Members present: Mark Karlberg, William Elovirta, Jeanne Pryor
Others Present: Joseph Kellogg, Colleen O’Connor, Beth VanNess, Meredyth Babcock, Cindy DelPapa
7:00 PM Meeting opened.
Mark asked if anyone was recording the meeting. No one is recording the meeting other than the Select Board.
Mark advised that the format for the Select Board meetings has changed. Public input has moved down on the agenda and he explained that during the agenda there will be no public input unless the Select Board asks a question of someone in the audience.
Bill motioned to approve the minutes of February 6, 2013, Jeanne seconded. All in favor. Bill motioned to approve the minutes of February 15, 2013, Jeanne seconded. All in favor. Jeanne motioned to approve the minutes of the Executive Session of February 6, 2013, Bill seconded. All in favor. Mark advised that because the litigation is still ongoing, the minutes would not be released.
Joe explained the 2nd Amendment to the Agreement by and Between the Town of Becket and the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission. Jeanne motioned to sign the 2nd Amendment to the Agreement By and Between the Town of Becket and the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, Bill seconded. All in favor.
Joe advised that the IRS changed the mileage rate in January 2013 to 56.5 cents per mile and that towns generally go with this amount for employees using their own vehicles. Bill motioned to approve the IRS mileage rate of 56.5 cents per mile, Jeanne seconded. All in favor.
The Select Board reviewed the letter sent to Senator Downing from Jeffrey Reel regarding the Beaver Dam on State Property in Becket. Joe advised that the Select Board encouraged Mr. Reel to send a letter to Senator Downing about what transpired at the Select Board meeting with the Department of Fish and Wildlife and this is the letter he sent.
The Select Board reviewed the invitation to the Berkshire County Selectmen’s Association Dinner Meeting on Thursday, April 4, 2013 at the Wahconah Country Club in Dalton. Nina will need to know who will be attending this meeting so she can make the reservation.
The Select Board reviewed the monthly reports of the Ambulance Department, Police Department and Citations Issued.
Select Board’s Comments and Announcements: None.
Town Administrator’s Report: Joe advised that he looked into the Conboy property that Karen Karlberg wrote a letter about to see what was going on. First he spoke with Bill Girard, the Zoning Enforcement Officer, about the Conboy’s bringing in material on their property. Mr. Girard advised that the town does not have a bylaw that prohibits anyone from having fill brought on their property. He also advised that there is no bylaw that prohibits a person from clearing their property. Joe also advised that he spoke with someone from Mass DOT and the Conboy’s have a commercial permit so there is no issue with trucks going to and from this property. He also spoke with a forester from DCR about clear cutting property and was told that if someone takes over a certain amount of trees
down which amounts to ten truck loads then they are required to file a cutting plan but commercial properties are exempt from having to file cutting plans. Joe advised that he spoke with Bill Girard about possible conservation issues and was told that this property is not near any wetlands or in a flood plain so there is really nothing they can do to stop what is being done on this property. Joe will write a letter to Karen Karlberg explaining what he found out.
Joe reminded the Select Board about the Special Town Meeting that is scheduled on March 20, 2013.
Joe advised that he spoke with Jim Huebner, a Selectman from the Town of Washington, about attending a meeting to discuss fire protection, ambulance protection and vocational transportation. He feels that the town should have an intermunicipal agreement with the Town of Washington that covers all these items. Jim Huebner advised that the Select Board meets every Monday evening so he and Bill could attend any of these meetings. Joe advised that if Jeanne or Mark wanted to attend this meeting it would need to be posted so they will need to let him know if they wish to attend.
Joe advised that the gas issue at the highway garage has been resolved. He would like to thank the Town of Washington for assisting the town by allowing the highway department to fill a fifty gallon tank so the town could operate until the issue was resolved. The Town will pay them for the gas but he would like to send a letter thanking the Town of Washington for their assistance.
Joe advised that the Schedule A form that the DOR was looking for has been filed. Amy Lane came in and assisted the town accountant with this so it could be completed and sent in.
Joe advised that he received the letter from DEP about the town hall water system. It is more involved then he was led to believe. The biggest issue was how Berkshire Enviro-Labs completes its testing and they will be submitting an updated plan to DEP about this. One other issue was that the wellhead was missing a couple of bolts. These will be replaced. Also, the wellhead has been covered and marked better so the plow does not hit it during a snow storm. If the wellhead ever gets hit by a plow, the town would need to drill another well because the old one would be contaminated. A guardrail will be put in place to prevent a plow from hitting the wellhead.
Joe advised that the Town Administrator Search Committee met tonight and there are 20 applications and there are some qualified people that have applied. He advised that if there is no one in the 20 applications that is qualified to be the new town administrator then they would need to go out again. He feels they should not appoint someone just for the sake of filling this position. They need to appoint someone who they feel can do the job and do it effectively.
Public Input: Colleen O’Connor advised that when calling the town hall now there is no mention of the secretary and she feels that there should be something that tells the caller how to reach her. Joe advised that when they initially set up the automated phone system, Nina set up the system with the secretary as a contact but it did not mention the Selectmen so he had her change the phone message so people would know how to contact the Select Board. Joe proposed that the phone message be changed to advise callers that if they would like to contact the Select Board or Secretary to dial 10.
Colleen O’Connor was also upset that the Select Board appointed someone to the conservation commission that is a board of health member. She has called the attorney general today about this and would also like to know what the difference between a regular Select Board meeting and a working Select Board meeting is. Joe explained what the difference is and also explained that the reason they appointed someone during a working meeting was that the original meeting that they were going to make this appointment was cancelled due to the lack of a quorum. The conservation commission would not have a quorum for its next meeting unless they appointed someone. She advised that this gives the appearance of being unethical which is not good. Meredyth Babcock advised that Cindy DelPapa is interested
in being on the Conservation Commission. Joe advised that she should submit a letter of interest to the Select Board and if there is another opening she would be considered.
Meredyth Babcock addressed the Board about the property that the US Fish and Wildlife Service is interested in purchasing from the town. She knew the Select Board had questions about the management of this property. She gave the Select Board a copy of a letter from the spokesman for the Haddam Neck Spirit who spoke very highly of the USF&WS that is managing property in the Pine Brook and Salmon River Watersheds which feed directly into the Connecticut River. She also gave the Board information about Andrew French who received the Paul Kroegel Refuge Manager of the Year Award. She feels he would be an excellent land manager for this property. Briefly discussed the problems that might occur if this property is opened to the public. Some feel that our emergency departments will
constantly have to rescue people on this property. Cindy DelPapa advised that she has done some research about contamination on property and found that the town would not be responsible for any contamination that occurred on an adjacent property even if this contamination migrated to this property.
Any other business: Joe advised that at one of the working meetings the Board had the North Becket property was discussed and the Board decided that it would take a vote to determine whether to pursue this property sale or not. He would like to know what the Board wants to do so he can have something for the Annual Town Meeting. Bill feels that if there is no public access to the property then he is against the sale of this property to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Jeanne feels that the town should pursue this with Andrew French because he was the one who spoke about the possible land purchase that would offer public access to this property. Jeanne also feels that it would be good to have this property managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. If the town sold this property, one use for the
money the town would get would be to put it toward Affordable Senior Housing. Jeanne motioned to ask that Joe follow up with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to see if the public access issue is resolved, Mark seconded. Jeanne and Mark voted yes, Bill voted no. Motion passed. It was decided that this property would be called the West Branch North Becket Property so everyone knows which property they are referring to.
Joe advised that the Select Board needs to take a position on the article for the Special Town Meeting on March 20, 2013. Bill motioned that the Select Board take a position of approving the article for the Special Town Meeting on March 20, 2013, Jeanne seconded. All in favor.
Joe advised that there is a State Law that allows the Select Board to designate certain boards and committees as special municipal employees so that a person could act on more than one board. Since there is an issue with Laurel Burgwardt serving on both the Conservation Commission and the Board of Health, Joe recommends that the Select Board vote to designate both as special municipal employees. He also advised that the Select Board could vote to revoke this at any time if they wish. Jeanne motioned to designate the Conservation Commission and the Board of Health as Special Municipal Employees, Bill seconded. All in favor.
Briefly discussed performance appraisals. The Select Board do not feel Joe should do any department head appraisals since he has only been here a short time but they feel the department heads could do performance appraisals on their employees. Jeanne advised that the Board has not completed reviewing the job descriptions and they also need to work on the Wage and Benefit Agreements so they are more in line with the Employee Handbook. This can be done at a future working meeting.
Nina advised that Maddy Elovirta submitted her resignation from the police department effective immediately. The Board accepted her resignation and signed a letter of thanks to her for her many years of service.
Nina advised that the CBRSD office administrators would like to meet with the Select Board and Finance Committee sometime in late winter or early spring so the Select Board should pick a couple of dates and Nina will check to see which one works best. The Select Board would like to see if they could attend the March 20th or April 3rd meeting.
Jeanne advised that when she was at the Senior Affordable Housing Advisory Committee meeting Pat Mullins, of BRPC, suggested that the town ask for $15,000 for grant writing services. The CDBG will be ending on June 30, 2013 so the town could apply for another grant and this money would go towards writing a new grant. Jeanne also advised that Pat suggested that there be a standing Senior Affordable Housing Committee so they could continue planning for this. Joe will speak with the Finance Committee about this but he suggested asking for $9,000 instead of the $15,000. Meredyth Babcock also advised that the CPA fund could be used for this type of thing as a matching fund.
8:07 PM Jeanne motioned to adjourn, Bill seconded. All in favor.
Reviewed payroll/expense warrants.
Respectfully submitted, _______________________________
Nina Weiler, Secretary Mark L. Karlberg, Chairman
Documents discussed at meeting:
- 2nd Amendment to the Agreement by and Between the Town of Becket and the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission