Board of Selectmen Meeting Minutes & Agendas

May 9, 2020

Board of Selectmen Minutes - May 11, 2020


 

TOWN OF LITTLETON
MONDAY, MAY 11, 2020

5:00 PM
BOARD OF SELECTMEN'S MEETING
REMOTE MEETING MINUTES

Present: Town Manager Andrew Dorsett, Chairman Carrie Gendreau, V. Chairman Chad Stearns, Selectman Roger Emerson, Executive Secretary Ceil Stubbings, Finance Director Karen Noyes

Others Present: Phil Bodwell (DRA) Department of Revenue Administration, Skip Sansousy, George Lickiss

Gendreau called the meeting to order at 5:03 PM

Pledge of Allegiance

Appointments:
Phil Bodwell, Department of Revenue Administration – Assessing Overview
Phil Bodwell talked about the ratio study. Littleton had a review recently and thought they could forego the revaluation. The 2019 statistics came out and showed the Town needs a reassessment. He believes it is right the Town is going to continue with the 2020 update. The overall ratio from the study of sales from 2019 came down at 93.3%. That is down 7% from where it should be at 100%. The measure of equity comes out high at 20, and it should be less than 20. That means there is a lot of deviation in the sales from the median. That's another reason why the values are getting out of whack. Apartment buildings appear to be down 76% of the value.

Granted, there were not a lot of sales, but there were some. Single families are down to 91%. Multifamily is down to 94%. Manufactured housing with the land is down to 81%. A lot of different property types are getting well below market value. Manufactured housing without land seems to be over-assessed, showing 114%. Vacant land also seems over-assessed by coming in at 113%. The variations in the market have probably caused these discrepancies. It should come back into line with the reval this year. The DRA does some oversight of assessing work.

We monitor the assessing work the contractors perform. We generally check on twelve properties and make sure the data is accurate. Sansousy provided information on how utilities are assessed. He also provided an update on the current utilities in Littleton and any future growth or changes that will be closely monitored for evaluating purposes.

Town Manager's Report:
Littleton High School Senior Parents Request
Gendreau said the school is going to put the pictures of the graduates on banners. Emerson asked where the banner was going to be placed. Originally it was going to be put on Main Street, but they abandoned that idea. The school is meeting tonight to finalize how and where they are going to do this. There are 48 graduating seniors. No action needed.

Tax Anticipation Note (TAN)
Dorsett and Noyes requested a TAN for $4,000,000.
Dorsett stated that in between when the tax bills go out, our cash flow gets low. What we do is borrow money in anticipation of the tax revenues. This year is a bit different due to COVID-19 and the additional expense of overtime and other costs. There is a program this year where the cost of the interest can be a reimbursable expense. Noyes said they were down to $325,000.

That amount would only cover this week's payroll and other expenses. We had hoped to hold out until June 1st because we had billed out a PILOT, and the sewer bills had been sent out. Noyes asked the school if they could hold off on their payment, and they said they could. Noyes said they were hoping they would have received the PILOT funds. We found out today that we were not going to get the PILOT payment until it is due. Noyes said she needed the board to make the following motion:

"To authorize the Town Manager and Treasurer to take a TAN for no more than $4,000,000 without additional approval. The TAN will be financed at the lowest rate possible and for no more than seven months without additional approval. This authorization for the TAN will expire on November 12, 2020."

Noyes said she estimated the interest would be from one to three percent. She went on to say she was hoping to get approval for three to seven months. In this way, she does not have to come back to the board. Last year they asked for a 2,000,000 TAN that they never took. She is asking this year for no more than 4,000,000 without additional approval and to finance it at the lowest rate possible, for no more than seven months. Noyes said she is concerned the tax revenues might be slow due to people being out of work.

There is a grant (The CARES Act Grant); it is called the GOPHER Grant. It will reimburse the Town for interest payments. We budget $5,000 for interest each year, but whatever interest is paid due to the current circumstances can be reimbursed. She estimates the TAN would cost about $4,900 per month with interest. Roger Emerson asked if they take the TAN would they only be paying interest on the amount they used. Noyes said they would be paying interest on the full amount they borrowed.

Carrie Gendreau said she would be more comfortable with a lesser amount. She had no problem with them coming back to the board to ask for another TAN. She also would like to reduce the period and not have it for seven months. Dorsett said one of the good things about taking a TAN now is the grant can cover the interest. Chad Stearns said he had to recuse himself from the vote because a bank employs him, and his specialty is business development is what he does.

Gendreau made the following motion:
"To authorize the Town Manager and Treasurer to take a TAN for no more than $2,000,000 without additional approval. The TAN will be financed at the lowest possible price and for no more than three months without additional approval. The authorization for approval for the TAN will expire on August 12th, 2020." Emerson seconded the motion. Motion passes 2-0. Stearns recused himself from the vote.

Budget Update/Tax Revenues
Dorsett provided the board with a few COVID-19 updates. Permanent glass is being ordered for the front of the administration offices. The board was provided with a year to date. Gendreau asked if the loss of revenue from the Opera House could be reimbursed because of the COVID-19. Noyes and Dorsett said they were researching and working on what will be allowed for reimbursement. Dorsett said that back in April, the Park Commissioner's closed the tennis and basketball courts along with the playgrounds. Some residents expressed displeasure with their decision. The Park's Commission decided to hold another meeting specifically for public input.

Only one person attended this meeting, who is an employee. They did not get any feedback from the meeting. Currently, the commission is waiting on the governor's orders on reopening parks in the state. Gendreau and Emerson felt the parks and rec commissioners should consider opening with all of the recommended safety measures put in place.

Dorsett said another update is there is going to be a brainstorming session of citizens, school board chair, select board chair, budget committee chair, and other community members who are going to get together to think about the upcoming budget year. Dorsett provided the board with the current budget policy. Stearns said he would like to see the budget committee and the select board get the budgets they were going to discuss on a Thursday before the budget meeting was happening on Tuesday. It would allow time for people to review the budget and prepare questions. Noyes said she has been doing the budget with the budget committee since 2007. They don't want to give any recommendations until the very end until they know what the effect it will have on the tax rate.

Old Business:
Dorsett asked the board to meet to talk about Mill Street specifically.
The board said they would meet on Monday, May 18, 2020, at 5:00 PM.

Gendreau thanked the Water & Light Department for extending their 10% abatement to the customers.

New Business:
Resident Volunteer Recognition Nominations
The Board of Selectmen has developed a nomination form for residents who have been generous with their time and talents. The form is available on the Town website for anyone who wants to nominate someone who has volunteered or has done something that makes Littleton one of the best towns in New Hampshire. Gendreau said they would make their first recognition at the May 26th meeting. Stearns made the motion to approve the Resident Volunteer Recognition Program. Emerson seconded the motion. Motion passed 3-0.

Acceptance & Expenditure of CARES Act Assistance
Noyes passed out copies of the various grants that have been applied for by the Fire Department. FEMA only pays 75% of COVID-19 reimbursable expenses. Some of the costs are for overtime to respond to COVID-19 medical. It covers 75% of EOC activities and training. It also includes the use of the ambulance, sanitization, PPE, and other pandemic expenses. This grant is available from January 20, 2020, to the end date of the incident period. They have not given an actual date. Other federal funds cannot match the funds. We are estimating a reimbursement of about $235,000. This grant also covers administration time at a rate of 15%.

Noyes said the CARES is a different grant. This is the one that you need to authorize Andrew Dorsett to accept and expend. There is an RSA that refers to this. Typically anything over $10,000 has to be noticed for a public hearing to accept and spend unanticipated funds. With this grant, the board can authorize the Town Manager to accept and expend any amount without having to hold a public hearing. Noyes recommends that Dorsett be allowed to accept $9,999.99 every week. This includes hazard pay for first responders. This includes police, fire, and part-time call company employees. It's $300 per week for full time. $50 to $150 for part-time employees. They must be available. We pay the hazard pay, and they reimburse us.

It's estimated to be $7,000 to $8,000 per week. This grant is only for eight weeks. This is an incentive because of the hazards they are dealing with. We have had the first submission this week. We will be submitting for each of the eight weeks. She is not asking the board to approve Andrew to accept and expend the FEMA grant. She is asking for the CARES, Grant. Under RSA 21-p:43, that would permit him without any public hearing, to accept and expend the CARES Act Grant every week. Dorsett said they would keep the board informed bi-weekly with the payroll reports. Noyes said they are doing separate checks for the hazard, and there are no retirement costs associated with it.

Noyes described another grant that will cover employment costs, but it has to be repaid when the pandemic is over. Because of how this grant is set up, it does not make sense to pull funds from this. The other thing it does help with, and she wants to submit to, is covering the cost the employer paid for FICA taxes, social security, and Medicare. This helps to offset what the employer had to pay out in benefits to the employees.

The next thing she has is a CDBG CV Grant. Noyes said she knows very little about it right now. It's supposed to help pay for the correspondence and other expenses related to COVID-19, regardless of the date of when the cost occurred. It also has to comply with CDBG requirements. Noyes said she is signed up for a workshop on this grant to gain a full understanding of the requirements. She does not know if we would be eligible at this time, but it could be something worth looking at. Noyes then moved onto the grant shown below.

GOFERR (Governor's Office for Emergency Relief & Recovery Information
This grant includes an increase in Welfare costs. Food, shelter, utility costs, the interest on the TANS, helps cover the cost of computers, software, etc. It will cover the costs of workers who cannot work due to illness or lack of childcare. The grant will include legal fees, building modifications necessary due to the virus. Anything submitted under this grant cannot be submitted under FEMA. The Town has an estimated reimbursement of $140,000. We know we are going to submit welfare, interest costs, and wages.

Noyes went back to the CARES Grant and hoped they would give the Town Manager the authority to accept and expend without having to advertise and hold a public hearing. Stearns made the motion to authorize the Town Manager to accept and expend up to $9,999 for the CARES Act for eight weeks. Emerson seconded the motion. Motion passed 3-0.

Water & Light Commissioner Appointment
Gendreau said that Peter Cooper has requested to be reappointed. Gendreau said we didn't have any other self-nominations. Stubbings said they re-advertised with a new deadline of May 20th. The board decided to wait until the next regular board meeting on May 26th.

Board of Assessors: None

Public Comments: None

Stearns made the motion to adjourn.  Emerson seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0.  The meeting adjourned at 6:38 PM.