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  1. Select Board MeetingMon, Aug 20 07:00 pmAgenda link
  2. Finance Committee MeetingMon, Aug 20 07:00 pm
  3. Open Space Committee MeetingMon, Aug 27 07:00 pm

Selectmen Meeting Minutes — October 30, 2008—7:00 p.m. — Memorial Hall

Call to order: Chairman, Robert Manners called the meeting to order at 7:10 p.m. Other members present: John Payne and Joe Judd.

Acceptance of Meeting Minutes: a motion was made by John to accept the minutes of October 16th and October 20th, 2008 as presented. Joe seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.

Chairman Manners Opening Report RE: Self-Report of an Open Meeting Law Violation - the Northwestern District Attorney's office has reviewed the self-report of an Open Meeting law violation that occurred on September 24, 2008. The Board of Selectmen had invited members of the Finance Committee to a meeting at which town fiscal concerns would be discussed. The Board of Selectmen was under the impression that only one member of the Finance Committee would attend therefore the Finance Committee was not posted. Three members of the Finance Committee attended the meeting and although no votes were taken, because members engaged in deliberation amongst themselves, there was a violation of the Open Meeting law. In order to remedy the matter, the District Attorney recommends that a joint meeting of the boards should be posted and any discussions should be re-deliberated. The Finance Committee is posted to meet jointly with the Board of Selectmen this evening at 8:00 p.m.

Department Liaison Reports:
•John reported a change in the election laws that allow anyone who has resided in Shelburne within the last 18 months; and has not registered anywhere else to come back and vote. This last minute change is creating havoc for Town Clerks across the Commonwealth.

•The Police Department, Assessor's Office and the Selectmen's Office have all moved to their new locations.

•John gave an overview of the FRCOG's Quarterly meeting that he had attended earlier in the evening. He reported that two of FRCOG's state funded programs funded have been affected by budgetary cuts (Teen Pregnancy Prevention and the Board of Health Workshop program); the communications tower on top of Berkshire East is almost complete; the Franklin Regional Transit Center expects to go out to bid for design & engineering soon; a survey will be forthcoming with the hopes of determining better ways to operate local school systems; lastly, members voted unilaterally to oppose ballot question #1; a proposed law that would reduce the state personal income tax rate for all categories of taxable income.

•Joe reported that the Police Department will have extra patrols on duty for Halloween; the department is working hard to finish renovations in their new space; interviews for the full-time patrolman will take place on Tuesday, November 4, 2008; and the Board of Selectmen have hired two part-time clerical assistants to serve the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Planning Board and the Board of Health (Faye Whitney & Linda Bickford).

•Bob reported that the Highway Department is busy preparing for winter; the Main Street reconstruction project is progressing well; final paving is scheduled for the week of November 10th.

7:30 p.m. John Ryan, Breezeway Farm RE: Proposed 2009 CDBG Grant Application - John explained that the purpose of the public hearing was multi-purpose. First was to begin the process of accepting the revised Community Development Strategy document that has been circulated to all town boards and committees for review and revision; solicit public input; review the list of priority projects; discuss changes and adopt the document by November 13, 2008. The Board reviewed the proposed changes and comments submitted by various town officials. They agreed that the "Target Area" should remain the same (the downtown area and the entire town). Following review of the priority projects list, minor adjustments were made to the order in which the priorities were listed. Joe indicated that he had been contacted by the attorney representing the owners of the site which burned to the ground last year, and he has expressed an interest in using state funding to undertake the handicap accessibility issues surrounding this site and two of the neighboring sites. John indicated that the proposed project should be listed on the town's priority list even if it is not CDBG eligible, it might be a potential EDF or CDAG project. John Ryan cautioned however that if the proposed project were funded, accessibility would have to be far more encompassing that just access to the buildings. Owners would have to provide accessible bathrooms, aisles wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs, etc. Before closing the hearing, John Ryan reviewed the results of the 2009 Social Services Needs Assessment survey. Of the forty-eight responses received from local and regional agencies, the two top priorities were fuel assistance and the food pantry (both considered ineligible CDBG activities). John has asked requested that the Department of Housing and Community Development reconsider both of these activities as eligible projects but has yet to receive a response. After no further discussion a motion was made by Joe to add fuel assistance and the food pantry as priority activities. John seconded the motion. Motion passed unanimously. No public comments were voiced. Hearing was closed at 8:00 p.m.

8:00 p.m. Finance Committee (John Wheeler present)
Arms Library Director, Laurie Wheeler RE: Arms Library - Laurie stated that she had heard about discussions that took place at a Selectmen's meeting on October 2nd relative to the library's vitality. She voiced concern when discussions of this nature take place without the Trustees being present and she stressed the need for better communication. Trustee, Donna Liebl stated that she took great offense to the conversation that alleged that Arms was a dying institution when in fact circulation has increased significantly. She indicated that the library has many donors and patrons of all ages who cherish the building and it is unfair of the Selectmen and Finance Committee members to characterize the institution as "dead". Joe stated that he regrets that offense was taken. He viewed the discussion as unplanned, open dialogue that was prompted when the roof repair was mentioned. He agreed that communication is vital and indicated that the Board would never make any major decisions regarding the library without the trustees present. Chairman Manners also apologized on behalf of the Board stating that the discussion was not intended to be malicious. Bob further explained that at that particular meeting, the Board was speaking of the town's finances trying to figure out how to make payroll when a larger discussion evolved. John Wheeler, the only Finance Committee member in attendance acknowledged the importance of the building as well as its' dedicated staff. He believes that the comments of fellow members were intended towards the library building rather than its' overall operations. John Payne stated that he was absolutely thrilled that the library Trustees wrote a letter and appeared before the Selectmen for that is the kind of passion he wants to see. While the words could have been softer, John felt that the Finance Committee was doing their job. He did not view their comments as criticism; but rather a challenge to the Board. In closing John stated that he feels strongly that the Arms Library should remain as a vibrant part of our community.

Scott Sawyer, Fiscal Officer RE: Proposed "Understanding of Services" - Joe reported that he has had an opportunity to speak with Scott concerning his request for a contract agreement mid-year and he has agreed to complete the fiscal year without change providing that his request is brought forth during budget deliberations for fiscal year 2010.
Arms Library Roof Repair - Joe has obtained two quotes from Mass Historic certified contractors for the temporary repair of the Arms Library roof. The intent is to repair leaks, sheet metal all missing tiles and repair all solder joints making the roof water tight through the winter months. The quotes received were as follows:

Douglas J. Wooliver & Sons, Inc., Lanesborough, MA $2,875.00
Titan Roofing, Inc, Chicopee, MA $3,500.00

After reviewing the scope of services provided by each contractor with the Arms Library Trustees, a motion was made by Joe to authorize the low bidder, Douglas J. Wooliver & Sons, Inc. to perform the work and pay for said expenditure using monies from the Reserve Fund. Said motion is subject to Finance Committee approval. John seconded the motion. Motion passed unanimously.

Highway Department RE: Various Items - following the Superintendent's initial request for a pay increase for his part-time drivers, Bob had an opportunity to review the highway budget and forecast the impact of such an increase. Bob explained that a total of $4,308 was budgeted for part-time drivers at an hourly rate of $13.88. The budgeted amount represents 310 hours of part-time help. If the Selectmen were to consider an increasing the hourly rate to $16.28, without impacting the total number of hours, an additional $744 would be needed. However, if the increase were to be funded using existing funds, it would reduce the number of part-time hours by 46 leaving a total of 264 hours. Although both Joe and John see the merit in the salary increases, they would rather see the request brought forth during budget preparations for FY'2010. Finance Committee member, John Wheeler agreed. Bob reported that Highway vehicles over a certain gross vehicle weight are now subject to new federal inspection standards. The 71-point inspection costs $80 per hour in addition to the base inspection rate of $29. Many neighboring communities have experienced a higher failure rate as a result of the stricter standards. Bob suggested that the Board may want to continue upgrading the vehicle fleet so to avoid high maintenance costs.

Lastly, the highway department has received a second billing from Lane Construction for paving work that was performed this summer on Patten Road and Zerah Fiske Road. The invoice in the amount of $11,739 is to cover the increased cost of the black top due to fuel and other associated costs. The FRCOG's purchasing department (who serves as the highway department's bidding agency) has indicated that there is an escalation clause in Lane's contract that allows them to bill for such increases. Bob indicated that the Highway Superintendent will continue to pursue the matter further before paying the invoice.

Arms Library Discussion (see appointments)

Smith College RE: Request to Access Glacial Potholes
- a request for permission to access the glacial potholes area via the town-owned steps was granted to Professor of Geology John Brady of Smith College so to allow 15 students and 1 faculty member to study the glacial formations on November 12, 2008. A motion to approve the request was made by Joe providing that the weather conditions and water flow are conducive to a safe visit. Motion seconded by John. Motion passed unanimously.

Historic Commission RE: Stone Tower Celebration -Annual town meeting voters approved an appropriation of $500 last May to be used for the 100th year anniversary celebration. Joe reported that an additional $500 may be needed to help offset the costs. Although no official action was taken, John suggested the celebration could serve as a "golden opportunity" for a fundraising event.

Proposed 2009 Annual Licensing Fees - given the current state of the economy, the Board opted to hold licensing fees at the same level as last year. To allow more time to consider said increases in the future, John requested that the Executive Secretary provide license fee information to the Board a month in advance of liquor license renewals.

Shelburne Falls Area Business Association RE: Moonlight Magic - this year's Moonlight Magic and Lighting of the Village event is scheduled for Friday, November 28th. The Business Association would like to close Bridge Street from the intersection of Bridge and Main to Water Street from 4:15 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. to allow for safe pedestrian travel as well as provide more space for street vendors and musicians. Before acting on the request, Joe asked for an opportunity to speak with Chief Walker. The request will be tabled until the November 13th meeting.

Ballot Question #1 RE: Elimination of the State Income Tax - members of the FRCOG Executive Committee asked members to encourage communities to vote "no" on ballot question #1. John was unsure as to whether or not it is appropriate for the Board to take a position therefore; he brought it back for discussion. Joe reported that the Franklin County Selectmen's Association recently took a public stand to vote "no"; and their actions alone speak volumes. As far as Shelburne Selectmen taking a public stand, Joe feels that it is a "slippery slope" and does not believe that the Board should try to influence voters in that way. Both John and Bob shared Joe's sentiments agreeing that the decision lies with each voter. No further action taken.

Health Insurance - while preparing for FY'2010 budget season, Bob suggested that the Board invite Health Insurance representatives in from the State's GIC program in to learn more about potential cost savings and health plan offerings. Joe will initiate the phone call and schedule a meeting.

Buckland Selectmen to MTRHS RE: FY'2010 Budget - the Town of Buckland will be asking all departments to present a budget that shows 0% growth for fiscal year 2010 as they are acutely aware that many of their town residents are facing financial struggles that are leaving them with unacceptable choices just in meeting basic living costs. Buckland Selectmen are asking that the Mohawk Trail Regional School District to undertake the same rigorous budget approach.

District Heating: A Renewable Energy Solution for Our Communities - Dr. Morris Pierce, University of Rochester and members of the Danish Board of District Heating will be in Greenfield on November 13th from 6:00 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. at the Greenfield High School Auditorium to present the history of district heating in Denmark and how their individual and collective expertise and experience can help local communities establish similar systems. Additional information is available at


ADJOURNMENT: a motion was made by Joe to adjourn the meeting at 9:20 p.m. John seconded the motion. Motion passed unanimously.

Respectfully submitted,

Terry Mosher
Executive Secretary