HOLDEN BOARD OF SELECTMEN
MARCH 3, 2008
6:30PM Memorial Hall
Present: Chairman James Jumonville, Kimberly N. Ferguson, Kenneth O’Brien (arrived 6:40PM), Joseph G. Sullivan, David J. White
Others Present: Brian Bullock, Town Manager, Jacquie Kelly, Assistant Town Manager
Elizabeth Helder, Recording Secretary
Chairman Jumonville opened the meeting at 6:30PM. The Board participated in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Motion by Sel. White, seconded by Sel. Ferguson, it was VOTED 4-0 TO REAPPOINT MARILYN J. QUIGLEY AS A MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF REGISTRAR OF VOTERS FOR A THREE YEAR TERM EXPIRING MARCH 31, 2011.
STM 3/10/08 Warrant Articles – Mountview Tennis Courts
Sel. White said that he had requested to place this item on the agenda for discussion. He said that while the Finance Committee does not disagree with the project, they do not approve of the financing mechanism through the Recreation Revolving Account. They also do not feel that this item should have been placed on the Town Warrant. Sel. White said he was afraid that members of the FinCom would vote not to support or take no action on the project not because they don’t agree with it but because they feel this action will set a precedent. The Manager commented that the money was available in the Recreation Revolving account. Sel. Sullivan inquired what precedent Town Meeting would take by placing this item on the warrant? Sel. White replied that votes taken at Town Meeting are for appropriations under the Prop. 2 ½ cap limit, and not on specific line items.
Sel. O’Brien arrived at 6:40PM.
Sel. Sullivan felt that the Board “steamrolled” this item and placed it on the warrant with little discussion to the funding mechanism or process. Now that the process has begun, the Mountview students should see the completion of the civics process that they started and attend Town Meeting to observe the outcome of the vote. Sel. Ferguson said that this subject has been discussed since last fall and that the subject was placed quickly due to the limited amount of time before the warrant was closed. The money source has been identified and the end result is that the tennis courts are rehabilitated. She said she was not afraid of the item going to the Town Meeting floor for a vote. Sel. White said that only $40K has been budgeted in the FY09’ budget and the project will not be completed without the funding from the Recreation Revolving account. Sel. O’Brien said he had previously stated that he felt that the cost for the project had been overinflated. However, after speaking with several contractors, the estimated $100K is correct. He said that this article might bring in more residents to vote at town meeting. He suggested that the Board vote and take a position on the article.
Motion by Sel. Sullivan, seconded by Sel. O’Brien, it was UNANIMOUSLY VOTED TO SUPPORT WARRANT ARTICLE FOUR AS PRESENTED.
The Board discussed motion assignments. It was agreed that Sel. O’Brien would speak to article four, Sel. Sullivan would speak to article three, and Sel. White would speak to article two.
Motion by Sel. Sullivan, seconded by Sel. Ferguson, it was UNANIMOUSLY VOTED TO SUPPORT WARRANT ARTICLE THREE FOR THE APPROPRIATION OF A SUM NOT TO EXCEED $30,000 TO ASSIST QUALIFYING VETERANS AND DEPENDENTS.
Town Manager Miscellaneous
The Manager informed the Board that Town Counsel has advised that the Wachusett Earthday contract requires authorization by Town Meeting because it is an inter-municipal agreement. The Manager said that Administration has informed the Wachusett Earthday Committee that the Town will continue to review and perfect the contract language and place an article on the May Town Meeting warrant for authorization.
The Manager announced that according to Louise Charbonneau, Council on Aging Coordinator, the Executive Office of Elder Affairs has granted the Holden COA an award of $1500 to upgrade the Town’s “RUOK” system. The “RUOK” system is a computer based, telephone messaging system that calls a list of seniors each day to determine if they are “OK.” If there is no response, the system notifies police and fire officials who follow-up in person. The old “RUOK” system is in need of replacement.
The Board reviewed a memo from DPW Director, Larry Galkowski regarding plans to remedy a drainage problem in front of the Senior Center. The Manager commented that Mr. Galkowski’s memo also included a response to a question about use of home humidifiers/filters as well.
The Manager reported that as of February 25, 2008, the Snow and Ice Removal Account is in deficit by ($90,859.28). This does not include the weather event on February 26-27 or the weather event of February 29-March 1st. Sel. O’Brien commented that the Board should direct the Administration to send financial updates to the Finance Committee. Sel. Ferguson commented that it is not the Board’s job to make sure the Finance Committee is kept up to date on financial information. The Finance Committee is staffed by perfectly capable volunteers who can request this information from the Town Manager. Sel. Sullivan concurred.
Town Manager’s Miscellaneous was interrupted at 7:00PM to proceed with agenda item four.
Certificate of Recognition
Mr. Mike Flagg, General Foreman, Holden Municipal Light Department, introduced Mr. Joe Hand, 3rd Class Lineman with the HMLD. Chairman Jumonville presented Mr. Hand with a Certificate of Recognition for confronting two burgerlers committing a crime at a residence on Highland Street. Mr. Hand alerted the Police that a breaking and entering was occurring, which allowed the police to recover the stolen items. The Board congratulated Mr. Hand for his outstanding citizenship.
Mr. David Dickman, Princeton Street, addressed the Board supporting the proposed Public Safety Facility. Mr. Dickman stated that he has worked for the Holden Police Department on a part-time basis for the last six months. He spoke to the subject of affordability of the project. He said he too lives on a fixed income, but supports the project. The question is not can we afford to build the project, but can the town afford not to? He encouraged residents to tour the current facilities to see the poor conditions that the employees work under.
Mr. Joe D’Amico, Main Street, expressed concerns with the safety of the residents and the pedestrians along the section of Main Street where the proposed Public Safety Facility will be built. Drivers’ speed in the area and many accidents occur near the proposed development. Mr. D’Amico expressed concerns regarding landscaping and damage to his property that would be generated by the construction. He said that he did not object to the project nor it’s placement at the suggested location, but with its proposed plan.
Mr. Reginald Judson, Precinct 5, said he was a new resident in town. Mr. Judson said he was concerned that there is no ambulance visible in town. He commented when something is necessary, residents need to dig deep to pay for it. He said that the Town of Bourne, MA was ordered by the State to bring its technology up to date, which caused the Town a financial hardship.
Ms. Elizabeth Johnson Sang, 55 Holden Street, has lived in Holden since 1951. She said she feels safe living in Holden because of the Police and Fire professionals. She stated that she is ashamed by the lack of tools, equipment and facilities that these professionals don’t have. The town has a beautiful Senior Center, Recreation Facility and Schools, why not support the people who keep us safe? Families with children should support this project.
Ms. Louise Hugo, Highland Street, said that the Chairman and his committee have handled the planning of the project in a non-political manner. People who have not attended a committee meeting have circulated a lot of misinformation about the project. Public safety officials are always there for residents and we are asking them to do the impossible with their hands tied behind their backs. When these facilities were built 30 and 50 years ago, the town population was 8,000. The current population is 18,000 and the public safety staff is serving residents with antiquated equipment. The proposed facility is not an extravagance but a necessity.
Ms. Maureen Floryan, Sterling Road, said that her father died in her home two and a half years ago and she relied on public safety officials for help while he lived in her care. Spoke against Holden Associated Taxpayers and their “no” efforts.
Ms. Karen Kane, Brunnell Drive, cannot afford new taxes but cannot afford to read in the paper that lives were lost due to the inadequate facilities that the public safety officials work in and with. Appalled with the conditions that these employees are forced to work in. Give these public safety employees a place to work.
Mr. Al Berg, Highland Street, Vice-Chair of the Finance Committee, spoke with enthusiastic support from the Finance Committee for the proposed Public Safety Building. Holden citizens should be assured that the FinCom has examined the proposed project and can find no fault with it. Construction is reasonable and offers flexibility, and the cost is reasonable given the size of the project. Opposition is creating doubt and delaying the project so that costs have escalated every time it has been presented at Town Meeting. Residents who vote no have cost the town more money on every project that is defeated.
Mrs. Zabelle D’Amico, said that the project is needed and that the project should be sited on the proposed location. However, the scope of the plan needs to be changed. The project will create a sound and visual impact on neighborhood.
Mr. Ed Meyer, Ft. Sumter Drive, said he has toured many police and fire stations in the area towns and feels that the square footage costs are too high. He said he felt that it is not the right project for the price.
Mr. Jack Decillis, said that he is a retired federal employee living on a fixed income. He encouraged residents to support the Public Safety Building. Mr. Decillis stated that he has lived in communities where the politicians procrastinated in keeping their infrastructure up to date and it cost the taxpayers in the end.
Public Safety Facility Committee Presentation
Mr. Chris Lucchesi, Chairman of the Public Safety Facility Committee addressed the Board. He described the proposed public safety facility. The facility will provide services for police, fire and emergency response professionals at the location of the current Fire Department. Deliberations of the committee validate all of the conclusions made by the two previous committees. However, failures at two previous ballot elections have reduced the scope of the building while raising its price. The proposal is almost 5000sq. ft less and 1.1M more than the proposal in 2006. The total cost of the new project is 15.5M. The Town Manager, Finance Committee and the IIF Committee have endorsed the project. A Special Town Meeting will be held at 7PM on March 10, 2008 at Wachusett Regional High School.
Sel. O’Brien inquired how many employees would operate out of the Public Safety Building. He said it has been reported that 500 people will be in the building at one time. The Police Chief reported that the HPD has 25 full-time employees, 5 part-time employees and 10 dispatchers that work in the Police Department. There are 20 people at one time in the building. Chief Chandler reported that there are 10.5 full time fire fighters, 1.5 administrative staff, and 35 on-call fire fighters on staff at the Fire Station at one time. Demolition of the existing fire station was estimated at $500-$700K. However, the committee proposes renovating and reusing the building at a cost savings of approximately $300K. EMS questions were deferred for agenda item 7.
Sel. White commented that people get caught up in sq. ft. costs, and that facts are being taken and twisted to fit a particular point of view. What one town includes in its sq. ft. costs, another town does not. The Holden budget includes fixtures, furniture, and a new communications room. The anticipated construction costs are approximately 12M. The project is estimated to cost $348 per sq. ft. Every year the project gets deferred, the project will lose 3000-sq. ft. at a higher price. Sel. Ferguson thanked Chairman Lucchesi for his time and effort working on the project. She asked about the landscaping buffer. Mr. Lucchesi said that impact studies and general access would be the first issues addressed should the project be approved. He added that landscaping/buffer issues would continue to be addressed. The actual construction phase will last 16-18 months. No firm end date has been set. Sel. Sullivan commented about the abutters’ concerns regarding buffer zones, lighting and parking. The Manager said that in the past the Planning Board, Traffic and Circulation, Conservation Commission, The Zoning Board of Appeals, and Mass Highway will enforce all areas of concern and abutters are encouraged to attend. While expenditure of money is always a concern, all Town managed projects have come in either on or under budget. The location was judged by all three Public Safety Committees to be the most effective to serve all areas of Holden. Housing EMS services in the existing Fire Station will improve EMS response time.
Motion by Sel. Sullivan, seconded by Sel. O’Brien, it was VOTED 4-1 TO SUPPORT WARRANT ARTICLE TWO AS PRESENTED. (OPPOSED: JUMONVILLE.)
Water-Sewer Budget Update
Mr. Galkowski, DPW Director, reported that the Town’s water supply is on the rebound from last summer’s drier period. With this increase in the town’s water supply, the town has recently been purchasing less water from the City of Worcester. It was agreed that while higher precipitation is a bonus because the town can supply its own water, it is a detriment to the sewer system and the end result will be higher sewer charges.
Sel. Ferguson asked about the clarification deficit on page 5 of Mr. Galkowski’s memo. She commented that she has concerns about the water-sewer rates that the Board increased in the fall of 2007. She said she has concerns that the town will have additional rate increases based on proposed deficit. Mr. Galkowski said that these increased costs are beyond his control. These costs are associated with MDC/UBWPAD Sewer Charges that are driving the need for rate increases. Sel. White also expressed concerns that the budget will end in almost a $100K deficit forcing the town to increase rates again. He said the Board increased in rates by 21% in 2007 and may be expected to increase rates by 18% in 2008. The Manager commented that the City of Worcester was expected to increase its residential water and sewer rates in 2008. Sel. Sullivan concurred with concerns expressed by the other Board members. However, Holden’s unit measure of cost/consumption prices are dictated by somebody else. What else can the Town do but adjust the rates? A discussion was held about what year the town received a quarterly bill for these sewer charges that was received after the fiscal year had been closed by the auditors. This has now forced the town to make a 5th quarterly payment. FinCom Vice-Chair Alan Berg, requested that the Administration forward Mr. Galkowski’s Water-Sewer Update report to the Finance Committee. He said that the FinCom would want details and an exact year on the missed quarterly payment.
Town Manager Miscellaneous (cont.)
The Board reviewed a report by DPW Director, Larry Galkowski on how to proceed with the maintenance of town buildings including the Damon House, Starbard Building, and Town Hall. The buildings are in dire need of maintenance and repairs to the exteriors. The Manager added that Mr. Galkowski has met with the Historic District Commission and the Town will continue to explore the best and most cost efficient means to fix these buildings using modern construction methods while meeting the requirements of the HDC. Sel. White commented that within the Historic District to keep the historic character of the buildings, the current siding must be removed before new siding is replaced. Otherwise, the siding becomes built up and then the building looses its historic character. The First Congregational Church used this method. Current quotes to have work performed on the buildings do not reflect this extra work. The HDC will only accept a hardship issue in order to use vinyl siding (The First Congregational Church was granted a hardship). The HDC have stated that the Town of Holden cannot claim a financial hardship. Sel. O’Brien commented that the HDC was established to protect the historic buildings in the center of town and suggested that the HDC should be disbanded if their advice was going to be overruled. Regular maintenance was not performed on these municipal historic buildings and now rehabilitation is going to cost a lot of money. Grant money is available. Sel. White commented that he envisioned IIF money used in this type of circumstance. Sel. Ferguson said she does not want to change the look of these buildings but use materials to replicate the look and character that will be more durable and longer lasting. She said that the Board would need to make a decision. The HDC set a precedent by allowing the Church to use vinyl siding with the District. Chairman Jumonville concurred.
Motion by Sel. Sullivan, seconded by Sel. Ferguson, it was UNANIMOUSLY VOTED TO HAVE THE ADMINISTRATION CRAFT A LETTER FROM CHAIRMAN JUMONVILLE TO THE HDC CHAIR TO DILIGENTLY COME UP WITH CURRENT MATERIALS AND TECHNOLOGIES TO REFACE THE HISTORIC MUNICIPAL BUILDINGS.
The Board reviewed an update and fact sheet from Charter Communications regarding the digital transition, which will take effect on February 17, 2009. The Manager summarized the report by stating that if residents are already connected to Cable TV, customers will not have to do anything as Charter will handle the conversion. He added that the Fact Sheet has been posted on the Town’s web site www.townofholden.net. The Manager said he would follow-up with a letter or phone call to invite Verizon to provide competitive cable service in town.
The Board reviewed an article on area sewer cost increases that appeared in the Sunday Telegram (2/24/08) regarding cost increases in nearby community sewer services.
The Manager announced that the Friends of the Gale Free Library will hold a special spring book sale on March 11, 2008 from 5PM-7:30PM (Member Preview Sale), March 13,, 2008 from 4PM-7:30PM (Public Sale), and March 15, 2008 from 9AM-2PM (Public Sale). Additionally, the renowned author of the “Maisie Dobbs” mystery book series Jacqueline Winspear will be a guest speaker on Tuesday, March 4, 2008 at 6:30PM at the Holden Senior Center.
The Board reviewed a revised Finance Committee schedule: DPW Budget – March 12th, and Public Safety – March 19th. The FinCom will also begin the March 5th meeting at 6PM. The Manager also added that a second hearing might be added for the Water-Sewer budget. Selectmen are posted for all FinCom regular hearing dates.
EMS Funding Proposal
Sel. White discussed the possibility of start-up costs funding the EMS proposal out of a sub-fund of the IIF. He said he did not think this was an appropriate funding mechanism for this project. Additionally, there is no re-payment mechanism included in the budget to replace any money that is taken from the IIF. He said he had a concern about this proposal. He said he would like to see this project funded in another way. Sel. O’Brien suggested that the sale of town owned property and tax title money should be used to fund one-time items and not borrowed from the IIF. Sel. Ferguson concurred with Sel. White and Sel. O’Brien. Sel. Sullivan said that the EMS Committee would present to the Board at the April 3rd meeting to discuss funding options including funding the proposal from the IIF. He said a start-up business needs start-up money. The Board will be presented with a proposal of cost, but not a funding mechanism. The Manager asked the Board to clarify if this discussion was for an appropriate use for funding the EMS proposal or to set guidelines for uses of the IIF. Discussion was deferred until the April 3rd meeting. Sel. O’Brien commented that while discussion of this item on April 3rd may be late in the budget cycle, it may also bring some positives – more unknown budget items like the District budget will be known and perhaps the project will be funded under Prop 2 ½. This is a work in project.
Sel. Ferguson: Holden Tomorrow: Committee will vote on the implementations/recommendations in a few weeks.
Affordable Housing: Has not met.
Sel. Sullivan: EMS: Committee will present to the Board of Selectmen on 4/3/08.
Sel. White: PSBC: Committee presented to the Board of Selectmen on 3/3/08.
Sel. Jumonville: Memorial Day: Has not met. Next meeting 3/5.
Sel. O’Brien: EDC: Have not met.
Sel. Ferguson: 1. Nothing to report.
Sel. White: 1. Nothing to report.
Sel. O’Brien: 1. Commented on the Veteran’s Agent memos prepared by the Town Manager and Assistant Town Manager. The Manager said that he was not concerned with formalizing a District with the City of Worcester. All participating towns must take a formal vote. The Manager said a qualified part-time Veteran’s Agent is effectively serving the town and the town does not have enough work for a full-time agent. The Town is complying within the spirit of the law. A full-time agent will place a financial hardship on the town. Sel. O’Brien said that the town should take the steps to fully comply with the law and formalize a District with the City of Worcester. He asked that the Administration send a letter to the City of Worcester asking them to formalize a District with the town. Sel. Sullivan said that the Veteran’s Agent is supposed to be keeping an activity log and asked that the Board receive a copy of the log.
Sel. Sullivan: 1. Nothing to report.
Sel. Jumonville: 1. Nothing to report.
Follow-Up to Citizens’ Address
Residents were encouraged to attend the Special Town Meeting on March 10th and vote at the Ballot Election on March 17th.
Chairman Jumonville asked the Manager to investigate the comments made by the resident during Citizens’ Address regarding the Town of Bourne and their public safety building.
Approval of Previous Minutes
Motion by Sel. Sullivan, seconded by Sel. White, it was UNANIMOUSLY VOTED TO APPROVE THE FEBRUARY 19, 2008 MEETING MINUTES.
Motion by Sel. White, seconded by Sel. Sullivan, it was UNANIMOUSLY VOTED TO ADJOURN THE MARCH 3, 2008 MEETING AT 10:25PM.
Approved: March 17, 2008