Board of Selectmen Meeting Minutes & Agendas

Apr 13, 2020

Board of Selectmen Minutes - April 13, 2020


 

TOWN OF LITTLETON
MONDAY, APRIL 13, 2020
5:00 PM
BOARD OF SELECTMEN’S MEETING
REMOTE MEETING
MINUTES

Present:  Town Manager Andrew Dorsett, Chairman Carrie Gendreau, Vice Chairman Chad Stearns, Selectman Roger Emerson, Executive Secretary Ceil Stubbings

Others Present:  Chris Tyler (PD), Joe Mercieri (FD), Chad Miller (FD), Karen Noyes (Finance Director), Doug Damko (PW)

Gendreau called the meeting to order at 5:02 PM.  Gendreau stated the second public hearing will be kept open until 5:15 PM.

Pledge of Allegiance

Appointments:  None

Town Manager’s Report:

Dorsett said the Transfer Station has only used 2.5% of its budget for this year   and expenses were down this first quarter.  We have temporarily suspended recycling and limited the number of customers at one time.  Staff had also been directed to limited assistance with the public.

Stearns said he had read somewhere that the price of cardboard has doubled.  Dorsett said he should have

been clearer about that, they are still recycling cardboard.  Dorsett said that Brian   

Patnoe has been proactive reaching out to commercial contractors and even offering to make pick 

  1. Parks & Recreation programs have been canceled and staff have been reduced.  The playgrounds are closed and public areas are open and being maintained.  The public is encouraged to go out to exercise and stay healthy.  The Opera House has been closed for public use and staff has been reduced.  Maintenance staff has been cross trained ready to service other departments in case of illness.  The facility is clean and ready to reopen when the time comes.  The Town Office has been closed to the public.  Gendreau wanted to skip back to the Opera House.  Are we encouraging later rental dates?  Dorsett said that Sue Pilotte is doing what she can.  Dorsett said the Town Office can do almost everything they did prior to the epidemic using email, zoom and the phone.  Dorsett said the Town Clerk told him this morning that new vehicle registrations were up.  Planning and Zoning is still busy and we have some shovel ready projects that are ready for 2020. 

 

Welfare has increased and we continue to collaborate with outside agencies.  We have been notified of a new agency that wants to help women who are homeless or suffer from substance abuse.  Human Resources activity has increased due to the virus.  Tax and sewer collections are continuing along with abatement requests.  There has not been a decrease of activity in that office and they also handle our liability requests.  Gendreau said she knew the sewer bills just went out, but are we contemplating what we can do if people can’t pay.  Dorsett said the DRA is allowing the municipalities to address this on their own.  Many towns are addressing it on a case by case.

Finance and AP are working on tracking the virus expenses in the hopes of getting reimbursement.  Noyes said the Fire Chief has submitted estimated numbers to FEMA for about $235,000.  Noyes further stated that many people are involved in the tracking. 

 

Chief Mercieri said that at a meeting held this afternoon, there was a brief discussion regarding reimbursements.  The reimbursement formula is 75/25.  The state is trying to negotiate a higher return rate.  Dorsett said the Health Officer is seeing an increase in calls.  Public
Works has changed their work habits to allow for social distancing.  The fire department has been under heavy demand due to the virus.  We are looking at schedule changes to accommodate the demand and to save on overtime.  The recruitment process is still underway for the Fire Chief position.  The police department has increased activity and several quarantines.  Chris Tyler said the department relies heavily on the fire department and are in contact with them on a daily basis. The Town is having meetings to keep abreast of the changes as needed.  Mercieri said the EOC has been meeting biweekly.  There is an expectation of a surge and they are gearing up for that.  Gendreau wanted to thank the fire and police departments and all of the departments for their service. 

Dorsett said he wanted to provide an update on some of the financial impacts.  He sent a letter to all of the departments advising them to look for reductions in their budgets.  Dorsett said there will be negative impacts to the community.  The Town has to continue to provide critical services to the community.  In order to reduce the impact to the community we have identified where we can make reductions in the budget.  We have reviewed projects that can be cut or delayed for this year.  We believe we can cut expenses up to $650,000.  The reductions will not impact the first tax bill, but will impact the second tax bill.  We hope that by October we will have a pot of money to present to the Board for them to see what they see fit to reduce the impact.  We have already reduced some staff and we are not taking on some of the seasonal staff.  We are also looking for a 2.5 hour reduction for hourly staff.  We are also looking at reductions in all areas of the budget where ever we could.  Dorsett went on listing the other areas recommended for reductions.  We are looking at holding off on some of our infrastructure projects.  Dorsett said he is looking for support on this reduction method.  Gendreau opened it up for discussion.  Emerson said anything that can help people is a good thing.  We don’t know what is going to happen.  It’s going to take people some time to get back to where they were before this all happened.  Stearns said $650,000 is a third of the tax bill, the school will need to see what they can do even though he knows it will be difficult for them. Gendreau said she would like to see an update at each meeting to keep it fluent.  Noyes pointed out the revenues also have to be monitored.  If there is not sufficient revenue it will impact the tax rate and not get it to go down.  Gendreau pointed out the loss of the meals and rooms tax. 

Stearns made the motion to support the Town Manager’s recommended budget reductions with a monthly meeting update.  Emerson seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0.

Greenup Day – April 18, 2020

Dorsett said next up was Greenup Day.  It is scheduled for April 18th this year.  We usually have a bbq to wrap it up but will not be doing that this year.  Gloves and bags will be available at the transfer station.  We will make sure people are instructed on how to deal with needles and one pots should they find them.  Stearns asked if the blue bags would be available to those who do cleanup year round on their roads.  Dorsett thought they would be available. 

Old Business: 
Sub-5 Mill Street Sewer/Storm Project

Dorsett said he would provide a brief update before Doug Damko takes over on the remainder of the construction on Mill Street using $140,000 from the sub-sewer water project from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.  With consideration and concerns from the property owners from the March 23rd board meeting.  We had two questions with one being can arrangements be made to do the work at night.  Doug Damko said the answer was no.  The contractor did not give a specific reason why.  They said the current contract with the Town did not include night work.  Dorsett said they then looked at if the funding could extended with the CWSRF.  Damko said that came directly from the state, they said that there is no relief being offered based on the work already done.  They said we would have to stick to the schedule already set so the answer is no it cannot be extended.  The work would have to be completed by the end of July with the paperwork being submitted in August.  Dorsett said it was beneficial to have an engineer on board.  Damko took a second look at the pipes and found them to be sufficient.  There are a couple of issues with sagging.  Damko said the sagging makes it easier for debris to collect there. The line itself looks good except for the sagging.  Dorsett asked Damko what he came up with regarding separating the storm water and sewer drains.  Damko said he thought it might be a good thing to have extra water from the storm drains to flush out the sewer drains.  It’s not ideal we would prefer them separated.  Water & Light would have to coordinate with us to move the water line which is near the storm and sewer drains.  Doug said that based on his findings he is recommending we not go forward with construction on Mill Street.  We are going to look at other areas that need improvement to utilize the $140,000.  Gendreau asked if there were any questions or comments. Stearns said it didn’t break his heart to put the project off.  Emerson agreed it was a good idea to defer the project especially since there are no serious problems.  Dorsett said they looked at curbing as a drainage tool.  We looked to see if we could use the money for that but were told no. 

Jim Alden said it was unfortunate we have had to twist in the wind for three weeks when we could have had these answers on March 23rd.  Alden said he sent some questions to Gendreau and has not received answers.  Jim asked when it was decided to close Mill Street from 7:00 to 5:00. What date was the decision made?  Gendreau said that many of his questions are a moot point now.  Alden said it was not a moot point, we need confidence in how these decisions are made.  Alden said that confidence is fairly low right now.  Dorsett provided a history of the various stages of the Mill Street project since its inception.  Alden said his questions are still out there.  There should be a relationship between the Town and the business owners and that it will take time to rebuild some trust.  Alden wanted to know where we are with Mill Street in regards to parking, speed bumps etc.  Gendreau said that was a good question.  Dorsett said there are a lot of moving parts in the short and long term. 

New Business:
Partridge Lake CWSRF Selectboard Resolution
Dorsett said the resolution is required to start the grant process.  This will have no tax impact.  Stearns made the motion to make the Town Manager as the manager of the grant.  Emerson seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0. 

Dorsett said there was another item on Finance and Refinance.  Noyes will speak to this.  Some of the financing is for 2020 Articles 14, 11 and 3.  Noyes stated they approached several different banks on the equipment leasing.  One of the local banks came in at 1.79%. The other banks came in at over 2.5%.  It is her recommendation we go with the local bank at 1.79%.  We had an authorization to do bonding on Foster Hill. She reached out to different banks and was offered 1.57%.  The other banks could not beat it.  She then reached out to banks on the current debt.  The loans for the PW department are currently at 2.249%.  2.25% was the nearest the banks could come to.  We should wait a year or two until we can get a better rate.  We looked at the River District and came up with 1.95% which would save $26,000 over the life of the loan.  The current bank is at 2.50% and offered 2.25%.  Her recommendation is to stay with the current lender.  She did not provide the names of the banks because a couple of the board members are either board members of a bank or affiliated with a bank.  Gendreau said it was the fairest way for the board to vote.  Emerson asked if the payoff time would stay the same.  Noyes said yes.  Stearns said he recused himself because he works for one of the banks.  Emerson made the motion to authorize the Town Manager to negotiate the loans.  Gendreau seconded the motion.  She also stated for disclosure purposed that she is on the Woodsville Guaranty Board.  Motion passed 2-0 with Stearns abstaining.

Board Meetings:
Dorsett said they were looking to discuss the governor’s recommendation on meetings.  Dorsett asked the board if they wanted to continue to meet in this way or do they want to meet on a as needed basis.  Gendreau opened up this topic for discussion.  Emerson stated the current policy is to meet twice a month and only once a month during the summer.  Additional meetings in the summer would be scheduled if needed.  Stearns said he likes to meet and to keep up to date.  On the other hand we need to be responsible in terms of how much staff interact.  He almost prefers to meet once a month or as needed.  If something comes up we can act accordingly.  Gendreau said there is a lot going on and she would rather have something on the books and have to say we don’t need to meet instead of oops we have to meet.  Stearns and Emerson agreed it was best to stick with the schedule.  Emerson asked Noyes if she has looked at refinancing the ambulance that has an interest of 3.25%.  Noyes said she is looking into it. 

Board of Assessors:  Alderin Hospitality, LLC  -  Passed Over

Public Comments: None

Stearns made the motion to go into a nonpublic session under
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.

After a unanimous roll call vote the board entered the nonpublic session at 6:38 PM.

The board came out of the nonpublic session at 7:00 PM.  No decisions or vote was taken.