Board of Selectmen Meeting Minutes & Agendas

Sep 10, 2018

Board of Selectmen Minutes - September 10, 2018


 

TOWN OF LITTLETON
BOARD OF SELECTMEN’S MEETING
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2018
5:00 PM
 COMMUNITY CENTER HEALD ROOM
AGENDA

 

Present:  Town Manager Andrew Dorsett, Chairman Schuyler Sweet, Vice Chairman Franco Rossi, Selectperson Carrie Gendreau, Executive Secretary Ceil Stubbings

Others Present:  Chad Fillion (Channel 2), Ralph Hodgman, Rudy Gelsi, Chief Paul Smith (Littleton PD), Nathan Karol (Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce), Karen Noyes (Finance Director)

Pledge of Allegiance

Sweet called for a moment of silence in honor of the 911 victims. 

Appointments:  None

Town Manager’s Report:
Littleton Art Festival – September 22, 2018 – Nathan Karol, Chamber of Commerce
Dorsett said the Art Festival is scheduled for September 22nd.  Nathan Karol, Executive Director of the Chamber was present to provide some information and answer questions about the event.  Karol stated the event is scheduled for September 22nd, from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.  Our request is to obtain spaces from other areas.  In particular, the ability to utilize the sidewalk space especially in front of the Court House/Post Office.  Nathan provided a map showing where tents would be set up along the sidewalks. Sweet offered to allow the board to act and vote on this item now instead of making Mr. Karol attend the entire meeting.  Sweet asked if anyone on the board or from the public had any questions.  Rudy Gelsi said that he had been hearing on the radio and from a lot of people that you changed your mind about the Christmas Parade.  Sweet told Gelsi said his question had nothing to do with what they are talking about.  They are discussing the Art Festival.  There being no further discussion, Sweet requested a motion.  Gendreau made the motion to approve the use of the sidewalks as requested.  Rossi seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0.

Adoption of Great River Hydro Negotiations – Non Disclosure Agreement
Dorsett explained that in order to continue negotiations, Great River Hydro and the Town should sign the nondisclosure agreement before any future meetings.  Sweet stated they would vote on this under Board Action later in the meeting. 

Green Street Paving Schedule
Dorsett stated that Green Street was originally included in the River District Project.  This is a heavily used parking area.  It is mostly used by customers of the Diner and the Antique Shop.  This project is scheduled to be under excavation on the morning of the 16th, there will also be some surface prep between now and the 21st of September.  All of the abutting businesses have been notified. We are still looking at the final design for the lines.  We want to make sure we can add as many parking spaces as possible.  Rossi asked if anyone has ever thought about metering the parking area.  Dorsett said he would pass that onto the Parking Commission. 

Dorsett provided an update on the Master Plan Project. The bids came in and the Planning Board interviewed those who had submitted an RFP.  The project has now been awarded to Resilience Planning & Design.  Dorsett said he had a quick update on the EMS Study.  They first had looked at having the fire department and a committee to find the best way to get a non-biased view.  We put together an RFP out for bid.  We received a bid, the EMS committee will be meeting soon in the near future.  The Saranac and Ammonoosuc Project schedule looks good and we are within the timeline.  Dorsett said the Rail Trail right now is not moving along because we are still waiting for a response from the DOT. 

Old Business: 
Agenda Policy
Sweet said it was decided at the last meeting the board would read and discuss the policy at this meeting.  Rossi said he did not think the board came over very well at the last meeting.  He did have the agenda policy and it is not new to him but it was new to him reading it again.  Rossi said they voted on it a few months ago to reinstate it or amend it.  Rossi said he had a hard time finding anything in it that he had a problem with.  He thinks it is how it is being implemented is causing potential problems. 

Rossi said he was not sure what the solution and is not sure of the specific language.  He feels that there needs to be an easier opportunity for people to talk about things and not necessarily things that are just on the agenda.  He understands why the policy is there and being asked questions that cannot be answered at the meeting.  Rossi said he would like to see more opportunity for people to bring up what they want.  Rossi said he was not here when the policy was developed.  Sweet said part of the discomfort came because some people thought the policy was new.  It is far from new, it was developed in 2015.  Sweet said he created part of the problem by allowing people to not follow the policy.  When it started to get out of hand he decided to adhere to the policy.  Rossi said his problem is how this manifests itself with the best of intentions.  He feels it is just resulting in an atmosphere of people feeling they can’t talk to their selectmen.  Gendreau feels that as a board they need to be transparent.  We need to allow some discussion.  She gave a lot of thought to it.  She provided several examples and wondered if setting aside ten minutes to let people talk about what is on their minds.    Gendreau said we probably won’t have the answers to the questions that come up.

Sweet said a Selectmen’s Meeting is a meeting for the selectmen to conduct the business of the Town.

In 2015 it became out of hand and the policy was developed to keep the topics on the agenda and allow the meeting to flow.  One of the merchants on Main Street suggested that we have a meeting where we don’t conduct any business.  It is a meeting to listen to the public.  Sweet said that basically we just sit here as targets.  Sweet said he thinks it is ridiculous but it is a suggestion.  When you think of other elected officials, their meetings are not interrupted but they are subject to all sorts of criticism.   Sweet said it is usually through the media.  Sweet said that frankly, he thinks the people here that are doing this, are the same people that are repeatedly running for office.  They use this for free advertising through Channel 2.  Sweet said he did not see a lot of other concerned citizens here on a regular basis.  Rossi said that since the last meeting, he had two people approach him on the issue.  He questioned them and neither one of them had a problem with our policy as it stands today.  Rossi said he feels there should be time set aside for people to bring up whatever they want.  Rossi said his suggestion is that part of the agenda allows time to discuss anything.  He confers with Sweet that some of the people that get up to speak are doing it to grandstand.  Sweet said to take the Agenda Policy to Board Action.  If you want to change the policy, you can make the motion.  Before we get to board action there will be public input.  If the motion is seconded, we can vote on it.  Rossi wanted to know what the Town Manager thinks about this and how it will affect his job. 

Dorsett said the meetings are for the Board.  A lot of the topics that he has heard could have probably been taken care of in a more timely fashion by a department head or someone else in the office.  Dorsett said he wants to leave the decision up to the board.  One thing of interest is that in the beginning, the agenda allowed questions and comments on legitimate Town business.  It was then changed to what it is now. 

New Business;
Library Trustee Appointment – Barbara Enderson – this item was moved to Board Action

Profile Cable Consortium Appointment – Chad Fillion – this item was moved to Board Action

 Approve 2019 Town Meeting Calendar – this item was moved to Board Action

Request for Surplus Land Disposal – this item was moved to Board Action
Dorsett provided a brief history on the first attempted request in 2017 that was denied. He has been in contact with the DOT since that time and has submitted a new request encouraged by the DOT.

Municipal Sidewalk Agreement – this item was moved to Board Action

This has to do with the DOT requiring the applicant to install a sidewalk for any new commercial development.  The location of this one is right at the border of the Wal-Mart/Shaw’s access.  The Town has to agree that when the sidewalks are put in, we will maintain them.  

Department Highlights:

Highway Department/Public Works - Road Scholar Achievements
Sweet announced that Bill Sargent and Ralph Lucas received certificates highlighting their achievements in their training. 

Transfer Station – Citizen’s Report of Excellent Level of Service
Gendreau said she had the privilege to work at the transfer station for one day.  People who came in with their recyclables said when they have company they bring them to the transfer station because it is the best transfer station in the area.  Brian Patnoe stated a customer who was getting rid of some material cut his arm.  We didn’t think it was going to need stitches, but we helped him to stop the bleeding.  He ended up going to the hospital afterward and getting stitches.  Brian said they try to help out everyone as much as they can.  Sweet said it is nice to know your crew reacted the way they did.  The board thanked Brian and his team for the excellent work they do at the transfer station.  

Finance/Human Resource Office - Leave Time Reduction Program
Karen Noyes asks annually to reduce the leave time accrual.  Noyes said the PD or the FD they have a 24/7 schedule.  This program saves money on the overtime.  Rossi asked how much has been saved with this program.  Noyes said it was approximately $15,000 worth of savings.  Noyes stated there is $163,974.33 set aside for leave time liability.  She would like to offer it with no limits to reduce the amount.    Dorsett suggested they offer this from September 15th through November 15th.  Noyes would like to do it from September to November 30th.  Rossi asked why they don’t take it to December 31st.  Noyes said they could.  Rossi said if the goal is to encourage people to take the offer, it seems the longer the period the better. Noyes said that at the end of the year she has to calculate what she has to set aside.

Board of Assessors: None

Public Comments:
Ralph Hodgman wanted to talk about the policy.  He stated he did not run for selectman last year and will not be running this year.  The reason he likes to identify with Channel 2 is to let the taxpayers know what is going on.  If you look at this room, it is almost empty, to him this room should be full.  He is not using it for political reasons.  Secondly, the agendas from August 13th was not on the website, neither was today's.  The public is not getting the information.  Hodgman read an article from the Union Leader dated February 2015.  The article referred to the Town of Alton.  The article stated an outspoken citizen asked the Board of Selectmen to resign for their poor actions and bad decisions.  The article referenced a lawsuit the Town of Alton lost in the amount of $42,500 for infringing the right of free speech.  Your policy has been in effect for over three years and has not been followed.  All of a sudden, two months ago you decided you need to shut up certain people in Town.  The second meeting after the policy was approved, a selectman from this board told a taxpayer to sit down and shut up.  Those were the exact words at that meeting.  You guys are infringing on the right of speech.  At this point in time, he is requesting that Sweet Schuyler resign from the Board of Selectmen immediately because of his inability and ineffectiveness in running the board. 

Rudy Gelsi stated the chairman said the reason he stands up is because he wants free advertisement.  That is not the truth.  The reason he stands up is when somebody stops him outside, like today.  This gentleman in Wal-Mart asked him a question.  This guy saw in the paper that the police department hired three new policemen.  Rudy Gelsi is for education and safety.  If you spend it on education, he does not care.  He told the gentleman to contact the Chief of Police.  The Chief always answers questions.  Gelsi said he stands up at meetings to let the selectmen know what is going on.  There is abuse of power here and you are not transparent.  Andrew does not answer his phone.  The Town Manager makes $110,000 a year.  The Town Manager has an obligation because the money he is paid is coming out of his pocket and he does not answer the phone.  You are not doing the job you were hired to do.  Gelsi said he talks to the people in Concord every day.  Gelsi said he stands up when the people ask him questions. He does not know why they ask him questions. 

Brien Ward gave kudo’s to the   Public Works Department for cleaning up the weeds on the sidewalks.  Brien Ward went on to say the piece of surplus land the Town is asking for would be excellent for parking in that area where it is located.  Littleton’s economy is absolutely booming.  Every house in Littleton went up by about $25,000.  This happened once before.  Ward said that about every fifteen years we have a change in the market that is sizeable.  The economy that we have right now is positive.  Ward presented a history of the economy over the last fifteen years and congratulated the Town for the positive economic growth.

Ralph Hodgman asked what the state of Littleton’s economic report from Brien had to do with the agenda.  Hodgman said that Ward spent his three minutes talking about nothing to do with the agenda.  So you are not even following your own policy.  You guys are not doing your job.  You were elected to do the selectmen’s job and you are not doing it.  You’re passing your work onto the Town Manager, who now has to hire an assistant because he can’t handle his workload because you guys are doing less and less.  The Town of Lisbon has just announced they are getting rid of their administrator because the selectmen are taking on more of the responsibilities according to what selectmen should be doing.  Ceil, on the other hand, everything we want to talk about we have to go through her, it takes more of her time so she is running short on time.  The selectmen are not available to the public.  He believes that you have put yourself up on a pedestal and are saying you don’t want to hear from us.  You’re saying if you want to talk to us and if Ceil says it is ok she will go to Andrew and if he says its ok then we can talk to you.  Rudy Gelsi said that you all should resign.  Gendreau thanked Ralph for sharing.  She has several people who come into her store and ask her to check on things.  Gendreau said the board spends a lot of time talking to residents and answering questions, her doors are always open.  Littleton is her Town.  She grew up here and wants to do what is right.  Ralph asked why that does not happen at the meetings.  Rossi and Gendreau said that is why we are having this discussion.

Gendreau said they are more transparent than it may appear.  Gelsi said no.  Gendreau went on to say 

About the many things are happening in Littleton and people are flocking here, it is very busy.  Growth brings new challenges and we all have to work together. 

Ralph Hodgman said the population is not increasing, only the businesses.  Your job is dealing with the taxpayers.  It is not to attract tourists and more business.  Franco Rossi stated that we have a Town Manager form of government that is not a problem, which is a good thing.  Responsibility and Authority for a lot of things lie on the Town Manager.    A Town Administrator is not the same thing as a Town Manager.  The selectmen are more involved there and quite frankly he is not interested in emulating Lisbon. We have a Town Manager form of government and is hearing attacks targeted on a couple of individuals.  Rossi stated for the record that he believes Schuyler is doing a good job. He also believes that Andrew is doing a fantastic job.  Rossi’s point is that just because you disagree with someone does not mean we are not doing our job.  We have a job to do and in fact our staff makes sure we do what we are supposed to do.  Rossi also wanted to say that if people aren’t grandstanding up here, while they are wearing slogans on their shirts and turning to the camera is laughable.  To say that people aren’t doing it is ridiculous.  Gelsi said it is his constitutional right to wear whatever I want.  Rossi asked Gelsi if he interrupted him when he was speaking.  Ralph Hodgman interrupted and told Rossi that he just told Gelsi to shut up.  Rossi said he did not.  Hodgman then stormed out of the meeting.  Gelsi began shouting at Rossi in Italian. Translation: “Please shut up.  Please shut up you don’t understand d***.  You know what we do to Italians like you in Italy.”   Rossie responded in Italian. Translation:  “We are not in Italy buddy.”  Gelsi left at this point.

Karen Noyes said that the many times she has attended meetings there are conversations going on in the background. Children and young adults could be watching the meeting and are exposed to colorful disrespectful language at times. There should be more respect and restraint from those attending the meetings.   

Board Action:

Great River Hydro Non-disclosure agreement.  Gendreau made the motion to approve.  Rossi seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0.

Agenda Policy – Sweet asked if they should change it or leave it as it is.  Rossi made the motion to table this item.  Gendreau seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0.

 

Library Trustee Appointment – Barbara Enderson  

Gendreau made the motion to accept Kathy Ross’s resignation.  Rossi seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0.  Gendreau made the motion to appoint Barbara Enderson to the Library Board of Trustees.  Rossi seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0.

 

Profile Cable Consortium Appointment – Chad Fillion  

Gendreau made the motion to appoint Chad Fillion.  Rossi seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0.

Approve 2019 Town Meeting Calendar
Gendreau made the motion to approve the calendar.  Rossi seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0.

Request for Surplus Land Disposal
Rossi made the motion to support the request for surplus land disposal.  Gendreau seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0.

Municipal Sidewalk Agreement
Rossi made the motion to support the agreement.  Gendreau seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0.

Highway Department/Public Works - Road Scholar Achievements
Sweet announced that Bill Sargent and Ralph Lucas received certificates highlighting their achievements in their training.  Gendreau made the motion to acknowledge their accomplishments.  Rossi seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0.

Leave Time Reduction Program
Rossi said he would like to see it be done up to the last payroll period in December.  Noyes said she would like to recommend it be from September 15th to December 15th. Rossi made the motion to approve the program from September 15th to December 15th.  Gendreau seconded the motion.  Motion passed 3-0.

Rossi said that if he told someone to shut up he would like to know it.  He does not think he did, but if he did he would like to apologize.  Sweet wanted to bring something up about the agenda policy.  Ralph sent an email requesting a copy of the agenda and the minutes of when the agenda policy was set up after the last meeting.  He also wanted to see the RSA where it stated that the public has the right to attend but not the right to speak.  Sweet said that Hodgman did not provide that information tonight, although he knows that Ceil had provided him with the information he requested.  Hodgman chose not to share that information for whatever reason.  Dorsett said he did not want to go over what Hodgman and Gelsi said but often the things that are said are inaccurate or misleading.  Dorsett said he wanted the public to understand that he does not say anything in order to avoid a confrontation.  He has offered to meet with them privately, but they have not come for a meeting.  Chief Smith asked if the policy had been reviewed by the Town’s Attorney.  Dorsett said it was reviewed by NHMA, Primex and Mitchell Group.  Smith said his recommendation is that any alteration to the policy go through a legal review.  There being nothing else, the meeting adjourned at 6:25 PM.