Selectmens Meeting Minutes - 03-13-2012
Selectmen’s Meeting
Nathan Media Center
Fuller Meadow School
March 13, 2012
7:30 PM
Call to Order – Chairperson Houten called the meeting to order at 7:45.  Present: Mr. Cresta, Ms. Jones, Ms. Lindberg, Mr. Prentakis, and Town Administrator Mr. Singer,
Approval of MinutesMs. Jones made a motion and was seconded by Mr. Cresta to read and initial the minutes of the February 28th meeting to indicate their acceptance. The motion carried 5-0-0.
Approval of Warrants - The Board approved a Payroll Warrant in the amount of $361,736 including a school payroll of $255,441 and a Payables Warrant in the amount of $451,173 of which $201,792 is for Health Insurance and $47,618 is for purchase of power and $40,428 is for water liens which the Town holds for the Town of Danvers.
Town Administrator’s Report
Mr. Singer reported the following:
       A request has been received from the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development to document cases where the Town has been assessed for unemployment claims for part-time employees or retirees even when the job they were laid off from is not related to their employment with the Town.  Reform is long overdue. The Town has responded to this request for information.
       The Town Clerk has received a quarterly “last drink” report from the Attorney General’s office.  This report lists any liquor servers in Town that were reported to be the last place where defendants subsequently convicted of drunk driving obtained their last drink.  Letters will be sent to the two establishments so they know that the licensing authority is aware of this.
       A preliminary sub-division plan has been received for the former Jewish Community Center property.  It calls for 53 lots on 3 main roads with 6 cul-de-sacs.  Combined with the sub divisions planned for the Nathan and Gould properties, this could total over eighty new homes.  The Design Review Committee chaired by Public Health Director Mr. Fullerton has met with the developer.  There are concerns about sidewalk pedestrian traffic particularly at the intersection of Towne Rd and East. St., Access to the Ipswich River, open space preservation and interconnection between the three developments which is important for public safety.  There will be naming opportunities for as many as nine new streets in the next few weeks.  Mr. Singer passed out the policy which the Board had developed.  He suggested they prioritize names on the list.
        Mr. Fullerton was present.  He drafted a summary of the meeting which was in the Selectmen’s packets.  Mr. Cresta asked if cluster development was considered.  Mr. Fullerton said that the developer had not thought about it.  He thought that the Planning Board should do that. Mr. Singer said that he had the impression that the developer didn’t think the incentives offered were enough to get them to consider cluster.  Mr. Singer said that the developer was surprised that so many issues had been brought up.  This represents the complete build-out of available land between the Ipswich River and Route 95.
        Ms. Jones asked if there had been any thought of setting aside a ball field or other recreational area.  Mr. Singer said there was discussion of setting aside the 200’ riverfront area so it would be available to all the homeowners.  He said that past efforts to set aside an area for a playground had not been successful.  In particular land was set aside in the Mansfield/Nichols Rd. sub-division but the homeowners had no interest in building it so now it is just an overgrown lot.  Mr. Cresta said that tot lots were well received in North Reading.  Ms. Jones would like a ball field.  Mr. Singer said that it was doubtful that any developer would give up eight lots at $300,000 apiece.  Ms. Lindberg noted that the developer of the adjacent Nathan property has set aside a 16 acre parcel on the River as open space.  Originally it was to be for the use of the property owners but the Planning Board convinced them to make it open to all.
        Mr. Prentakis pointed out that when the JCC was marketing this it was for 43 lots rather than 53.  Mr. Fullerton said that this plan is beginning with the largest number of lots possible.  There were 43 percolation tests done already and he was asked to do another 10.
       Since representatives from Masconomet could not make the meeting tonight, the Selectmen scheduled a meeting for March 20th.  If possible, it should be a joint meeting with the Finance Committee.  Since Mr. Prentakis has a 7:00 meeting, the Selectmen’s meeting will be posted for 8:00.
Appointments of Alternates to the Council on Aging – There are two applicants for the two available positions on the Council
        Mr. Prentakis made a motion to appoint Joan Shea-Desmond and Barbara Tilton as alternates on the Council on Aging with terms to end June 30th, 2012.  Ms. Lindberg seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Citizen’s Petition – Director of Public Health Derek Fullerton presented a petition from more than ten registered voters requesting that an article be added to the Annual Town Meeting Warrant to enable the appointment of a “Rails to Trails” Committee.  The railway right of way extends from Sharpner’s Pond Rd. to the Danvers town line.  It is mostly owned by either National Grid or the Town of Danvers.  Permission to pass has been obtained from National Grid but not from Danvers.  The committee’s charge would be to explore the feasibility of developing a trail.
        The trail is now used by ATV and dirt bikes.  That could be a problem.  The trail is mostly level though some engineering may be needed in places.  
        Mr. Fullerton said that he has over 100 e-mail addresses from individuals who expressed an interest in being on the committee or working on the project.
        Mr. Prentakis asked if the Selectmen couldn’t just appoint a Committee.  He asked what the advantage to Town Meeting action was.  Mr. Singer said that it would be advantageous to have the support of the legislative body for future actions that might require appropriation.  He said that since it is a citizen’s petition the Selectmen have to put it on the warrant but they could add their name to the petition (on petition of the Board of Selectmen and ten registered voters).
        Mr. Cresta pointed out that the biggest issues will be funding and abutter concerns.  Mr. Singer said that was another reason to put it before the legislative body.  There will be concerns, as there have been in every community that has done this, that the trail will be an “attractive nuisance”.  Mr. Prentakis added that it is really hard for anyone to get up and oppose forming a committee to study something.  The Committee will have to work carefully with the abutters.
        Mr. Cresta said that he would like to see more parameters such as how big a committee and who would be “ex-officio”.  He pointed out that the Selectmen would not have to wait until July 1 to appoint the Committee.  They can do it at the first meeting after the Town Meeting.
        Mr. Cresta made a motion to join and endorse the Citizen’s Petition to authorize the Selectmen to appoint a “Rail to Trails” Committee.  Ms. Jones seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Review and Adoption of Revised “Use of Force” Middleton Police Policy and Procedure #1.01 - Chief James DiGianvittorio reported that the policy for use of Electronic Control Weapons (ECW) which he filed, has received approval from the Executive Office of Public Safety.  This means that the Police Department may begin training officers in the use of these weapons and when training is complete, the trained officers may use these weapons.  
        Four Department policies are involved:
        1)      Electronic Control Weapon
        2)      Use of Force Reporting (ECW must be added)
        3)      Authorization to use weapon (ECW must be added)
        4)      Standard Use of Force Policy (ECW must be added)
        3 through 4 are in place. 1 is new.
        Mr. Prentakis asked a question about the policy for handling juveniles.  The Chief said that there were some minor changes to this policy such as the name of the agency that must be contacted when a juvenile is arrested.  Mr. Prentakis asked what happens when a juvenile is arrested for a murder charge.  The Chief said that juveniles are by right entitled to bail unless charged with 1st or 2nd degree murder.  In that case they would be transferred within six hours to a secure facility for juveniles.
        Mr. Cresta asked about the policy for the length of time the ECW can be used and how many times.  The Chief answered that the model the department has purchase is the latest model and has an automatic five second shut off.  As for the question of how many times the weapon can be used, that is a matter of judgment.  The officers will be trained by experts with the weapon and the officers will learn from that.  He has not himself been trained on the weapon.  He added that the policy that Middleton is adopting is standard throughout Massachusetts so he is sure those questions have been asked.
        Mr. Prentakis made a motion to adopt new policy 1.01 and revised policies 1.02 – 1.04 and revised policy 1.15 (juveniles).  Mr. Houten seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Review and Adoption of Proposed Revised Ambulance Billing Rates – Fire Chief Frank Twiss reported that it has been three years since the rates were last increased.  The cost of providing the services is going up while the reimbursements are going down.  So an increase is necessary to stabilize the program.  The Chief has looked at the rates in other towns and feels that these increases are in line. Mr. Prentakis asked how these rates compare with those charged by private ambulance companies.  The Chief said that private companies don’t publicize their rates.  Mr. Singer is confident that private company’s rates are higher.
        Mr. Singer said that out of the 591 runs done last year, 247 were Medicare reimbursed and another 50 were Medicaid reimbursed.  The revenues have declined by about $30,000 and for the first time, the Town will not be able to appropriate as much from the ambulance fund as it has in the past.  The appropriation will go from $375,000 to $325,000.  Based on the first six month of FY ’12, revenues are on track for $340,000.
        Mr. Prentakis asked if private insurance companies cover the full cost of the ambulance runs.  Chief Twiss gave two examples:
        1) The Town billed $1680 and was reimbursed $1668.54.
        2) The Town billed $1700 and was reimbursed $587.60.
        The Town does balance bill when the individual has private insurance but cannot balance bill Medicare or Medicaid.  The Town provides Advanced Life Support and has encouraged its paramedics to get that training at great expense to them.
        Mr. Prentakis asked if the decline in revenue were due to the reimbursement level or to individuals not having insurance.  The Chief responded that virtually everyone in Massachusetts now has insurance so it is the reimbursement rate.
        Mr. Cresta asked about the collection rates.  Mr. Singer said that they were pretty good.  They have to chase about 34% which is pretty average.
        Mr. Cresta suggested that this review be done annually.  Mr. Prentakis asked when the Chief would like to see the new rates be effective.  He said as soon as possible.
        Mr. Cresta made a motion to adopt the new ambulance billing rates effective March 14th 2012.  Ms. Jones seconded the motion and all were in favor.
        It was agreed that the Board would revisit the ambulance rates annually as part of the budget process.
Closing of Annual Town Meeting Warrant to Citizen Petitions
        Ms. Jones made a motion to close the Annual Town Meeting Warrant to Citizens Petitions.  Ms. Lindberg seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Review of First Draft of Annual Town Meeting Warrant Articles

Annual Article for CPA – This includes ongoing funding obligations.  There is $180,000 in locally raised funds plus a small subsidy from the State.  New items are presented as warrant articles.
Housing Authority request which will most likely to be funded from the CPA.
Flood plain bylaw.  Mr. Singer has asked Mr. Fullerton to work with Ms. Schmitz to prepare a summary of the impacts of this change.  Ms. Lindberg reminded the Board that the Town should not be making the determination of whether an individual home owner should obtain flood insurance
By-law change to require site plan when applying for a variance.
Reauthorization of Revolving Accounts
New computer for Assessors office and web based access to Town’s assessment data.
Mr. Cresta asked that the amounts be broken out.
GIS system for the Assessor’s Office
Mr. Prentakis suggested combining 16 and 17 with amounts for each of the three items.  This software will be purchased through the State contractor.
Final stage of the expansion and renovations to the Police Station.
Fire Department equipment
More Fire Department equipment
Mr. Prentakis suggested combining 19 and 20
Repairs to Engine 1
Purchase a new Rescue Squad 5
$147,000 for new math curriculum for both Fuller Meadow and Howe Manning
Fuller Meadow technology – This is a 7 year scheduled replacement cycle. 60 desktops and 4 laptops will be replaced The school Department has held back on replacements due to the new Howe-Manning project.
Accept Chapter 90 funds.  This is expected to be about $300,000 but could be cut.
$100,000Supplement Chapter 90 - Mr. Prentakis suggested changing the wording from a dollar amount to an amount that combined with the Chapter 70 funds totals $400,000 300,000.  Mr. Cresta may not have definite Ch. 90 by Town Meeting.  This could be a problem. Mr. Singer suggested just putting “an amount” so that it can be determined as lase as possible.
$25,000 to improve drainage and re-sod the small soccer field at Emily Mahr Park
Replacing the 17 year old trash compactor.  It is at the end of its life cycle and does not meet current OSHA standards.
Repainting and rust repair on DPW vehicles and the purchase of a riding mower for the cemetery.
Cost of refurbishing retired Fire Department Squad 5 into a general DPW vehicle.  This should probably be closer to the article to purchase the new Squad 5.
Improvements to the DPW Building
Reinstallation of old Howe-Manning playground equipment in area behind Town Hall.  CPA funds might be used for this purpose.  The Library /Town Common Committee will be meeting on the 20th  and they  may add money for more parking behind Memorial Hall
Also $20,000 for additional parking for the Library on Pleasant St.
Interior and Exterior repairs to Old Town Hall and a new copier for Memorial Hall
Purchasing Riddle land.  A “not to exceed” number must be established before the joint hearing on the budget.  The Town will apply for grant funds and can use conservation land fund as well as CPA
Road acceptances if any
Appropriate money to OPEB - This affects the Town’s bond rating.  Guidance is needed from the DOR.  It is an irrevocable trust.  The Town has $500,000 in the account.  The unfunded liability is $14,000,000.  However the Town is currently able to fund the liability from cash.

New Business
        Mr. Cresta asked if there were any action from the Legislature to fix CPA.  Mr. Prentakis replied that the bill has made progress but has not been passed. Mr. Cresta suggested asking Representative Jones to work on getting it into the budget.
        Mr. Erickson from the Finance Committee reported that the Finance Committee had just voted to file a Freedom of Information request to obtain documents from Masconomet.  He asked for the Selectmen’s support.
        Mr. Cresta made a motion to support the Finance Committee’s Freedom of Information request from Masconomet.  Ms. Lindberg seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Executive Session - Chairman Houten announced that the Board would be going into Executive Session under Chapter 39, Section 23B, Paragraph 3 (Litigation) and Paragraph 6 (Value of real property).  The Board will not be coming back in open session.
        Ms. Lindberg voted yes.  Mr. Prentakis voted yes.  Ms. Jones voted yes.  Mr. Cresta voted yes.  Mr. Houten voted yes.  The regular meeting was adjourned and the Board entered Executive Session at 9:15.
Respectfully submitted,
Mary Jane Morrin                
Mary Jane Morrin, Recording Secretary
Nancy Jones, Clerk