Suncook Valley Regional Town Association
Meeting Date: January 15, 2009
Minutes Prepared By: Bruce Dyke
In Attendance: Robert Blodgett -Town of Epsom - Selectman
Bruce Dyke -Chichester Town Organization Committee
Phil Grillo -Town of Barnstead - Selectman
Gordon Preston -Town of Barnstead -Selectman
Larry Preston -Town of Pembroke - Selectman
Ed Vien -Town of Pittsfield -Selectman
Location: Barnstead Town Hall
Minutes Approved: March 19, 2009
- The meeting was called to order at 7:15 by Bruce Dyke
- The draft minutes of the December 4, 2008 meeting were reviewed and comments/changes were solicited. A motion was made by Ed Vien to accept the minutes as presented and seconded by Gordon Preston. The minutes were approved unanimously, with one participant abstaining.
- The group welcomed Scott Bryer, Chairman of Northwoodís Board of Selectmen who attended the meeting to gain a better understanding of the groupís purpose. Mr. Bryer expressed Northwoodís interest in the group and a brief discussion of the groupís prior discussion topics, accomplishments and future goals took place. A motion was made by Larry Preston to extend an invitation to the Town of Northwood to join the SVRTA and was seconded by Gordon Preston. The group unanimously approved the motion and Mr. Bryer indicated heíd relay the invitation to his Board for discussion/vote at their next meeting.
- The status of the shared assessing analysis was reviewed by the group. At this point it appears as though only Chichester had provided a ìletter of interestî to the Dept. of Revenue Admin with respect to that group doing an analysis of potential collaborative agreements specific to assessing. There was some confusion among other towns as to whether they had sent letters, as some thought that had already been done. Each town present at the meeting had discussed the matter in prior Selectmen meetings and all acknowledged an interest in having the analysis done. Members were going to review the issue ASAP with their respective Boards and have letters sent to DRA if that had not already been done.
- Bruce Dyke advised the group that he was still waiting for responses from Barnstead and Strafford for the Building Inspector/Code Enforcement survey questions sent out to the SVRTA towns after the December 4th meeting. Once all responses are received, Bruce will distribute a summary matrix for review and further discussion at the next meeting.
- The issue of potential collaboration among area police departments was discussed. Epsom and Barnstead have had some preliminary discussions with their respective police chiefs and Chichesterís T.A. had sent their chief questions specific to this issue for review/response. Further discussions within each town will continue with an expectation of initially identifying smaller collaborative opportunities in this area.
- Gordon Preston indicated that he had recent discussions with a couple large office supply vendors regarding potential discount opportunities based on a regional agreement. It was agreed that each town would send Gordon their 2009 budget figures relating to general office supplies and he will follow-up with those vendors to determine what, if any opportunities exist for discounts.
- Each town provided a brief update regarding their 2009 budget planning process:
Pembroke -The biggest issue being considered this year involves trash collection expense. They will have a Warrant to purchase a collection vehicle designed for sorted recyclables. Employee raises are proposed to be 4.4% (COLA) and up to 1% merit.
Barnstead -Is expecting an operating budget that will be slightly below 2008 levels. Employee raises are proposed at 3%. There are no major Warrants regarding purchases expected.
Pittsfield -Is expecting a flat operating budget and proposing staff COLA increases of 3%. No major Warrants regarding purchases expected.
Epsom -Is struggling to address budget shortfalls from the last few years of ìdefault budgetsî as an SB2 town. Selectmen had proposed a 10% increase to the operating budget, but the Budget Committee had only recommended 8.8%. Both budgets will go to the Townís deliberative session.
Chichester -Is expecting a slight decrease in their operating budget over 2008 levels. Staff COLA increases proposed at 3.5%. One major Warrant article specific to reconstruction of one road is likely to lose support in order to offset an expected reduction in 2009 revenue and help avoid any increase to the Town portion of the tax rate.
- Gordon Preston reminded the group that a Barnstead resident with legal background had offered to assist the SVRTA with drafting any potential cooperative agreements, etc. that may be needed. Although this individual is not licensed to practice law in NH, the ability to get initial draft documents from him for official review by respective town counsels was seen as a convenient option down the road, if the need arises.
- Gordon Preston updated the group on a conversation he had with a rep. from the Town of Alton who had indicated that they were not interested in the existing health insurance cooperative agreement put into place by the SVRTA.
- Larry Preston noted that Pembrokeís Selectman have had some informal discussions regarding the possibility of sharing their Building Inspector with other area towns that may have a mutual need as that position is currently not busy due to the decline in building activity. Bruce Dyke indicated that Chichester was currently looking to hire a part-time Building Inspector and he would make sure his Selectmen were aware of a possible opportunity to enter into some type of arrangement with Pembroke.
- Larry Preston raised the issue of police dispatch costs seen by Pembroke, which currently uses Bow dispatch. All towns present at the meeting indicated they had seen notable increases in their 2009 dispatch costs. The current lack of expansion capability for Merrimack County dispatch was noted as some towns currently using Bow dispatch would be interested in a possible switch to County dispatch. It was agreed that all SVRTA towns would send Bruce their 2008 and 2009 PD dispatch budgets, which would be consolidated for comparison purposes and discussed at the next meeting.
- Ed Vien polled the group to see if any SVRTA towns had call recording equipment in use at their police departments. To the best of the groupís knowledge, none of the towns represented at the meeting had such equipment at the present time. A brief discussion of the value for such equipment in terms of liability management and validating potential complaints from citizens took place.
- The next meeting will be Thursday, March 19, 2009 at 7pm. The location will be determined at a later date.
- A motion was made to adjourn the meeting by Ed Vien and seconded by Bob Blodgett. The meeting adjourned at 8:55pm.