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Selectmen Meeting Minutes — February 5, 2009—7:00 p.m. — Memorial Hall

Call to Order: The meeting was called to order by Chairman Manners. Other members present: John Payne and Joseph Judd.

Acceptance of Minutes: A motion was made by John to accept the minutes of January 27, 2009 as presented. Joe seconded the motion. Motion passed unanimously.

DEPARTMENT LIAISON REPORTS:
Town Office - John reported that the Town Collector's computer crashed last week however no valuable data was lost. Fortunately, the Collector backs up her hard drive on a regular basis and had recently purchased a new computer. The new computer is up and running and all data has been transferred. John reminded residents that taxes were due February 2nd and urged those taxpayers who have not yet made their payments to do so.

John also reported that he attended a Franklin Regional Council of Government budget meeting. Although the Inspection Program's budget reflects a 9% increase for fiscal year 2010, Shelburne's annual assessment for F.R.C.O.G. related services should reflect a $600 reduction from last year.

Police Department - Joe reported that he and Steve have been discussing the impact of the most recent budget directives and the potential areas of his department's operations that will be impacted. The two have also been addressing concerns relative to large icicles forming on privately owned buildings on Bridge Street that are in danger of falling on the public way.
Highway Department - Bob indicated that he had spent the day working on the highway department's maintenance budget for fiscal year 2010. He reported that the snow and ice budget for this year has been depleted. The Superintendent is hopeful that he has enough salt stockpiled to last through the remainder of the winter season. In an effort to save money, the Highway Superintendent has implemented some changes in the manner in which roads are addressed during snow storms (i.e. altering call-in times, hours of plowing, ratio of sand and salt, etc). John reported that the changes have not gone unnoticed and he has received some positive feedback. To the contrary, Joe indicated that he has received numerous complaints about the conditions of our roads. Following the last storm, John stated that he had received an inquiry concerning the timing of the town's plowing efforts. The inquiry was made after a school bus had got stuck on the Bardwells Ferry Road. Bob explained that the last storm was rather complicated. The Highway Superintendent had anticipated that the School District would delay the opening of school like all the other surrounding towns however, that did not occur and as a result, the crew's response was somewhat delayed. Joe indicated that communication between the school and the highway department has always been problematic. After a brief discussion, Bob agreed that he would contact the school's Superintendent to see what could be done to improve the lines of communication.
The highway department's 1997 Mack truck continues to be a problem. Most recently, the throw-out bearing and the clutch failed. Pete had originally assigned two members of the department to repair the truck however in order to access the area of repair; the transmission has to be dropped. Being that the job is larger than anticipated; Rusty Coombs of Colrain, MA will be hired to assist with the work. Bob estimates that the total repair will cost approximately $3,000.

Lastly, Joe wanted to make it clear that despite Buckland's decision to temporarily suspend the disbursement of sand for use by local residents, Shelburne will still provide sand for use by our residents at both the highway garage and the Cowell gymnasium.

7:30 p.m. Special Town Meeting - Chairman Manners recessed the Selectmen's meeting and announced that it would reconvene following the special town meeting. Finance Committee members present: Lynn Benander, Laura Sandvik and Greg Oles. Moderator, James Stacy

7:54 p.m. Meeting reconvened.

OLD BUSINESS:
Winter Parking Ban Additional Parking - in response to the lack of tenement parking in the village area, the town is offering another location for overnight parking. The town-owned lot located below Mole Hollow Candle will be available to residents between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.

2009 CDBG Grant Application RE: Vote of Support - a three-part motion was made by Joe and seconded by John to:

  • approve the submission of the 2009 Joint Community Development Block Grant application which includes the following activities: Reconstruction of Main Street in Shelburne; Reconstruction of a section of Franklin Street in Buckland; a Neighbor-to-Neighbor program delivered by the Shelburne Senior Center; Emergency Food Assistance Program delivered by Community Action and General Administration by a private consultant and Shelburne staff;
  • to authorize the Chairman and staff to sign any documents associated with the application and;
  • to approval the final plans and specifications for improvements to Main Street.
    The motion was approved unanimously.

Spending Freeze and FY'2010 Budget Directives Revisited - in response to the Governor's $30,400 reduction in Shelburne FY'09 state aid, the Board has enacted an immediate spending freeze on all non-essential purchases. A lengthy discussion ensued amongst Board members regarding the manner in which the town will balance the budget in order to compensate for the loss. Fiscal Officer, Scott Sawyer had created a list of accounts that could be drawn from to make up the $30,400 difference. John disagreed with the approach and suggested that rather than take from surplus account balances; each department should be asked to generate $10,000 whether by reducing salaries, operating budgets or both. Finance Committee Chairman, Lynn Benander who was present for the discussion agreed with John in theory but was concerned that his suggested approach was too drastic being the town has already spent 75% of the total budget for this fiscal year. With only 25% of the overall budget remaining, Lynn suggested the need for better management of expenditures. She disagreed with John's suggestion to reduce employee's hours and/or salaries. Joe stated that he is in favor of looking at each and every line of the budget in an attempt to find ways to make up for the loss in state aid but he is not completely sold on the idea of cutting hours. He is concerned for employee morale. As a way of saving money, Joe stated that he would rather reduce the town's contribution to health insurance; from 75% to 70%. Bob summarized the discussion by pointing out the differences between short-term and long-term solutions; suggesting that each and every idea be examined carefully. Bob was supportive of the Board's suggestion to forgo their 2.5% salary increase for the remainder of the fiscal year but did not want to see hourly employees subject to the same reduction. Finance Committee member Greg Oles suggested that the Board look at all contracts for services and determine whether or not some of those services can be brought in-house. He suggested time-off rather than over-time and urged the Board to be very creative moving forward. Looking ahead to next fiscal year, Shelburne anticipates an estimated $27,000 cut in state-aid; in response, departments have been asked to present two additional budget scenarios; one representing a 10% reduction in operating expenses and one representing a 15% reduction in operating expenses.

8:30 p.m. Zoning Board of Appeals Budget Presentation (Joe Palmeri, Chairman) - Joe began his presentation by stating that his Board is ecstatic to have the assistance of the part-time administrative assistant. As requested by the Board, Joe presented a level-funded budget in the amount of $1,825. $1,500 of the budget represents 104 hours of clerical support; leaving $325 for expenditures; primarily postage and advertising. If the Zoning Board were to reduce their operating expenses by 10%, it would reflect a savings of $32.50; a 15% reduction would reflect a savings of $48.75. Given the frequency of hearings over the last year, Joe would like to establish a revolving account for his Board so that monies received by applicants for advertising costs could be placed in an account to be used for that purpose. Presently, monies received from applicants are placed in the general fund. Members of the Board suggested that Joe speak with the Fiscal Officer about establishing such an account.

NEW BUSINESS:
Selectmen's Change in Meeting Schedule - given the demand for meeting space at Memorial Hall on a Thursday evenings, the Board began to explore the possibility of changing their meeting nights to Monday evenings. After checking schedules and speaking with the public access channel personnel it appears that every other Monday evenings will work. After a brief discussion, a motion was made by John to change the Selectmen's meeting night from every other Thursday to every other Monday night beginning March 2nd. Joe seconded the motion. Motion passed unanimously.

Shelburne Senior Center RE: Friday Closings - in light of the funding issues facing member towns, Director, Jamie Godfrey feels that it would be prudent to close the Senior Center to the public on Fridays. The Center is not used heavily on Fridays and to heat and light the main hall for only a few individuals is not cost effective. Jamie indicated that vital services such as transportation will not be interrupted; activities and meetings will be rescheduled for another day; and staff will be present to answer phone calls and performing administrative duties. A motion was made by Joe to approve the request effective immediately. John seconded the motion. Motion passed unanimously.

Shelburne Senior Center RE: Request to Change Activities Coordinator Job Description - Director, Jamie Godfrey provided the Selectmen with a copy of the current job description as well as a copy of the proposed job description which includes a change in title. Jamie feels that the proposed changes reflect more accurately both what the individual does and how the Center envisions the position evolving in the coming years. The request was tabled until the Board had an opportunity to review the proposed changes.

Mass Highway Department RE: Brook Road Status - Mass Highway has received a letter from the Town of Colrain concerning Shelburne's ability to reopen Brook Road for the use by both municipalities. District Aid Engineer, Kathyrn Stevens has contacted our Highway Superintendent to discuss the status of the road and the magnitude of repair. Ms. Stevens informed him that Shelburne is eligible for a Small Town Road Assistance Program Grant up to $500,000 with 100% of the grant being reimbursed by the Commonwealth. Bob reported that Pete has received the application and has had preliminary discussions with the F.R.C.O.G. regarding their assistance with the required paperwork. A motion was made by Joe directing the Highway Superintendent to pursue the STRAP grant as a funding source for the repair of Brook Road. John seconded the motion. Motion passed unanimously. Joe requested that the Board be kept informed throughout the application process.

OTHER BUSINESS:
S.F.A.B.A. RE: Trash & Recycling Survey - Mary Vilbon, Executive Director of the Shelburne Falls Area Business Association is requesting permission to send a brief survey to Shelburne residents regarding the town's trash collection and recycling program. A motion was made by Joe to authorize the S.F.A.B.A. to mail the survey. John seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.

Adjournment: Joe made a motion to adjourn at 9:20 p.m. John seconded the motion. Motion carried.

Respectfully submitted,

Terry Mosher
Executive Secretary