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Selectmen's Minutes 2010/11/29

7:00 PM Town Office Meeting Room
Monday, November 29, 2010

Present: Fred Gallup Chairman, William Roach Vice Chairman, Charlotte Brown, Emma Smith, Stephen White, Donna Nashawaty, Town Manager

Also Present: See Sign-in Sheet

Chairman Gallup opened the meeting at 7:00PM  

Tony Bergeron-High Street Petition
Tony Bergeron explained the work that would be done to reconfigure the intersection of Route 103B and High Street to slow the flow of traffic turning onto High Street. The funds for the improvements would be taken out of 2011 highway budget. The total cost including hot top, signs, loam and seeds would be $3,000.  Motion to accept the project and the work to be done next summer by Selectman Roach, seconded by Selectman Brown. 4 in Favor. 1 Abstain.

Public Comments
Spec Bowers, the newly elected State Representative updated the Board on the happenings at the state and county levels.

Selectmen Action
•Motion to sign the Georges Mills Route 11 Project Municipal Work Zone Agreement by Selectman White, seconded By Selectman Roach. All in Favor
•Motion to accept the reappointment of Aaron Simpson to the UVLSRPC by Selectman Roach, seconded by Selectman White. All in Favor
•Motion to authorize the Chairman to sign the Use of Facilities form for the Sunapee Harbor Magic Celebration this Saturday, December 4th in Sunapee Harbor, also add the Looney Lunge by Selectman White, seconded by Selectman Brown. All in Favor.

2011 Budget Review
•Chairman Spec Bowers reviewed the concerns that the Budget Advisory Committee had with 3 areas of the 2011 budget. The 3 areas were:
  • Town report; reducing the cost of mailing and the amount of copies printed. Donna Nashawaty passed out a breakdown associated with reducing the costs to print and mail the Town Report to the Board.
  • The Police Department Vehicle Financing Agreement; in favor of the idea, but a suggestion would be that in the first year it be a warrant article, thereafter a regular budget line item.   
  •  The paving line item; the amount is $100,000 and the thought is that instead of a one inch paving, it should be 2 inch paving, which would last longer. Tony Bergeron stated that the paving line item was reduced from $140,000 and the comment was that the Town was not putting enough money in the budget to maintain the asphalt roads; it was not relevant to the thickness of the paving.     
Chairman Bowers felt the committee did not have enough information to comment on the warrants at this time.
•Donna Nashawaty presented a quote from Robert Jones for a new heating system at the Town Offices; the price of the system would be removed from operating budget and paid for out of the capital reserve maintenance of buildings. It would be done in the spring and reduce the budget by $11,600. •Motion to authorize to expend $11,600 from capital reserve building maintenance fund for new furnace by Selectman White, seconded by Selectman Brown, All in Favor.
•Scott Blewitt, Recreation Director started off by thanking the Sunapee Board of Selectmen, Highway Dept., Police, Fire and Rescue Squad for their help and support with the 4th annual Turkey Trot, which had 813 runners and 100 Chicken Runners participate. Last year the Recreation Dept. presented a warrant article for $25,000 to upgrade the athletic fields, which failed by 1 vote. Scott Blewitt wants to make sure the Board of Selectmen is “onboard” so this warrant article can get passed this year. The focus this year will be on upgrading Veterans Field, which has issues regarding improper drainage. Scott received estimates from Mark Usko totaling $33,714.84. Since there was a question on field usage, Scott Blewitt passed out a schedule for the 4 fields, 2 located and maintained by the High School and 2 owned by the Town and maintained by the Recreation Dept. The goal of the Recreation Dept. is to maintain the existing fields, before they explore additional new fields. Donna Nashawaty asked if the Recreation Dept. talked about creating a capital reserve fund for the fields or actually putting the warrant article to fix the drainage problem at Veterans Field. In response, Scott Blewitt said the committee is looking for the Board’s guidance. This particular year the focus is fixing Veterans field, the Turkey Trot was such a success that the Recreation and Turkey Trot Committees that the profits from the race will go towards improvements (dugouts) at Dewey Field. Donna Nashawaty asked if the committee wanted to put on a warrant article in the amount of $34,000 to do this project, which Scott replied yes. Scott Blewitt again asked the Board and BAC for their support on this article. Selectman Brown asked if the committee was not going to create a capital reserve fund with $35,000 in it and then expend $34,000 immediately. Scott Blewitt replied that would be his preferred method, but was looking at what the Board’s preference is. Selectman White noted that if the warrant article was for fixing the drainage on Veterans Field and $1,000 was left over, the committee would not be able to buy a backstop with the remaining money. Donna Nashawaty wanted to explain the legal part, which is, establishing the guidelines around the question to the Board; there is a warrant article to raise and appropriate $35,000 to establish a capital reserve fund for maintenance of recreational fields with the Board of Selectmen as agents to expend. The other option is to put a warrant article to raise and appropriate $34,000 to replace the drainage on Veterans Field. In Chairman Gallup’s opinion, a specific project on the warrant would stand a better chance of passing, then an open ended capital reserve fund. Chairman Gallup thought the best option would be putting a warrant article for the specific project, Selectman White agreed. Selectman Brown asked how much money was available in the Recreation fund that could be put towards this project.

Scott Blewitt replied that there was the Recreation Revolving Fund, which had approximately $20,000 left in it; there are still outstanding Turkey Trot bills to pay. This fund is also used for the start-up of the beach, uniforms, etc. Donna Nashawaty explained the definition of the Recreation Revolving Fund; as a fund to pay for programs. The only fees that can go into it are fees resulting from programs. Selectman Brown would not want to drain the fund, but use some of it to offset the warrant article to make it a more passable article. Selectman Smith feels the parents, who are voters would support a specific warrant article, instead of asking for a lump of money that’s put in the Revolving Fund. Scott Blewitt said that this year the committee has a focus to fix the drainage at Veterans Field with this money. Selectman Smith stressed that Scott Blewitt needed to explain this article at the Deliberation Session to the parents whose kids use the fields. Chairman Gallup wanted to say that he thinks a capital reserve fund would be appropriate as a fund that can be drawn on for larger maintenance projects or eventually a new facility. Chairman Gallup feels in the future, a capital reserve fund with how much should be put in annually, carefully thinking about who will expend and what it will be used for.  
•Selectman White expressed a concern regarding the pay step raises and the colas that are in the 2011 budget. Selectman White stated that he spoke with the Chief Financial Officer of New London Hospital and also some other folks in the community at large, in Selectman White’s opinion the Board should seriously consider doing something with the present budget. Chairman Gallup agreed. According to Selectman White, New London Hospital is not a single raise this year and they’re cutting way back. Selectman White thinks that the Board should talk about not giving any step raises or colas this year. Selectman White would like the Board to take another look at the 2011 budget and see if they can do something that might affect the tax rate a little better. Selectman White talked about the pay scale of the employees of the Information Booth and thought the Town should consider turning the wages over to the businesses in the Town of Sunapee and let the businesses carry the burden. The Town would maintain the building, but this action would save the Town $10,000. Selectman White even suggested the Board of Selectmen take a 10% cut in their pay. Chairman Gallup said he was also going to bring up employee step raises and colas. Chairman Gallup believes the Board has 3 choices; leave the budget the way it was presented, another year of no cola (employees did not receive a cola in 2010) or freeze the pay table and allow the cola of 1.5%. Donna Nashawaty stated that when the budget was presented the Northeast CPI-U (consumer price index urban) was 1.2%, but the Board has always used the October CPI-U figure, which is 1.5%. Donna Nashawaty was going to ask the Board to add $7,000 to the overall pay table. Selectman White said he also feels the CPI-U at the gas pumps, in heating bills and at the grocery store, but no one else is getting a cola. Selectman Brown stated that a lot of the area businesses are not giving out raises this year, and most do not get an automatic step increase. Selectman Brown also stated that there was no increase in Social Security and President Obama is freezing the federal government salaries, except the military, for 2 years, so everyone is getting hit. Selectman Brown is not sure how far the Board should go with that; it’s kind of a drastic measure for the Board, but the Board needs make a decision, not tonight, but certainly think about it.

Betty Ramspott wanted to clarify that employees do not get automatic raises, only if they are doing a good job. Chairman Gallup asked if there was an employee who did not get a positive review; Donna Nashawaty responded that there was 1 employee. Chairman Gallup said that he appreciates the employees that the Town has; the fact that there was only one employee with an unsatisfactory review basically testifies that the Town has good employees. Chairman Gallup went on to say that during the course of his tenure, last year was the first time the employees did not receive a cola. But, there have been a couple of times when the adjustment or raise in the pay was consumed by the adjustment that the employee contributed to their health insurance. Chairman Gallup agrees with Selectman White and feels that the Board needs to freeze at least the pay table and probably consider not adding the cola as well. Chairman Gallup hates to suggest this, as our own, we’re dealing with people’s livelihood, their ability to pay their bills and their live their lives, but the way the world is today, it’s not as good as it’s been in a long time. Selectman Roach somewhat agreed with Chairman Gallup and like to reward the Town employees because he thinks the Town is fortunate to have the caliber of people the Town has, but on the other hand Selectman Roach is not crying poverty, but gave an example; he retired 23 years ago and his pension amount is the same as 23 years ago, no cost of living or increase since the day he retired. There has also not been a cola with Social Security in 2 years. Chief David Cahill asked the Board what their goal was. It was Chief Cahill understanding that the Town budget was up .7%, which is less than 1%. As a department head, Chief Cahill tried to keep the costs down. Chief Cahill is concerned about the ripple effect, and would suggest if the Board forgo or froze any raises that it would be the step raises, as oppose to the cost of living. Chief Cahill stated that the cost of living raises are a fair raise across the Board to everybody and affect the bottom line of that employee’s raise, which is about $1,400-$1,800 per year, which is a couple of dollars a week. Chief Cahill didn’t want to show any disrespect, but it sounds like we’re “living large” in Sunapee as an employee, starting patrol officers are in the middle across the state, that also goes for the Highway and Fire Departments. No one is living large here. Chief also went on to say that he would be impressed with all the employees that got positive reviews. It goes with what the Board has been saying that the Town has great employees who give here. Regarding only the police department, Chief Cahill stated that his retired police officers who also retired 20 years ago, on a pension have not gotten a raise; it’s the same situation as some of the members on the Board. Chief Cahill is also worried that his officers will find out that town X, Y or Z will pay a little bit more money and pay more towards medical and the officer will leave. Chief Cahill is worried about filling the position, which across the country police departments is having a tough time filling the positions with qualified employees. Chief Cahill feels that this is the XY generation who ask “what more can you do for me?” is a terrible generation for employment. Chief Cahill also feels that if the Town has good employees that the Town needs to keep them. It will be the same in the private sector, as in the public sector, it’s a balance back and fore.

As Town (government) employees, we have secure pensions, that in the hard times Town employees look a little more lucrative than the private sector does, but in good times when private businesses flourish and products are being sold, the Town stays the same, but not in the private sector, the more they sell, the more employees they have, the more their business becomes lucrative, maybe not the last couple of years has that been the situation, but it’s a big round world and to look at it tonight and say .7% for the entire Town budget, is ridiculous to freeze everyone’s raises, ( Correction of .6% by Selectman White) to look and it and say “tough luck you’re going to have to feel the pain”, that’s a terrible statement. That’s a terrible statement for your employees who have been doing great jobs. In Chief Cahill’s opinion, to try and find a qualified person, even with a college degree, and put them in a uniform, is a challenge. Chief Cahill wondered if there might be another issue relative to Selectman Whites conversation about New London Hospital, so their employees would not be getting raises this year, maybe they have a goal in mind, what is the goal here? Selectman White stated that he represents the Town of Sunapee; Chief Cahill responded that he did too! Selectman White said that his responsibly to the taxpayers is the health and safety to the Town and the responsibly of controlling the budget. Selectman White stated that this was his 9th budget and the budget has been held level almost every year. According to Selectman White, when you take the private sector and compare it to the public sector in this country, the studies show that for every single level of work, public sector make more than private sectors. Chief Cahill stated that all the department heads came in working side by side to bring the in a smaller budget and think they also had the taxpayer in mind. Chief Cahill wondered how many employees in the private sector get a bad review, the Town should be fortune that they have such good employees, Chairman Gallup agreed. Chairman Gallup stated he is exposed to the potential employees and agrees that it is quite a challenge to fill positions even in the recreational industry. Chairman Gallup stated that for many years the Board has done exceptionally well with the budgets; very steady, very even and things have been streamlined. Chairman Gallup has had taxpayers tell him that the Town of Sunapee has never had a budget that’s gone down. Chairman Gallup told them that the Board is trying to maintain the level of services to the Town, which the taxpayers appreciate, but the budget still never goes down. It would be great if the budget did go down. Chairman Gallup doesn’t mean to pick on the employees, but this is one place that everyone is seeing their pay or benefits backed off, the taxpayers looking in say a year doesn’t go by when the municipal workers don’t get a raise. The goal of the Board is to be able to tell the taxpayers that the Town employees didn’t get a raise this year and that the budget didn’t go up, but went down this year. This is something over the course of Chairman Gallup’s time on the Board that has never happened. Donna Nashawaty wanted to share some material about private sector employees vs. public sector employees. A reference was made to New London Hospital at a meeting she attended earlier that day; the salary range that they threw out for the ambulance worker; out of 95 Town employees on the pay table, only 21 make within that range. That may have something to do with not giving out raises this year.

A statement can not be made until you find out where they fall on the pay table. Donna Nashawaty stated in this particular year the discussion was ambulances and the hospital has passed off that cost to the Town of Sunapee to support the loss to the hospital, Donna Nashawaty said that last year the employees took less money then the year before because of the increase in the health insurance premium and no cola.  Donna Nashawaty just wants to make sure everyone is saying the same thing. Betty Ramspott commented that before coming to work at the Town that she worked in the private sector for 25 years. Betty Ramspott went on to say that when the business had good years she would get a great raise, in the bad years she didn’t. But, in the 14 years working for the Town the raises have been flat. Betty Ramspott thinks that if the Board looks at the big picture and not just this year, but the past 2 years, everything evens out in the long run. Just to back Chief Cahill up, Betty Ramspott stated that she only has 1 employee, but she’s a very good employee. It’s very hard with this generation to find an employee you can depend on; some just don’t have the drive like we do; once we get a good employee if we can keep things steady every year. Over the last 14 years Betty Ramspott raises have been minimal, but steady, not up and down like the private sector, but a very level playing field. Chief Cahill realizes that the Board has a tough decision; they have the employees and taxpayers to worry about. Chief Cahill would suggest if the Board has to cut raises that they cut the step raises and allow the colas, which affect everyone across the Board fairly and equally, plus it maintains the pay scale the Selectmen established a couple of years ago, it keeps it moving. This way it won’t cost the Town more money 2 years down the road when the economy is better and everyone is underpaid and the Town plays catch-up. Chief Cahill reminded the Board that they have always said they don’t want to be the highest or lowest, but somewhere in the middle, which is where they are. Chairman Gallup would like the Board to take all the comments and testimony and digest it and come back to the pay issue at the December 13th Board of Selectmen’s meeting.

•Police Department Vehicle Leasing Program; Chairman Gallup thoughts are that it is an appropriate way to go. The police vehicles are a little different than the other fleets, not as expensive as the Highway or Fire Department equipment. Chairman Gallup went on to say, as far as putting on the budget as a warrant article, Chairman Gallup likes the idea of giving the voters the chance to have a say, but then again the Board needs to take a little bit of responsibility in making the decision. Donna Nashawaty explained if it goes on the warrant article, a 3 year lease is signed, and if the warrant article fails the operating budget will need to be increased for maintenance. If it’s put in the operating budget, in any of the next 2 sequential years if the budget doesn’t pass and the default budget gets passed, the Board of Selectmen will have to figure out where to get the money to make the lease payments from the operating budget that passed as default because it will not be included in the default budget.
•Selectman White, Chief Dan Ruggles and Donna Nashawaty attended a meeting on Monday afternoon with the seven towns who use the ambulance service and New London Hospital. A suggestion was made by Jessie Levine, New London Town Administrator, to fund a study to see what options the seven towns have.

The hospital wants to be out of this contract by January 2012 and the 3 options are to find out how to fund the existing service, the hospital bows out and transfer the service or use a lower level of training on the ambulances to cut the cost down, all ambulance have paramedics on board. The amount to fund the study would be $20,000, of which the hospital is willing to pay half. The Town of Sunapee would be responsible for $1,996 from this year’s budget. Donna Nashawaty will take half out of the manager’s budget and Chief Ruggles will take the other half out of the Fire Department budget.

Selectman White asked the Board to approve the study and give the Town Manager and Chief Ruggles permission to expend the money for the study. Also have the Board appoint a representative for the study committee. Motion to expend half the money from the Town Manager budget and half the money from the Sunapee Fire Department, total amount $1,996, to fund the study Selectman White, seconded by Selectman Roach. All in Favor. Selectman Emma Smith will be the primary contact and Chief Dan Ruggles, the alternate contact, to represent the Town of Sunapee on the ambulance study committee.
•Transfer Station Monitoring; there is $10,000 in the budget and it’s been since 2008 that $10,000 was actually spent. Chairman Gallup would like to see that dropped to $7,000. Donna Nashawaty stated that the line item was reduced from $10,000 to $9,000 for the 2011 budget. The testing is required by the Department of Environmental Services.
•The street lights are budget for $39,000, there’s a possible reduction of $4,000 for the removed lights. Tony Bergeron has given PSNH a list of the proposed street lights the Town agreed should be removed. The Board agreed to remove the $4,000.

Town Manager Report
•Donna Nashawaty has 3 meeting dates that need to be set.
Wastewater Upgrade Presentation – December 13th at 7:15PM
Board of Selectmen Meeting W/ Riverway December 6th at 1:00PM
Legislator’s Reception December 13th at 5:00PM, Common Man in Claremont
•Donna Nashawaty will be preparing a packet with the changes to the budget that were made tonight.

9:29PM-A Motion was made by Selectman White to go into non public session under RSA 91-A: 3, II(c). The motion was seconded by Selectman Smith and Roll Call vote approved unanimous.

Donna Nashawaty had sent a letter to the Chairman of the Sunapee Board of Selectmen regarding the notice of automatic renewal of her contract. The Board discussed letting the contract automatically renew, but felt they would like to make a positive statement.
A motion to renew Donna Nashawaty contract by Selectman White, seconded by Selectman Smith. All in Favor.
A motion to not seal the minutes by Selectman White, seconded by Selectman Roach.

9:33PM- The Board returned from non public session

Meeting adjourned at 9:35PM

Submitted by,
Barbara Vaughn
Administrative Assistant                                


____________________                            ______________________
Frederick Gallup, Chairman                      Charlotte Brown

_________________________                       _______________________         
William Roach, Vice-Chairman                    Stephen White

Emma M. Smith