Municipal Departments

Town Office Hours:
Monday-Thursday
8:30 am - 4 pm
Closed 12:30 - 1:00
Friday: 8:30 - 12:30

Town Clerk's Office Hours:
Monday-Thursday:
8:30am-3:45 pm
Closed 12:30 - 1:00
Fridays: 8:30am-12:30pm
First Saturday of the month:
8:30-10:45am

125 Main Street, Suite 200
Littleton, NH 03561
Phone: 603.444.3996
Fax: 603.444.1703

Sep 11, 2017

Board of Selectmen Minutes - Sept. 11, 2017


MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2017
5:00 PM
COMMUNITY CENTER HEALD ROOM
120 MAIN STREET, LITTLETON, NH
 

Present:  Town Manager Andrew Dorsett, Chairman Schuyler Sweet, V. Chairman Franco Rossi, Selectman Milton Bratz, Executive Secretary Ceil Stubbings

 

Others Present:  Erin Hennessey, Rudy Gelsi, The Courier, Robert Blechl (The Caledonian Record), Jeff Cousins, Dave Ernsberger, Kathy Dorisky, Ralph Hodgman, Chief Joe Mercieri (Littleton FD), Joe DePalma (Public Works Director)

 

Sweet called the meeting to order at 5:00PM.

 

Pledge of Allegiance

 

Appointments:

Erin Hennessey (State Representative) – 2018 Legislative Process

Erin stated that we are in the second year of the two-year cycle.  In the first year we passed the budget.  She was moved from the public works committee to the finance committee.  She was able to see the budget process.  It also kept her down in Concord four days a week.  SB38 passed which is great for Littleton.  It resulted in approximately $151,000 for bridge and road improvements.  Unfortunately, one of the bills that Littleton and Bethlehem asked her to sponsor HB118 did not pass.  That was related to petition warrant articles.  The main reason it did not pass was because it was felt the select board should be more responsive to the citizens She would be happy to sponsor it again but she does not think it would pass this coming year.  SB191 is the Keanu/Kindergarten bill.  Littleton should start seeing a significant increase in education funding starting next year.  This is very good news because the kindergarten class is quite large.  The funding is a year in arrears and is a minimum of $1,100 per pupil up to $1,800 depending on how much Keanu funds are brought in.  Any new legislation can be put in through the end of next week.  If you have any thoughts or ideas that you want her to know about ideally it would not be fund related because the budget has already passed.  Most of the time the legislature will not pass anything with a dollar ticket in the second year.  She is chairing a demographic study committee to see if any legislative or administrative changes should be put in place to address New Hampshire’s changing demographics.  We have a decreasing working population and an increasing retiring population.  We are looking at all of the problems that might bring to the state.  DHHS is approximately half of the state budget.  What is going to happen to their budget with an increased aging population.  What is going to happen to tax revenues with a decrease in the working population.  What will happen to our college and university system?  Is there anything that we can put into place that takes into account ten years or twenty years down the road.  A lot of times the legislature is very short sighted because it is only a two-year cycle.  We are going to try and be very proactive about this.  We are meeting through November first.  Sweet asked Erin to provide her contact details should anyone want to contact her.   Erin said her phone number is 603-991-7572. 

 

Town Manager’s Report:

Chief Joe Mercieri – Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program – Accept & Expend

Chief Mercieri stated that on Friday he was notified the department has been awarded a grant in the amount of $124,000.  The town share would be 5% for the purpose of purchasing self-contained breathing apparatus.  That equates to nineteen breathing apparatus units.  Sweet asked if this would cover the cost.  Mercieri said yes and that this is the second attempt to acquire this grant.  Mercieri told the board he would like their blessing and permission to accept the grant and to expend the funds.  Sweet said they would vote under board action. 

 

Jeff Cousins – Shilling Oktoberfest – September 23, 2017 – Noon to 11:00 PM

Jeff Cousins was present to request to block off the river walk path to the south side of the river.  It would begin on the 22nd and go through the 24th. Blocks would be up from 4:00 PM on Friday and come down on Sunday at 8:00 AM.  It’s about public safety and compliance.  We have alerted both the fire and police chiefs.  Sweet said they would vote on it at the action section of the meeting. 

 

DOT Block Grant Aid Lump Sum Payment $151,304.77 Designated Road Repairs       

Andrew Dorsett said the Town received funds for road/bridge repairs.   We have had input from the public works department and some of the plow drivers.  Joe DePalma is here to provide us with the proposed work we are going to do with those funds. DePalma said they identified the worst roads in Town.  He then read the list as follows:  Tuck Lane, Rock Strain and Heather Lane.  Mount Eustis road made the list as well.  It is a high use road and has some areas that are very hard to maintain.  We don’t propose do all of Mount Eustis Road but have identified certain sections.  We also want to work on Burchcroft Road along with several others.  Bratz said there is a list put together every year.  Bratz said Farr Hill is not on the list and needs repairs.  He walked it in February and has seen the road split in the middle.  Aside from that we have had three managers before you that came up with other lists.  It is not so much a criticism but as an observation is that once a manager leaves a new list is created.  Three years ago he said this particular road needed to be fixed now.  Some roads get put on the list and then get kicked down.  This list is fine, but he would ask that they be looked at and get some guidance on which roads they should look at.  DePalma said Farr Hill Road has received sixty-six tons of asphalt this year.  DePalma said he has seen all of the lists and the Town Manager would like a five-year plan.   The list would be provided to the board and the budget committee for their review and approval.  Rossi said he was not opposed to approving a list as long as it did not tie the Town’s hands.  Things change and he would hate to see the public works department not be able to do what they know is best.  Dorsett said the list would be updated every year.  Rossi asked if there were any other roads like Elm Street that fall in the same category.  DePalma said there are three other roads that need a band aid fix.  DePalma said he kept Foster Hill Road off the list because he thinks it will be a warrant article.   

 

 

Leave Time Buyout

Dorsett said this is an annual thing we do each year to reduce overtime and pay out our leave time liability.  Rossi asked how this worked.  Dorsett said employees have the option to sell the time.  The time frame is October 1st through December 1st

 

Municipal Cyber Security

Dorsett said we use Secure Network Systems.  Kevin Lowe was present to provide an explanation of SNS’s services to the Town.  Lowe said the security is in overall pretty good shape.  After a brief presentation, Lowe explained that typically when there is an issue, it applies to not having an appropriate budget for security.  More often than not any cyber security incident costs more to fix than to prevent it.  

 

Sub-2 Sewer Collection System – Allocation of Sewer Maintenance Funds

Dorsett said this would get us on the calendar for a 2020 construction project.  The Sub2 study preliminary engineer report needs to be started this fall in order to be on time for the grant monies that will be available.  Dorsett is asking the board is to consider taking the 9% maintenance funds that are added to the sewer bills, to take the funds from the 2017 period and dedicate a portion to the bill for the study.  We estimated somewhere between $80,000 and $90,000 would be coming in and the cost of the study is $58,000.  Once we apply for RD funding and the clean water state revolving funds they will take the actual cost of the study and roll it into their program. The clean water is a 12.5% reimbursement and the rural development can be up to 45% reimbursement.  At this point we would be allocating the $58,000 of the sewer maintenance fund to this project. Bratz thought the sewer project was supposed to start this summer.  Dorsett said they needed to approve the bond, select an engineer, but before we could choose an engineer we had to find the funding to offset the cost to the sewer users.  There was a conversation earlier this year where we talked about moving forward with Sub5.  Initially we wanted to use the USDA rural development fund but they indicated that Littleton’s debt was too low.  The engineers submitted their RFQ’s for our consideration.  We reviewed those on August 31st.  This is large project.  The final engineering for Sub5 should happen over the winter.  Rossi asked Joe DePalma if he supported using the 9% sewer fund for the engineering.  Rossi said his question is was this money going to be used for something else.  What is going to be neglected if we use that money.  Dorsett said this money is set aside for purposes like this or to make unanticipated repairs.  Dorsett said there is money there from previous years.  He did not want to commit those funds to this project.  DePalma said he has been kept in the loop and he has been working with the engineers.  DePalma said he supports this. 

 

Bratz asked about the Opera House insulation, is there a bid out there.  Dorsett said we received two bids and we put them before the Energy Conservation Committee.  We will award the contract next Tuesday or Wednesday. 

 

Bratz said he had another item, it is not a criticism but he was concerned with the wording of the August 14th minutes.  Bratz said he just wanted to clarify something regarding this section of the August 14th minutes as shown below:

 

School/Town & Budget Committee Meeting Schedule

Dorsett said that Article 8 of the school warrant requested the school board, select board and the budget committee do some kind of coordination meeting to better communicate throughout the year.  In response to that representatives from each one of those groups have gotten together and we really just got together to talk about representation.  We talked about collaboration with fuel purchased and coordination of our school payments.  We plan to get together at some point in September and review our potential unreserved fund balance and to talk about the MS1 and the Utilities Valuation because that has a large impact on our tax rate. 

We also plan on getting together in January. 

 

Dorsett explained he was trying to address another question.  There was a question as to whether they needed to notice these meetings that did not have a quorum of each entity.  Bratz said the warrant article was a directive to the school board to meet with the other two committees.  The issue is the warrant article telling the school to meet on a minimum of a quarterly basis with the board of selectmen and the budget committee.  Bratz said he was speaking as someone who signed the petition and as someone representing others who also signed the petition.  Sweet said there is no confusion.  We have been to council to know what our obligations are.  A meeting is scheduled and it has been legally noticed.  Dorsett read the language of the warrant article for clarification purposes:

 

Article 8 – Town – School Budget Meeting

To see if the School District shall vote to instruct the School Board to meet on a minimum of a quarterly basis with the Littleton Board of Selectmen and the Littleton Town/School Budget Committee to present financial and budget report, one meeting shall be on/or about September 30th of each year to publicly discuss the setting of the Tax Rate for the Town and School District and shall be held a minimum of 10 days prior to setting the tax rate by the State Department of Revenue Administration. 

 

Other Business:

October Meeting Schedule – Re:  Columbus Day Town Office Closed

The board agreed by consensus they will meet on October 10th

 

Milton Bratz – Dog Ordinance Informational Document – Chapter 3-A

Bratz stated the board approved an ordinance about a month ago to not allow dogs on the playing fields.  We have nine different playing fields.  The ordinance is a trespassing ordinance.  The signs were installed on September 1st.  They have to be up for fifteen days before the ordinance takes effect.  As of the 17th of September, the ordinance will be in effect.  What we will be doing for people who violate this ordinance, we are going to hand them a card that on the front of the card it states Canine Feces as a Public Health Hazard.  The card has other information that he had presented some months ago.  For those of us who are going to be deputized to hand these out and to write out the tickets, we would like to just be able to talk to people and educate them as to what the issue is here.  Bratz said he has personally had push back from dog owners who are using the parks.  They use the athletic fields to let their dogs run because they are fenced in.  As a selectman he has absolutely no interest in enforcing this.  As the health officer he is obligated to enforce this.  It is not a fun thing to find dog feces in the areas where preschooler’s play.  We feel it will take a while before we get the situation under control.

 

Old Business: 

White Mountain Airport Commission Appointment

Sweet said they advertised and they have one applicant to appoint under board action.

The applicant is Dave Ernsberger.  Dave submitted a resume with his letter of application. 

 

New Business:  None

 

Public Comments:

Ralph Hodgman had a couple of different things.  The warrant for the school board and town budget committee.  But there are only two people of the committee attending the meeting, why isn’t the whole committee invited.  Sweet said the chairman of the committee decided to do it that way.  Sweet said part of his thinking is not all of the budget committee and the board of selectmen and the school board will not be attending.  Sweet said the intent of the warrant was to get the school and the town to start communicating before the budget.  Sweet said the warrant article came out because of the surprise tax increase.  Hodgman said they have a difference of opinion. 

 

Hodgman asked about the sewer Sub sections.  Dorsett said we are only doing a study on Sub2.  Hodgman said you are really talking way into the future.  Hodgman said the roads are really getting bad.  The $151,000 is going to fix twelve roads to fix for one year and then tear them up all over again.  Hodgman said he sees a lot of tax dollars flying over his head.  Where is the money going to come from to fix the roads without putting the burden on the tax payers?  Dorsett said the sewer system is well over forty years old.  It has received very little long term maintenance and has had a lot of emergency repairs.  The USDA refused our grant application for a lack of investment.  In order to alleviate the tax payers as much as possible, we are trying to line up some major payment jobs and give some longevity to things like crack sealing and insuring proper drainage.  We are trying to meld those needs into a five or ten-year road plan that lines up with your sewer plan so that you don’t end up in a really difficult situation by the paving project winds up with the sewer project.  Dorsett said the USDA told him that if we looked into doing the whole sewer system for about twenty-four million dollars they would definitely look at that.  We also don’t have a lot of debt and that is another thing they look at.  The Town is not burdened with sewer debt and the sewer fund is in good shape.  It is because of our lack of long term planning in the past which we are trying to remedy.  Sweet said the way he looks at it is the $151,000 is a gift we did not expect.  It is not enough to do any road properly.  It is a band aid the way he looks at it to save our plows until the road can be done properly.  Hodgman said it is very short term, maybe one or two years.  Sweet said it was a gift so let’s use it.  Bratz told Hodgman they had $350,000 to $500,000 going forward each year in the budget for road repairs.  Hodgman said it was not enough to do the repairs, so the roads are never going to get repaired with the budget alone.  Bratz said if the roads were the only thing we had on the warrant it would be great but there are other things that compete with them. 

 

Rudy Gelsi said the Town needs to really get in touch with reality.  This is about Casella’s.  Casella has for the last five or six years has tried to get in touch with the Town Manager in regard to do some kind of curb side service in Littleton.  And according to the email he got he never heard of it and he has been to every meeting you guys have.  He never heard Casella being mentioned in saving tax payer money.  The transfer station we have now costs the tax payer money.  Because of that he received an email from the president of Casella.  They want to know why Littleton never put this project on the table to the taxpayer to save tax money.  Every time they make a proposal the Town always comes back to say they are not interested.  He wants to know why the Town Manager sweeps this aside when it would save a lot of money.  Dorsett said he met with them in 2015 for a request for proposal for a bio-solids removal at the waste water treatment plant.  We had the same contractor which was Casella’s for about ten years.  We went with a different contractor that gave us different sizes and saved us some money.  We talked about some other things.  We also talked about other services that could be provided.  We never received a hard quote.  Gelsi said that anyone that comes into Town and saves money he will not argue.  This has been going on for three or four years and the tax payers don’t know about it. 

 

Board Action:

Jeff Cousins – Shilling Oktoberfest – September 23, 2017 – Noon to 11:00 PM

Jeff Cousins requested to block off the river walk path to the south side of the river.  It would begin on the 22nd and go through the 24th. Blocks would be up from 4:00 PM on Friday and come down on Sunday at 8:00 AM.  It’s about public safety and compliance.  Bratz made the motion.  Rossi seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0. 

 

Chief Joe Mercieri – Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program – Accept & Expend

Chief Mercieri stated that on Friday he was notified the department has been awarded a grant in the amount of $124,000.  The town share would be 5% for the purpose of purchasing self-contained breathing apparatus.  Rossi made the motion to accept the grant.  Bratz seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0.

 

DOT Block Grant Aid Lump Sum Payment $151,304.77 Designated Road Repairs       

Bratz made the motion the board was in favor of the road repair plan.  Rossi seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0.

 

Leave Time Buyout

Bratz made the motion to approve.  Rossi seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0.

 

Sub-2 Sewer Collection System – Allocation of Sewer Maintenance Funds

Rossi made the motion to allocate $58,000 of sewer maintenance funds from 2017 for the study.

Bratz seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0.

 

Appoint candidate to White Mountain Airport Commission

Bratz made the motion to appoint Dave Ernsberger.  Rossi seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0.

Bratz said he would like to meet with Mr. Ernsberger sometime in the future to discuss the expansion of the airport. 

 

Approve the following minutes:

January 4, 2017 – CDBG Public Hearing - Bratz motion to approve.  Sweet second.  Passed 2-0.

January 30, 2017 – Board Meeting & Work Session- Bratz motion to approve. Sweet second. Fix last sentence.  Makes no sense.  Passed with amendment 2-0.

February 22, 2017 – Board of Assessors – Bratz motion to approve.  Sweet second.  Passed 2-0.

February 27, 2017 – Board Meeting – Bratz motion to approve.  Sweet second.  Passed 2-0.

 

Rudy Gelsi said the airport is not an airport it is a landing strip.  Sweet said it is not their decision what it is called.  Gelsi insisted it is not an airport.  Sweet asked him why he is bringing it up to the board of selectmen, you need to bring it up with the commission.  Gelsi then asked who is going to work the security for the October Fest.  Sweet said they provide their own security.  Rossi made the motion to adjourn.  Bratz seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0.  Meeting adjourned at 6:35 PM.