2010 Meeting Minutes and Agendas
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- Approved Non-Public Session Minutes Jun 28, 2010
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- Approved Budget Hearing Minutes Jan 18, 2010
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Board of Selectmen
Approved Bond Hearing Minutes Jan 18, 2010
LITTLETON BOARD OF SELECTMEN
LITTLETON HIGH SCHOOL CAFETERIA
159 OAK HILL AVENUE
MONDAY, JANUARY 18, 2010
6:00 PM BOND HEARING
Present: Chairman Eddy Moore, Vice Chairman Ed Boynton, Selectman Ron Bolt, Town Manager Chuck Connell, Finance Manager Karen Noyes, Executive Secretary Ceil Stubbings
Others Present: George Chartier, Judy White, Faye White, Art Tighe, Ed Haines, School Superintendant Tommy Stephens, Bob O'Conner, Ray Bowler, Linda Warden, Shari Brooks, Chris Tyler, Steve Kelley, Louise Smith, Mary Edick, Alison Bolt, Amy Austin, Tony Ilacqua, Brien Ward, Sharon Craigie, Joe Wiggett, Robert Blechl, Don Merrow, Bill Sencabaugh, Bill Kittridge, Jessica Dane, Jeannie Dickerman, Paul Smith, Jim Daly, Art McGrath, Linda Massimilla, Joe Mercieri, Janice Mercieri, John Streeter
Chairman Eddy Moore called the Bond Hearing to order at 6:00 PM.
The first order of business was the Pledge of Allegiance.
Moore then turned the hearing over to Town Manager Chuck Connell.
Connell apologized for not having enough handouts for everyone who was in attendance. He stated that if anyone would like a copy of the handouts to call the Town Office and copies would be made available to them upon their request.
Connell said they were starting out with the Bond Hearing and that the Budget Hearing would follow. There are only two bond articles. Connell said the first article is for the Green Street Parking Lot to which Selectman Bolt would like to make some comments on.
Selectman Ron Bolt asked if anyone would be interested if he could tell them how the Town could save $188,000. Bolt provided a history of how the parking lot lease came to be. Bolt said that AHEAD borrowed $250,000.00 from the Laconia Savings Bank to purchase the land. They then leased the property to the Town.
For the cost of the annual debt service, insurance and taxes the Town would pay for the lease from the Parking Meter Fund and at the end of the loan period, which was thirty years. The town would purchase the property for one dollar. The Town has been servicing that loan since November 2001. The existing loan has a life of another 21 years. Bolt said that he understands that there was some horse-trading going on during those days. He did not have the history on that but it was not relevant.
Bolt said that the interest rate is 7% with monthly payments of $1,780.00 with a total cost of the loan being $464,000.00. The purpose of the bond is to negotiate a better loan with a more favorable interest rate. The only thing that will change will be the length and the interest rate of the loan. The payments will still be made from the Parking Lot Fund. A five-year bond with a 4% interest would have a net cost of $276.00 and a savings of $188,000.00. A ten-year bond with the same interest rate would save $159,000.00. There were no questions asked from the citizens.
Town Manager Connell then explained the copy of the amortization schedule that was being shown on the projector. The first to be shown was the five-year schedule. Connell asked for questions. Connell said that there being no questions he moved onto the ten-year schedule. Connell said that Selectman Bolt has provided everyone with the figures of what would be saved with each schedule and asked again if there were any questions. Since there were no questions he then moved onto the second Article.
Connell advised the second Article deals with the funds necessary to move the Town Offices from the second floor of the Laconia Bank building to the Opera House. Connell said it includes about $475,000 to $525,000 for the construction of the office space within the building. Connell in addition it takes into consideration the money for furniture. Right now the Town Offices do not have any furniture. It also included seating for the Opera House itself for three hundred chairs and a new stage curtain. Connell said it would also cover the cost of hiring a moving company to move what needed to be moved back into the building.
Connell said that what it does not include would be any alterations to the electrical system to the performing venue or the sound system. Connell said that needs to be much more specialized than what we are prepared to move forward with. Connell then directed people to look at the two-amortization schedules attached to their packets. A ten-year amortization schedule shows a 3.999% rate and the twenty-year schedule shows a 4.999% rate.
Linda Warden asked if this would be on the ballot. Connell said this is a bond hearing where we discuss the bond itself. Whether it goes on the ballot will depend on the Deliberative Session, which will be held on Monday, February 1st at the High School Auditorium at 6:00 PM.
Someone in the audience asked Connell if the Opera House venue could be used. Connell stated that it has already been used. Another individual asked how much it would cost to make it fully functional and Connell stated that he did not have a figure on it. Mary Edick asked if it would appear on the ballot as recommended by the Budget Committee and the Board of Selectmen. Connell said it would appear on the warrant at the budget and bond hearing but not on the ballot.
Louise Smith asked if it was necessary to group the restoration of the Opera House venue with the relocation of the Town Offices. Louise said it is her feeling that these should be two separate warrant articles so they could know the actual cost of each project. Connell said that he believes that by the deliberative session they could improve on the numbers that they have. Connell said the comments he has heard so far is to tell us everything and if we are going to leave something out tell us what that would be. Connell said that pointedly the seating and the curtain is something that people want in there at this time. Louise commended Connell for being open and honest with this but for her these are still two separate issues. One is moving the town office and the other is restoring the Opera House entertainment area. Louise suggested these be broken down into two separate warrant articles with two separate figures. Louise said that with the $600,000.00 she is not sure what the cost of moving is as opposed to the other. Connell said he understood and that is what this hearing is for. He said he would like to hear what others think about this.
John Streeter asked if the Town has received any bids. Connell said they received five bids and they are working with the two low bids to make sure they are complete. Connell said they are meeting with the two low bid contractors next week. John Streeter asked if he could have the name of the two low bidders. Connell said he did not have the names with him, but that maybe Joe Wiggett could remember. Connell said Presby is the low bidder and Lawton is the next lowest. Connell said at this point they couldn't give the names from memory. John said he had another question. John said that not too long ago the figure was said to be $500,000.00. John asked why all of a sudden is it now $600,000.00. Connell said it is because the bids have come in and they were higher then we expected.
Regina Bowler said she would support Louise Smith's suggestion to separate the article into two. Regina asked if they were combined because it would be used for meetings such as this instead of at the community center or here. Is it because it is being returned to a public use building? Connell said it is more a matter of responding to people's request that we identify everything that we can. Connell said that one of the concerns that he has is parking. Connell said that you resolved the issue in the past. If it is your desire to go back to the Opera House and to put up with the parking situation until we can somehow resolve it, then he is sure the selectmen would be in favor of that. Regina said the Opera House venue could be used to generate revenue instead of just public meetings.
Sharon Craigie said she also agrees with Louise Smith. The other thing that she would like to have some information on is your dealing with the Laconia Bank. Sharon said she would like to know what they are proposing to offer us if anything. Connell said they are working with the bank and soon they would have that information.
Connell asked to pose the question another way. He asked if there was anyone that objects to breaking this warrant article into two separate ones. Connell said the one that will not appear at this year's town meeting. People asked which one. Connell said it was the one for the electrical and sound system. Ed Haines said one warrant article is to move the town offices and the other is for the Opera House venue.
Alison Bolt's said that the idea here is that if you separate them then people have the opportunity whether they want to vote for having the performance venue fixed first or having the office moved at this time while they work on the cost of both.
Connell said he appreciates her thoughts and if that is the consensus the problem is that he has no information to support the electrical, the lighting or the sound system. Alison said the performance venue could be used with the minor improvements we are talking about, mainly chairs. Louise Smith said that her suggestion has nothing to do with the electrical system or the sound system. Her suggestion is only concerning the curtain and the chairs separate from relocating the town offices. Louise said to disregard the electrical and sound because they are usable now. They just need to be upgraded at a later date.
John Simon said he had a concern. John said that we knew before this all took place that parking was going to be an issue. John said that if that building can't be used for town functions instead of Littleton High School then we shoot ourselves in the foot. If we are going to renovate the town building and spend more money and we can't park to use it because we are expecting more people to attend then where are we going to park? John said he has a big issue with that, didn't anyone think about that? John said you couldn't park thirty cars there. John said he didn't vote for this; the thing is if you can't use it what are we spending this money for. Connell clarified his concern and stated that it is only his. Connell said he questioned if they could hold a function there like on Election Day. We have 3,800 to 4,200 registered voters. Connell said he had concerns if the building could accommodate Election Day. Connell said he is not saying that it has not been done before. Connell said he hopes there will be 200 to 250 or more people at the Deliberative Session. Connell said that tonight's meeting could have been held there. Day to day operations could certainly be completed there. Connell said there was parking at the town building with additional parking available across the street. Connell said he thinks it could function well. It certainly functioned as a police station, a fire station and town offices. Connell said his only concern when it comes to parking is large attended events.
Mary Edick asked without the electrical alterations, she would like a professional to tell us if any kind of performance can be given there. Mary said that if your going to put money into the curtains and the chairs and you don't have the other two how many things can be done there. Mary said she doubts many events could take place there and it would be a shame to pour money into it and then it only gets used maybe four or five times a year. Mary said it would be better to know those figures even if we are not going to be doing it right now. Mary said she would like those figures before the deliberative session. Connell said they would see what they could do.
Steve Kelley said that he has been involved with the Opera House renovation and he understands that people are talking about two different issues but they are really inclusive. The chairs and the curtain are something that we need there regardless. These are just basic necessities. Steve said that Don Merrill has experience in theater and he has also been involved with the restoration. Steve said they were looking for some group that would outfit it themselves. Steve said they have no plans this time at redoing the electrical system. He asked Don Merrill if he had any idea of the scope of that. Don said it would be extensive. Steve said that many groups are prepared to bring in their own sound and lighting systems. Steve said that not having a sound system does not preclude it being used. Steve said the Chamber of Commerce is now in charge of the venue so that would be part of their negotiations.
John Simon said we are asking the town to make more cuts in the proposed budget. How can we present something like this to the public now? The building has no function at the moment but running our town and services does. John said the budget committee and the selectmen are recommending this and asked why. John said he thinks it is a lot of money. Right now we keep cutting and cutting and we are asking to support this white elephant.
Sharon Craigie asked if they have looked to any other places to move the town offices if the deal with Lanconia Bank is not a good one. Connell said he has not and that is because the deal with the bank is in effect until June 2011. Connell said that if the construction were done on the Cottage Street level the work would not start until next November at the earliest. Connell said that one of the things we have to do before we can even begin to start construction is to develop a set of very detailed plans. They need to get the approval of the Division of Historic Resources. Connell said the Chamber of Commerce began that process at the end of July or early August and they just within the last two weeks got the approval to move forward on roughly 1,000 square feet. Connell said the town is looking at just over 7,000 square feet and he thinks they will go through the same negotiation with the Division of Historic Resources.
Sharon Craigie said she thinks they are putting the cart before the horse. We are spending more than a half of a million and we are not really sure what the plan is. We also don't know what Laconia Bank is going to offer us. Connell said that he agrees with part of what Sharon said. Connell said we do not have it in writing from Laconia Bank what they are willing to offer for a lease. Connell said the other part of that is the bidding process was on a very specific set of requirements.
Connell said those requirements would be met within the bids we received. Connell gave a brief description of what the requirements entailed.
Sharon said she knows about old buildings and the maintenance and what it is like to deal with historic buildings, her home is over 100 years old. Sharon said the Chamber is going to be spending a lot of money to move in there, but if they leave are they going to take all that stuff with them. Sharon said it blows her mind that they are willing to put that kind of money in there with the economy the way it is.
Linda Massimilla asked how much was being asked for the Opera House. Connell said it was $600,000.00. Linda asked what would the cost and interest be over the term of the bond. Connell said that over a twenty year bond the interest would be $317,900.00 and the principal would be $600,000.00. Connell said that over a ten year bond the interest would be $199,600.00 and the principal of course is $600,000.00. Connell said the estimate on the tax impact for the ten-year is .11 cents and .06 cents on the twenty-year bond.
Steve Kelley said that to put it in perspective on a square footage basis, he didn't think you could find anything in town that we could occupy for that kind of money. Steve said that based on our most recent experience we just built a Police Station with around 9,000 square feet for $1.9 million dollars. Steve said we are going to rehab 7,000 square feet for $600,000.00. Steve said the cost of doing this is a third of what the Police Station was. Steve said that on a per square foot basis it is a good deal. Connell said that one of the things that he heard very clearly is that we need to bring more detail to the Deliberative Session and to clearly distinguish the difference between the performing venue and the town office.
Jerry Sorlucco said that we have spent money to rehab the Opera House already. Jerry said it kind of disturbs him that we didn't spend enough money and it also disturbs him that he didn't know what we were spending the money on. Jerry said that the other thing with this is the suggestion from the budget committee that we reduce town employees. Jerry said that concerns him greatly. Jerry said that one has to do with the other he is not out to spend money on the Opera House and take it away from our employees. Jerry said the employees offer him safety and the Opera House does not offer him squat. Jerry wants to know more about that. Connell told Jerry he heard his concerns and he was sure they would address them when they get into the budget hearing.
Chairman Eddy Moore said the reason for bringing this back to the people is because a few years ago when we left the Opera House the selectmen then voted to bring it back to the people to do so. Moore said that is the rational to bringing it back at this time. Moore said it also enabled them to be able to work with the Division of Historical Resources for an extended period of time. This is due to the work that the Chamber of Commerce has done with them. Moore said the work wouldn't affect the tax rate this year. Moore said that another rational behind this is knowing that our lease was coming to an end with the bank. It was a decision that either we were going to stay there or we were going to move out. Moore said they are working with the bank to come up with a proposal that they can live with and that we can live with. Moore said they have had some verbal information passed onto them, but he wants it in writing. Moore said he is hoping it is something similar to what the lease was before.
Don Merrill asked if we had bids for the office furniture. Connell said they have had discussion but no bids at this time. Don asked if the office furniture and the moving were separate from the $600,000.00. Connell said they are included in the $600,000.00. Don asked if there was an estimate of what the office furniture cost would be. Joe Wiggett said it would be between $20,000 and $30,000. Don asked if those figures included the moving. Joe said he did not know the cost of the moving. He had contacted a contractor and they were supposed to get back to him sometime next week.
Linda Massimilla said it seems incongruous to her that you are asking us to cut the budget by $400,000 more, which could cost jobs. And yet you are asking for $600,000 for the Opera House when that could stay on hold for a couple of years. Linda said that she knows we are paying $8,100 in rent. Linda said they should take the time to figure it out, but we are always being told about the doom and gloom of the economy. Linda said that it does not seem right at this juncture that we be asked for money when jobs could be lost.
Mary Edick said that a point that has not been brought up and she was wondering why it has not, is whether there are grants available. Mary said that for instance maybe we could just put $300,000 on a bond. Mary said another option is an LCHIP grant which does not come up until July. Connell told Mary that he could tell her that they have expressed the town's interest for a LCHIP grant. They have also looked at the US Department of Agriculture for funding and we have also looked at the moose plate conservation money. Connell said the grants would not happen for some time and part of this article would allow the selectmen to pursue and accept grants. Connell said therefore the $600,000 is a solid figure. The worse case scenario would be current year taxation. Connell said if they could reduce it they certainly would.
Alison Bolt said this brings up two issues. One is priority and one is timing. Last year we had two articles that were up for a vote for the school. Alison said both of them failed. Alison said that part of the reason for that is they were both presented together and they were both for a huge amount of money. Alison said that it seems to her that if you put this before the voters the schools could suffer again. Alison said this is not right when we have a very good opportunity to take funding from the state that is going to be lost. Alison said you couldn't get blood out of a stone. Alison said that as far as priorities go, the kids are important and we need to deal with the crumbling school system. Alison said she thinks this will be a distraction and it will not do well. Alison said that another part of it is the timing. Alison said she thinks you shoot yourself in the foot by putting forth a plan that clearly, from the number of questions here, is not entirely thought out. Alison said you have to have what we need and what it is going to cost. That is what everyone wants to know here. Alison said you should wait until you have all of that material from stem to stern. Alison said she is not sure that people here object moving the offices back to the town building, it is a matter of timing and getting it right the first time. Connell said he very much-appreciated Alison's comments. Connell said part of what the scope is at this point is that they are pretty comfortable with their figures. Connell said we have bid prices on the construction and they are working to nail down the moving costs.
A citizen asked if anyone has thought of cutting the amount down and creating a capital reserve fund for this. Connell said that a lot of thought has been given exactly to that. Connell said it is timing and that is what brings this warrant article to you this year. Connell said that in order to do the work next winter at the end of 2010, so that we can move into the Opera House as the lease expires. Connell said this is when we had to bring it forward; unfortunately we do not have another opportunity to accept or get you to approve the funding before March 2011. Connell said there are other considerations and that is why we are having this hearing this evening. Connell said that a vote would be taken to not put it on the warrant or to put it on the warrant at the Deliberative Session.
John Streeter said that in his past experience that what had been the policy is that money has not been put into the proper places, that's why we are in the problem we are now. If money had been put aside to do the renovation when it should have been done we would not be here. Therefore those of you who are saying this is not the time for it when is the time for it. John said you are either going to do it now or put it off for a few years and then it is going to cost us even more money. Eventually we are going to move or have to move those town offices. We have not been guaranteed an agreement with the Laconia Bank that we can stay there. John said you need to think of the future and the present too. To make a long story short, he thinks it would be advisable to have this put on the warrant and let the people in March decide if they want to spend this money now or wait and spend it later.
Linda Warden said that she feels very strongly that this warrant article is going to detract from our ability to get the CTE Center passed. We have that money waiting and we need to say yes to that. Linda said you are going to divide the community on this. Linda asked the board to take this off and bring it back next year.
Kim DeLutis said that she agrees with Linda Warden. The school has waited a long time for this. Kim said we might be eligible for a zero percent bond. Kim said we are presenting the best value to the people. We are being offered 80% funding from the state for this. Kim said she thinks the kids; the school and the staff have waited long enough for this. Kim said this warrant article is luxurious at this point. This will divide our town and at this time she feels we should all come together for our kid's education.
Jerry Sorlucco said that it is important to remember that we are talking about an annual budget, not a bi-annual budget. Jerry said we are talking about things that can be pushed ahead and this could be pushed ahead a year. Jerry said the thing that he does not want to see is cutting our employees that are essential to our services. Jerry said the money they earn is spent in town not in Switzerland. He does not mind a small tax increase. Jerry said whatever happens he does not want to see employees cut that would be an outrageous result.
Connell said that he thought they had heard virtually everyone's comments unless someone had something new to add. Connell said they could respond to your suggestions and requests. Connell reminded everyone the Deliberative Session was on Monday, February 1st here at the auditorium. Connell then turned the meeting over the Chairman Moore to close the bond hearing. The budget hearing adjourned at 6:58 PM.
Littleton has functioned as a Board of Selectmen/Town Manager form of government since 1976.
The Littleton Board of Selectmen meets the 2nd Monday and the 4th Monday of each month at 5:00 PM at the Littleton Community House - Heald Room.
If you would like to be put on the agenda for an upcoming Selectmen's meeting, please contact Ceil Stubbings. Please be prepared with all information needed for the Selectmen to make a decision no later than the Friday before the Selectmen's meeting
G. Michael Gilman, Chairman
Milton T. Bratz, Vice Chairman
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