Members present: William Cavanaugh, George Fuller, John Murray
Others Present: Tony Blair, David Bonney, Bill Brownhill, Colleen O’Connor, Mike Falk, Alice Briggs, Jeanne Pryor, Troy Casey
7:02 PM Meeting opened.
Selectmen’s Comments and Announcements: Tony announced that he received a letter from Mass Highway commending Lenny Tisdale for submitting one of the most complete reimbursement packages this year. Tony also commended Lenny for saving the town money by recycling winter sand and for the $500,000 STRAP Grant that the town received. Discussed the ice storm work that Lenny completed. George and John feel that Lenny should get a raise for all of the work that he is doing. The Selectmen would like to send Lenny a letter of thanks for all of his hard work.
Tony advised that the cell tower hearing has been continued to March 24, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. Bill had gone to the public hearing and explained what happened at the hearing. He advised that the town would like to have a radio antenna installed on the very top of the cell tower if it is approved by the Planning Board. This would improve communications of the fire, police and ambulance departments. George did not feel that the cell tower company would let the town do this. Tony said that the Planning Board could add a stipulation to the special permit if it is issued.
Briefly discussed the CDBG. Tony advised that he met with BRPC and they are looking to have a meeting on January 27, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. to let the public know what is happening with this grant.
The Selectmen reviewed minutes of the previous meetings. George motioned to accept the minutes of December 16, 2009, John seconded. All in favor. George motioned to accept the minutes of the Executive Session Meeting of December 30, 2009, John seconded. All in favor.
Town Administrator’s Report: Tony advised that he would be away on vacation from January 7 – 13, 2010 and would be back on January 14, 2010.
Public Input: Mike Falk addressed the Board regarding the CBRSD budget. He advised that there will be a 2% increase in the budget which translates to a 4% increase for Becket which amounts to an increase of approximately $80,000. He also advised that CBRSD is planning to use their E&D funds to cover the Chapter 71 shortfall in FY 2011. The outlook for FY 2011 & FY 2012 is not good. Mike advised that there may need to be cuts in town services to cover shortfalls. He would like the Selectmen to attend all Finance Committee meetings to help them balance the budget. Mike advised that the Gateway School District is proposing to close 3 of the 5 elementary schools and he could foresee CBRSD eventually closing some of our schools. If Becket Washington School closes than the town
would be responsible to pay approximately 70% of the remaining bond issue.
Colleen O’Connor thought that the biggest financial threat in 2010 and beyond is the behavior of some of our elected officials. The town will face the threat of lawsuits if elected officials continue to abide by their own agenda instead of trying to keep the residents of Becket safe from health issues. She advised that these officials frequently break ethics code, fraudulently document things such as Title V reports and operate without enforcing the health and safety laws that exist to protect residents from health issues and go so far as to defy DEP recommendations. She advised that in 2003 the school was issued a certificate of occupancy without completing a Title V. She said that it is shameful that we allow our officials to be unaccountable for their actions and the residents have a right
to expect that the laws that are meant to protect them should be strictly adhered to and enforced.
Troy Casey asked if there was anything the town could do to add a light pollution bylaw to the current bylaws. Tony explained that there a couple of things he could do. Any changes to our bylaws would need town meeting approval. Tony advised that he could write an article to be placed on the warrant of a town meeting which the Selectmen would vote to include on the warrant or not. His other option would be to do it by petition. The only drawback to doing it by petition is that it cannot be amended at town meeting. Troy asked if he could write the article and have it looked at to see that it is written correctly. Tony advised that he could bring it to a Selectmen’s meeting and it could be discussed then. George wanted to know why the town is not doing anything about
this complaint. Tony advised that it is not a town issue. Just because it involves a town official does not make it a town issue. Bill advised that he could go to court to try to resolve this issue because it is not addressed in our bylaws so it is a private issue.
Mike Falk addressed the Board regarding the CBRSD Agreement. There should have been a meeting last night but it was cancelled because Dalton did not run the revisions by their Selectmen before this meeting. Mike advised that he would support the revisions as written but he would not support the paragraph that the Town of Dalton wants to add. Mike has asked Tony to fill in for him at these meetings while he is in Florida and Tony has agreed to do it.
The Selectmen reviewed the Agreement regarding Payment of Back Taxes on the Becket General Store. Tony feels that this draft covers what was discussed at the last Selectmen’s meeting. He advised that the agreement states that whatever Mr. Lussier agrees to pay Mr. Gerner when the lease payments start should go to the Town. He also advised that should Mr. Lussier stop running the store, the person that takes over would be responsible for making the lease payments which would go to the town toward the taxes. Part of the agreement states that someone from the Town should be present at the closing when it takes place. George asked if they could have Mr. Lussier start paying $500 per month starting on February 1, 2010 so at least some of these back taxes get paid. He feels that the
store is being run and even though there is no lease agreement yet something should be given to the town. George motioned to accept the draft agreement with changes to section two which allows the town to receive $500 per month starting February 1, 2010 to go toward back taxes, John seconded. All in favor.
The Selectmen reviewed the BRPC Request for Technical Assistance District Local Technical Assistance Program. This is a grant that BRPC offers once a year to provide services for projects. Tony wrote a summary that states that the Town is applying for a DLTA Grant to conduct a survey of drinking water quality in the North Becket Village. He has asked someone at BRPC if this is something that would fall under this grant and was told that it is to a point. There is no money associated with this grant so the cost of conducting water tests would not come from BRPC. The town does not have money to dip into to complete the testing but there are agencies in the state that deal with these kinds of issues that offer grant money to work in conjunction with BPRC for this purpose. Tony has not had
time to check out any of these agencies but he is open to any suggestions as to how the town could come up with money to do the water testing. He advised that this grant will not complete everything that is needed to correct the water problems in North Becket Village but it will help the town to get things started and apply for future grants that can assist the town with this issue. George motioned to have Bill Cavanaugh sign the Request for Technical Assistance District Local Technical Assistance Program 2010, John seconded. All in favor.
John motioned to sign the warrant for the Special State Election to be held on January 19, 2010 from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Becket Town Hall, George seconded. All in favor.
The Selectmen reviewed the letter of resignation from Beth VanNess from the Zoning Board of Appeals effective immediately. John motioned to accept the resignation of Beth VanNess from the Zoning Board of Appeals effective immediately, George seconded. All in favor. The Selectmen would like a letter of thanks sent to Beth.
The Selectmen reviewed the memo regarding the Reports for the 2009 Annual Town Report. Briefly discussed how the report was written in the past. Bill Cavanaugh will write the report.
Any other business: Tony advised that the CDBG is at the stage where there are forms that need to be completed. Many of these forms need to be signed by the chief elected official. Tony also advised that the final CDBG application will need to be signed at the first meeting in February as long as the Selectmen are fine with it. John motioned to have Bill Cavanaugh sign the certifications and other forms for the CDBG application, George seconded. All in favor.
The Board of Assessors gave the Selectmen an Unused Levy Capacity letter that they need to have signed by the chair of the Select Board. The town has $3,806.20 as the unused levy capacity. John motioned to have Bill Cavanaugh sign the unused levy capacity letter for the Board of Assessors, George seconded. All in favor.
The Selectmen reviewed the monthly reports of the Animal Control Officer, Police Department, Ambulance Department and Board of Assessors. George motioned to accept the monthly reports of the Animal Control Officer, Board of Assessors, Ambulance Department and Police Department, John seconded. All in favor.
George asked why the town departments that have their vehicles serviced at the highway garage do not charge their accounts for the maintenance. He feels that each department should pay for the cost of the parts and oil and it should not come out of the highway department account. Tony will check into this. Tony feels that each department should take the cost of the parts and oil out of their own accounts. Briefly discussed operating the cemeteries and how the cost of repairs is handled. Tony feels that there should be a separate account for these kinds of things.
Tony advised that the Becket Athenaeum needs a form signed by the Selectmen. This form is to allow the Athenaeum to combine the money the Towns of Becket and Washington get from the state for the Athenaeum. George motioned to have Bill Cavanaugh sign the form for the Athenaeum, John seconded. All in favor.
Bill Brownhill complained about the Men’s Room in the town hall. The floor drain is missing the cover and he is afraid that someone will get injured if they use a cane or crutches and it goes onto the drain. John advised that this will be taken care of as soon as possible.
9:10 PM George motioned to adjourn, John seconded. All in favor.
Reviewed payroll/expense warrants.
Respectfully submitted, _______________________________
Nina Weiler, Secretary William F. Cavanaugh, Chairman