Chichester Board of Selectmen
August 31, 2004
MEMBERS PRESENT: Chairman Colbert, Selectman DeBold, Selectman MacCleery and Administrator Lisa Stevens
Chairman Colbert opened the meeting at 7:00pm.
SUBJECT: Cemetery Maintenance
PRESENT: Joanna McIntosh
Ms. McIntosh inquired as to whether community service volunteers could work on some of the smaller cemeteries. The answer was yes as long as the volunteers were supervised by a cemetery trustee when performing any work. Ms. McIntosh also mentioned the trustees would like to place a trash receptacle in Leavitt Cemetery and would it be possible for the highway department to be responsible for emptying it. The cost for the trash receptacle would have to come from the cemeteries budget. Selectman DeBold stated the receptacles purchased for Carpenter Park worked out very well and he would assist in securing to the fence, the one purchased for the cemetery.
The trustees will be putting the mowing of the cemeteries out to bid. They have some interested parties inquiring. Lisa will send Joanna a copy of the grounds keeping bid used by the Selectmen for the maintenance of the town buildings.
SUBJECT: Trust Funds
PRESENT: Carolee Davison, Treasurer and Andrea Deachman, Trustee
Carolee informed the Board on her recent meeting with representatives from Citizens Bank. Carolee has negotiated a higher interest rate on the town’s pool account and was advised that Citizens would give a great rate to the trust fund accounts should those accounts get switched to Citizens Bank as well. Also, Citizens Bank can process the trust fund reports required by the Department of Revenue. Carolee shared a sample of one such report with the group. The Board thanked Carolee for her efforts in securing the best available return for the town’s money.
Andrea Deachman updated the Selectmen on the filing status of the trust fund reports. Ms. Deachman met with Terry Knowles, from the Attorney Generals’ Office, to receive guidance on how to straighten out the accounts so that the reports can be finalized. The money reported is correct; the problem is in the disbursement of interest going back three years. Ms. Knowles has explained how to correct the accounts, it will be labor intensive and therefore, the Attorney General’s Office gave the town until December 31, 2004 to submit the documents.
Ms. Knowles is concerned with only two trustees on board. This is unacceptable and the town must put the third trustee in place. The Selectmen will contact Ms. McKay and let her know her help is needed to complete these reports. If she is no longer interested in being a trustee, the Board will have to fill the vacancy.
Ms. Knowles informed Andrea of a trust fund from Myron Leavitt in the amount of $38,000, currently in the custody of Citizens Bank. Ms. Knowles will be writing a letter to the court, requesting the fund be turned over to the town.
Selectman DeBold requested the Attorney General’s Office submit written correspondence to the town relating a synopsis of the meeting, so that documentation exists for the town.
Selectman MacCleery agrees that it is not fair to the other two trustees not to have a third trustee on board. He has had this concern since March.
The town accounts were audited in January and nothing was or is amiss. The trustees need the help now.
Chairman Colbert agreed to contact Ms. McKay and update her on the situation and if she is still uncomfortable, the Board of Selectmen will need to appoint someone else.
One final note, Ms. Knowles brought to Andrea’s attention, the condition of a small cemetery on Pleasant Street that has damage to a monument and a lot of brush and debris that needs to be cleaned up. Ms. Deachman will contact Cemetery Trustee, Joanna McIntosh to check on the status of the clean up.
SUBJECT: Veterans Plaques
PRESENT: Jason Weir
Mr. Weir shared with the Board, a commemorative plaque issued to his grandfather, by the town, in recognition for his service in World War II. Mr. Weir would like the town to consider presenting something similar to those in town currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. A discussion followed concerning how to implement the program, who to contact, who to include, are they current residents of Chichester. The Historical Society would be a good resource group to start with. The Board did not make any decision at this time.
Mr. Weir submitted a letter to the Board of Selectmen, asking for more information to be stated in the minutes regarding the town’s current litigation. Mr. Weir had a list of specific questions he is requesting be answered and placed in the minutes as part of the record of this meeting. Mr. Weir believes the townspeople are not well informed. It is Mr. Weir’s opinion that the minutes do not contain enough information on the subject. If there’s a problem with the zoning, let’s fix it now. The majority of the public are accessing their information from the web site. The web site is averaging 15,000 hits per month. The minutes imply there are no problems in town. The taxpayers are sorely under informed if they are only getting their information from the web
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Mr. Weir understands a lot of the information is confidential but the minutes could contain a brief synopsis of each case, perhaps the court dates, so that people could attend and at least what Attorney represents Chichester.
The Selectmen agreed this was a point well taken and awareness should be out there.
Mr. Weir wished to applaud, Lisa Stevens, Town Administrator, publicly, for all her work over the past 20 months and implored the Selectmen to replace her in kind. Mr. Weir believes the right person will save double their salary per year. He asked the Board not to let the enormous gains made, slip away.
SUBJECT: Highway Department
PRESENT: David Kenneally, Road Agent
Mr. Kenneally apologized to the Board for not being able to attend last week’s department head meeting with the Selectmen. The Road Agent is feeling the Highway Department is under a microscope. Mr. Kenneally asked the Board if this is happening to all departments or is there something he has done. Mr. Kenneally further stated, he understands the concern over the check for the rock rake purchase, but other departments have purchased items such as radios for a similar amount and were not questioned. Don’t we have radios already, he asked. Are more needed?
Chairman Colbert stated that the Road Agent was new to his position and he knew he would have a little concern over the Road Agent’s administrative skills. Yes, I have scrutinized to some degree to make you aware it’s just as important a part of your job. I’m trying to help make you a better administrator.
Selectman MacCleery feels a purchase of that magnitude should be approved by the Board of Selectmen and not purchased by the department head. Yes, he knew the Road Agent was trying out the rock rake, but there needs to be better communication on both sides. Maybe a two week lag time on bills should be in place or go to purchase orders.
Selectman DeBold stated the level of review is not consistent. The Fire Department purchase was not questioned. This should be extended to all departments.
The Road Agent stated the purchase was paid for under the warrant article for the new one ton truck. This was discussed when talking about outfitting the truck. The Road agent does not typically go out and buy large purchases; he tries to speak to the Board first.
Selectman DeBold believes some fault lies on the Board because discussion was not held and the Selectmen did not tell the Road Agent to get permission first.
Selectman MacCleery stated a lot more money goes through the highway budget than any other department. Questions are asked about Fire Department costs, the Highway Department is not the only department questioned.
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Selectman MacCleery has heard some concerns from the taxpayers over the use of the excavator over the backhoe and he is concerned about the amount of overtime that was used during the summer months. Will there be enough money for winter expenses?
The Road Agent replied, he could work overtime until the rest of the year and not run out of money.
Selectman MacCleery asked if the Road Agent could better allocate that money by more use of a part time helper. He is trying to look for the best allocation of tax dollars.
The Road Agent replied he cannot consistently drive the part time hours up without having to pay out benefits. He is aware of the costs and is trying to spend the money effectively.
Mr. Kenneally has a gentleman interested in driving the large truck who is CDL classified. The Board requested a background check be done prior to hiring.
The Road Agent is looking for someone to work a few hours a week to manage the paperwork and he is trying to take time off at the end of the week when his hours are high. He has been working hard on getting all the roads graded in time for the school buses to roll.
Selectman MacCleery passed on a concern from Mr. Lesley Brown regarding the dust on his road. Mr. Brown is claiming the Road Agent has not returned his calls. Mr. Kenneally has spoken with the gentleman.
Selectman MacCleery asked the Road Agent who if anyone is being paid to produce the sub contractors invoices. Mr. Kenneally responded by saying Chris Weir does it for nothing. The Selectmen had requested more legible paperwork from the Highway Department.
A lengthy discussion took place on the damage from last Sunday’s thunderstorm.
Cross Road had to be closed due to a portion of the dam at Hillcrest Campground letting go. Mr. Kenneally had tried to notify the Board prior to closing the road but did not make contact with anyone and people would have been stranded on that road. Apparently the phone number obtained from information for Mr. MacCleery was that of his sons. Half of the beaver dam let go, Mr. Kenneally notified Emergency Management Director John Martell of the situation and the State has been notified as well. A portion of the dam may be on town property. The dam is in bad shape.
The ditches are holding on Bailey Road.
Mrs. Volpe on Lane Road has notified the Selectmen that bushes are blocking the line of sight on that road. The Road Agent is aware of that and several roads around town that need tree trimming work done.
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GENERAL BUSINESS/BOARD DISCUSSION:
The Historical Society is inquiring as to whether the Selectmen have contacted the State Department of Transportation, Bridge Division, in regards to the repairs needed on the railing on Thunder Bridge. Selectman DeBold has called and spoken to a Mr. David Paulson in the bridge department and requested an inspection be performed on the bridge. Mr. Paulson will contact Selectman DeBold when that can be scheduled.
The Board made mention of two signs blocking line of sight from Depot Road onto Route 28. They are advertising the Teachers Barn and notice of a thrift shop located in Epsom. The Board decided a letter should be sent to the Department of Transportation, making them aware of this hazard.
It was noted that the paving requirements for the business approval for the chainsaw sculptures on Dover Road, has been met.
Once again the Board reviewed the grant application for the Hazmat Plan, submitted by Emergency Management Director, John Martell. It is still not clear to them, how the remaining funds will be spent. The Board directed Lisa to ask Mr. Martell to come in and speak to them again. They are looking for more accountability as to how many hours are involved and what John will be paid hourly. Also, there is some confusion over where the matching funds are coming from, the State or Federal government.
Another discussion was held regarding closer review of department expenditures.
Selectman MacCleery referred to the grader purchase made by the Board of Selectmen years past. Mr. MacCleery does not understand the Road Agents leap to include the rock rake as part of outfitting the one ton. He does not recall that item being part of the equipment to be purchased. He does recall discussion regarding the truck body, plow and possibly tool boxes. There is a difference between thinking of buying something and then there’s the check.
Selectmen DeBold posed the thought, do we trust our department heads to make the right decisions for the town? I believe we do, we just need to communicate better on both sides.
Chairman Colbert again referred to the guidance of the Capital Improvements Plan which set the limit of capital expenditures at five thousand dollars ($5,000). No action was taken at this time.
The Board will give some thought as well, as to what expectations they have for the upcoming budget proposals. Selectman DeBold hopes that departments will find savings in some areas to compensate for the areas that show increases. Another point of this discussion was that the Board of Selectmen should be approving all bids for the town with the guidance of the respective departments.
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Selectman DeBold thought it might be helpful to create a spreadsheet containing the past five years of operating budget history. Selectman MacCleery stated this would be a great project for the Budget Committee. Also, there is a vacancy on the Budget Committee. Lisa will contact Hannah West and Lee Ann Valotto to put in the newspaper, that any interested party, should contact the Selectmen’s Office.
Chairman Colbert wished to clarify comments from Mr. Paul Adam’s editorial that was published in last weeks Suncook Valley Sun, which in the opinion of the Board contains some inaccurate information taken out of context.
The Town of Chichester already has a Growth Management Ordinance in place. The unusual growth sited in the editorial was an abnormality due to the large subdivision on Connemara Drive which was developed prior to the Growth Management Ordinance.
The improved portion of Lovers Lane has not been upgraded to a class five (5) road. It has been improved to allow for better accessibility for the highway trucks and safety vehicles only. Further, the town has not spent eight thousand dollars ($8,000) of non-appropriated funding. Any costs incurred were part of the annual highway maintenance budget line.
In response to Mr. Weir’s letter, the Board agrees that in the future, the minutes need to reflect more details about the pending litigation. The Board will try to inform the public as much about the lawsuits as our legal obligations allow us. Also, the Board will not be responding to any correspondence that does not contain a signature or identity of the author.
Selectman MacCleery will follow up on the safety ladder at the safety building, now that students are back in residence.
Chairman Colbert asked the other Board members to view the cleanup done on Blackman Bridge.
Lisa will schedule a time for the Board to evaluate the Shreier’s barn for the discretionary easement.
Lisa has looked into a membership to Sam’s Club. The fee is thirty dollars ($30) and each member would need their own card at an additional cost of thirty dollars ($30) per card. It was agreed, this was too costly an option. Also, in order to use a gift card, you must be a member.
There will not be a Selectmen’s meeting on Tuesday, September 14th, due to voting.
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The Board signed payroll and accounts payable, the MS-1 & MS-4(summary of valuation and estimated revenues) and approved an abatement for Map 9, Lot 134.
The minutes of August 24, 2004 were approved as written.
General correspondence and e-mail were reviewed.
Being no further business, the Chairman adjourned the meeting at 10:05pm.
APPROVED AS WRITTEN
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