Bethlehem Board of Selectmen
Bethlehem Selectmen Office
November 13, 2017
Present: Chairman Moritz, Selectman Glavac, Selectman Boisseau, Selectman Ubaldo.
Chairman Moritz opened the meeting at 6:10 pm.
Sandy Laleme said she along with Cheryl Jensen did their testimony about Northern Pass and said that now fulfills her commitment. She said she will help Mrs. Jensen and the liaison if need be. She explained they testified for over 3 hours and told the Board they should commend Mrs. Jensen on the work she did for this. She said she put in a lot of time and effort and got lawyers to help us without having to pay them. Chairman Moritz said the Board had voted to stop legal counsel for Northern Pass and Mrs. Laleme and Mrs. Jensen did a fantastic job and thanked them.
Julian Czarny said with the skate park on hold would the Board consider having the ice rink.
Dann said “your fair share” is being thrown around. He said unintended consequences to that are it is used to shame people. He asked if he is paying his fair share and asked what the fair share is. Dann also said taxation is the stealing of his property and said users of the pool, library, and golf should pay to use. Dann said St. Jude children’s research hospitals goal is they won’t stop until no child dies of cancer. He said that is a good goal but asked if they would want to be forced to contribute. He said with the taxes increasing by $1,000.00 he would donate more to St. Jude if the taxes were not so high.
GGB (General Governmental Buildings) and Cemetery. There was discussion about reducing the cemetery purchase line item to $500.00 and adding in $5200.00 for cemetery software. The budget was decreased 11%.
Country Club – There was discussion about how to get the proposed expenses to match the proposed revenues. Matt Courchaine discussed with the Board concerns with the condition of the carts and said that needs to be addresses. He also told them the roof and other building repairs need to happen. Mr. Courchaine will work with Selectmen Boisseau and Moritz on his budget. Mrs. Laleme said the carts have been an issue and said in the past they were traded and leased on a rotating basis. She also asked about the 5-year plan for the wiring. Mrs. Laleme said Mr. Courchaine was the manager, groundkeeper, repair man, etc. and said he is not given enough time to manage the club. Chris Jensen said it should be looked at to see if it benefits Bethlehem to own a golf course. Mr. Courchaine said the electrician couldn’t come do the work and said he has looked into leasing new carts and is getting quotes. There was discussion about a possible grant to address migration and drainage. Chris McGrath suggested they advertise on the carts to add revenue.
Chairman Moritz said there are different options on the Country Club and said investment needs to be made or they need to consider other options. Selectman Glavac said there was a warrant article to look at ways for the Country Club to reduce taxes and the committee gave a recommendation. He said the recommendations were not on how the Country Club could lower the tax rate for town. Chairman Moritz said it would have to be a warrant article and town decision on how to move forward. She said a municipality is not in the businesses to run a business and there is not money to invest in it. There was discussion about the benefits of leasing or selling. Selectman Glavac sees the benefit to having a country club but not have the town run it. He said he wouldn’t want to sell because there is a benefit to having a golf course on each end of town. He said he would support a warrant article to lease it. Selectman Ubaldo said it would be difficult to lease without the town being responsible for building maintenance and said selling it could end up with hotels and condos. He said it has lost money over the years, but they also have a new manager every couple of years. Dick Robie said it was talked about a year ago and him and Chris Jensen wrote a warrant article because they wanted a group of people to look at the best option. He said he wasn’t on the committee and that you shouldn’t have a committee of golfers to figure it out. Mr. Jensen said he couldn’t attend or be on the committee due to work conflicts. He said the committee didn’t really look at leasing or selling. Chris McGrath said he supports leasing it and said there are only 3 towns left in NH that have town owned courses. He also said there was a bidding war on the property abutting the course. Butch Lucas suggested putting it on the ballot with a stipulation that it remain a golf course. Chairman Moritz said she would prefer that but doesn’t know if that is legal. Carol Kerivan said you can stipulate that it remain a golf course. Selectman Glavac said they wouldn’t be able to dictate how it is maintained. There was additional discussion about leasing versus selling and lease terms. Chairman Moritz said in a lease it can be written that lessee is responsible for all maintenance. Mr. Jensen said selling it is more logical because they need to attract more businesses and asked if anyone has quantified the value of having 2 courses in town. Chairman Moritz agrees 2 Donald Ross courses have value and would want to write in that it remain a golf course. She doesn’t see the advantage to leasing over selling. Mr. Robie said the golf course used to be on Mt. Agassiz and told the Board if people want to volunteer (to be on a committee) they should be able to and told them not to limit that.
Sonya Clark said they have heard from all Selectmen except Selectman Boisseau so wanted to hear his opinion. Selectman Boisseau said the Country Club is very challenging and has been losing revenue and is time consuming. He said he doesn’t know what is the best option out of selling or leasing but said he would like it to remain a golf course. Mrs. Kerivan suggested polling the townspeople to see if that is what they want to do. There was discussion about wording of warrant articles and whether to ask both questions (to sell or lease) on the warrant. Mrs. Laleme said it would need to be a specific warrant article and said some may want to sell, some may want to lease. She said the town will lose a part of Bethlehem history and said it is the 1st Donald Ross course in NH. Mrs. Laleme also said next year is the 125th year anniversary and said a committee shouldn’t be made up of all golfers but also shouldn’t be made up of all non-golfers. She told the Board that a lot of money has been spent by members to make improvements and they should make every effort to make a good decision. Mr. Jensen said the Board could explore to sell or lease and then have a warrant article next year. Cheryl Jensen suggested leasing first then selling. Selectman Boisseau said they could have a public hearing to discuss both options.
Chris McGrath came before the Board on behalf of the transfer station committee to give an update. He said the committee started with 13 but now averages 7 – 8 per meeting. He explained they developed a work plan and a timeline. He reviewed a list of things the committee has done including having Regan Pride do a presentation, considering the former transfer station and possible lead contamination from the bullets, possibility of using Pinetree Power’s incinerator (won’t work), having Bill P. from Littleton come speak to them about possibility of using Littleton’s. He said Mr. Pride said it is cheaper to landfill then to recycle and that transfer stations are never self-sustaining. Dann said they never talked about re-negotiating with Casella and it is wrong that it wasn’t discussed. Chairman Moritz said the committee is to discuss waste removal options. Dann said Casella is a waste removal option. Chairman Moritz said that is not one of the goals and said the committee is not to negotiate for solid waste removal. Selectman Ubaldo said he is hoping this is just the beginning of looking at options and said the focus looks like it is on route 116. He said an option includes the Trudeau Road transfer station. Mr. McGrath said it is a long process and said he would like to see a survey done to have the town’s say. Julie Seely said they are looking at many different options including leasing the existing transfer station. Chairman Moritz said leasing Trudeau Road Transfer Station will be an option considered. Mrs. Jensen said if there is a concern with lead at the former site due to lead from the bullets then stop the police from using it. Mr. McGrath said they haven’t done testing at the site. Ms. Clark said at a prior meeting there was discussion about a fund started for solid waste removal and asked if that can be used. Mr. Lucas asked why the Town can’t just have a bin for recycling and a bin for garbage and pay to have it removed and was told the state makes the town responsible for garbage. Ms. Kerivan said they should make recycling mandatory. Mr. McGrath said sometimes the cost of transporting recycling is more than what is received. Selectman Glavac said very few towns offer pay as you throw and said he would like to maintain the services we have now including single stream recycling. He said he believes we should still recycle even if we don’t receive revenue from it and would still like a swap shop. Ms. Clark asked about hazardous materials and Mr. McGrath told her it is regional now and not as large as it used to be. It was discussed how the Trudeau Road transfer station will be looked at as an option.
Chairman Moritz said Mary Lou Krambeer had come in and recommended looking into the benefits of switching streetlights to LED. She explained a LED company will be coming to the Select Board meeting on 12/04/17. Chairman Moritz said it is potentially a big cost savings and other towns have already switched over. She told the Board if they request for bids now they will have the option of taking the 2017 rebate if it is more than the 2018 rebate. She said the rebate for 2017 is $23,000.00 and the switch would pay for itself in less than 3 years. Dann said Littleton has done this and would be willing to share their expertise. He said even though the town will save money on the electric bill they will spend it on something else. Mr. Robie said years ago they took out every other street light to save money and asked the Board to look at where lights should be. Chairman Moritz moved to have RFP for LED lighting for street lights. Selectman Glavac seconded. Carried 4-0.
Chairman Moritz explained they must set the tax rate again due to a utility assessment being incorrect. She said if they didn’t use any fund balance the tax rate would be $31.59 which was $31.35 last week. She said they could offset with $200,000 like they did last week or use $250,000 to bring the tax rate closer to what it was last week. She said if they used $200,000 the tax rate would be $30.72 and if they used $250,000 it would be $30.50. Last week the tax rate was set as $30.49. Selectman Glavac said they debated at length about using unassigned fund balance and ended up using $200,000 and added to the fund. He said a lot of discussion was focused on using the unassigned fund balance and not wanting to use it to lower the tax rate. He said he feels they should add $100,000 and use $200,000 to offset.
Selectman Boisseau said he agrees keeping it similar to the tax rate that was voted on last week and pointed out they would still be increasing the fund balance by $50,000 so would agree to use $250,000 to offset.
Selectman Ubaldo said there will be a big problem next year so increasing the amount to offset this year will hurt them next year and said he prefers to add $100,000 and supports using $200,000 to offset. Cheryl Jensen told the Board not to rip the bandage off and said it would be nice if we weren’t playing politics. She also said former boards artificially used the fund.
Selectman Glavac said the Select Board sets the tax rate and said every year the fund has been used to offset the tax rate. He said 4 years ago there was 5% in the fund balance and last year they increased it to 9.8%. He said they do this every year and has no qualms about what they did last year and feels $200,000 this year is appropriate.
Chairman Moritz said last week they set the rate at $30.49 and agrees about saving but last week compromised because of listening to people’s input.
Mr. McGrath said the Board can change their mind and there is a public meeting tonight also. He said it is unfortunate about the loss of revenue and wants to save for next year. Mr. Jensen said they set a rate last week and told everyone what it will be.
Ms. Kerivan asked for clarification on the balance of the fund using $200,000 ($895,405) and $250,000 ($845,405) and for the % that DRA (Dept. of Revenue) requires. She was told they require it be between 5 and 17 % and it would be 10.42% using $200,000 and remain at 9.84% using $250,000.
Chairman Moritz said she would like to be at 13% and said it was an option to not use any to offset.
Selectman Glavac said the tax rate goes up another .23 cents and shows we do have long term planning like previous Boards have done for the last 4 years. He said they came to that number last week because of the fund balance and not the left column (tax rate). Ms. Kerivan said she agrees with Selectman Glavac that they need to plan for the future.
Chairman Moritz said they should have considered that in previous years.
Selectman Ubaldo moved that they not use $250,000 but use $200,000 to offset the tax rate. Motion was not seconded and Selectman Ubaldo withdrew his motion.
Chairman Moritz moved to use $250,000 to offset the tax rate. Motion was not seconded.
Selectman Ubaldo moved to use $200,000 not $250,000 to offset the tax rate and set the tax rate at $30.72. Chairman Moritz seconded. Selectman Glavac said he thinks it is the right thing to do. Carried 4-0.
The Board discussed the engineer studies the Board voted on at a previous meeting. Road Agent, Brett Jackson would like to do South Road instead of Brook Road so would need the Board to approve the change. Chairman Moritz moved to switch from Brook Road to South Road. Selectman Glavac seconded. Carried 4-0.
Selectman Glavac said the BR&E committee met and reviewed what has been received for surveys. He said 19 have been returned and the goal was 100. He said due to the low number of responses they may want to use town resources to do interviews and feels it is important for the town to support this. Selectman Boisseau asked if new volunteers are an option and was told yes but they need to go through the training and it needs to be done ASAP. The Board agreed to have Deb Bayley do some of the interviews.
Minutes – Tabled
At 8:57 Chairman Moritz moved to go into non-public session per RSA 91A:3 II for matter of legal. Selectman Boisseau seconded. Chairman Moritz did roll call with all members agreeing to go into non-public session.
Dann objected to the non-public session.
Selectman Glavac moved to request additional inform from Casella through attorney as requested at the 09/25/17 Select Board meeting that Kevin Roy and Brian Oliver offered to share. Chairman Moritz seconded. Carried 4-0.
At 9:30 Chairman Moritz moved to come out of non-public session. Selectman Boisseau seconded. Chairman Moritz did roll call with all members agreeing to come out of non-public session.
At 9:30 Selectman Ubaldo moved to adjourn. Selectman Glavac seconded. Carried 4-0.