Chichester Board of Selectmen
Minutes of Meeting
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Members Present: Jeff Jordan, Richard DeBold, Town Administrator Jodi Pinard
Advisory Budget Committee: Jason Weir, Stephen MacCleery, Don Peterman, Doug Fisher, Ed Millette, Norm Larochelle
Others Present: Lucille Noel, Ann Davis, Allen Mayville, Tom Houle, Joe Austin, and other members of the public.
Call to Order: Mr. DeBold called the meeting to order at 6:30pm
Mr. Paveglio is unable to attend due to surgery but he is on the mend.
Advisory Budget Committee
Mr. DeBold stated that we are here to start the initial discussions about the budget goals. Last year we did a pretty good job. I know our operating budget was down $30,000 and we utilized $130,000 from fund balance to offset the capital reserve fund deposits. There is a potential reduction of the Town tax rate. I think following the same process as last year to send out a directive with dates when budgets are expected to be turned in is good a practice to follow.
There was a questions as to who needed to be reappointed to the Advisory Budget Committee.
Mrs. Pinard informed the Board that Stephen MacCleery and Marlene Hammond would need to be reappointed if they were interested in serving.
Mr. MacCleery stated that he would like to continue to serve.
A motion was made by Mr. DeBold and seconded by Mr. Jordan to reappoint Mr. MacCleery to the Budget Committee with a term expiring in 2018. Motion Passes.
Mr. DeBold reviewed what percentage increases were given to employees and department heads. Department heads were given a 5% and employees were given a 3%.
Mr. Jordan stated that if we are going to do market adjustments we need to do that research sooner. He stated he does not want this to be a last minute item.
Mr. Millette stated that he would like to meet with the CIP earlier rather than later so that we can budget for the larger projects.
There was a question regarding both the Board of Selectmen and School Board possible Joint Advisory Budget Committee and where this stood.
Mr. Weir stated that Mrs. Kelley is under the impression that they do not have a lot that can be adjusted. The School Board would be going in the way of having their own Advisory Budget Committee. These committees would not be same.
Consensus of both the Board of Selectmen and the Advisory Budget Committee was to move forward with meeting two consecutive nights instead of three in the first two weeks of December. The Selectmen and Advisory Budget Committee would then meet again in January with the Public Hearing on the budget tentatively scheduled for the last Tuesday in January.
Use of the Deputy Town Clerk/Tax Collector to assist in covering the Selectmen’s Office
Mrs. Pike stated that she is not in agreement with this. She stated that she has spoken to others and they stated it would not work. She would the Deputy to work strictly in the Town Clerk/ Tax Collector’s Office when they scheduled in that office and not go back and forth between the offices. There are concerns of customers not be served promptly and it is felt this would be a step backwards.
Mrs. Pinard stated that she had been utilizing the Deputy to the Selectmen’s Office when it was not busy in the Town Clerk’s office. This was only meant to be a trial situation to see if this was something that would be useful and a possible cost savings to the Town. The foot traffic in Town Hall has decreased since Mrs. Pinard started working for the Town and with the open Administrative Assistant position this was the time to try. Mrs. Pinard stated that she would not be doing her job if she did not look at ways to run the Town Hall more efficiently with less cost if possible.
Mr. Jordan stated that the Deputy should be in the Town Clerks office.
Mrs. Pinard asked if the Deputy is not schedule in the Town Clerk’s Office can they cover the Selectmen’s office.
Consensus was the Deputy Town Clerk /Tax Collector will work on the days that she is not scheduled in the Town Clerk’s Office in the Selectmen’s Office.
Conservation Commission – Conservation Easement Purchase
Bob Mann stated that we are here to discuss a possible conservation easement purchase. In the past conservation members have spoken with the Plunkett’s regarding lands on the south side of Bear Hill Road as a possible easement. They have already subdivided out 13 acres. They also plan on subdividing another parcel. What this does not show is a ROW or deeded access to the potential easement. That would be something that needs to be worked out. This would be roughly 89 acres.
Mr. Mann stated that the reason we are here tonight is the possibility of using money from the Conservation Fund. We wanted to come to you tonight to see if you had any concerns. In order to take money out of the conservation fund we would need a public hearing. With conservation easements the current owner retains ownership of the property but they give up certain rights. The agreement may also say that the current owner could still farm or manage forestry. But we have not gotten into those details as of yet. We would need an appraisal, complete a Title search of the property and possible a survey. Mr. Plunkett intended to be here tonight but was unable to make it. He has not stated what exactly he wanted in the easement.
Mr. DeBold stated that in order to purchase a conservation easement the Board of Selectmen has to authorize that. Also is the appraisal the value of the property or is it a conservation easement appraisal.
Mr. Mann stated that yes the appraisal will appraise the value of the land that the owner is giving up. The land is in current use and in most cases where land is in current use there is not much in taxation.
Mr. DeBold stated have you discussed with the land owner what you will take and what will be remaining.
Mr. Boyajian stated that the benefits to the town are the land does not get developed. There are other benefits beyond recreation and this easement as provides watershed protection. There is a parcel to the south that has reserved rights across Jim’s Property but only for the purposes of hay.
Mr. DeBold stated I think this is a great opportunity.
Mr. Mann stated that we are looking for a nod from the Board. We will be looking to negotiate a stewardship plan. The intent is for us to do the backup work and then come back to the Board for final approval.
Mr. Jordan stated that I am not really in favor of these conservation easements. We pay the owners and they get to still get all of the benefits.
Mr. Mann stated that I would like to address Mr. Jordan’s concerns the fact that this could be developed is the reason to purchase the conservation easement. Normally I would agree with you but this is something that is already under current use.
Mr. Weir stated that you have some easements that do not permit public use and I am not in favor of that.
Mr. Mann stated that easement is actually owned by the forestry society and I agree.
Mr. DeBold informed the audience that the Board of Selectmen had received a letter from Nate Cyr the Town Moderator. He is resigning as he is moving out of Town. It is the responsibility of the Supervisors of the Checklist to appoint another Moderator.
General Business/Board Discussion:
Abatement Map 3 Lot 68B
Mr. Austin stated that I would request a non-public hearing to continue this discussion.
Mr. DeBold stated that if you want to go into nonpublic and discuss information that has already been discussed then we are not going into non-public session
Mr. DeBold stated that our attorney has stated that the Board is fully within their right to rescind the motion of September 8. The agreement that stands now is the September 22, 2015.
Mr. Austin stated that our lawyers will be filing an injunction with the court system tomorrow. It will end up with the Fifth District Court. Do what you have to do but our lawyer’s say that the agreement and those numbers from the 8th are the agreement.
Mr. Austin stated that his lawyer tried to deliver a check and it was not accepted. He stated that he is not sure who refused the check.
Mrs. Pike stated that no one has brought a check to my office.
Mr. DeBold stated what bothers me is we had an agreement and it was essentially for all the taxes owed without interest and penalties.
Mr. Houle stated that I am troubled because in March we would have collected $96,000 and it would have taken care of this and then none of this would have happened.
A motion was made by Mr. DeBold and seconded by Mr. Jordan to grant the abatement handed down by the BTLA Decision for 2013 in the amount of $295,000 in assessed value. Motion Passes.
Mr. DeBold stated that the Town Attorney has recommend that the Town grant the abatement through 2015 pursuant to RSA 76:17c.
A motion was made by Mr. DeBold and seconded by Mr. Jordan to grant the abatement handed down by the BTLA Decision for 2014 in the amount of $690,900 in assessed value. Motion Passes.
Mr. Weir stated that the Town has carried over abatements to subsequent years in the past. This is not just being done for this property.
A motion was made by Mr. DeBold and seconded by Mr. Jordan to grant the abatement handed down by the BTLA Decision for 2015 in the amount of $690,900 in assessed value. Motion Passes.
Mr. Weir stated that the BTLA and the Assessor has vast differences in opinion and this is not the only property this has happened too. I don’t know which one is right but you need to find the problem
Mr. Weir stated that Mr. Austin indicated that a party of his presented a check to the Town and it was refused. If he was to present a check tomorrow would it be accepted by the Town Clerk.
Mrs. Pike stated that I am not going to accept a check from someone who is not an interested party. I would want paperwork saying they are representing the property owner.
Mr. Houle stated I have 2 questions if he doesn’t show up with the money is the Town going to take the property? We have been going through this stuff for years. Are we in agreement to take the property? I am also curious if both of you know how penalties work for property taxes? The money has already been spent in penalties and that’s the money you aren’t collecting.
Mr. DeBold stated that we will have to see what happens and discuss it at our next meeting.
Lucille Noel provided signage to the Board to approve. This signage would be to attach the signage to each building. These would also provide historical data about the building on the sign as well.
Being no further discussion, a motion was made by Mr. DeBold and seconded by Mr. Jordan to adjourn the meeting at 8:30pm. Motion passes.
Not approved until signed
Jodi Pinard, Town Administrator
D. Michael Paveglio Richard DeBold Jeffrey Jordan