Bethlehem Board of Selectmen
September 11, 2017
Present: Chairman Moritz, Selectman Glavac, Selectman Ubaldo, Selectman Boisseau.
Chairman Moritz opened the meeting at 6:00.
Representative Erin Hennessey came before the Board to give them some updates. She said SB38 (highway block grant) was new and brought extra funds to towns for highway projects. She also told the Board about SB191 Keno Bill to fund kindergarten. She said starting next year schools will get a minimum of $1100.00 per kindergarten student but could be higher depending on revenue from Keno. Ms. Hennessey told the Board HB118 did not pass. She said she was asked by both the Bethlehem and Littleton Boards to do this. This bill was asking that Select Boards not have to give a recommendation on petitioned warrant articles. Ms. Hennessey also talked about a demographic study she will be participating in that will look at 10, 15, and 20 years down the road on revenue spending etc. She said NH has an aging population and losing working population so will be looking at ways to keep and get working population. Dann asked how much money the taxpayers were saved. Ms. Hennessey said the 92,000 + from SB38 and the amount from the kindergarten students. Dann said we already paid taxes on the highway grant and asked if the school budget would be decreased because of the money received. Ms. Hennessey said that is a school board decision.
Rita Farrell said she has a box of NH rules and regulations on solid waste handling of disposal. She offered to let the Transfer Station Committee use it. She left the box for the committee.
Mrs. Farrell also talked about DES receiving and reviewing reports from all landfills and transfer stations in the state. She said DES relies on landfills to conduct their own tests and DES reviews and comments on them. She explained when there are violations they work with the facility to bring them into compliance. Mrs. Farrell said copies of the reports go to the Selectmen’s office and urged people to review those reports.
The Board reviewed the budget schedule for the departments to present their budgets. Chairman Moritz said they will start meeting weekly beginning on Sept. 25th. The Board discussed what should be communicated to the department heads about the budget. Chairman Moritz said it is a tight budget as it is and said she would like to ask everyone to reduce as much as they can. She also said a 10% reduction is approx. $250,000.00 and that is a lot to ask when budgets are already tight. Selectman Glavac talked about fixed costs and said 10% decrease is hard to ask. He also said saying reduce as much as you can could mean something different to each department head. Chairman Moritz recommended reducing by 5% and said the welfare budget could be decreased.
Dann said to charge for the concerts and that people should pay fees for what they use. Selectman Glavac said the concerts are petitioned warrant articles so the Board does not budget for it and said it passes every year. Dann asked how much the loss is from Casella. Chairman Moritz said we don’t have that number yet. Dann said the town will not have that amount to factor in and people who use amenities should pay for it.
Cheryl Jensen said the revenues for this year’s budget should be talked about and what is expected. Chairman Moritz went over the proposed revenue for 2017 and said it just got updated and the proposed increased by $68,000.00. Chris Jensen said the Select Board met with the 2 school boards last year. He asked if the police pay attention if people in NH have their vehicles registered in NH. Selectman Glavac said the Select Board hosted the meeting with the school boards and the town tax rate was the topic. He said it was a positive meeting and we should invite them again. Mrs. Farrell asked what the Board found out from the schools and Selectman Glavac said they discussed coordinating capital spending and shared services.
Mr. McGrath thanked the Board for asking for a 5 to 10% cut and said it shouldn’t be 10% across the board. He said some departments could be cut more and said cutting 2 police officers would save over $100,000.00. Dann asked about having a budget committee and Chairman Moritz said they haven’t considered that. Dann said it would be just advisory. Mrs. Jensen said the public can come to all budget meetings and give input. She said they can also go to the school board meetings. Selectman Glavac asked what is the message to department heads and Selectman Ubaldo asked about raises and what the department heads should be told. Chairman Moritz said they should be told to build in an increase based on last year (3%) but indicated there is no guarantee that it will happen. Selectman Ubaldo said he wants to be consistent on what he tells the department heads. Chairman Moritz said last year one department had bigger raises because of retention issues. Selectman Glavac said there were 2 departments like that – police and highway. He said that was started 4 years ago. Dann asked why public employees get raises every year and said in the private sector that doesn’t happen. Chairman Moritz said the Board hasn’t said that it will happen they are just trying to plan and said the cost of living is going up. Dann said public employees pay increases are why the cost of living is going up. Chairman Moritz said they want to retain the quality of employees that we have. She said it is very costly to hire and train new employees. Selectman Glavac said the police and highway departments had a high turnover and they looked at pay compared to surrounding towns and we were lower. He said it is a retention issue. Dann said it is giving away someone else’s money. Mrs. Farrell said private businesses also give raises for retention or employees will move on. Mr. McGrath said retention can be expensive and asked if the issue with retention was because of salary and was told it was. Selectman Glavac said it cost $16,000 to train an officer and then they move on.
Chris Fournier from HEB Engineers came before the Board and said he had met with Road Agent, Brett Jackson on different sites that were damaged. He discussed different FEMA funding options. He said FEMA will pay 75% of the cost of the damages and said there are also hazard mitigation funds to prevent it from happening again. He said you need to prove it is cost effective to qualify for that. He said that also pays 75% and the benefit cost analysis will determine if it is a good project to be mitigated. He explained there is 5% set aside for other hazards and the letters of intent are due October 9th. Mr. Fournier said it can be used for anything in the hazard mitigation plan and said this money is only available after a disaster.
Mr. Jackson said they looked at 6 sites and 4 were identified as possible sights to do the benefits analysis on. The 4 sites identified were Brook Road culvert, South Road culvert and drainage, River Road culvert and Maplewood Hill Road drainage. Mr. Fournier said the River Road Culvert may also qualify for additional funding from DOT bridge fund of 20% so the town share would only be 5%. He said it is because if the culvert is over a 10 foot span it is considered a bridge instead of a culvert. He said Maplewood Hill Road has damage the entire length of the road because of drainage issue and said that would be a complex, extensive, and expensive project. Selectman Glavac asked about estimates for the sites and Mr. Fournier said Maplewood Hill Road would be over a million. He said studies need to be done on the sites before determining cost and said the cost for each site would range from $1500.00 to $1700.00 for the benefits cost analysis studies. Mr. Fournier said the additional highway block grant funds can be used for those costs. Selectman Glavac asked if they should get the study on all six sites just to have the plan done so we know what the cost would be to fix. Mr. Jackson said he would also like to purchase a street sweeper out of the highway grant funds and said it would be approx. $7500.00. Mrs. Jensen asked if there is a cost for grant paperwork and was told there would be additional costs after the benefits cost analysis if it qualifies. Mrs. Jensen said at a conservation commission meeting someone from North Country Council came to talk about culverts and grants for that. She said there might be other money available for culverts if FEMA doesn’t qualify. Mr. Jackson said some other sites that need to be fixed are Prospect Street, Noyes development and Cherry Valley road. Mr. Fournier and Mr. Jackson will talk about which proposals to present to the Board.
The Board reviewed the minutes from 08/28/17. Chairman Moritz moved to approve the minutes. Selectman Ubaldo seconded. Carried 4-0.
Chairman Moritz discussed with the Board adding a tab on the website that will link to a list of all businesses in Bethlehem and will have address and contact info. She said someone has volunteered to get updated info to do this.
At 7:25 Chairman Moritz moved to go into non-public session 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.
Chairman Moritz moved to hire Sarah Ho-Sing-Loy for the recreation department at 7.25/hour. Selectman Boisseau seconded. Carried 4-0.
At 8:29 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 8:29 Chairman Moritz moved to adjourn. Selectman Glavac seconded. Carried 4-0.