Board of Selectmen Meeting Minutes & Agendas

Jul 13, 2015

Approved Minutes Jul 13, 2015


TOWN OF LITTLETON
BOARD OF SELECTMEN’S MEETING
MONDAY, JULY 13, 2015
5:00 PM
COMMUNITY CENTER, HEALD ROOM


Present: Town Manager Fred Moody, Chairman Marghie Seymour, V. Chairman Milton Bratz, Selectman Schuyler Sweet, Executive Secretary Ceil Stubbings

Others Present: Rachael Doriski (Channel 2), Darin Wipperman (The Courier), Robert Blechl, (The White Mountain Record), Chief Paul Smith (Littleton PD), Karen Noyes (Finance Director), Linda Massimilla (State Rep), Erin Hennessey (State Rep), Sam Brown, Brien Ward, Dann, Bruce Hadlock, George McNamara (Public (Works Director), Rob Bolt, Dave Ernsberger, Jerry Lesage, Jere Eames, Amy Sharp, Barry Lunderville (WLTN Radio), Joe Mercieri (Littleton FD), Dennis Sharp, Eddy Moore (by telephone)

Chairman Seymour called the meeting to order at 5:00 PM.

Pledge of Allegiance

Appointments:
House of Representatives – General Update
Linda Massimilla, Erin Hennessey
Erin Hennessey stated that just recently the legislature passed the budget and it was vetoed by the governor. Hennessey said she was hopeful that in the next few months all of the issues will be sorted out and we will have a reasonable budget that is beneficial to the residents of the North Country. There were some very small details of the budget that did not get very much exposure that were related to things dealing with the capital budget. There were some improvements to the Gorge and the Echo Lake parking area. Seymour said there is a lot of construction going on at Echo Lake right now and there has been a lot of vegetation that has been bull dozed. Seymour asked what that was about. Hennessey said she would look into it and get back to Seymour. Linda Massimilla stated that as far as the budget is concerned they did put money back in for substance abuse prevention and treatment. Back in March Massimilla started a substance abuse round table here in the North Country. It included the police department, representatives, the school district, medical professionals and various other agencies and individuals. Massimilla was happy to report that either in October or the beginning of November, they will be meeting with Coos, Grafton and Carol Counties to have a drug summit in this area. It will also allow them to find out what each county is doing. They may be doing something different than we are so this would allow us to consolidate our efforts. Massimilla said that she knew Bruce Hadlock had concerns with the property valuations. They talked with the DRA and the DRA said that the valuation process is written into the constitution and it has to be done every five years. It is under article 6. In order to change that you have to have a constitutional convention or you can have it done through the legislature. It would be a constitution amendment resolution. The only problem with that is when it comes to the vote it would have to pass by a 3/5 majority and also by the senate. It would then be put on the general election ballot. Bruce Hadlock said he had a hard time understanding what Massimilla was saying because it used to be ten years. Hadlock said the constitution has not changed so how did it get to five years. Massimilla said that back in the good old days there was not a lot of oversight on how often you could do it. Some communities did it every twenty five years and some did it every ten. Then there was a court case and now the DRA is now in charge of overseeing when the valuations are due. Hadlock said that if they went back to the ten years towns would save millions of dollars. Ron Bolt asked Hennessey and Massimilla go about contacting the public.
Massimilla said that she reaches out to the schools and other boards and committees. Hennessey said she has a webpage and also reaches out to the public in various different ways. Bolt said he has not seen our representatives at board meetings on a regular basis. Bratz said there had been a recommendation to have them here on an occasional basis. Jerry Lesage asked if Governor Hassan vetoed a bill on voter identification. Lesage asked if the representatives think the residency requirement will be voted out again. Massimilla said she couldn’t predict t how it would go. The board thanked Hennessey and Massimilla for the update.

Ron Hemmingway - Farmer’s Market Banner on Covered Bridge
Moody was asked by Sam Brown if he had any reservations on putting a banner up for the Farmers Market on Main Street and on the covered bridge from early June to the middle of October as a way to attract business. Moody asked Hemmingway if the selectmen decided not to place the banner on the bridge or Main Street where would the banner be placed. Hemmingway said that currently their only option would be down by the River Glen area where they currently have their market. We already have a banner down there but this banner would be to attract people walking across the bridge. Seymour said her only concern is one that her experience with signs is that people don’t read them. Seymour said if we say yes to this are we going to run into problems with everybody who wants to advertise on the bridge. Moody said that is the risk. Seymour said it would require some sort of policy on the size of the signs and how long it could be there. Bratz said it extends to any public bridges and he thinks it would help the farmers market. The question is once this happens, then who is going to be next in line requesting signage. Schuyler Sweet said the other problem is that it would be advertising for a for profit business that is competing with for profit grocery stores in the area. Seymour is going to recommend we have more discussions on this and make sure we have some kind of policy in place. Bratz said they were going to bring this back at the next meeting.

Brien Ward – Questions on Reval Status – I-93 Vista
Ward asked Moody if there was anything to report on the revaluations. Moody said they are doing their field work and they are not prepared to give any reports at this time. Ward encouraged the selectmen to canvas certain town areas and neighborhoods. Ward provided an example of some properties that had been recently sold for $16,000 per lot but were valued at $40,000 to $50,000 per lot. Ward said this provides them with evidence as to how values are pushed down. This is something if not handled right could set the town back. The last two times we had a revaluation we had setbacks. It’s very time consuming but it is important to know the market values. In 1999 or 1998 Dick Hamilton brought to the attention to the Littleton Main Street Board that in 1959 the Interstate Intersection was one of the most scenic in the entire Interstate system. He recommended we open up the visit especially in the south bound lane. We reached out to the state and they did not want to get involved. We then reached out to Ray Burton and asked him to get involved. Jere Eames and his family stepped up and underwrote the costs. By clearing the area it provided the gift that keeps on giving. Ward suggested the selectmen work with the town administration to ensure it does not grow out of control again. Something has to be done sooner than later. The work could be done after Halloween. Ward said he had talked to George McNamara about this and he and Moody had contacted the state. Ward recommended a plan be developed including the state, town and local partnership. Ward said that McNamara had concerns regarding the trees below the north bound lane are growing to the point where they may obscure the view from the other side of the road. Ward also suggested they could rename the area as the Ray Burton Vista. Ray was beneficial in getting the state to be involved. Seymour asked who cut the trees the last time. Ward said it was Mike Collins. Ron Bolt asked if any taxpayer money would be spent on this. Moody said his conversation with the state did not include town funds. The last thing Ward wanted to bring up was the Payment in Lieu of Taxes. A lot of them are still in negotiations. The thought he had was that Littleton has been creative in using nontraditional funds to fund things that benefit the community. For instance when Moore Dam was relicensed it was the fifteen mile fall fund of which the town received almost $550,000. Those funds were voted by the community to be allocated for community improvements. Ward said it is his understanding that PILOT payments are not taxes but payment in lieu of taxes. One of the things he would like the board to consider is for the board to create a capital reserve fund for the PILOT payments and use them for bond issues. This would require the vote of the community. It would be a funding mechanism to get some things done. Ward gave as an example the Recreation facility that has been partially condemned. These are decisions that could be made in the future. When we have something that comes along that is out of the ordinary this may be a method to do it. It would provide the funding needed without adding to the tax rate. Bruce Hadlock asked if the Town was doing a complete appraisal. Moody said no, it is a statistical appraisal.

Public Hearing -NH Highway Safety Project Grant – Littleton Radar Display/Traffic Data Collection (2)
Total Budget $12,000 – Federal Budget $6,000 – Local Budget $6,000
Smith explained what the grant was specifically for. He applied for funds totaling $12,000. Fifty percent is reimbursed by the state and the rest is going to be matched by the school. Last year we had a young year old child get hit by a car. We think a device that shows the speed when someone passes will help slow the traffic down. They are solar powered and have LED lights. Bratz made the motion to accept the grant. Sweet seconded the motion. The motion passed 3-0.

Smith had also applied for another NH Highway Safety Project Grant for two tire deflation devices for $1,200.00. This grant is also fifty percent reimbursed by the state. The balance of $600 is already in the budget. Bratz made the motion to accept the grant. Sweet seconded the motion. The motion passed 3-0. Smith then presented a plaque with the ground breaking shovel from when the new police department was built. Smith there was never any recognition given to all of the people who helped with the project. The plaque lists all of the individuals who worked and volunteered time to get the new police department built.

Citizen’s Concerns:
Selectmen’s Discussion on Public Input
Eddy Moore wanted to thank Fred Moody for his work. Moore asked Moody how the sign is coming for the Saranac Bridge. Moody said everything has been turned over to the Fotofactory and they are getting a quote for a plaque. Main Street Inc. is in charge of spending the money. Moody thanked Dave Ernsberger who helped him to design the plaque. Moore asked if there had been any communication with TransCanada. They are scheduling a site visit for the month of August.

Bruce Hadlock said that Casey received a call from the state that they have approved a driveway permit to the town for the Old County Road. Hadlock said the town seems to be the problem we have been having for the last three and a half years. Moody said the state has been in contact with Mr. Patel and he has said he is still trying to work out the business arrangement on the changes. It is taking some time to get the new management up to speed. Moody said he talked to Casey last week and advised that Mr. Patel stated he would likely hear something later this week. Hadlock asked about the bonds we were holding. Moody said McDonald’s put up a $120,000 bond in good faith. Hadlock asked about the other bond. Moody said they still have it but he was not sure if the bank would cover it. Hadlock said they had. The bond was for $50,000. Hadlock said the Town has to take the bull by the horns. Seymour said that his opinion is not always the right way to do things. Hadlock said he wanted a time frame. Seymour told Hadlock that she was not willing to give him a time frame. Seymour said it has been a lot longer than two or three years. We have inherited this mess. None of us were on the board when this all began. It has been nothing but a disastrous mess.

Ron Bolt asked how they are going to go about the process of hiring a new town manager. Bolt asked what happens on July 15th at 5:00 pm. Moody said that is part of the discussion later in the meeting and to discuss Moody’s limited roll. Bratz described some of the details of the process they would be considering later in a nonpublic session. They have eleven applications. Linda Massimilla had a question about renaming the recycling center at the transfer station. Massimilla asked if the board had done that yet. Bratz said no and thanked her for reminding them to bring this item up at another meeting.

Barry Lunderville told Moody he had a calming effect and asked if he had any comments. Moody said it has been a great run for over four years. He has enjoyed it even more than the first time around. The main reason that I have been successful is because I have been supported by a great board and a great staff. Seymour said she had some concerns regarding this section of the meeting. There are times that we just sit up here and people take pot shots at us. While she respects people’s rights she feels the tone of the meetings has to change. Bratz said we have had concerns made for issues we have no control over. That leads him to believe the wisdom that we don’t have to let people speak. Seymour said she would like for people who have a concern to ask the town manager or to contact the board. Seymour said she is not willing to spend the last nine months of her role as selectman just sitting here and having every meeting be a free for all at every meeting. Seymour said we are not obligated to let people talk at our meetings but we are obligated to let people talk at public hearings. If we have a continuation of the last three meetings that were pretty miserable she is not willing to put up with it. Bratz said the tone of the meetings has turned very hostile and in fact one person who watched it on Channel 2 said it verged on harassment. Bratz said that if they decide to take this off the agenda he would like to keep the five to ten minutes reserved at the end of the meeting to discuss topics covered during the meeting. Schuyler said that he was criticized for not attending the meetings. There is a good reason for that. He does not like to listen to that kind of stuff and it is not productive. It’s not positive, disruptive and negative. Sweet said he agrees with Bratz and Seymour that this is a kind of warning that it will be eliminated if it continues.

Town Manager’s Report:
Littleton High School Building Trades Building:
Moody said he had contacted the school and was told the buildings would be removed shortly. Richard Woosley had raised the issue of the buildings being left there since the winter at a previous winter.
Library Bathroom:
The library has a contractor lined up but no start date has been set. This was another issue brought up by Richard Woosley at a previous meeting. Moody noted that the Town has no authority over the library or the school and any issues should be taken to either the school board or the library trustees.

Staff Update:
Todd McKee has retired from the fire department. We will be meeting with union reps to determine the replacement. Bill Sargent has been promoted to foreman for the highway department and the heavy equipment operator position.
Quarterly Finance Report – This was passed over and will be discussed later in the meeting.

Church Street/Knight Avenue Bid Results
Moody said they received bids for Church Street and Knight Avenue. The Knight Avenue bids came in within budget. That contract will be signed shortly with Heath Construction. The Church Street bids came in substantially over budget. George McNamara will be meeting with the contractors to see where those prices came in high. We contracted with Horizon’s to do the design. Bratz asked how much over budget. George McNamara said they were over by approximately 85%. It is probably because of the very nice design we did. We may not be able to afford the design. He did not want to get into details because other contractors may be bidding. Maybe we need to scale back to plan B or plan C. The good news is that the low bidder is eager to work with us. McNamara said the sad thing is if Knight Avenue had come in over budget it could have waited for a year. Church Street cannot wait another year. We have to figure it out so there can be safe passage there. Moody said the sewer infiltration inflow is now being redirected to the Dufrane Group. We have met with them and identified a scope of work. A significant amount may be eligible for reimbursement from USDA. They are preparing the grant application for the $47,000 project. The Opera House Group approached him and would like to refer to the main venue with the board’s concurrence as the Grand Hall and part of this came about because of the selectmen’s renovated room and they refer to that as the Tower Meeting Room. No decision has to be made tonight. Moody said he met with the Community Center president and one discussion with him was in reference to parking. The concept is that along the west side is that we install parking meters and the town would maintain those. That would encourage turnover and add parking for the public with the possibility of the east side being offered as permitted parking. Moody stated the Energy Conservation Committee has been approached by the DES that has a grant for an Electric Vehicle Charging Station. The Littleton Food Co-op had been considering it. The Energy Conservation Committee supports it as the location in town. We wanted to bring it to the public in case there are any other businesses that might be interested. Ron Bolt said the charging station would take up about two parking stations. If you accept one of these you then own it and are responsible for maintaining it.

Quarterly Finance Report
Karen Noyes provided a brief update on the status of the revenues and expenditure ending June 30th. Noyes stated the budget is just about where it should be at this time.

Old Business:
Transfer Station/Parking Meter Revenue Fee Adjustment
Moody said this was discussed last year during the budget process and it was tabled at that time. Right now it might make some sense for renewed discussion for the new budget season. Brian Patnoe and Chief Smith provided a report to for a subcommittee of the budget committee to review. Moody said he had a report of the current fee schedules and what was recommended in December 2014. Steve Kelley asked him to appoint people from the budget committee to work with some of the department heads and give them sixty to ninety days to make recommendations. Bratz said he would take care of that. Bratz said there are currently only about five members left on the budget committee. Bratz said the business owners had some concerns with recommendations that were made regarding parking fees.

New Business:
Senior Center Grant Pledge:
Moody explained the lease the town holds with the Senior Center and the need for a ten year agreement to receive the grant for much needed lighting improvements at the center. The lease expires in 2026. Through the efforts from the Energy Conservation Committee we have received grant funds to make lighting improvements. Because the Senior Center does not own the building the town has to ensure the building must be used for the stated purposes for a ten year period. Bratz made the motion to accept the Senior Center Grant Pledge. Sweet seconded the motion. Motion passed 3-0.

Other Business:
Amend Littleton Financial Management Plan - CDBG Projects (NCIC Career Technical Center)
Moody said this item is housekeeping. The town voted to approve a grant for electronic training equipment for the Technical Career Center. Before they can disperse the funds they requested we make some modifications in the next to last paragraph. Bratz made the motion to accept the correction to the financial management plan. Sweet seconded the motion. Motion passed 3-0.

Board of Assessors:
Abatement Recommendation: DMS Rentals, 2014 Tax Year, 98-104 Washington St., Map/Lot 80/142, $1,005.66
Seymour read the abatement request regarding an incorrect assessment that had been corrected. Sweet made the motion to approve the abatement request. Bratz seconded the motion. Motion passed 3-0.

Approve the following minutes:
June 1, 2015 – Bratz made the motion to approve the minutes. Seymour seconded the motion. Motion passed 2-0. Sweet did not vote since he was not on the board at that time.

June 15, 2015 – Bratz made the motion to approve the minutes. Sweet seconded the motion. Motion passed 3-0.

Seymour announced they would go into a nonpublic session after the board takes a short break at 7:08 PM.

Bratz made the motion go into a nonpublic session per: RSA 91-A:3,II (a). Sweet seconded the motion.
RSA 91-A:3, II (a) The dismissal, promotion, or compensation of any public employee or the disciplining of such employee, or the investigation of any charges against him or her, unless the employee affected (1) has a right to a public meeting, and (2) requests that the meeting be open, in which case the request shall be granted.
The board entered the nonpublic session at 7:11 PM after a unanimous roll call vote.
Bratz made the motion to seal the minutes of the nonpublic session. Sweet seconded the motion. Motion passed 3-0. The board voted on the following motions after coming out of the nonpublic session at 7:48 PM. Bratz made the motion to contract with MRI to hire an interim town manager until a new town manager is hired for two days a week at the agreed upon rate. Sweet seconded the motion. Motion passed 3-0. Bratz made the motion to have Fred Moody work with the interim town manager and the new town manager for a 34 hour work at his current rate of pay. Sweet seconded the motion. Motion passed 3-0. Bratz made the motion to continue Moody’s health insurance through the month of August. Sweet seconded the motion. The motion passed 3-0. Bratz made the motion to sell a tablet with a value of $24.00 to Moody. Sweet seconded the motion. Motion passed 3-0. The board agreed that the chairman and the v. chairman would be authorized signatories if needed by consensus.

Bratz made the motion to go into nonpublic session per:
RSA 91-A:3, II(c) Matters which, if discussed in public, would likely affect adversely the reputation of any person, other than a member of this board, unless such person requests an open meeting. This exemption shall extend to include any application for assistance or tax abatement or waiver of a fee, fine or other levy, if based on inability to pay or poverty of the applicant.
Sweet seconded the motion. After a unanimous roll call vote the board entered the nonpublic session at 7:50 PM. Bratz made the motion to ratify the below that the board individually agreed to: Sweet seconded the motion. Motion passed 3-0. Bratz made the motion to seal the minutes. Sweet seconded. Motion passed 3-0. Bratz motion to adjourn. Sweet seconded. Passed 3-0. Adjourned at 8:11 PM.