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Suncook Valley Regional Town Assn. MInutes 08/20/2008
Suncook Valley Regional Town Association
Meeting Minutes

Meeting Date:   August 20, 2008
Minutes Prepared By:  Bruce Dyke
In Attendance:  Bruce Dyke – Chichester Town Organization Committee
    Allen Mayville – Chichester Town Organization Committee
               Gordon Preston – Town of Barnstead – Selectman
               Larry Preston – Town of Pembroke – Selectman
             Joanne Randall – Town of Epsom - Selectman
    Ed Vien – Town of Pittsfield – Selectman
Location:  Pittsfield Town Hall
Minutes Approved: TBA

        -    The meeting was called to order at 7:10 by Bruce Dyke

-       Bruce Dyke welcomed the group back for the fifth meeting of the Suncook Valley Regional Town Association and thanked Selectman Ed Vien for hosting the meeting.

-       The draft minutes of the June 19, 2008 meeting were reviewed and comments/changes were solicited.  A motion was made by Larry Preston to accept the minutes as presented, which was unanimously approved by the group.

-       Bruce Dyke updated the group on the status of the joint health insurance proposal with the LGC.  At this point, LGC has confirmed they received final letters of acceptance for the two-year arrangement from all towns, as well as the Town of Strafford (which expressed interest in participating late during the initial quote review process).  LGC will prepare 2009 rates based on the entire group.  No further action should be required at this point.

-       The issue of additional town membership to the SVRTA was raised by Bruce Dyke and discussed among the group.  In general, the group has no issue with other area towns joining the SVRTA.  It was suggested by Ed Vien that Strafford should consider joining as they have decided to participate in the health insurance cooperative.  Bruce indicated he will contact one of their selectmen to discuss the issue.  It was also suggested that Allenstown may be a good fit for the group and Larry Preston indicated he would contact one of their selectmen to see if they have any interest in joining.

-       Larry Preston explained to the group that a level of uncertainty still exists surrounding the future of the current Tri-Town ambulance arrangement between Pembroke, Allenstown and Hooksett.  The uncertainty involves Hooksett’s long-term willingness to continue participation as well as other issues involving insurance costs.  He also noted that Tri-Town will be moving one of it’s ambulances from their original downtown Pembroke location to the Pembroke Fire Station on Route 3 in order to save heating costs associated with their old site.  Bruce Dyke reiterated Chichester’s desire to speak with Tri-Town regarding a potential arrangement with them if they have an interest in the future.

-       Larry Preston raised the issue of large cost increases associated with the Bow police dispatch arrangement Pembroke currently has with them.  Joanne Randall acknowledged that issue as well since Epsom also contracts with Bow dispatch and is anticipating large cost increases as well.  It seems that the town of Bow has been subsidizing the dispatch costs for some period of time and now is making necessary price adjustments to more appropriately allocate the costs across the towns that use the service.  Towns such as Allenstown, Pembroke and Epsom are all looking at alternatives (such as Merrimack County Dispatch), but no decisions have been made yet.

-       Gordon Preston mentioned that Barnstead had received a letter from the State DOT (District 3) regarding road salt purchases for the upcoming winter.  This would enable Barnstead to “piggy back” on the State’s contract for salt at $60 per ton.  Ed Vien indicated Pittsfield had received a letter from Central NH Regional Planning specific to a joint salt bid any interested towns.  No other SVRTA towns were aware of any DOT or Central NH Planning letters having been received.  Gordon Preston was going to call the NH D.O.T. Commissioner to see why other towns weren’t included in the State salt bid, which has been the normal practice in the past.

-       Ed Vien updated the group on the status of the State fuel pumps located on Route 28/Rout 107 in Pittsfield.  They are still operating despite the State’s schedule to have shut them down by now.  Pittsfield and Barnstead are looking at options for keeping smaller amounts of diesel fuel at their respective highway dept. sheds (in 500 gallon tanks), but are also still in discussions with the owner of the Bosco Bell gas station regarding the possible use of their pumps (assuming a card access system could be installed for town use only).

-       Bruce Dyke reviewed the key points from a presentation given by David Hynes during the June meeting, which outlined the potential for “Regional Assessing Cooperatives” among towns with similar demographics and needs.  He provided presentation material and a copy of the contract between the Towns of New London, Sunapee and Newbury for the group’s review.  Bruce has held-off distributing that material pending the completion of the joint health insurance cooperative, but with that project now complete, he will forward the materials to each town for review.   Mr. Hynes’ office is willing to do the analysis regarding a potential cooperative among any number of the SVRTA towns who express interest.  Similar to the process we followed with regard to the health insurance arrangement, interested towns just need to forward a “letter of intent” to Mr. Hynes to start this process.

The group reviewed their current assessing budget amounts for 2008:
ß       Pittsfield - $19,000
ß       Barnstead - $38,900
ß       Chichester - $17,000
ß       Epsom - $17,390
ß       Pembroke - TBA

-       Bruce Dyke raised the topic of possible shared Building Inspectors and/or Code Enforcement Officers to see if that was an area of interest for any of the SVRTA towns.  The overall discussion centered around a common point of expenses for these functions generally being covered by associated fees for building permits, inspections, etc.  However, it was noted that a combined function across multiple towns could yield a higher level of service in terms of better availability.  

Joanne Randall asked the group which building codes their towns followed.  Although everyone didn’t have definite answers, it seems as though all towns were following national or international standards and no towns maintained their own building codes.

Ed Vien suggested that a survey be sent to each SVRTA town to gather data specific to their Building Inspector/Code Enforcement functions, budget amounts, etc. for review and follow-up during the next meeting.  The group agreed with the suggested approach and Bruce offered to put together a brief survey and distribute to the towns.

On a related note, Gordon Preston shared with the group the fact that the overall State’s response to the recent disaster (tornado) in town was very impressive with regard to the building inspectors from other areas who provided their expertise in assessing property damage.

-       Gordon Preston polled the group to see if anyone was aware of the NH Highway Mutual Aid Organization.  Similar to the arrangement of fire mutual aid groups, the Highway Mutual Aid Org provides assistance during major events where a single town’s resources may be inadequate to handle the situation.  Membership only costs $25 per year and towns can join on-line.  Gordon will provide the web site info. to the group.

-       Ed Vien updated the group on the status of the BCEP scale use issue, which required an administrative rule change by the NH Legislature.  As of the last meeting, the proposed Bill was waiting for the Governor’s signature, which has since occurred.  It appears the calls made by the SVRTA members to the Governor’s office may have helped move that issue along.

-       Ed Vien also mentioned that their Town Administrator (Leon Kennison) had recently resigned and Pittsfield has just hired Barnstead’s T.A. whose position was cut due to budget constraints.

-       Ed Vien raised the issue of regional fire departments.  He indicated that Pittsfield’s Fire Chief (Gary Johnson) believes there is value in exploring this option for area towns and has offered to put together a presentation for the group outlining the key points for such an arrangement.  The group was very interested in this topic and welcomed the opportunity for a presentation at the next meeting.

-       Gordon Preston asked the groups Selectmen from each town had any type of “official” identification that reflects their position within the town.  This was an issue during the recent tornado event where problems were encountered by Gordon in getting across police lines to assess damage and provide assistance.  It appears that most towns do not have such identification, but some are considering it.  It was noted that Pittsfield receives their town ID badges through the assistance of Concord Hospital, who has the equipment to make appropriate photo badges.  Joannne Randall and Bruce Dyke noted that on-line companies also exist that can create similar badges for about $10 each.  Bruce mentioned that one such company is

-       The next meeting will be Thursday, October 2, 2008 at 7pm and will be held at the Pittsfield Town Hall.

-       The meeting adjourned at 8:35pm.

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