Board of Selectmen Meeting Minutes & Agendas

Jan 12, 2015

Approved Minutes Jan 12, 2015

5:00 PM

Present: Town Manager Fred Moody, Chairman Milton T. Bratz, Selectman G. Michael Gilman, Vice Chairman Marghie Seymour attending by phone conference from New Mexico on personal business, Executive Secretary Ceil Stubbings

Others Present: Brody Tuite, Brien Ward, Bruce Hadlock, John Hennessey, Karen Noyes (Finance Director), Chief Paul Smith (Littleton PD), George McNamara (Public Works Director), Ron Bolt, Robert Blechl (The Caledonian), Darin Wipperman (The Courier), Eddy Moore, Dann, Gregg Winn, Bob O’Conner (Channel 2)

Bratz opened the meeting at 5:00 PM.

Pledge of Allegiance

Brody Tuite (Town Garage Committee) – New Public Works Building Bond
Brody provided an update of the changes to the proposed new town garage. The committee has been meeting since August. The cost have increased by $100,000. Part of the increase is due to the contractor and the cost of concrete. The balance of the increase was to add a heated slab. One thing that keeps coming up at the meetings is the size of the building. The size was chosen for safety concerns and future growth. The vehicles have no place to park with the current building. Gilman asked what the increase in the size of the equipment had been over the last fifty years. Brody said the size of vehicles have almost doubled in some cases. Brody said the committee were looking at the changes to the town after the last fifty to sixty years. Bruce Hadlock thinks that they have not given the people an opportunity to park the vehicles outside. There is technology here and you are going overboard on everything. Hadlock went on to say that you can park vehicles outside and plug them in and still make then go. You are going for the ultimate. The people in town would prefer a smaller sized garage. Hadlock said the committee was going for bigger and more money. Brody said they developed a recommendation for the town. We think the best thing is to keep the vehicles in the town garage. Hadlock said that Bath keeps their vehicles outside. Brody said he was not familiar with the Bath situation. Hadlock said it is not just Bath. He thinks they are going way beyond what is necessary. Hadlock said they are not giving the people two choices. Dann said the energy conservation committee was looking at the garage heating. It was found that the garage was built when heat was really cheap. If the design allowed for insulation we would still have the same situation. He believes they should be given a choice to replace the garage exactly as it is. We have been given the choice of only a beautiful unicorn. The homeowners and taxpayers should be given two choices to replace what is exactly is there and the one with the unicorn. He would like to see two warrant articles one for one like it is. George McNamara said they are following the lead they set sixty years ago. It is not big enough to house them now. Let’s build this garage to fit the town’s needs down the road. If we build like the one we have now it will be too small in 25 years. Brien Ward said he had been involved with eight to ten different bond issues. The voters want a project to be vetted. They want participation from the community to be involved. The last time it failed by two or three votes and that is not uncommon. Ward said he hopes they continue with this proposal and sell it. Hadlock said that last year he told them to leave the building as it is for storage. He talked to George about that and he said it was a great idea. Hadlock said he has not heard anything else about it.

John Hennessey (River District Commission) - Redevelopment Project Bond
John Hennessey said that there have been some recent updates for the River District. Hennessey said here was present to talk about funding. The River District Project is to fix some of the oldest infrastructure in town. They have formed partnership with other agencies. They are a volunteer commission with twelve members. The Littleton Water & Light Department is also working with them. Hennessey then provided the commissions progress to date. It is a 7.5 million dollar project that has broken up into five phases. All of the projects have been estimated by engineer firms. The commission feels that this is a good time to ask for funding. The big question is why now, part of it is because of the support we have received. They hope to get the TIGER grant and they will apply again. Some of the grants have a time limit on them. They will be applying for four or five million dollars from the programs. The bond will be $500,000 and authorized selectmen to place the bond sometime in the future. Hennessey said it most likely won’t be in place until 2016. Hennessey said that this is why it is important to get the warrant approved now. Once the infrastructure is improved it will allow for a better quality of like for residents. The $500,000 bond would not be authorized unless we raise an additional two million dollars. Bratz said that he has been attending the meetings during Seymour’s absence. Seymour said she would like to make sure that a vote for the $500,000 at town meeting would pass. This is simply to assure the money for a grant match. Moody said that the article would be worded so that it was non-lapsing and that the article could have wording giving a lapsed date. Seymour said she is in favor of the bond. Bratz said they would not make a decision on this tonight. They have the budget hearing on the 19th. Bratz said that periodically the voters have voted for three or four bonds at one time. His initial concern was that we could lose them both, the garage and the river district project. We need to hear from people from the budget hearing. Eddy Moore said he thinks you are pushing the taxpayer’s too hard. This is new to him. It would be a double whammy on the 2016 tax rate. You could end up losing everything even the highway garage. Ward said evidence from the past shows how leveraging has helped other projects. Ward then provided a brief presentation on the evidence of having leverage when applying for grants by citing the Main Street Project funding.

Brien Ward – PILOT (Payments in Lieu of Taxes) and Moore Dam Oversight Committee
Ward advised the board they should expand the PILOT program to include the Littleton Regional Hospital. Ward provided data regarding a case involving the city of Lebanon and Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital. Bratz said that he has been on the hospital board for over ten years and he has not been involved with the hospital’s tax issue. Ward said that all of the PILOT”s should be reviewed. Ward said that one of the toughest things the board was going to have to do this year regarded the re-valuation. Ward said there was an agreement with the Moore Dam/TransCanada for three years and then extended for two years. Ward said the current agreement is no longer an operable number. Electricity prices spiked in the first quarter of last year. The income that Moore Dam generates is selling power at higher prices. Ward urged to board to get the Moore Dam Oversight Committee together after the deliberative session to gather the necessary information to enable negotiating a fair agreement.

Bruce Hadlock – Re-evaluation 10 Years vs 5 Years – Public Sessions Questions
Bruce Hadlock said that he had two things that he wanted to speak to. Hadlock said he brought this topic up at the last meeting. The state of NH should not be evaluating property every five years but instead every ten years. Hadlock said that Littleton has to spend about $140,000 on this every five years. Moody said that this year it was $76,000. Hadlock said the bigger towns are paying millions of dollars for this. Hadlock said the board has to bring in their legislative people and ask for the change. Hadlock said he thinks the other towns would be in support of this. Hadlock asked if they board had done anything since the last meeting. Bratz said it is a state law. He said they currently have a very unhappy tax base because of the last reval. Bratz said he agrees with what Hadlock was saying but he was not so sure that there were a lot of other people in town who would agree with them. Hadlock said it needs to be investigated. The board needs to bring in the representatives and give them a mandate. Gilman explained to Hadlock how things work in the legislature. Bratz said they would take this forward. Seymour said she did not like the idea of spending $140,000 every five years. Seymour said she had no idea if the town wins or loses. She would not back it until she sees some facts. Hadlock said there is already something in place. The town has building permits when they make changes or improvements to their property. In theory you already have it in effect. Seymour asked how many people actually get building permits. Hadlock said it is up to the town manager. Seymour said it has to do with the zoning officer. Seymour said we have a volunteer position who is supposed to be doing the checking. Seymour said we don’t have that in Littleton. Seymour said there are no impact fees. Bratz said they would take this under advisement. Moody said in two weeks the appraisers will be here to answer questions. Bratz said we will bring this back after the deliberative session. Hadlock said the other thing he wanted to bring up was the Zoning. Hadlock is looking at the people who are living in Apthorp. They used to have industry there, now there is nothing there. You need to be analyzing the different communities that need to be changed from residential to the commercial zone. Bratz asked Hadlock if he was asking for a complete review of the zoning. Hadlock said yes. Hadlock said we don’t have any land. We have nothing to advance on. Bratz asked if it starts with them or the zoning committee. Hadlock said it starts with the board. Seymour said we can’t just tell the planning board what to do. We can make suggestions. Seymour said nobody comes to the meetings. Seymour said that if he wants changes he should make a map and bring it to the committee and ask for changes

Citizen’s Concerns:
Dann said that he brought up at the last meeting about people locking themselves out of their cars and their homes.
He also said that currently the police and fire departments are responding to those calls. Dann said that today he happened to be on Main Street. He saw a lock smith and he went over and talked with him. The locksmith mentioned that the police and fire departments were also responding to plumbing problems. Dann was told no they do not respond to plumbing problems. Moody said he has talked to the chief about it and it is a service that the town does provide with some emergency impacts to it. Moody said that should be cease to do this the police department would not have the necessary tools or the skills. Moody said that when most of the hundred lockouts are done in a year, those individuals are seeking emergency response. Unless the board tells him otherwise Moody said he does not intend to tell the department to cease doing lockouts. Dann said he thought that Moody’s response was bogus. Moody said he was happy to disagree with him. Chief Smith wanted to clarify something. It is not the police who do the lockouts, it is the towing companies. Smith said that 99% of the lockouts they do are covered by a towing company. Dann responded by saying the town should not be encroaching on private business. If it were an emergency, it would take a day or so for a response. Bratz then closed the open part of the meeting to go through the rest of the agenda.

Town Manager’s Report:
Moody just wanted to advise the board of one more aspect of the River District Project. The commission has been working with the Community Development Finance Authority Tax Credits and the Northern Borders Regional Commission. Moody said they did apply for the 8.2 million TIGER grant that was not approved. The CDFA Tax Credits that were issued to the Littleton Industrial Development Commission were used as match money for the TIGER Grant. Moody said that if we are successful in September and gain approval for the grant he would like the LIDC to go to the CDFA and have them amend the current grant to something less than what was envisioned and use the funds that had been awarded to the LIDC as match money for the Northern Borders Grant for the multipurpose bridge. Moody said they have a Northern Borders Grant of $250,000. Moody said they are using some of the money that was previously appropriated from the town. Moody said the River District Commission discussed this last week and recommended we move forward with this. Moody said the Northern Border Grant is tied to the fiscal year they would be able to get the RFP out this winter for the design work and then go out to bid in the spring or summer for the actual construction of the bridge. Gilman made the motion to amend the LIDC Tax Credit Award to the Multi-Purpose Bridge Project. Seymour seconded the motion. Motion passed with a unanimous roll call vote.

Moody said they received notification from NHDOT on their resurfacing program for 2015. Due to the early distortion of the surface on the Main Street area, they have agreed to a point three mile two inch inlay. The town and the waste water treatment plant operator will be working on a pretreatment program. Moody said they had been exceeding their copper levels for discharges. They have done some preliminary testing at some manholes and have seen the elevated copper. The next step is to go to each one of the industries and meet with them and try to have them eliminate those sources. Moody said the slate of officers is coming up and the filing period for office is January 21st through January 30th. Moody announced that the deadline for petitioned warrant articles is tomorrow at 4:00 PM. The Bond & Budget Hearing is next Monday, January 19th. We are considering two bonds and each bond hearing has to be a minimum of thirty minutes. At the selectmen’s meeting on January 26th we will have KRT, the revaluation contractor to provide a presentation on their approach. They will also be available to answer any questions the public may have.

Old Business: None

New Business: None

Other Business: None

Bruce Hadlock asked how the voters can stop putting in this bridge when only a few people want it. Hadlock said if the deadline for a petitioned warrant article is tomorrow. Moody said his only option was to file a petitioned warrant article by tomorrow. Hadlock said that if he couldn’t do it by tomorrow he could do it next year because it would not be built right off. Moody said the goal is to have it built in 2015. Hadlock said they were not giving the voters a chance to say if they want a bridge down there. Moody said they have had plenty of public input at the River District meetings for over a year. Hadlock said the residents are against most of what they want to change down there. Bratz said the bridge is part of the River District’s plan. Hadlock said there has been no public vote for a bridge. Bratz said they would take Hadlock’s statements under consideration. Dann said he agrees with Hadlock and putting another bridge down there is a waste of taxpayer money. Gilman made the motion to adjourn. Seymour seconded the motion. The motion to adjourn passed by a unanimous roll call vote at 6:58 PM. Bratz announced that he would not be in attendance for the scheduled nonpublic session that was scheduled with town council.