Board of Selectmen

Monday, August 17, 2009, 7:00 pm
Meeting Minutes
A meeting of the Selectboard

Selectmen Meeting Minutes — August 17 , 2009 — 7:00 p.m. — Memorial Hall.

Call to Order: The meeting was called to order by Chairman, John Payne. Other members present: Robert Manners. Joe is attending a meeting at the Mohawk Trail Regional High School and will arrive later if he is able.

Media Present: Cameron Graves, West County Independent

Acceptance of Minutes: A motion was made by Bob to accept the minutes of August 3, 2009 as presented. John seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.

Noteworthy News: Annual Bridge Dinner was a success.

Department Liaison Reports:
Highway -- the crew has completed "patching" all town roads. Approximately $7,500 of the $12,000 budgetary line item was expended for this work. The crew is now busy working on Zerah Fiske Road. That works includes the installation of (3) culverts as well as softening a curve by shifting the road's layout by approximately 6 feet. Bob explained that the road will be closed for short periods of time while work is underway. The crew hopes to complete the project before school begins.

Old Business:
Bridge Street Parking -- Joe requested that the Highway Department be instructed to continue with the proposed parking changes on Bridge Street. Bob will speak with the Highway Superintendent this week.

Open Space Committee -- the Board is still waiting for a response from the Open Space Committee with regards to their suggested changes to the proposed Chapter 61 policy.

Abandoning Two Private Roads -- Bob reported that research is underway and he will report back to the Board once more information is known. Referring to the small section of road located near Clark's Corvair, Bob reported that the Highway Superintendent will be contacting the Massachusetts Highway Department to see whether or not municipalities are obligated to assume responsibility for roads that are abandoned by the state. As for Memorial Drive, Bob indicated that one of the abutters may be using the deeded right-of-way as part of their property's frontage; if that is the case, the property might become land locked. Joe continues to wonder if the town is somehow legally obligated to continue maintaining of both roads because we have done so for so many years.

Meeting with Arms Library Trustees -- members of the Board of Selectmen and the Finance Committee will meet with Arms Library Trustees to continue dialogue regarding the overall organizational structure of the library organization, capital improvements, etc. Susan Flaccus who is a descendant of the Pratt family will also be attending. The meeting will be held on Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. in the library.

Proposed Meal Tax -- representatives from local restaurants appeared before the Board to comment on the proposed meal and lodging tax that had been discussed by the Selectmen in a previous meeting. Margaret Fitzpatrick of Ollie's Downunder reported that Selectmen, Judd had initiated conversations with a few of the local businesses recently to get a sense of how they felt about the proposed tax. Margaret indicated that local businesses are struggling. Between the rainy summer and the overall state of the economy, business has dropped off significantly. She feels that the tax is disproportionate. She wonders how the Board could consider the tax when just recently, another business was been given a significant tax break and waivers of permit fees. Her business is not seeking any special treatment. She hopes that if the proposal were ever to be brought before voters that it would be defeated.
Don McLaughlin of the Village Restaurant stated that every day is a struggle for his business. He has been in the restaurant business for 31 years and "hand down" this has been the worst that he has seen. Barely recovered from the damaging fire, Don stated that he is now dealing with the noise, dirt and lack of parking as a result of the new construction. Furthermore, he believes that if Shelburne were to adopt the new tax, it might be enough of a deterrent to keep people away. Diners would seek food and lodging establishments that did not impose the additional tax. Tammy Dubuque, owner of Shelburne Falls Bowling Alley opposes the proposed tax because it would apply only to a few businesses in town. She would rather see an increase that would affect all businesses across the board. She too believes that if passed, diners will travel to neighboring communities like Greenfield and Turners Falls where the proposed tax failed. Paul St. Martin of Café Martin stated that he recognizes the need to generate more revenue however, from a restaurant owner's perspective; it is always a struggle to get people to come to Shelburne during the off season. Rather than drive people away with the additional tax, he would hope that the lack of the tax would serve as an incentive for people to come to Shelburne. In closing, Paul indicated that he is skeptical about the manner in which the collection of the proposed tax has been established (paid to the State first). Given the state's track record, he wonders if Shelburne would ever receive the revenue. Before ending the discussion, John indicated that he had received comments from a local Bed & Breakfast owner who also believed that the image of paying more will deter visitors from coming to Shelburne.
John surmised the comments as having been all similar in tone; all acknowledging the need for more money given the economic climate; and all agreeing that the tax would be viewed as more of a negative than a positive. After having heard the opinions of a select group of business owners, the Board encouraged tax payers to share their view.
In closing, John and Bob thanked everyone for coming in and making their thoughts known. John indicated that the Board's discussion at this point is merely exploratory. The Board will continue to study the proposed meal and lodging tax option and will keep local businesses apprised of any discussions or decisions made in the future.

Repair of Roll-Off Container Used for Recycling
-- Bob reported that the roll-off container used for collecting and transporting recyclable materials at the transfer station is in need of extensive repair (i.e. welding and sheet metal replacement). Estimates for the repair are approximately $1,250. While work is underway, Wickles Trucking has offered the use of a spare container at no charge.

New Business:
Mohawk Youth Football RE: Helmet Drive -- Amy Green, president of Mohawk Youth Football is seeking permission to hold a "Helmet Drive" on Saturday, September 5, 2009 at the corners of Bridge and Water Street. The event will run from 9:00 a.m. until noon with parents holding a football helmet out to vehicles traveling onto the bridge as they enter into Buckland. A motion was made by Bob to approve the request as presented. John seconded the motion. Motion passed unanimously.

Breezeway Farm Consulting RE: CDBG FY'08 Budget Amendments
-- when DHCD originally funded the grant in August, 2008, the Housing Rehabilitation Program component had been eliminated; reducing the funding for grant administration by $35,939.78. Subsequently, DHCD restored the grant award to its' original request; funding the Housing Rehabilitation program piece. Now that the Housing Rehabilitation Program is underway, the administration budget needs to be revised to reflect the additional project. With that said two motions were brought forth and approved as follows:

  1. Robert Manners moved and John Payne seconded that the budget for the 2008 CDBG Grant (Main St./Conway St., and Housing Rehabilitation) is hereby amended by $6,605.78 according to the attached revised budget on page 2. Motion was approved unanimously.
  2. Robert Manners moved and John Payne seconded that the contract between the Town of Shelburne and Breezeway Farm Consulting, Inc. for the 2008 CDBG Grant (Main Street/Conway Street, and Housing Rehabilitation) is hereby amended by $29,334.00 according to the attached revised budget on page 2. Motion was approved unanimously.

Special Town Meeting -- the Board has scheduled a special town meeting for Monday, September 28, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. The purpose of the meeting will be to consider $66,636 in budgetary reductions so to balance the FY'10 budget.

7:00 p.m. Roland Butzke, Siemen's Building Technologies RE: Energy Audit -- Mr. Butzke did not keep his scheduled appointment and was unable to be reached by mobile phone. Being that two members of the finance committee were present (Lynne Benander and John Wheeler), John reviewed the preliminary audit findings. Several questions were raised regarding cost savings, financing, insulation, photo voltaic options, etc. Lynne suggested seeking input from a group of residents who specialize in energy conservation. John thought it was a great idea to involve them in the process. Once Siemen's Building Technologies has been rescheduled, Terry will notify interested parties.

8:00 p.m. Bruce Vaniderstine, S.F.A.B.A. RE: September Block Party -- Bruce reported that he has spoken with the Police Chief, the Fire Chief, the Board of Health, Ed Singley of Singley's Furniture, Peter Curtis, property owner, Bill Lawless of Mayhew Steel and Dan Fleurial of the Waste Water Treatment Plant and has received positive feedback for the proposed Block Party. With that said, the S.F.A.B.A. is seeking permission to close Deerfield Avenue on September 26, 2009 from 9:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.; to be granted a one-day liquor license for the sale of beer and wine; and to have live entertainment, food and craft vendors. After hearing more details about the proposed layout of the street and satisfying all questions, a motion was made by Bob to allow the S.F.A.B.A. to move forward with their plans to hold a September Block Party; to allow for the closure of Deerfield Ave; to grant the one-day liquor license for the sale of beer and wine; and to allow for live entertainment. Joe seconded the motion. Motion passed. Joe arrived at 8:09 p.m.

Correspondence: none

Other Business:
MTRHSD Budget Cuts -- as a result of a reduction in state education aide, the MTRHSD is faced with a $364,673 budgetary deficit. Representatives from various member towns met this evening with school officials to learn more about the impact of the school's budgetary shortfall. Joe, who was in attendance at that meeting was pleased to announce that the MTRHSD will be able to cover the deficit without having to seek additional funding from its' member towns. Joe commended the District's leadership for implementing a number of sound management practices that have resulted in budgetary savings. In fact, some towns may see a slight reduction in their overall assessment for FY'10; Shelburne's assessment will be reduced by $1,810.

Village Information Center
-- Paul Gifford has mentioned to Selectmen, Joe that the furnace at the Village Information Center is in need of repair. Estimated cost is between $800 and $1,000. Joe will find out more information and report back to the Board.

Ethics, Public Records and Open Meeting Law Training -- John has spoken with Stefan Racz about coordinating a joint training session for both towns. In light of the problems occurring in a neighboring town, John stressed the need for all our town boards and committees to be fully aware of the open meeting law, the public records law and the need for minutes to be made available to the public in a timely manner, as well as the conflict of interest law. Joe indicated that he will be meeting with the police department to review proper protocol when handling a variety of situations that involve race, gender, difficult individuals, etc. John totally endorsed Joe's efforts noting that he believes that Shelburne has one of the finest departments around.

Public Comment Period:
Tammy Dubuque, Shelburne Falls Bowling Alley -- was approached by Kevin Parsons regarding the need to move the bowling alley's sign located on Bridge Street. John suggested that Tammy attend the next scheduled Gitsis construction meeting on Monday, August 24th at 9:00 a.m. so to air her concerns. John also recommended that Tammy contact Mary Vilbon and Bruce Vaniderstine of the S.F.A.B.A. as they are the contact individuals for all business related concerns.

Adjournment: Bob made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 8:55 p.m. Joe seconded the motion. Motion passed unanimously.

Respectfully submitted,

Terry Mosher