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Suncook Valley Regional Town Assn. MInutes 06/17/2010
Suncook Valley Regional Town Association
Meeting Minutes

Meeting Date:  June 17, 2010

Minutes Prepared By:  Bruce Dyke

In Attendance:  
Jim Barnard – Town of Barnstead – Selectman
Keith Cota – Town of Epsom - Selectman
Bruce Dyke – Chichester Town Organization Committee
David Jodoin – Town of Pembroke – Town Administrator
Jeff Jordon – Town of Chichester – Selectman
Dave Kerr – Town of Barnstead - Selectman
Allen Mayville – Chichester Town Organization Committee
Ed Vien – Town of Pittsfield - Selectman
Location:  Pembroke Town Hall
Minutes Approved: TBD

1.     The meeting was called to order at 7:05 by Bruce Dyke

2.      The draft minutes of the April 15, 2010 meeting were reviewed and comments/changes were solicited.  A motion was made by Ed Vien to accept the minutes as presented and seconded by Jim Barnard.  The minutes were unanimously approved.

3.      Bruce welcomed Allenstown’s Chief of Police, Shaun Mulholland, as well as Temple/Greenville’s Chief of Police, James McTague who had been invited to present material to the SVRTA with regard to police department collaboration and regionalization.   Bruce also welcomed several of the area police chiefs and officers representing the towns of Chichester, Pembroke, Epsom and Pittsfield, as well as the Merrimack County Sheriff who attended the meeting.

The first presentation was given by Chief Mulholland, who discussed the various options and supporting statutes regarding regional policing structures.  Three handouts (Regional Policing Structures, a sample inter-municipal agreement and case study) were included as part of the discussion.  Key points covered during the discussion and follow-up question period included:
-       Three options exist for regional policing arrangements which include mutual
aid agreements, inter-municipal agreements and contractual services agreements.  
-       There are currently formal and informal agreements between police departments, especially regarding things like DUI task forces, Special Operations Units, mutual aid, etc.
-       NH is unique in that it’s one of the last states/areas to not have a more substantial number of regional arrangements, unlike areas in the south or western US, where county sheriff coverage, etc. is more widespread.
-       The issue of maintaining “local control” is often still a hindrance to regionalizing.
-       Since many PDs run differently, the need for unified standards to be in place is an issue (LGC is working on sample standards based on National Accreditation Standards that can be guidelines for PDs that are interested).
-       Potential benefits of maintaining separate police departments, but sharing a larger, centralized police facility that would likely be more functional than smaller, local police stations and also allow for better information/intelligence sharing.
-       Constructing a detailed cost and operational model would be essential in examining any potential regional PD arrangement.

The second presentation was provided by Chief James McTague who discussed the history and process by which the towns of Temple and Greenville formed a joint police department.  Key points covered during the discussion and follow-up question period included:
-       Demographics of both towns (Temple – 1,100 residents, 23 square miles of land, with no “downtown” area and Greenville – 2,400 residents, 7 square miles of land which includes a Main St./downtown area).
-       Greenville had voted to disband their police department due to lack of confidence in it.  Temple believed a good portion of problems they had in their town stemmed from issues originating in Greenville.  
-       The opportunity to form a regional department was met with skepticism at first, but after time the idea of a joint PD seemed to be a good opportunity to address the issues in both towns.
-       As part of the transition process, Temple also voted to disband their PD, in order to create a true, joint police department that each town could call its own.
-       The initial Inter-municipal Agreement between Temple/Greenville was signed in 2005 for a 3-year term and was followed-up in 2008 by a renewed, 5-year agreement.
-       The PD is overseen by a Police Board, with two selectmen from each town represented.  Costs are shared by both towns, based on popultion.  The police chief submits a budget to the Police Board, which in turn submits it for review/approval within each of their respective towns.  The police chief is not obligated to meet with specific towns budget committees, but does attend both town meetings. In the event one town doesn’t vote to fund their portion of the PD budget, the agreement between the towns would be dissolved.
-       Coverage is currently 20 hours per day, with the remaining 4 hours handled by the State Police.  Current staff includes 5 full-time and 4 part-time officers.
-       The current annual budget is approximately $400k.  After the initial creation of the joint police department, the towns of Temple and Greenville realized $50k and  $115k respectively in annual savings.
-       Other area arrangements include the Town of Sharon which contracts the Town of Peterborough for police coverage.

The group expressed their appreciation to both presenters for the time and efforts with regard to their presentations.  It was re-iterated that since any opportunity to regionalize is heavily dependant on demographics and unique characteristics of the towns involved, that an operational/cost model would be an important part of any such analysis and decision making process.

4.   The issue of a regional firing range was discussed.  It was noted that Pembroke and Allenstown recently entered into an agreement to use the Hooksett Rod & Gun Club’s facilities.  In general the group still sees an opportunity for a regional facility, but the process of finding a suitable location is still a major issue.  Further discussion on this topic will occur in the future SVRTA meetings.

5.   The issue of possible bulk purchases of ammunition, weapons, tasers and/or office supplies was discussed among the group, but the overall consensus was that the level of savings would be very minimal, especially since the communities already receive wholesale rates.  The SVRTA members agreed that this issue should be dropped from further consideration.

6.   Bruce provided the group with an update regarding the renewal options for the cooperative health insurance arrangement.  Since the Town of Allenstown, which was not included in the original agreement, wants to participate in the upcoming renewal, each SVRTA town will have to submit a new “Letter of Intent” to LGC expressing their desire to continue with the cooperative arrangement with the communities currently comprising the SVRTA (excluding Northwood).  Those letters should be sent no later than June 28th.  Once the letters are received, LGD will re-rate the new group and provide feedback on premium impact based on current rates.  This would be done sometime in late July.  The SVRTA towns would have until August 15th to sign new 2-year agreements with LGC if they desire to continue in the group arrangement.  

     In addition to receiving rates from LGC, the SVRTA group still has the opportunity to have a formal insurance plan analysis done by Melcher and Prescott at a total cost of $5,000, which would be shared by all SVRTA towns who wish to participate.  The group agreed that the cost allocation should be based on the number of employees currently receiving benefits in each town.  Based on the further discussion of benefits associated with obtaining such an analysis and clarification of the estimated cost per town (about $40 per covered employee), the group plans to go back to their respective Boards of Selectmen in hopes of getting approval to proceed.  The group agreed to try and obtain final decisions no later than June 28th.
7.   The next meeting will be held Wednesday, June 28, 2010 at 7pm.  The meeting will be held at the Pittsfield Town Hall.

8.   A motion was made to adjourn the meeting by Jim Barnard and seconded by Keith Cota. The meeting adjourned at 9:50pm.  

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