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Selectmens Meeting Minutes 07-10-2012
Selectmen’s Meeting
Nathan Media Center
Fuller Meadow School
July 10, 2012
7:30 PM
Call to Order –Chairman Cresta called the meeting to order at 7:30.  Present: Mr. Houten, Ms. Jones, Ms. Mr. Prentakis, and Town Administrator Mr. Singer.
Minutes – Mr. Prentakis noted an error on page 3 of the June 26th minutes.  Mr. Prentakis voted for Mr. Aldenberg once as did Ms. Jones and Ms. Lindberg.
Mr. Houten made a motion to accept the minutes of the June 26, 2012 meeting as amended.  Mr. Prentakis seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Approval of Warrants –There are three warrants.  The first warrant is a payables warrant for fiscal 2012 for $714,543 of most of which is for purchase of power.  It also includes $190,000 for a new truck for the light department.  The second warrant is the first payroll warrant of fiscal 2013.  It is for $254,920.  The final warrant is the first payables warrant of fiscal 2013.  It is for $1,270,135 of which $1,057,274 is an advance payment of the assessment to Essex Regional Retirement System (ERRS).  ERRS offers a 2% discount for advance payment.
Mr. Houten made a motion to approve the three warrants.  Ms. Jones seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Town Administrator’s Report
        The Governor has signed the state budget and Middleton has its final Cherry Sheet receipts and charges.  The assessments total $256,260.  This includes $189,950 for the MBTA, $44,752 for Northeast Mosquito Control, and charges for the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and for tuition for a student at the Essex Agricultural School.  Revenues are $2,063,761.  This number is up $62,000 from the February projection.  Masconomet has received $30,386 more in regional transportation aid than was expected.  Their total Chapter 70 aid is $5,142,104 with regional transportation aid now at $374,499.  They could vote to reduce the assessments to the three Towns to reflect the increased aid but it is such a small amount, that they may just move it to reserves.
        A summary of the application for the LAND Grant for the Riddle property is included in the packet.  The application highlights the value of the parcel because of its proximity to other publically held land.  The grant package will be hand delivered on Thursday.  A response is expected in November.  The Purchase and Sale on the parcel does not expire until December.  If the grant application is successful, the Town’s share of the cost would be $36,000 which is less than the $48,000 in the Conservation Land Acquisition Fund.
        The lease for the Boy Scout Cabin still needs some work so it has been taken off tonight’s agenda.  It will be discussed on July 31st.
        Many resumes have been received for the Assistant Town Administrator position.  A booklet with some of them is being circulated to the Board tonight with the caveat that they are confidential.  A schedule for review and interviews will be developed soon.  The resumes are coming from all over the country.
Review of Preliminary Financing Schedule for Issuance of General Obligation Bond on 8/17/12 and of Draft Middleton Preliminary Official Statement (POS) for School Bond Issuance - Mr. Cresta noted that there is considerable information in the Selectmen’s packets.  Mr. Singer explained that there are many components of the bond issuance process which began last June.  A preliminary statement of the Town’s fiscal status and demographics is included.  The Town will be going through another rating process by Moody’s and hopes to maintain its AA bond status.  Mr. Singer expects that when the bids are received they will reaffirm the Town’s fiscal strength.  A special meeting of the Board may be needed to approve the sale.
        During the week of June 11, the Town of Marlborough issued 20 year bonds for $11,000,000 at a rate of 2.85%.  This issuance is similar to Middleton’s.  When Middleton developed its financing model for the school project, a rate of 4.5% to 5.5% was used.  The estimated cost of construction was also higher than the actual cost.  Middleton is fortunate to have hit both the bottom of the construction cost cycle and historically low interest rates.
        The project will not be closed out until mid-Autumn, so the final cost to the Town is not completely fixed.  However, it seems wise to go ahead with the sale now so as not to take a chance on missing out on the low interest rate.  A difference of 1% (3% versus 4%) translates to $100,000 a year in interest costs.
        The challenge will be picking the best amount to borrow long term.  The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) still owes the Town about $1 million.  $700,000 is in the pipeline.  The rest is still being sorted out.  The Town will also combine the long term debt on the Lois Lane property with this issuance.  It is better to borrow too little rather than borrow too much and have to pay interest on it for 20 years.  Middleton issued short term Bond Anticipatory Notes (BAN) for $15.1 million at a rate of 26 basis points, or ¼ %.  This will be paid with the MSBA reimbursement and with the long term borrowing.
        Ms. Jones who also serves on the Middleton School Building Committee (MSBC) pointed out that the Town does know what all the expenses are.  Mr. Singer responded that it is not the expenses that are the issue.  It is the reimbursement from MSBA.  Middleton’s project is only the second one to go through the auditing process.  The personnel doing the reviewing for MSBA are from a private contractor.  This is resulting in some problems due to misunderstandings.  The reimbursement amount could vary by up to $300,000.  Mr. Singer does not want to borrow too little and have to do supplemental borrowing but it could be done if necessary.  The most important point is to lock in these historically low rates.
        Mr. Singer referred the Board to page 11 of the report which has demographic information about Middleton.  However this information is from the 2000 Federal Census.  Even in 2000, Middleton’s Median Family Income and Per Capita Income were well above the state and national average.  They would be even more so with 2010 Federal Census information, but that information does not seem to be available.  These figures are important because the rating agencies feel that they represent the community’s ability to pay.  Mr. Singer does not expect that the updated information would raise Middleton’s rating to AAA but it would solidify its AA rating.  The market for long-term municipal bonds is very strong right now because the rates are better than long term Treasury Notes while still being tax-exempt.
Authorization to Apply for State Transportation Bond Bill Funding for Sidewalk Extension on South Main Street a Distance of 2,000 feet from (500 feet south of Wennerberg Road) 100 South Main Street to Memorial Hall – This request came from residents of Wennerberg Road who made a presentation to the Selectmen.  An excerpt from the 2013 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) is included in the packet.  Senator Tarr called and asked if Middleton wanted to add any requests to the Transportation Bond bill.  Mr. Singer offered this project.  The on-going paving of both North and South Main Streets is on the TIP.  The hope would be to include this sidewalk project in the paving project without delaying the project.  This probably is not realistic since the engineering would probably take a year.
        Ms. Jones noted that she thought the original request was for sidewalks from Wennerberg Rd. to the pedestrian light at Orchard Circle.  Mr. Singer said that there isn’t much difference between 1000 and 2000 feet of sidewalk.  This will provide a sidewalk all the way from the shops at 100 South Main St. to Town Hall.  If this moves forward, the Town will have to provide the engineering services.  Though it looks like a simple project, nothing is ever completely flat.  There might be a need for some retaining walls.  Middleton’s legislative delegation can consult with MassHighway for a “guesstamate” on the cost.
        Mr. Cresta noted that there are still some large potholes on Route 114.  Mr. Singer explained that the resurfacing project on Route 114 will go from the North Andover line to the Danvers line.  Mr. Cresta wants to make sure that everyone realizes that just because this sidewalk proposal is a worthy proposal and has been submitted, doesn’t mean it will be done in the near future.
        Mr. Cresta asked if any funds might be available through the “Safe Routes to School” program.  Mr. Singer said that this was unlikely since local School Committee regulations require children in this area to be bussed.  Ms. Jones brought up the Rails to Trail project.  This would go from the Howe-Manning to Liberty and Essex Streets and might be a better candidate for “Safe Routes to School” consideration.  There would be no motorized vehicles on this path.
        Mr. Houten made a motion to authorize the Town to apply for State Transportation Bond Bill Funding for Sidewalk Extension on South Main Street a distance of 2,000 feet from (500 feet south of Wennerberg Road) 100 South Main Street to Memorial Hall.  Ms. Jones seconded the motion and all were in favor.
New Business
        Mr. Prentakis asked for a schedule for work on the Town Center/Town Common projects authorized by the May Town Meeting.
        Mr. Singer noted that Financials including the FY’12 wrap up will be on the agenda at the next meeting.  The Town Accountant will be in attendance.
        Mr. Prentakis asked that an announcement seeking volunteers for the Rails to Trails Committee be put on cable.
AdjournmentMr. Houten made a motion to adjourn.  All were in favor and the meeting was adjourned at 8:30.
Respectfully submitted,
Mary Jane Morrin, Recording Secretary
Chris Lindberg  Clerk