Board of Selectmen Minutes - January 9, 2017
BOARD OF SELECTMEN’S MEETING
MONDAY, JANUARY 9, 2017
COMMUNITY CENTER, HEALD ROOM
120 MAIN STREET, LITTLETON, NH
Present: Town Manager Andrew Dorsett, Chairman Milton T. Bratz, V. Chairman Schuyler Sweet, Selectman Edward Hennessey, Executive Secretary Ceil Stubbings.
Others Present: Chad Fillion (Channel 2), Rudy Gelsi, The Courier, Karen Noyes (Finance Director), John Hennessey, Ralph Hodgman, Joe DePalma (Public Works Director)
Bratz called the meeting to order at 5:00 PM.
Pledge of Allegiance
River District Redevelopment Update
John Hennessey thanked the chairman for inviting him. The last time he provided an update to the Town was last December. Hennessey said he was pleased to discuss the events of the past year. A bond was passed at the last Town Meeting for $900,000. Part of that discussion with the taxpayers was that the $900,000 was going to yield further funding from state and federal grants. There is a $7.5 million dollar goal for the completion of the project. Hennessey said he was going to talk about funding and then construction. In June we received notice that the federal EDA department gave Littleton $1 million dollars to do the Saranac and Ammonoosuc Street reconstruction. A few months later we received notice from Northern Borders awarding us another $100,000 from a federal grant program. This money is to do Rail/Trail construction. Some really good recent news, this past Friday, Andrew Dorsett received a letter from the State Department of Transportation that the Town has received an $800,000 grant to do downtown sidewalk work. A big thanks to Cathy Conway and NCIC, who drafted the grant application. Hennessey thanked the rest of the Town and the Town staff. Hennessey also thanked Brien Ward who has worked hard on these projects. The state does a ranking on the Town’s that apply for these grants. This year statewide Littleton was ranked 2nd out of all of the 50 applications. Hennessey said that Dorsett had a map of some of the areas that were going to be reconstructed. The biggest one will be Cottage Street which the Town has been trying to get done for some time. In addition to that there will be sidewalk construction on South Street, Mt. Eustis Rd., Bronson Street and Mill Street. It will also create a connection from the suspension bridge, the Curran Bridge to what will be the Rail/Trail. The $800,000 grant will be matched by $200,000 local funding. Hennessey said a lot of work will be done. Hennessey said that of the $7.5 million goal they have now obtained $5 million total. Bratz asked if the funding would straighten out the issue on Saranac Street. Hennessey said the sidewalk funding does not, but the previous funding does. Hennessey said they are going to move forward to start construction this year. Hennessey asked if the $2.6 million TIGER grant was still outstanding. John Hennessey said yes and that they are down to one source of funding that is a big part and is the one we haven’t been successful in getting. Hennessey said they have applied for the federal TIGER grant which will do Main Street Phase 2. Hennessey then moved onto the construction phase and what the money would be used for. The Saranac and Ammonoosuc Streets are a $2 million dollar project. The Town just awarded the engineering contract to that and is going to work toward breaking ground this fall. The construction will continue into 2018. That will do the storm water and sewer system and the sidewalks from Saranac Street all the way through behind the Town Offices. The sidewalk work still needs to be approved by the Governor’s Council and they expect work to begin within three months after that. We also finished construction on the pedestrian bridge this summer. Hennessey gave a big thanks to Joe DePalma and his crew for their help with the project. Hennessey said that Shilling has embarked on a multi-million dollar expansion. This will be a big increase in the tax base and allow for job creation. A new investor just bought one of the old buildings along the river with the intention of renovating that. The Tannery Marketplace is now fully occupied. We are starting to see some of the positive effects we had hoped to see with this project. The board thanked Hennessey for the update.
Town Manager’s Report:
Warrant Article #2 - 2018 Sewer Storm Water Roadway Project Bond 2018
Dorsett said the sewer system was divided into seven sub areas. Sub Area 5 was determined to be the most immediate of concern. We have developed a package that would address the issues in Sub Area 5. The data shows that there are large amounts of inflow. The waste water increased the cost of the waste water treatment facility. The project in Sub Area 5 includes the northern sections of Pleasant Street, Pine Street, Evergreen Lane, Union Street, Cross Street and Chiswick Avenue. There are 197 full time residents, 14 businesses with 2.25 people per household. The sewer in this area is recommended for replacement. Union Street is a high traffic area so we are looking for a repair and replace there. It looks like we need to do a full replacement on the other streets. The cost for the project is roughly $2 million dollars. It will involve storm drains, sewer and the roadway itself. The reason the project is $2 million dollars is because it also involves paving. It will align the Town’s paving projects and by doing this is takes our paving dollars a lot further. For example we did two streets recently and it amounted to half a million dollars. The taxpayers will only be coming up with about 30% to 40% of the cost. There are numerous areas like this in Town and it is going to take a number of years to address these issues. There will be no tax impact in 2017. The project will not begin until 2018. Joe DePalma talked about the issue briefly by stating the pipes in Sub Area 5 are fractured and there are sections where they could not get the camera through. The situation is getting worse. We spent a lot of time surveying this and coming up with a good plan. In addition to the pipes in being in such poor condition and so much water infiltrating in, the flip side to that is what it does to the waste water treatment plant. DePalma said they spent half a million dollars on paving on about the same amount of footage. This project we are proposing will give us more paving for less money. Ed Hennessey asked if the damage is from the fractured pipes. DePalma said it is coming from the pipes, the runoff into some of the structure itself. DePalma said if this work isn’t done it has ramifications to the waste water treatment plant that could result in additional costs to upgrade the plant. Bratz said that for a community this is a really big deal for us. When he read the report back in 2011, there are numerous areas in Town that are just like this area. It is good that we combined it with some federal money coming in because every time they exceed the capacity limit they have to call and it is kept track of. Dorsett said it is estimated that the USDA will provided $900,000 in funding the NH Clean Water has already committed $$320,000 to the project and the sewer fund would like have $430,000 and the tax payers would have $350,000. Bratz said our current formula of .14 cents per thousand so it comes to about .59 cents. Dorsett said yes. This is a bond article on the 2017 ballot but it is for a 2018 project. Brien Ward asked if they were accepting comments. Bratz said not yet.
2017 Warrant Article Review & Vote
Bratz said there were a number of articles that the budget committee could not complete because they ran out of a number of members to have a quorum. Bratz asked if there were any changes from the last time. Noyes said they had a new social service article they were not expecting and there was a change from the library. Bratz said they passed over all of the social service articles so they will pass over the new one too. They had not been able to look at the budget so they were going to pass over on that too. The board voted as follows on the below warrant articles:
17 Energy Committee/Opera House - Opera House Energy Reduction 44,200.00 2-1 Bratz no
18 Opera House Opera House Stage Rigging 15,000.00 2-1 Hennessey no
19 Opera House Opera House Building Maintenance 5,000.00 0-3 Not supported
20 Parks & Recreation Remich Park Building Replacement Fund 20,000.00 2-1 Bratz no
21 Parks & Recreation Tractor 13,000.00 2-1 Bratz no
22 Parks & Recreation Mower 7,000.00 2-1 Bratz no Petitioned Warrant Articles
26 Building Improvements Capital Reserve Fund 15,000.00 0-3 Not supported
02 Sewer Storm Water Roadway Project Bond 2,000.000.00 3-0
New Business: None
Brien Ward just wanted to speak in support of the Bond article. Ward stated the Town would get quite a large amount of savings from this project. Ward said that about two years ago we spent about $50,000 to fix a problem in front of Shillings. The area kept flooding and the reason for the flooding was the building that was right across the street, the roof drains were connected into the sewer line. The main thing was to get the roof drains out of the sewer system. There is real value to what is happening on the River District. Ward thinks the people involved in this project are putting together funding package to address some long term needs. This project is literally money in the bank. Ward had asked some years ago how much the cost would be to replace our sewer treatment plant. It was built in two phases, the first in 1963 and the second in 1970. He was told at that time the cost would be about $20 million dollars.
Ralph Hodgman said he was going to harp on the same thing he has been harping on since he started coming to the meetings. As a taxpayer in looking at the tax rate, and the $2.59 tax increase that we were just hit with, that we never expected. His concern is with this project why is the cost only .04 cents. Noyes explained why the rate could be so lower if they set up the loan as a grant anticipation loan. The interest on that would be less than 2%. Noyes said they would only be paying the interest in 2018 when they got all of the grant money back. The interest is about $25,000. Hodgman said he is struggling how he is going to come up with the $800 his tax bill went up. When he looks at the budget knowing there are things we need and that are critical, but he is willing to bet that if you went back through the budget you could cut out $1.5 million of the nice to do stuff. Things like the community house and the library. Noyes said that in 2017 there will be about $175,000 in loan payments ending. Hodgman said you are still adding payments that we will have to cover for the next three to five years. Hodgman said it would be nice if we could figure out how to not add any more payments. Let’s get rid of this nice to do stuff and help the taxpayers out. The Town could give me an $800 loan to help me pay for my taxes. He starts a job at Harbor Freight next Tuesday because he can’t pay the $800.
Rudy Gelsi said people probably appreciate what Brien Ward said. He knows the Town really well and he knows the $2 million dollar will fix the sewers and stuff like that. One thing that Mr. Ward or anybody else will not talk about is all of the other spending money. How about all of this no sense spending? You got about forty one articles. If you guys know you need this money every year, do you know how much pressure you put on the taxpayer. Rudy said he does not want to brag about it, but he knows three people that say they are not going to pay the tax this year because they have no money. He knows two of them that say they are going to leave their house, they say they don’t care. You guys voted 2 to 1 for a tractor when they already have five tractors. Gelsi said that money does not grow on trees he knows that people are starving. Bratz explained to Gelsi that the total number of warrant articles is based on the number of petitioned warrant articles the Town receives. We passed over a number of those and some that they would have voted on. Our legislatures are now working on a bill to make it so that it is not a no vote if we pass over on those petitions. That will be a couple of years down the road. Bratz said that what is important for all of us is that when we go into the voting booth, none of us go in with a calculator. When we vote on things we are not adding it up. It is difficult, one of the advantages with a regular Town meeting is that it would last until midnight and not end until every article was voted on.
Eddy Moore asked when the state was going to turn on the traffic lights on Meadow Street. Dorsett said he has not heard anything back from the state. The state is still conducting the study. Moore said it is a dangerous situation. Ed Hennessey made the motion to adjourn. Sweet seconded the motion. Motion passed 3-0. The meeting adjourned at 6:03 PM.