Bethlehem Board of Selectmen
Bethlehem Selectmen Office
November 27, 2017
Present: Chairman Moritz, Selectman Glavac, Selectman Boisseau, Selectman Ubaldo, Selectman Moore.
Chairman Moritz opened the meeting at 6:00 pm. Selectman Moore thanked the Board for handling the tax rate setting and said she missed a couple meetings because she had pneumonia.
Clare Brown came before the Board to discuss Cemetery software and said the Cemetery Trustees have been trying to come up with a software program. She told the Board they need to get information onto the computer. She said they have a map but it isn’t clear on where people are and who they are. Mrs. Brown said the software from Cemsites is what they need and that it has modules that are specific to the town which includes grave mapping, visual lot viewer, map printing module (color coded) and marker manager. She explained it would be up and running by June 1st. Mrs. Brown said she would like to take the cost of this ($5200.00) out of this year’s budget because they didn’t spend the maintenance budget. She said there is money left in maint., equip purchase and salary. Mike Culver asked if it was cloud software and was told it is. There was a question on how much the annual software cost is and Mrs. Brown said she would get that information.
Mrs. Brown also discussed with the Board a warrant article from 2008 that increased the Cemetery Trustees from 3 to 5 and the Select Board was supposed to appoint 2 more trustees then they would run in March. Mrs. Brown said that never happened so is wondering if the warrant article is still valid or could it be put on this year as a warrant article again. Mrs. Brown was told they would check with New Hampshire Municipal Assoc.
The Board reviewed the budget.
Legal budget – move $15,000.00 from Northern Pass to General legal.
Stated health and dental insurance was moved from departments to its own line.
Selectman Glavac said the Board needs to look at unessential services and mentioned the visitor center could be promoted by businesses at their expense. Chairman Moritz said she agrees that all non-essential spending should be eliminated and said we have a lot of services and would want a warrant article so people can have a say on what services they want. Selectman Moore said she would like to see how many people utilize the visitor center. The Board decided to discuss it more at a later meeting and invite the Heritage.
Mrs. Brown provided the information about the annual software license fee for the cemetery software that it will be $1200.00 for 2018. Julian Czarny asked if they looked at other options and possibility of hiring someone to do stand-alone system. Mr. Culver said the cost is in line with cloud service maint. Costs but said to look careful at the contract to make sure we are protected if something happens to their cloud service and find out who hosts the cloud. The Board tabled this to get additional information on other quotes.
Police budget – Chris McGrath asked if it would be possible to contract with a garage to get reduced rates for vehicle maintenance. Chairman Moritz said they can look into it. There was discussion about how many officers were now employed and Chairman Moritz said there are 6 full-time officers. Selectman Ubaldo said people complain this is a training ground for the police officers because they leave and said it is because they don’t get their time off and it affects their family time. He said if we want to keep them they need their time off. He also said if you need them you will want them there and will not get that without 24 hour coverage. Selectman Ubaldo also said snow tires and vehicle maintenance costs add up. Cheryl Jensen said the police budget is too high and wants the Board to look into it deeper next year. Chairman Moritz said they would have to eliminate a position or not have 24 hour coverage. Mr. Culver said he has been a proponent of the police department and said there are multiple major roads through our town and said people don’t realize what is going on in this town. He said when he was on the Board we had 1 working cruiser at one point. He said to make a difference in the tax rate you need to cut more than one officer and lose 24 hour coverage. He also said it is a revenue issue. Julie Seeley said .86 cents of the increased tax rate is due to NCES threatened abatement and said the state used to contribute to retirement but does not anymore. Mrs. Jensen said even if we were rolling in money she wouldn’t be advocating for more services. Mary Lou Krambeer asked why the police do not use Alderbrook Gun Club instead of using the former transfer station site. Ms. Krambeer also asked that at the budget hearing the budget include footnotes.
Highway – Selectman Glavac said the budget should not have a decrease because more road maintenance is needed and suggested increasing asphalt up by $15,000. Selectman Ubaldo said the highway department used a different technique with paving this year and it is a little more of an expense but a lot better quality. Mr. Czarny said the Board should go with what Road Agent Brett Jackson requested. Selectman Moore said she agrees with Mr. Czarny. Selectman Glavac said they need to talk about unessential and essential services. Chairman Moritz said maintenance is important and can save money in the long run. Ms. Krambeer said last year the highway budget went way up and asked if the Board said to come in with a 0 or 10% decrease. Chairman Moritz said they asked for a 5% decrease but not to affect personnel costs due to the low unemployment rate because they don’t want to lose employees. She said it costs a lot to have new hires and said after going to several department head meetings she sees that it is a very cohesive group that works well together. She said they are great employees and also said the previous Board did a very good job on the budget and there is not much wiggle room. Selectman Glavac said retention has been an issue with police and highway departments but they are working on that. He also brought up essential services versus non-essential again and asked if some of the pool operation expense could be moved to the recreation revolving fund to see if parts can pay for itself. Chairman Moritz said that could be looked at.
Library – Selectman Glavac asked if it is essential or not and said the budget increased 4 -5 %. Mrs. Jensen asked what the increase was due to and was told salary. Library Trustee, Doug Harman, said most of the increase is due to salary and said they surveyed libraries in area and state. He said our librarians do a great job and they are not being paid enough. He also said we have to pay for services and there is a value to the services. Mr. Harman said he went back to the Library Board of Trustees to see about cutting back their budget but it was determined they couldn’t do that without cutting the hours. He also said they will lose employees due to low pay because it is so much lower than surrounding towns.
Country Club – There were members that spoke in support of the club and discussion about the money that members have put into the club. Chairman Moritz said the last couple of years it has been self-sustaining but the facility needs a lot of work and people need to vote on whether they want to spend the money to put into it. She also said a municipality shouldn’t be running a business and believes it should be run privately. Mr. Culver asked if the Board will be putting it on the ballot this year. Chairman Moritz said she wants it to be but they need to plan and make sure they are making the right decision. Jerry Blanchard said there are 2 Donald Ross courses in Bethlehem and that draws people here. He said people come year after year to play both courses. He also said municipalities can run them but our community needs to be economically sound to do it. Jane Dyer asked if there would be a forum for community input and said a lot of golfers are talking about what they will do next year. She said she moved here because of Bethlehem Country Club and also said campers come every year because of the club. She said the 300 club and benefactors club raises money for the club but won’t do so next year if it will be sold. Chairman Moritz said more research has to be done and said they would still have the 2018 season which will enable them to look further into it. Chris Jensen said it needs to be looked at carefully and consider what the benefits are.
At 7:30 Selectman Ubaldo left.
Chairman Moritz said the Board needs to consider having a Capital Improvement Committee. She said they need to strategize and look at having a committee to plan for the future. She said it is critical for long term planning and said the auditors have said we need to have a Capital Asset Policy. She said April has done research and has some policy examples. Chairman Moritz also said she is working on getting a spreadsheet and will have an example along with a mock mission and a request for volunteers to bring to the Board at the meeting on December 11th.
Chairman Moritz said pubic input will be moved on the agenda because they allow so much public input during the meeting.
Mike Culver asked if the Board received the information from Kevin Roy and Brian Oliver that was asked when they came in to talk with the Board about the assessment of the landfill. He also asked if the Board talked to assessor and legal and did the tax bill go out as projected. Chairman Moritz said it was sent out as projected using the current method and that the Board did seek legal advice and that was the recommendation. Mr. Culver asked again if they were able to get the numbers they requested, and Chairman Moritz told him there is more to it then just that and they are in the process of gathering information.
Cheryl Jensen asked what is happening with the Business Retention group and Selectman Glavac said there was a meeting a couple weeks ago and they received approximately 17 interviews back, so the Board agreed the town would support the Business Retention group with man hours to get more information back.
Mr. McGrath asked about the tax impact on the budget and was told that was before revenues. Mr. McGrath also said he doesn’t like that public input was moved.
Mr. Culver asked about outstanding properties because he hasn’t heard of any being auctioned. Chairman Moritz said they are sitting on some and working on them with attorneys and hoped to have an auction in August and will hopefully move towards that.
Mr. Culver asked about the golf course land that is not being used. Chairman Moritz said she will look into that.
Mr. McGrath said he is working on a petitioned warrant article for houses built prior to the setback requirement of 60 feet from centerline to be able to build accessory structures closer to 60 feet without needing to go for a variance.
The Board reviewed amendment agreements from Aries for the Prospect Street Dump monitoring about mandates from DES. The Board agreed to the amendments and will sign the agreements.
The Board reviewed a bid for the Visitor Center floor. They discussed how it was previously put out to bid with no response. The bid included painting of the walls and ceiling and there is a question if the insurance will cover that entire expense. The builder said they would have to paint the lower walls that were damaged from the water and it would look better if it was all painted. Chairman Moritz said there is money in Building Maint. that could be used to pay for what insurance won’t pay. Chairman Moritz moved to move forward with Cole Hill Builders for the Visitor Center damage restoration to be done and any monies not received from insurance will come from General Building maintenance. Selectman Moore seconded. Carried 4-0.
The Board reviewed minutes.
Selectman Glavac moved to approve the minutes from 11/06/17 as amended. Chairman Moritz seconded. Carried 3-0 (Selectman Moore abstained).
Selectman Glavac moved to approve the minutes from 11/13/17 as amended. Selectman Boisseau seconded. Carried 3-0 (Selectman Moore abstained).
Selectman Glavac moved to approve the minutes from 10/30/17 as written. Selectman Moore seconded. Carried 3-0 (Selectman Boisseau abstained).
At 8:02 Chairman Moritz moved to go into non-public session per RSA 91A:3 II for matters of reputation and personnel. Selectman Glavac seconded. Chairman Moritz did roll call with all members agreeing to go into non-public session.
Chairman Moritz moved to approve salary increase for Nicholas Emmons from $8.50 to $9.00. Selectman Moore seconded. Carried 4-0.
Chairman Moritz moved to approve salary increase for Melissa Ryan from $7.25 to $8.25. Selectman Boisseau seconded. Carried 4-0.
At 8:23 Chairman Moritz moved to come out of non-public session. Selectman Glavac seconded. Chairman Moritz did roll call with all members agreeing to come out of non-public session.
Chairman Moritz moved to approve the minutes from 11/15/17 as written. Selectman Boisseau seconded. Carried 3-0 (Selectman Moore abstained).
At 8:23 Chairman Moritz moved to adjourn. Selectman Moore seconded. Carried 4-0.