrants.

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

Documents discussed at meeting:

  • Letter from Andrew Madden, District Manager of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, regarding beaver dam off Tyringham Road.
  • Letter and photos from Karen Karlberg regarding public safety hazard at 2727 Jacobs Ladder Road.
  • 2011 Annual Report of the Westfield River Wild & Scenic Advisory Committee.
  • Massachusetts Stream Crossing Handbook.