Bethlehem Board of Selectmen
October 23, 2017
Present: Chairman Moritz, Selectman Boisseau, Selectman Ubaldo.
Chairman Moritz opened the meeting at 6:30 pm.
Dann read a prepared statement (attached) in response to him being called rude when discussing the library budget at a previous meeting.
Chris Jensen stated people register cars using Montana LLC as a way to avoid paying taxes.
Cheryl Jensen said she is following up on the letter to DOT about the right of way. She said there will be another letter being signed by the Easton Select Board and said she will send it to April to give to the Board to see if they will sign it too. She said DOT is lowering the survey standards for accuracy.
Chris McGrath said someone asked if they could take pallets from town owned properties and was told they should contact the selectmen’s office. He also said he has been going to the meetings and there has been discussions about the need to increase revenue and asked if there is a plan to increase the revenue. Chairman Moritz said there are two groups in town focusing on that and said the Board is focusing on decreasing spending until we have increased revenue. She said it comes down to what services to give up.
Alan Jackson said he is here representing the Methodist Church and Maplewood Lodge 100 to ask about putting a streetlight on the pole in front of the church. He said there is lots of activity at night so is concerned about safety. He submitted a written request.
Dann said he has Montana plates and does everything legal to reduce his taxes and compared it to people itemizing deductions to reduce their tax burden.
Chairman Moritz thanked Commissioners Bruce Brown and Dick Robie for coming to discuss the sidewalk concern in front of the WREN block. Chairman Moritz said people are tripping due to the increased height and has concerns about safety. Commissioner Brown said the Village District doesn’t own that part of the sidewalk. He said the state owns it but the Village District takes care of it. He said their employee told someone in the WREN office what was going to happen and that they could contact the paving person to pave their section.
Chairman Moritz said if they chose not to do their portion of the sidewalk it is not okay to leave it in a dangerous situation. Commissioner Robie said they did the same thing last year with the Colonial and the Colonial had theirs paved to meet the sidewalk. Chairman Moritz asked how far in advance were they notified and what method were they notified in. Commissioner Robie said it would cost $1500.00 – $2000.00 to pave their portion and said the only other option is to grind it to make it level. He said he was told they were told in person that this would be happening. Coleen Foley said she owns Cold Mtn. Café and is here representing Vista Condo Assoc. She said no-one notified them and said she found out that day that it was happening and said she had customers at the time. Ms. Foley said there is a 3 inch drop and people are tripping and asked where the water is going to go. She also said she called and wrote letters and never heard from anyone. Commissioner Robie said they were told they were notified. Chairman Moritz asked if they send notification letters and said the procedure seems inadequate. Commissioner Robie said it needs to get ground down and said he didn’t know until it was done that it wouldn’t be ground down. Katie Curran said she has worked for WREN for years and said she was never notified. She said she is interested in safety for customers and employees. There was discussion about what the finish surface will be after they grind down the pavement. Commissioner Robie said it will be the way it was before they paved it. Cheryl Jensen asked what assurance there will be that it will be ADA compliant and was told it will be level. Commissioner Brown said they can’t ask or expect Village District voters to pave private property. Chairman Moritz said she respects that but they can’t make a safety issue. Commissioner Robie said it was ADA compliant prior to new pavement so it will be again.
Scott Lecuyer said the sidewalk on Berkley Street hasn’t been maintained in years. He asked if the District maintains them. Commissioner Brown said there are multiple side streets with sidewalks from the 40’s and 50’s that haven’t been done because of cost and said it would be approx. $200,000.00 to pave them all. He said they do what the voters tell them. Commissioner Robie said they will address the sidewalk (WREN Block) and understands the problem. Selectman Boisseau said there was a miscommunication so going forward asked if they would change their policy and send formal written communication. Commissioner Robie said after tonight’s meeting they will change their policy. Mrs. Jensen asked if the town has any legal liability and was told yes the Town and the Village District do and that was verified with our insurance company. Mr. McGrath asked if the Town will notify people when they pave roads and Chairman Moritz said this is different due to liability and said driveway issue from roads being paved is not a liability issue. Alan Jackson expressed concern about the front steps to the town building due to ADA. Mr. Lecuyer said the roads changing heights when paved does create problems with water and said notice would be beneficial.
Tax Collector: Mary Jackson reviewed her budget with the Board and the increases are in salaries.
Town Clerk: Mrs. Jackson reviewed her budget with the Board and explained there will be 3 elections next year so will have increases in her budget due to that. Cheryl Jensen asked if any department has come in with a decreased budget yet and was told increase is in personnel to retain employees. Mrs. Jackson said she tried to make cuts but said the numbers are what she thinks they need to be.
Executive: The Board discussed the executive budget that was down 3% due to a change in health insurance. There was an increase in the computer line to reflect the new emails and software.
Welfare: Budget down 15%.
Legal: Chairman Moritz said she feels they should wait to have a full board to discuss the legal budget. Mr. McGrath asked if they would be increasing legal to fight a proposed tax abatement and Chairman Moritz said it is too early to tell. She said she would like it to stay the same but would be in best interest of the town to budget to fight abatement. Mr. McGrath said to strike a deal before going to court and said it could get very expensive. Selectman Ubaldo said $15,000.00 of current budget was for Northern Pass. Mr. Jensen said it is nice to settle things peacefully but big corporations won’t sit down with anyone and said need resources to protect the town.
Selectman Ubaldo said budgets as a whole were cut to bare bones last year but have seen some leeway. He said some budgets have gone down so areas could have been cut more last year so the Board should look closer. It was said the executive budget only went down due to health insurance savings. Selectman Boisseau said the increases are with personnel and asked if they cut salaries and keep budget level will they lose valuable employees. Frank Claffey said when you prepare a budget you look at last year, current year, and proposed. He said you look at 3 – 5 years and things change but have to look at trends. He said the department heads look at that and do a good job with proposed budgets. Mr. Claffey said the front entrance is not the handicap entrance for the town hall and said there is a sign out front that says the handicap entrance is the police entrance.
The Board reviewed the minutes from 10/16/17. Chairman Moritz moved to approve the minutes. Selectman Boisseau seconded. Carried 3-0.
At 7:48 Selectman Ubaldo moved to adjourn. Chairman Moritz seconded. Carried 3-0.