Members present: William Cavanaugh, George Fuller, John Murray
Others Present: Tony Blair, David Bonney, Bill Brownhill, Colleen O’Connor, Mike Falk, Alice Briggs, Meredyth Babcock, John Hall, Troy Casey, Jeanne Pryor, Susan Donnelly, Doug & Geri Walter, Jim Drawe, Siobhan Rogers, Dalyan Babcock, Mikelanne Lamont, Olivia Lamont
7:00 PM Meeting opened.
Selectmen’s Comments and Announcements: George advised that the application that was in his folder was not what he wanted from the building inspector in regards to the outdoor wood furnaces. He stated that he has found nothing that implies that a permit is needed for an outdoor wood furnace. Tony stated that he thought it would be best if George came in to speak with the building inspector about this. Bill read a letter from residents in Washington thanking the ambulance department for the excellent care they received during a call to their house. Bill read a letter of thanks from the family of Art Johnson for the help they received from Jeanne Pryor, Nina Weiler, Bill Cavanaugh and Bill Mulholland to have their father buried with honors.
The Selectmen reviewed minutes of the previous meeting. George advised that at the last meeting he said that Mass Highway took the detour signs from the McNerney Road detour but he advised that the signs were given to the highway department. George advised that someone from County Road called about people speeding and he asked Tony to see if the police department could patrol County Road after 4:00 p.m. because that seems like the time that people tend to speed. George motioned to accept the minutes of November 18, 2009, John seconded. All in favor.
Town Administrator’s Report:
Tony gave an update on the CDBG grant. At the last meeting the Selectmen discussed three elements of this grant which are as follows: housing rehab, planning (affordable senior housing) and structural (North Becket Village). Tony spoke with a man from the CDC who has had success in getting CDBG funds for towns. He told Tony that the town would need someone to run the housing rehab program. He sent a letter with a proposal to run the program for $75,000. This would be for a grant for $250,000 that could go toward ten $25,000 housing rehab projects. Tony also spoke with Elton Ogden, Executive Director of Berkshire Housing, about having Berkshire Housing running the program. He gave a price of $47,500.00. Tony advised that Berkshire Housing has done housing
rehab in Becket over the past 15 or so years and he feels that the town should go with Berkshire Housing. He also advised that Berkshire Housing is exempt from 30B since they are a consulting firm so Tony would not need to go out to bid for this service. Briefly discussed the ranking of housing projects. Elton Ogden will be sending criteria for how to rank projects. Tony advised that the grant needs to be submitted by February 12, 2010 and that does not leave a lot of time for the Selectmen to finalize this grant. He suggested having another meeting next week to complete the next portion of this grant. The Selectmen will meet on Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.
Tony advised that the Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant is due on Monday. Tony should have it completed on Friday.
Tony advised that the primary to fill the senate seat is on Tuesday, December 8, 2009.
Public Input: Meredyth Babcock and four girl scouts addressed the Board regarding the Neighbor to Neighbor Program. The girl scouts have collected money at school for this program and presented the Selectmen with a check in the amount of $392.50. They advised that they had 28 donors that contributed to this collection. The Selectmen thanked them for collecting the money for this program.
Mike Falk reminded the Selectmen to come to the Finance Committee meeting on December 17, 2009. He advised that the school superintendent will be at this meeting. He would like to discuss the FY 2010 budget shortfall at this meeting which currently stands at $65,000. This amount does not include free cash. If we get free cash certification this amount could drop. It also does not include the dispute with the company that completed the ice storm debris removal. Briefly discussed the shortfall from the state and how it will affect the CBRSD. Mike also advised that at the meeting on the 17th they will discuss Tony’s accomplishments as Town Administrator. George asked how much money was in the Stabilization account. Mike advised that there is approximately
$275,000 in Stabilization.
Colleen advised that she had asked for the amount of money that the town spent to keep her suit out of court but has not gotten this information as of yet. She also advised that Bill said that she would not have anyone come to look at the system but because it deals with a public water system the State needs to check out the system which it has done. She asked how to go about getting the information. Tony advised that she needs to request it in writing and explained the process to her.
Troy Casey submitted a letter of interest for the Conservation Commission. The Selectmen will forward the letter to the Conservation Commission and wait to hear from the commission.
Susan Donnelly addressed the Board regarding 3rd quarter preliminary tax bills. She advised that this year is a recertification year for Becket. This is done every three years. She has submitted everything she needs to submit to the Department of Revenue and is waiting to hear from them. She advised that because we are a quarterly tax community, we need to get the third quarter installment sent out by December 31st. She also advised that the law allows the town to request to issue third quarter preliminary bills when a tax rate cannot be set by December 31st. If the town does not do this and waits until the tax rate is set it could affect the cash flow. The town needs to request to send out third quarter preliminary tax bills from the Department of
Revenue. This request needs to be signed by the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Assessors. The Board of Assessors is recommending that the town do this. If this is done, the fourth quarter actual bills will be sent out in the spring with a due date of May 1. John motioned to sign the letter to the Department of Revenue requesting that the town send out third quarter preliminary bills, George seconded. All in favor. Susan also advised that there will be another form the Selectmen will need to sign regarding pro-forma taxes once she gets the information needed from the accountant.
The Selectmen reviewed the email regarding CBRSD Regional Agreement revision. Mike Falk addressed the Board regarding the capital cost language revision. He expects to support the capital cost revised language which will have the following effect on the town: it may slightly increase Becket’s FY 2011 Capital Cost; it will clarify the financial impact to each town upon the closing of any of the CBRSD schools, specifically, each town will be responsible for the percentage of their CBRSD enrolled students to the total number of CBRSD students. Jim Drawes, the chairman of the Regional Agreement Committee addressed the Board regarding the changes to the agreement. Mike advised that this committee is only an advisory committee. It does not have the power to change the agreement. The
revisions need to be passed by two-thirds of the towns in the district in order to pass. One of the requests was from the school committee to give them flexibility to move students in the elementary schools to maximize the student teacher ratio. Another change would be to add language that handles the temporary school closings and how the capital assessments are handled. The third issue was how to handle a permanent school closing. Mike advised that the bussing issue was dropped. The current agreement is based on the percentage of students per town to the total number of students in the CBRSD. The change would have saved the Town of Dalton a significant amount of money but would unfairly increase the money the smaller towns would need to pay. George motioned to support the proposed language changes, John seconded. All in favor.
The Selectmen reviewed the alcoholic beverages license renewal applications. The Selectmen discussed the issue of unpaid taxes for two of the applicants. Tony advised that the Dream Away Lodge is currently on a payment plan but the Becket General Store is not on a payment plan. The back taxes were to be paid when the Purchase and Sale Agreement was signed but the Selectmen do not know when this will take place. The Selectmen feel that the owner should have conversation with the town as to when these taxes will be paid before they approve the license renewal. A letter will be sent to the owner and manager of the Becket General Store asking them what the plan for the payment of taxes will be. George motioned to sign the alcoholic beverages license renewals for the following: Dreamaway
Lodge for an annual all alcoholic restaurant license; Berkshire Berries for an annual all alcoholic restaurant and an annual beer and wine package goods store license; Mountain Grove Association for an annual all alcoholic club license; Lakeview General Store for an annual all alcoholic package goods store license; and Becket Country Store for an annual beer and wine package goods store license, John seconded. All in favor. George motioned to sign the alcoholic beverages license renewal for Uncle Larry’s Tavern for an annual all alcoholic restaurant license, Bill seconded. John abstained from voting. Motion passed. The Selectmen will wait to sign the renewal application for the Becket General Store until they hear from Mr. Gerner.
George motioned to estimate the seasonal population for 2010 at 9,000 John seconded. All in favor. This estimate is needed every year for the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission so it can determine how many seasonal liquor licenses could be available for the town.
The Selectmen reviewed the letter from BRPC regarding the Berkshire Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan. Tony advised that Ray Tarjick, the Emergency Management Director, would be the logical person to designate as the lead person for the community but he was not sure if Ray would want to take this on. Colleen suggested that Beth VanNess be designated since she is very involved with the Medical Reserve Corps. Bill feels that we should speak with Ray first to see if he is interested in this. George thinks the Selectmen should speak with them both. Briefly discussed this issue. Tony will speak with Ray to see if he wants this position.
The Selectmen reviewed the Becket Ambulance Department Request for Write-Off report. Tony advised that one of the two requests was for an elderly Becker resident. The small amount was what Medicare did not pay and he felt this should be written off. Tony suggested that the other request should go to the collection agency. George motioned to write-off the one and send the other to the collection agency, John seconded. All in favor. The Selectmen initialed the report.
Any other business: The Selectmen reviewed the letter from Mary and David Graves regarding the proposed cell tower that is before the Planning Board. Briefly discussed the proposed cell tower.
The Selectmen reviewed the monthly reports of the animal control officer and the police department. Jeanne advised that Bert has not turned in any reports to her regarding adoption of animals, etc. Tony will check with Bert about this.
Tony advised that his probation period is expiring at the end of this month and the Selectmen will need to decide how they want to complete his evaluation. He will give them a list of his accomplishments at the December 10, 2009 meeting to review and they can vote on his appointment at the meeting on December 16, 2009. He encouraged the Selectmen to speak with employees and members of boards and committees about his job performance.
9:15 PM John motioned to adjourn, George seconded. All in favor.
Reviewed payroll/expense warrants.
Respectfully submitted, _______________________________
Nina Weiler, Secretary William F. Cavanaugh, Chairman