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Town Organization Minutes 09/21/2006
Chichester Town Organization Committee
Meeting Minutes

Meeting Date:   September 21, 2006
Minutes Prepared By:  Bruce Dyke
In Attendance:  Lou Barker, Bruce Dyke , Norm Larachelle & Allen Mayville
Location:  Selectmen’s Office Conference Room
Minutes Approved:  September 28, 2006

?       The meeting started at 6:30pm

?       The intent of this meeting was to have initial discussions with department heads and/or Trustees from the areas identified for review by the Town Organization Committee.  The format of the meeting provided approximately 30 minutes each with the Library, Fire Department and Police Departments respectively, to discuss the Committee’s charter, time frames and to begin an initial dialogue as outlined in a memo provided to each group, dated September 12, 2006.  

?       Based on the individual discussions with each group, the following key points were identified:

ß       Library (Represented by Lucille Noel, Carol Lee Davison & Pat Hauck)
-       The Chichester library is part of the Suncook Valley Inter-Library Co-op and has been for over 10 years.  Annual dues for the membership are around $250.
-       The Co-op is comprised of 11 communities and includes an audio/video exchange program and well as book loan program.
-       Chichester library regularly receives overflow books from other library’s collections that are used to enhance our library collection and/or provide material for book sales.
-       Book sales are held on a regular basis and generate between $5,000 and $6,000 in additional revenue that the library uses for special projects.
-       The Chichester Library’s collection consists of approx. 10-12 thousand books.
-       It’s believed that between 500 & 600 active memberships exist at the library, although the count is somewhat skewed due to different practices with respect to issuing cards (i.e. issuing a single card per family vs. one per person).
-       The Trustees believe the current library facility is an adequate size to accommodate the town’s needs for many years to come.
-       Discussions had occurred prior to the Central School’s addition regarding potentially combining the town library with the school library, but a number of obstacles prevented that idea from moving forward.  Some of the problems cited included potential security concerns (i.e. having residents in the school during the school day) as well as space limitations and possible disagreements on operational matters.  However, a number of potential benefits also were identified which included having a larger, combined collection and expanded operating hours.
-       The lack of information sharing between the town library and the CCS library was cited as an area of opportunity in order to avoid duplicate purchases.
-       Another potential opportunity identified involved a coordinated effort among surrounding towns to “specialize” their collections which would avoid duplicate expense among participating towns and allow for a great scope of material within each area of specialization.
-       The idea of combining libraries with surrounding towns wasn’t seen as a worthwhile endeavor due to potential conflicts with operational oversight .

?       Fire Department (Represented by Chief Mike Paveglio)
-       Chichester FD is part of the Capital Area Fire Mutual Aid Compact which consists of 20 towns and provides centralized dispatch, access to equipment and shared Chief Coordinator position.  The town pays an annual fee for membership to the Compact which is based on a pro-rated portion of population.
-       A co-operative agreement currently exists between Chichester and Loudon that involves ambulance service.  The current arrangement provides daytime coverage by Loudon (M-F, 6am to 6pm), with nights/weekends being covered by each town on an alternating basis.
-       Chichester pays Loudon approx. $27k annually for the current arrangement and also pays a stipend to members of the Chichester rescue squad for being on call.  Mike feels the current working relationship between both towns is quite good.
-       Current growth in the town of Loudon are presenting some challenges for the Loudon Rescue squad in terms of increased call volume and could put our current arrangement in jeopardy at some point in the future since we may reach a point where one rescue squad on duty may not be adequate.
-       Mike’s biggest concern at this point is the difficulty in recruiting members for the fire department.
-       The option of contracting a private ambulance service was discussed.  Although that’s always an option, the issue of cost as well as quality of service needs to be clearly understood and managed.  Chichester’s prior experience with a private service was deemed to have “issues” although that was several years ago.
-       In general, the concept of having a fire department per town/city was identified as being inefficient, resulting in excessive equipment for a given region, but migrating to cooperative approach was seen as being very difficult, with concerns of “ownership and control” being raised as an issue.
-       As a general rule, towns do take into consideration the type fire equipment other surrounding towns has when determining their own needs, in order to avoid duplication, especially with regard to high value equipment such as fire trucks.

?       Police Department (Represented by Chief Patrick Clarke)

-       The Police Dept. has mutual aid agreements with several communities which allow those communities to send police coverage to Chichester upon our request.  Communities with whom we have agreements include:
-       Although the agreements are fairly similar, they are all individual with respect to each town (unlike the Fire Dept. mutual aid agreement).
-       Chichester, along with four of the other towns listed above share the same dispatch services (provided by Merrimack County).  Some towns use Belknap County and others use Bow Dispatch, which works OK, but can present challenges from time to time.
-       Dispatch center costs are based on actual usage vs. the model used by the Fire Dept. which is based on population.
-       Chichester PD doesn’t have very much in place with other towns with respect to shared resources, although it was noted that we are still working on an agreement to share a roadside radar/speed monitor with Epsom and Pittsfield.
-       Chichester does have access to a regional “Special Response Team” for use in serious situations.
-       Areas where possible shared resources could be explored include:
?       Traffic accident reconstruction team
?       Crime investigation
?       Bulk purchases of certain expendable items (i.e. ammunition)
?       Group/bulk purchase of police cruisers, perhaps in conjunction with the State Police.
-       The concept of regional police coverage was discussed.  Pat didn’t believe any such arrangements currently existed and pointed out that various logistical hurdles would have to be addressed with regard to jurisdiction of officers across multiple towns.  The Attorney General’s office would likely need to be involved.  Pat also voiced some concern regarding having officers from other towns whose quality may not meet Chichester’s level of standards, providing coverage.

?       Each group with whom the Committee met was asked to continue to identify potential synergy opportunities in the coming weeks, as individual department follow-up meetings will likely occur.  For those meetings, the Committee will assign two member teams to each of the departments and subsequent working sessions will be arranged with department heads at a mutually agreed upon time.   An overall review of Committee findings and any proposed recommendations will be reviewed with all associated departments in late October, in advance of any final report submission to the Selectmen in November.

?       The next meeting will be held on Thursday, September 28, 2006 in the Selectmen’s office conference room.

?       Meeting adjourned at 8:20pm

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