Bethlehem Board of Selectmen
February 12, 2018
Present: Chairman Moritz, Selectman Boisseau, Selectman Ubaldo, Selectman Moore, Selectman Glavac.
Chairman Moritz opened the meeting at 6:03 pm.
Chairman Moritz opened the public hearing for Keno and read the public hearing notice. She opened the hearing to questions. Rita Farrell asked what it is, what the background is, and if there are problems with it. Chairman Moritz explained that it is a video lottery game that businesses can apply to have. She said businesses must have a liquor license to serve alcohol. It was also explained that it funds kindergarten and even if we don’t have it we will still get funding. Chairman Moritz said businesses get 8% back and 1% goes to help with gambling issues. It was stated that the amount of funding for kindergarten is a minimum of $1,100.00 per student and the maximum is $1,800.00 per student.
The public hearing was closed at 6:12 pm.
Paul Greenlaw came before the Board to give an update on his economic and community development plan. He said the group name is Bethlehem Reimagined, Inc. and includes Don Lavoie, Carol Kerivan and Michelle Moren-Grey. He explained they have a tax id# and are filing as a nonprofit with the IRS. Mr. Greenlaw said they are creating a resource list to give to people who are new land owners or incoming businesses. Chairman Moritz asked if they would be able to consult and give advice on the country club. Mr. Greenlaw said possibly but said they may need a certain level of expertise. He said they helped Reklis with planning and funding resources and Ben Woo and Sarah at the Wayside. Ronney Lyster said he thinks it is great and said the Bethlehem Revolving Loan Fund is a resource. He said there is $98,000 outstanding with $150,000 available at low rates.
Chairman Moritz read a statement on the NCES legal decision. The Board has voted not to pursue the possibility of a violation of the settlement agreement between the town of Bethlehem and NCES at the time. Mr. Lyster asked what the board vote was and was told it was 5-0. Jim Payette said citizens are concerned about starting a lawsuit and said some people are encouraging the Board to go back to court. He asked about the issue with the funding formula for taxing NCES and asked if the town has any culpability in breaking the contract. He asked if the town itself could be found in contempt of court because of using an erroneous formula to tax NCES. Chairman Moritz said an abatement has not been filed and said they did seek legal advice on that. She said the entire board thought about what to do and all made the decision based on what is best for the town. Mrs. Farrell said the Board didn’t say they would never pursue it. She also said the settlement agreement should be treated as court ordered agreement and if breached by any party it is enforced by court. Mr. Payette said if Casella started filling without approval that would be contempt and said they are not doing that. He said two parties can come to agreement. Cheryl Jensen asked if the Select Board asked the lawyer if this should be taken to superior court. Chairman Moritz said the Board addressed many questions with the lawyer but will not go into detail. Mr. Lyster said he is happy Board is thoughtful in their decision. There was discussion about the BTLA tax issue and if numbers were provided to the town. Dick Gould asked if there is any way to get certification of the numbers from a CPA. Chairman Moritz said there is historic data and spreadsheet of projection. She said we also work with the assessor on it and that it is complicated. Mr. Gould said it should be proven by third party because the issue is trust. Chairman Moritz said the Board asked for financial information and did not receive it, so they did not sign a confidentiality agreement. She said they have not filed for an abatement yet, so the Board doesn’t have the info yet. She also said if they do file for the abatement they will have to provide info to back up their claim.
Julie Seely read a Facebook post that was referenced about NCES property tax. She said it was about space they have left and tipping fee which increased by 3+ % every year and was up to $90.00 but they (NCES) said it is now $46.00. She said the agreement should have stipulated the tipping fee so there wouldn’t be a loophole. There was discussion about the Believe in Bethlehem survey and that 2 members are selectmen and that it said the chair said the increase this year would be double digits, but Kevin Roy said from 2018 to 2019 it would be the same. Chairman Moritz said she never would project that and said she didn’t say that. Chris McGrath asked if it could go up and Chairman Moritz said the budget and warrant articles came in lower than last year and the schools are flat, but these are forecasts and is not willing to lie or exaggerate but the potential is there. She said these are forecasts, but she doesn’t see it going up. She said she never said the tax rate was going up double digits. Selectman Ubaldo said the taxes on the landfill are for permitted and permittable and they are taxed at different rates. He said once it is filled they pay less taxes.
Mr. McGrath asked why the videos are not on the website anymore and was told they are not the towns, so they had to take them off. Selectman Moore said she spoke with NHMA and they said do not have link or anything on website about the videos. She said it is a legal issue because they can be edited because they are not in our control.
Julian Czarny said the numbers have been hashed over for 25 years since NCES has owned the property and a lot of people can’t afford more taxes but in the 25 years there has not been a pot of gold or suitcase of money.
Jeanne Robillard said people want to blame the board for tax rate, but it is the voters voting things in.
Mr. Lyster said NCES has been a good neighbor and asset to town. He said it is a state of the art facility and town services will have to be cut if we lose that revenue. He also said we need to grow the tax base.
Dann said taxation is theft.
The Board reviewed the minutes from 01/29/18. Chairman Moritz moved to approve the minutes. Selectman Moore seconded. Carried 5-0.
The Board reviewed a refund abatement due to a double tax payment. Chairman Moritz moved to refund $6,960.58 for Map 206 Lot 068. Selectman Moore seconded. Carried 5-0.
The Board discussed Conservation Commission appointments. Selectman Glavac moved to appoint Linda Moore and Cheryl Jensen as requested. Selectman Boisseau seconded. Carried 4-0 (Selectman Moore abstained).
At 7:20 Chairman Moritz moved to go into non-public per RSA 91A:3 II for matters of personnel. Selectman Glavac seconded. Chairman Moritz did roll call with all members agreeing to go into non-public session. Dann objected to the non-public session.
The Board discussed personnel.
Selectman Moore moved to terminate employee that had an internal investigation done pending approval from Primex. Selectman Ubaldo seconded. Carried 5-0.
At 7:50 Selectman Boisseau moved to come out of non-public session. Selectman Moore seconded. Chairman Moritz did roll call with all members agreeing to come out of non-public session.
At 7:50 Selectman Moore moved to adjourn. Selectman Boisseau seconded. Carried 5-0.