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01/16/2012 – Minutes

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BETHLEHEM BOARD OF SELECTMEN
MEETING MINUTES
BETHLEHEM TOWN BUILDING MEETING ROOM
January 16, 2012

Present: Selectman Alecia Loveless, Vice Chairman Mike Culver, Selectman Jerry Blanchard, Selectman Sandy Laleme, Chairman David Lovejoy

Chairman Lovejoy opened the Budget Hearing at 6:30 pm.

Copies of the Budget worksheet was distributed to those in attendance.

The Board went over the Highway Budget figures with Road Agent Brett Jackson.

It was noted that health insurance and retirement costs have gone up. The 2012 Budget reflects these increases. The Gravel and Salt line in the budget have been decreased. Mr. Jackson was able to purchase 4 loads of material in December. The Service and Supplies line is substantially decreased from the 2008 budget as it has been going down each year. The line for heating fuel has increased. Highway trucks #434 and #435 have had expensive repairs this year as fuel pumps were replace in each of the trucks. The fuel and lubrication line has been increased by $5,000. Road Agent Jackson stated that he was able to purchase his broadband radios from the 2011 budget at the expense of $4,725.

Selectman Laleme commended Mr. Jackson on the great job he did this year in staying within his budget and coming in with a lesser budget for 2012. Mr. Jackson thanked his crew for an excellent job. Selectman Blanchard thanked Mr. Jackson and the Highway crew for an excellent job. Pat Doughty stated that Mr. Jackson has presented a good looking budget and thanked him for his efforts.

Don Lavoie asked how many trucks the Highway Department is running and was told that presently there are six trucks on the road with a spare truck in case something goes down. New trucks cost approximately $122,000.

Harold Freidman asked when the last time any COLA raises were given. Mr. Jackson responded that COLA raises have not been give for two years but that performance raises have been given as merited.

The Parks and Recreation Budget was reviewed next. Recreation Director Tara Bailey noted that the overall 2012 budget is down from last year.

Selectman Laleme stated that the Recreation director’s Salary has been brought up to reflect the previous Director’s salary noting that Ms. Bailey was hired at a lesser salary to start. The increase in the Director’s Salary line brings Ms. Bailey up to the original salary.

Harold Friedman asked how many children are in the summer program. He was told that the number varies. On some days there are approximately 60 children and between 25-30 children on field trips. Pat Doughty asked what kind of an impact it would have on the budget if the Town did not charge the kids for the sports program.

Selectman Laleme stated that the summer program, after school program and sports program are a wonderful opportunity for the children.

Tara noted that there are a lot of things including old equipment which needs replacing. The ball field also needs work. The revenue from the sports program helps to replenish these items. She added that the sports program is already cheaper than other town charge for their sports programs.

Julian Czarny stated that the Town needs to be realistic in their thinking. For instance how realistic is it to budget for a skating rink that is never used. He thinks that board should review this and see if it is worth keeping in the budget.

Tara stated that she had spoken with Jodi Sherburn and the plan was to flood the skating rink this winter but the weather had not been cold enough.

Police Chief Ho-sing-loy presented the Police Department Budget. The salary line has gone up due to the vacation time that the officers had to take. The gas has been better allotted this year and shows a more accurate number. Retirement and Health insurance also show an increase.

Cheryl Jensen asked Chief Ho-sing-loy if the Town still has 24/7 coverage. Chief Ho-sing-loy stated that we do but not consistently due to the loss of one officer and one officer away in the Reserves.

Pat Doughty stated that was his opinion not to fill the vacant position.

Clare Brown stated that she is concerned that there is not much of a police presence at the elementary school.

Chief Ho-sing-loy stated that there is not the presence that he would wish. The officers sometime run radar from the location.

Fire Chief Jack Anderson went over the Fire Department Budget. Chief Anderson noted that the Service and Supplies line should be at $6,500. Treasurer Frank Claffey noted that the $10,000 came from the budget worksheet which Chief Anderson had submitted. The amount will be change to reflect $6,500.

Don Lavoie asked for an updated regarding the Maplehurst property.

Chief Anderson noted that the project is now being reviewed by the Historical Preservation Commission. A Public Hearing will be needed before the project can be put out to bid.

The Emergency Management line has been established with a $1,000 amount. This was under the recommendation of Paul Hatch from Homeland Security. This amount will be seed money if there should be an emergency which requires immediate expenditures such as bottled water.

Pat Doughty asked if this could be cut back to $500 and was told that the amount in the budget line was a recommendation to the Town from the State.

The Ambulance Budget has been removed from a Special Revenue Account to a regular part of the General Budget. The Special Revenue account is running in the red by $11,661. Chief Anderson stated that the Town ambulance is a good deal for the town. There is a better accounting now that the billing is being done by a billing company.

The Planning/Zoning Board budget has come in under budget from last year’s budget. Mr. Don Lavoie reviewed the budget and made some small cuts where feasible.

Mr. Lavoie stated that he has been asked by several people what the status of the Dollar General was. To date, the Planning Board has not received an application from the company.

The Executive budget is up from last year due to the inclusion of $20,000 in the computer line to provide computer support and a new server. Retirement and health insurance has increased. The Bookkeeper line has been increased to reflect the expanded duties of the current bookkeeper.

Clare Brown asked if we still retained the services of Karen Noyes for the bookkeeping department. Selectman Laleme noted that her services have been cut back as April is trained to do more and more of the accounting.

The Tax Collector and Town Clerk’s Budgets have reflected changes in the retirement and health insurance lines.

The Assessing budget is showing an increase of $14,000 for the purchase of the Avitar Assessing Program which will be more user friendly for the Assessing office as it is more adapted to New Hampshire Towns.

Wood Assessing, Animal Control and Building Inspection budget have remained the same as last year.

Julian Czarny cautioned the Board in spending more money in anticipation of the vote tomorrow. He added that they would look like liars as they have been telling voters they want to see the budget go down.

Selectman Blanchard stated that he took issue with this comment and he has never been anything but up front with the citizens. The Selectman have done the best they could do for the citizen’s of Bethlehem.

Respectfully submitted,
Cheryl Sargent
Administrative Assistant

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