Nathan Media Center
Fuller Meadow School
March 15th, 2011
Call to Order – Chairperson Lindberg called the meeting to order at 7:30. Present: Mr. Cresta, Ms. Jones, Mr. Prentakis and Town Administrator Mr. Singer.
Approval of Minutes - Mr. Cresta made a motion and was seconded by Ms. Jones to read and initial the minutes to indicate their acceptance. The motion carried 4-0-0.
Approval of Warrants - The Board approved a Payroll Warrant in the amount of $355,568 which included $244,345 in school payroll, $19,140 for the Fire Department and $11,737 for Public Works. The Payables Warrant totaled $560,733, of which $391,951 was for the Light Department and $112,180 was for payroll deductions.
Town Administrators Report
Bostik Explosion and Fire - Chairman Lindberg started the discussion by expressing how impressed she was by the handling of the recent explosion at Bostik by both local public safely personnel and state agencies. Mr. Singer updated the Board on the status of the situation. The road closures in the vicinity of the plant have been lifted. Local Police and Fire staffs are no longer required. Bostik is now in charge of the site. The investigation is continuing. Mr. Singer read a statement prepared by Health Director Derek Fullerton. This statement appears on the Town’s website. The statement emphasizes that no health or environmental hazards have been identified and that testing and monitoring by independent agencies will be ongoing. Bostik has issued an
official press release. The Town of Danvers has also released a statement concerning water quality.
Mr. Singer noted the incredible assistance the Town has received from many sources starting with the State Fire Marshall. The DEP Commissioner Ken Kimmell called Monday morning to assure the Town that all their resources would be available. The state’s HazMat Response Team and the Regional HazMat teams responded. OSHA was on site. The Chemical Siting Board came in to do their independent evaluation. Middleton’s legislators, Representatives Jones and Hill and Senator Tarr visited the site and offered their assistance. Mary Harris of the North Shore Work Force Group offered to set up a site for unemployment assistance. However Bostik says they have no plans to lay off any workers. Representatives from Bostik’s
headquarters in Minneapolis also flew in.
Police Chief DiGianvittorio added that he immediately received offers of assistance from area police departments, TSA offering transportation help and Superintendent Creeden offering the use of the schools if evacuations were required. By the time he arrived at the site, 20 minutes after the first call, his officers had set up two perimeters and the Fire Department was fighting the fire. Within an hour they had all the resources they could have needed.
Mr. Singer noted that last May, a mock drill was run at Bostik involving 70 to 80 individuals. The actual event was a replica of the mock event. 80% of the HazMat responders had been in the building in May.
There will be continuing debriefing and self-evaluation. Bostik is reaching out to abutters. The Police Chief said that Bostik had been very cooperative.
Catch basins in the area are being pumped out in anticipation of rain so that any material that washed into the basins will be intercepted before they reach the River.
Mr. Singer said that the cost of the damages had not yet been determined. Building 9 where the explosion occurred was assessed at $1 million. Mr. Bienvenue, the Building Commissioner feels that it must be torn down. This will have an impact on the 2012 tax receipts.
Mr. Prentakis asked that letters of recognition be sent to local responders and thank you s to all the agencies that assisted. Mr. Singer had particular praise for the State Fire Marshall who was on the scene so quickly. He also advised the town on running its press conference and encouraged the separation of the Town’s and Bostik’s conference so as to maintain properly distinctive roles.
Ms. Jones added that the Town has had a good relationship with Bostik for many years and is confident that they will remain good neighbors. Middleton Fire Chief Frank Twiss has done an incredible job, having been at the site almost continuously for days.
Mr. Singer added that Danvers Town Manager Wayne Marquis called him Monday morning offering assistance and expertise based on his own experiences with the explosion in Danvers a few years back. Danvers has closed its wells on Rte. 114 ad a precaution since they are downstream of the explosion site. They are not normally used during the winter and are just opened once a day. Normal operations will resume shortly.
Mr. Cresta asked that updates continue to be posted on the website and Chairman Lindberg reminded viewers that they could subscribe to Middleton News by going to the website.
Budget Hearing - Mr. Singer reminded the Board that the annual Joint Hearing on the Budget will be next Thursday, March 24th at 7:30 right here. This includes the reading of the draft Town Meeting Warrant. He also asked that when the Board members come into sign the weekly warrant, they note that it includes the monthly bills for the school project which total over $1 million.
School Building Project - The bids for Furnishings and Equipment for the Howe-Manning project were opened on March 3rd. The School Building Committee and the Design Sub-Committee will be reviewing them in preparation for making a formal recommendation to the Town Administrator as Chief Procurement Officer. The bids came in at around $633,000 which is about 7% under the estimate of $663,000. Since the MSBA allowance was the full $663,000, this means these expenses will be fully reimbursable. As soon as the School Building Committee makes its recommendations, a purchase order will be issued so that items can be manufactured and delivered in July for the school opening in September.
He added that the project is moving along very well. Since the last day of school is June 21st which is late, there will be a tight window for the contractor to empty the old Howe-Manning, abate Hazardous Material and tear down the building before the new school opens in September. The contractor is scheduled to both turn over the new Howe-Manning and accept the old building for demolition in July.
Police Contract - Mr. Singer announced that he had the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Town of Middleton and the Middleton Police Benevolent Association for the Board’s approval. Mr. Cresta thanked the Police Union for their cooperation in these difficult financial times
Mr. Cresta made a motion to approve the MOI between the Town of Middleton and the Middleton Benevolent Police Association including the following eight points:
1) The contract extends until June 30th 2011
2) There will be no Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)
3) The contract may be reopened if non-union employees or any other bargaining unit receives a COLA within 2011.
4) The detail rate remains at $46.00 per hour.
5) All other detail provisions remain in place.
6 All full time officers will receive one administrative day which they may take with 24 hours written notice.
7) The agreement that the Chief may implement swing shifts to optimize staffing is memorialized.
8) Officers will continue to receive educational incentive compensation according to the provisions of the Quinn Bill).
Mr. Prentakis seconded the motion and the vote was 3-0-1 with Ms. Jones abstaining.
Recreation Commission Appointment, Ms. Donna Davis - Chairman Lindberg directed the Board to Ms. Davis’ letter of interest and asked Ms. Davis to introduce herself. Ms. Davis said that she and her family had moved to Middleton five years ago and that she would like to become more involved with the Town. This summer she will be working with the Encore theater group. She is a counselor at North Shore Community College and organizes trips for students there.
Mr. Prentakis made a motion to appoint Ms. Donna Davis to the Middleton Recreation Committee for the duration of the term that is currently vacant. Ms. Jones seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Approval of the Joint Agreement for use of the Howe-Manning School – Mr. Singer directed the Board’s attention to the documents in their package regarding the MassCHPS program so they would be aware of what is necessary to obtain the additional 2 percentage points of reimbursement from MSBA for meeting these standards. In addition to the Joint Use Agreement which must be approved by both the School Committee and the Selectmen, the School Committee must adopt automobile anti-idling, recycling and maintenance policies. The Joint Use Agreement is a standard agreement. The Town will fill in insurance amounts when the Town’s insurer provides them. Last night, the School Committee authorized its chair Ms. Buono to sign the agreement on its behalf and a motion is needed tonight to
authorize the chair Ms. Lindberg to sign on behalf of the Board of Selectmen.
Mr. Cresta asked a question about Article 17 of the agreement and whether the Town should seek advice from Town Counsel. Mr. Singer replied that this might be where something needs to be added about the Boy Scout Cabin. He has not had a chance to send the agreement to Town Counsel. Mr. Cresta also asked if this applied to both schools. Mr. Singer said that it did not specify so it did apply to both schools. He added that it merely puts in writing the policy the Town has always had that though obviously the schools are primarily for educational use, they are open to non-school use after hours.
Ms. Jones asked about Article 7 which says that the school shall not provide restroom facilities for after hour outdoor activities. She wondered if this was at the school’s discretion. Mr. Singer said it seems the MSBC has concerns about damage to the school if it is left open like that so it is requiring that the Town provide portable toilets.
Mr. Prentakis made a motion to authorize Chairman Lindberg to sign the Joint Use Agreement on behalf of the Board of Selectmen. Ms. Jones seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Mr. Houten entered at 8:15
Discussion of Police Reorganization Plan – Ms. Jones recused herself. Chief DiGianvittorio presented his plan for reorganizing the department. The incident at Bostik reinforced his opinion that a new structure should be put in place. 100% of his time had to be devoted to Bostik. That meant he had to postpone numerous activities that he does on a day-to-day basis.
The aim of the reorganization is create various divisions each responsible for certain goals and objectives, and for reporting on achievement of those goals. The new structure would have the Chief, a Captain who would be the second in command, and three sergeants: a Patrol Sergeant, a Traffic Sergeant and a Crime Prevention Sergeant.
The Patrol Sergeant would be responsible for:
Reducing crime by 10%,
Utilizing effective patrol techniques,
Timely execution of warrants,
Communication and coordination with other Police Departments and,
Community policing with the aim of establishing better rapport with the community and local businesses
The Traffic Sergeant would be responsible for:
Revamping traffic enforcement
Stressing the importance of traffic enforcement in preventing other crimes,
Achieving a 25% increase in citations, including DWI
Fleet maintenance and
Working with the other divisions to make sure vehicles are appropriately equipped.
The Crime Prevention Sergeant would be responsible for:
Building avenues of communication between the Police Department and the community including schools, churches, local government and local organizations,
Developing positive relationships with the neighborhoods,
Giving presentations to organizations and
Interfacing with the schools including the D.A.R.E and other officers in the schools.
The captain would be outside the bargaining unit, would be second in command and would take over when the Chief was not available. The Captain would work towards achieving State accreditation and would supervise the three sergeants.
This is how other communities do it. It creates a clear chain of command and avoids problems that occur when the supervisor is in the same bargaining unit as all the other officers (both full time and reserve). It is similar to what was done in the past when the Chief was Acting Captain for three years before he became chief. However as Acting Captain, he was in the union.
Mr. Cresta asked what the base pay is for a sergeant and what is the educational incentive. The chief replied that the base pay is $52,000 and the incentive for a master’s degree is 25% for a total of $66,500. The Captain’s pay will be $81,000 for grade 1 and $83,200 for grade 2. There is an offset because the Captain will not get overtime. So the net increment is $9,334. Mr. Singer said that this amount has been incorporated into the FY2012 budget with a footnote.
Chairman Lindberg asked about the procedure for removing the individual from the bargaining unit. Mr. Singer answered that this is a new position which would not be part of the current bargaining unit. In a larger community, there might be a command officers union. Mr. Cresta asked what would happen if the Captain wanted to remain a member of the union. Mr. Singer said the Town could insist that it be a separate union. Chairman Lindberg asked if that could be built into the contract. Mr. Singer said that was a matter for collective bargaining. He reiterated that he believed that the position could be structured as the Chief described it.
Mr. Cresta asked if departments in similar sized towns had the captain position. The Chief answered that Topsfield is moving in that direction and Newbury, Ipswich, Danvers, Beverly and North Andover currently have this organization. Mr. Prentakis asked if the Chief had written the job description. The Chief said that though he knows what it is, he would like to know if the Town will go in that direction before confirming it. He wants a second in command who can also be a buffer between the Chief and the union. This will free him up to do more relationship building in the community. Mr. Singer added that he and the Chief will be reviewing job descriptions from other communities.
Mr. Cresta asked if there was an exam process similar to the Sergeant’s exam. The Chief replied that he is planning on an all-day assessment by chiefs from other areas so they won’t know the candidates. The job would require five years of experience. There are two in house candidate’s both with Master’s degrees who have expressed interest. The assessment would also show the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. Mr. Prentakis asked what would happen if neither candidate passed the assessment. Mr. Singer said there would then be the ability to step back and design a training program aimed at addressing any weaknesses. Mr. Houten pointed out that it is the Selectmen’s discretion whether they want to
appoint or not.
Mr. Cresta asked if the additional expense could be absorbed in the budget without the $9,300 increase. The Chief answered that the budget has been thin for a number of years and it could not be absorbed. Mr. Cresta expressed his concern that the Town might be forced to make cuts because of the Masco budget. He asked the chief whether this position would remain a priority. Mr. Singer responded that there is no discretionary money in the police budget. There are larger items in other budgets that would be on the line. This under $10,000 expenditure represents a lot of value to the Town.
Mr. Prentakis expressed his opinion that there were three separate questions:
Is the creation of this position valuable to the Town?
Who should fill the position?
How will the position fit into the budget?
He feels they should be taken one at a time.
Mr. Singer noted that some times the Board has to make a decision not to expend the money that was appropriated. If the Board goes two thirds of the way and then backs off, there might be some bad feelings. Mr. Prentakis added that by Town Meeting, the Board will have a better idea of what the budget situation is and will know whether the position can be funded.
Chairman Lindberg asked what would be the effect of the new position on the budget in the future. Mr. Singer pointed out that this will reduce the number of sergeants to three so the only effect will be COLAs and steps.
Mr. Cresta asked if this would create an “heir apparent” to the Chief when he retires. Mr. Singer noted that this Board’s decision would not necessarily bind future Boards. Mr. Prentakis pointed out that the Board would have a good idea of the person’s abilities. The Chief added that it will be up to future Boards to set criteria for choosing the next chief.
Mr. Cresta asked what the Captain’s schedule would be. The Chief said that it would be the same as his, normal business hours plus night meetings as needed and call back for significant incidents. This means the sergeants will be working the night and weekend shifts. This will greatly reduce the shifts that have no command staff.
Chairman Lindberg suggested the Board take the matter under advisement. Mr. Singer said that unless instructed otherwise, he would include the funding for the Captain’s position in the Omnibus Budget. The question was whether the Board wished to have the position footnoted in both the Personnel Plan and the Omnibus Budget.
Budget Updates – Mr. Singer referred the Board to the most recent summary table which is in their packets. Masconomet has certified its budget and the Town Administrator has rolled the certified budget and the most recent elementary school budget figures into the summary. According to a calculation by Finance Committee member John Erickson, the Masco budget is $653,142 over the guidelines set by the Finance Committees of the three towns. Adjusting for the enrollment shift, this would mean overrides of about $241,000 in Boxford, $220,485 in Middleton and about $191,000 in Topsfield.
Including the extra Masco override amount in the budget would mean a 4.4% increase in the school budgets, a 2.2% increase in the General Government budget and an overall budget increase of 4.2%. Without the override, the overall budget increase would be in the 3’s. This would impact Middleton’s Excess Levy Capacity. The Town’s Financial Guidelines require that Excess Levy Capacity be kept between $250,000 and $500,000. Increases in fixed costs mean that this year’s capacity might be at the lower end of the Guidelines. Having excess capacity is important because it provides flexibility.
Moving to the Elementary School Budget, Mr. Prentakis asked if the warrant article for purchase of curriculum should be in the operating budget since the schools buy curriculum every year. Mr. Singer replied that though Masco treats all its capital expenses as part of the operating budget, the elementary school have capital budgets like any department. Many items are one time purchases. They have kept within guidelines including absorbing the additional costs of running the new school. Mr. Prentakis feels the curriculum purchases are similar to the Police department buying a cruiser every year which is in the operating budget. Mr. Singer felt that it could go either way.
Mr. Cresta asked if the Town Administrator has a contingency plan to deal with the possibility of Middleton being forced to fund the certified Masco assessment without an override. Mr. Singer said there would be a need to either cut the budget or use excess capacity. He would probably propose a combination of some cuts to existing budgets along with use of excess capacity, along with finding extra dollars in local receipts. He feels it is too early to stake out a position. If it happens he will make a proposal and the Selectmen will decide how to proceed.
Mr. Prentakis asked if the override should be larger to build up capacity for the coming increases that are coming over the next two years of the contract. He added it will be one large override or three smaller ones.
Ms. Jones pointed out that the Masco budget is larger than Middleton’s budget. She feels that Masco should be in a better position to absorb some cuts than Middleton is.
Review of Draft Town Meeting Warrant – Mr. Singer explained that these are the articles that came out of the Capital Budget meeting and that the Selectmen have already reviewed and authorized them. There are some preliminary calculations for the Community Preservation Fund that may change. There is also an anticipated ten citizen petition.
The warrant should be closed tonight to citizen petitions because any articles with financial implications should be in place before the Joint Hearing on the Budget. He also noted that a few articles have added a purpose section. The Selectmen might want to see that on more articles or eliminate it from the articles where it is in place.
Mr. Prentakis brought up three potential new articles:
One article would concern the need of the Boy Scouts to have a long term lease on the Boy Scout Cabin near Howe-Manning. Mr. Singer said there should be a placeholder. He should have the language by the 24th.
The second would increase the number of people eligible to use the Senior Tax Work Off program without increasing the money. This is because many individual don’t earn the maximum $1,000 but their slot can’t be used by someone else because of the cap. Mr. Prentakis said that only 18 individuals earned the full $1,000.
The third is to adopt a new local option to offer tax relief to deployed military
Mr. Houten made a motion to close the warrant to citizen’s petitions. Ms. Jones seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Other Business – Ms. Jones noted the passing of Middleton’s oldest resident, Ms. Mary Lawlor who would have been 106 in July.
Mr. Prentakis referred to a letter from Registrar of Deeds John O’Brien asking for support in his efforts to collect registry fees from a company called Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems. He suggested that the Board write a letter to Attorney General Martha Coakley in support of Mr. O’Brien’s efforts.
Mr. Prentakis also noted two vacancies on Town Committees that should be advertised. One is on the Historical Commission and the other on the Train Station Reuse Committee.
Chairman Lindberg mentioned a letter in the packet from the Attorney General’s office which issues an opinion about the need for additional detail in meeting notices.
Chairman Lindberg announced that the Board would be going into Executive Session under Chapter 39, Section 23B, Sections 3, and that that the Board would not reconvene in open session. Mr. Prentakis voted yes. Ms. Jones voted yes. Mr. Cresta voted yes. Mr. Houten voted yes. Chairman Lindberg voted yes Executive Session was entered at 9:55.
Brian Cresta, Clerk