Board of Selectmen Meeting Minutes & Agendas

Apr 27, 2020

Board of Selectmen Minutes - April 27, 2020


MONDAY, APRIL 27, 2020
5:00 PM




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


Others Present:  Erin Hennessey (State Representative), Robert Blechl (The Caledonian), Joe Mercieri (LFD), Chad Miller (LFD), Chris Tyler (LPD), Doug Damko (PWD), Karen Noyes (Finance Director)

Pledge of Allegiance

Gendreau called the meeting to order at 5:02 PM.


Erin Hennessey – State Representative appointed to Governor Sununu’s COVID-19 Team
Gendreau introduced Erin Hennessey as having been appointed to the governor’s office relief and recovery program.  She was present to give the board an update.  Hennessey said the governor’s office for relief and recovery has two different advisory boards.  One is an advisory board of eight legislative members and an industry advisor board.  They are meeting several times a week.  So far they have heard from various different healthcare associations and institutions including hospitals, mental health providers and county nursing homes.  They have also heard from several different state agencies. They have heard from cities, towns and counties, nonprofits and higher education organizations.  Restaurants, Contractors, Automobile dealers and various other entities have been reaching out.  She has been in contact daily with constituents’ who have questions on unemployment benefits, small business loans and various other concerns.  She is conducting weekly zoom meetings with constituents. 

Hennessey then provided an update on the legislature and the activity.  In general almost all the legislature activity has ceased.  Right before we stopped in March, we were almost at the crossover day senate gets the house bills and the house gets the senate bills.  Hennessey said that most of the Town’s biggest concerns were property tax delinquencies.  The increased interest they would have to pay on a Tax Anticipation Note, and all other shortfalls in fees and other taxes they would not receive.  She said she would be happy to answer any questions anyone might have.  They have developed of list of recommendations that will be brought before the governor.  It will be interesting to see how it will pair up to the recommendations submitted by the other group.  Emerson thanked Hennessey for everything she has been doing. 


Chris Tyler (LPD) asked how the money that has been made available is being utilized.  Hennessey said this is the money that comes from the CARES Act.  This is the first round of money.  It was 1.52 billion dollars that was given to New Hampshire.  Before the advisory groups were formed the governor had already allocated 10% of that to groups within the state.  The Health & Human Services Department has been overwhelmed since late January or early February.  A big part of is funding that will be given to health care organizations.  Their calling them loans but they are really grants.  Four North Country hospitals have received funding from this.  She just learned the fire department has requested assistance from the fund for an ambulance.  To her knowledge they have not received the funding.  The remaining 90% of the funds will be allocated based on the recommendations of the two advisory groups.  20% of the remaining funds should go to healthcare, 40% should go to small business, 20% should go to nonprofit, and 20% should go to cities and towns.  Hennessey said there is no deadline, but there is a concern to get the money out there as soon as possible to get the economy running again.  There is also concern that if we give all of it out, if there is another round of this in the fall or the winter that we didn’t save any money to deal with it.  We may keep some in reserve, but that has not been determined yet.  Gendreau and Emerson asked if she had any idea of timeline when shops and retail would open back up.  Hennessey said she is not given that information.  There is a re-opening commission that will be making recommendations of re-opening. 


Chief Joe Mercieri (Littleton FD) – Emergency Response Process
Emergency Response
Dorsett said Mercieri is going to explain how the emergency response process works.  Questions like why certain vehicles go out per call.  Emerson said he would like to figure out on all of the calls we go out how many we can actually bill for and how many we come back empty handed.  He would also like to know why there is so much activity per call and who puts the code out. Chad Miller said he could respond to Emerson’s questions.  He started with an explanation of what happens when you call 911. Miller covered the process and protocols in place when coding 911 calls.  There are 37 protocols that dispatch uses.  Miller then explained the various call codes and how they decide which vehicles and number of responders needed to answer the call.  Sometimes when we are training new full time members, we may need to have them to respond but yet maintain availability to respond to other calls.  Also sometimes different certifications come into play.  For instance we may get a call for an individual who weighs four hundred pounds, sending two people is not being responsible.  We will send all of the personnel we have and whatever vehicles we have at that moment.  We may have patients that have metal health issues.  We need more than one person in the back of the ambulance with them for safety purposes.  Typically there are two people on the ambulance and the full crew for calls that require more urgency.  Joe Mercieri said there was a recent incident where the person was suffering from an overdose.   The ambulance arrived and administered two doses of Narcan.  It brought the person back and they became coherent, you would think that person would want to go to the hospital.  That was not their choice.   People call 911 for all sorts of different reasons.  It’s just the nature of the system.  We have a duty to respond.  We go to the call and then a decision is based on if the person is coherent and make a decision if they want to be transported or decide they do not want to go to the hospital.  It’s not unusual to not end up transporting the patient to the hospital.  Typically when you go to a call there are times that you will not have someone to transport.  Emerson said it has answered some of his questions but feels there is more research that needs to be done.  Mercieri said his department is willing to provide Emerson with any information he needs.          


EMS Billing:
Dorsett asked Mercieri and Miller if they had the billable amounts for the first quarter.  Dorsett said he asked for how much was billed this year and the call volume versus how many calls were billable.  Miller said he would have to break it down and that he did not have the number right in front of him.  Miller said he would get that information to them.  Their billing process is on a monthly basis and not quarterly.  EMS is our busiest function right now but it may not be considered our primary.  We have had 217 EMS calls in 2020 year to date.  We have seen 235 patients from those calls.  We responded to 71 fire incidents.  Motor vehicle collisions are considered EMS calls.  Not every call they have is billable.  What he will do is take a look at the percentage of EMS calls that are billable.  Emerson said he is interested in the percentage.  Is it 30% or 50% that we can’t bill out?  Miller stated that the last time he looked into this nearly 65% of the calls were billable.  Miller said it is just not about billable calls.  Some of the work we do is related what we can do to keep our seniors at home.  We do a fair number of welfare checks to check on these people.  They may call because they need help getting into bed or for other mobility issues and we assist. We don’t consider these calls to be billable.  Emerson he agrees that type of service is commendable.  His problem is when we run a $400,000 ambulance to do it rather than send out the big dollars for a vehicle we may have to replace in another three years.  Miller said he agrees and they have discussed that.  The ambulance is the cheapest vehicle they have right now as far as replacement value.  Miller said if they had another vehicle they could certainly do more without taking the ambulance out.  Dorsett asked if welfare checks could be done with a standard admin vehicle.  Miller said yes but that it would have to have all the right equipment in it.  That welfare check also involves cardiac monitoring and vital statistics.  If we can get the right vehicle with the right tools on it we could reduce the amount the ambulance is used.  Emerson thanked Miller and Mercieri for their time. 

Town Manager’s Report:
COVID-19 Budget Updates

            Dorsett stated Parks & Recreation have continued with their canceled their programs and staff reductions.  .  The basketball and tennis courts remain closed.  There was a call to open the tennis courts from some members of the public.  The parks and recreation commission met and decided to not reopen them.  The open spaces and trails will remain open.  They are just asking the public to maintain proper distance and hygiene.  The Opera House remains closed for public use.  Staff has been greatly reduced.  The building is clean and ready to reopen when the time comes.  Inquiries regarding rentals are still being responded to.  Administrative Offices are still closed to public access.  Staff is to maintain required distance guidelines.  We have people coming in on different days of the week to reduce any chance of exposure.  Public Works has changed out staff interact.  They have gone to smaller crews that go out, no lunch or meetings in the department’s conference room.  The Town has a soft opening of the EOC (Emergency Operations Center).  We are meeting twice a week on average and going over any issues that arise.  The Health Officer, police, fire, EMS, himself and finance are all part of those meetings. 


Dorsett said that after the last meeting they came up with list of items they were going to attack.  Currently we are maintaining certain hiring delays, staff layoffs, warrant article considerations.  Our goal is to be ready in the event if the government releases money for shovel ready projects.  We plan to implement engineering and other steps to ensure we are eligible for the funds.  Use of funds is something else we looked into.  For example the school had access to certain types of funds.  We received notice from the DRA that even if additional savings are found in 2020 it can’t be applied to the t ax rate by any higher amount that exists already.  Only 2019 Fund Balance can be used to offset the 2020 Tax Rate.  Stearns said he was worried about the hit the Town is going to take on the Meals & Room Tax.  Dorsett said you would think that a community with so much hospitality and restaurants that we would get a big meals and rooms tax, but we don’t what we get is based on population.  Dorsett and the board then reviewed fund balances and discussed the limited use of those funds.  Plans for improvements were discussed regarding the Wastewater Treatment Plant.  Dorsett provided a brief update on other ongoing projects including the Rail to Trail Project.  Dorsett said they have submitted two requests to the DOT for them to declare the underused piece of land at the intersection of South Street and Riverside to see if they would give a status of surplus.  If they would approve a status of surplus then we would have the ability to request the land for either ourselves or to use it for another purpose.  Gendreau said they are dumping materials there.  Dorsett said they denied the first two requests.  They take local input from the local management office.  The local management office currently uses it for dumping purposes.  They said that if we could find them a comparable spot then they would be willing to consider giving up the lot.  We offered them a couple of different but they said they were too far out of Town.  Dorsett said he had a meeting with the commissioner and a member of the governor’s staff recently.  They are doing a ditching project and replacing culverts.  The materials are not considered to be contaminated, but has some other designation and the parcel they own they want to retain it in order to dump those materials.  It’s unfortunate because that parcel has a really high value to the Rail Trail and the River District.  Stearns said he feels bad for the neighborhood because it affects the property values in the neighborhood.  Emerson said with the amount of dumping there over the years there is a good possibility there is contamination there.  Dorsett it would have to be tested.  Gendreau asked if they should ask the neighbors if they would be willing to submit letters of support.  Stearns said he didn’t feel it would do much good considering they have denied our request twice.  Stearns said they should continue to look for land that could possibly be suitable for them. 


Dorsett said the Town will be moving to a new website in the near future.  The company they are moving to specializes in municipalities.  He thinks we will be up and running in June or July. 


Old Business: 

Rochester Donation of Fire Truck – Thank You Letter

Gendreau thanked Dorsett for the letter to Rochester.  The letter will be mailed out once the board has signed on Wednesday. 

New Business:

Roger Emerson said he went to Dell’s with Jim Durante who has done a tremendous amount of work at the site.  He has painted all of the tables and removed a massive amount of trash. Durante has put a lot of work into it and hetakes pride in it.  Emerson said there should be some kind of recognition for the work he has done.  Gendreau and Stearns agreed to look into recognizing the efforts of Mr. Durante and others at future meetings. 


Board of Assessors: None


Public Comments:  None


The meeting adjourned at 6:50 PM after a unanimous roll call vote. 


The board then entered a nonpublic session per: 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 at 6:51 PM. 


The board came out of the nonpublic session at 7:16 PM. Nonpublic meeting minutes will be posted seperatly.