Nathan Media Center
Fuller Meadow School
Call to Order – Chairman Cresta called the meeting to order at 7:40. Also present were Mr. Houten, Ms. Lindberg, Ms. Jones, Mr. Prentakis, Town Administrator Mr. Singer, Assistant Town Administrator Mr. Ferrara and Town Accountant Mr. Vanni.
Minutes – Mr. Houten made a motion to accept the minutes of the January 29th meeting. Ms. Jones seconded the motion. Ms. Lindberg abstained. All others were in favor.
Approval of Warrants –Payroll Warrant #1332 was presented totaling $176,878. It includes Police Department for $21,239, Fire Department for $66,498 of which $18,900 is for overtime, the Electric Light Department for $27,924 of which $5,642 is overtime, Public Works for $16,813 and smaller amounts for Inspections, the Board of Health, Town Offices and the Library. Mr. Cresta noted that, unfortunately, the overtime did not reflect this past weekend’s storm.
Payables Warrant #1332 totals $434,046. Most of this, $355,517, is for Purchase of Power. $56,497 is for Payroll Deductions
Mr. Prentakis made a motion to approve the warrants. Ms. Jones seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Town Administrator’s Report
North Shore Vocational School (NSVT) – A formal letter has been received from the NSVT asking the Town whether it wishes to exercise its Right of First Refusal on the 10 acre property. Though they are planning on vacating the property in June of 2014, they need to prepare a plan for marketing the property now if the Town is not interested in purchasing it. They have asked that the Town respond by June 15, 2013.
Mr. Cresta asked that the matter be put on the agenda for a future meeting to let the public know that the Town has been offered the option to purchase the property at fair market value. Mr. Houten asked who paid for the independent appraisal. Mr. Singer said they have done two appraisals. Mr. Houten is concerned that the School would be bound by this appraisal even though it could be off by millions of dollars. Mr. Singer said that the law simply states that they have to get an independent appraisal. It is not the same as an eminent domain taking which requires three appraisals. The most recent appraisal is $4,945,000. He is sure that they will have some discussion of the price with the Division of Capital Asset Management (DCAM). Commercial real estate
valuation has been pretty flat. Mr. Prentakis said that the value would be dependent on the amount of renovation needed for the final use. Mr. Singer does feel that it is safe to use the $5 million figure for purposes of discussion. However, NSVT does have an obligation to get the best price that they can, in order to offset the debt service. It might pay for 20% of the debt service. Mr. Prentakis pointed out that it is not negotiable. The Town’s choice will be to buy it at the stated price or not buy it.
Cost of the weekend storm – Mr. Singer estimates that this storm will cost the Town more than $75,000. Costs are being tallied for reporting to MEMA. It is uncertain at this time whether MEMA or FEMA will make a declaration. They have to assess all the damages to see if it meets the threshold. The DPW was out again Monday night because of melting and fog. They received a lot of assistance from private contractors. The Town is still cleaning up particularly around intersections, and has been checking on flat roofs and roof vents. Mr. Singer also noted that it was very helpful to have all the cars off the road.
Building Commissioner’s Report – Mr. Bienvenue reports that seven permits for single family homes were issued in January bringing the total for the Fiscal Year to 29. $192,000 in fees has been collected year-to-date.
Regulations governing Ice Cream Trucks – The Department of Public Safety has instituted regulation governing drivers of Ice Cream Trucks, who will now be subject to background checks. The Town will have to institute a permitting process. Mr. Singer believes that each town a truck might travel through must issue a permit. Ms. Lindberg pointed out that they have to be inspected by each local Board of Health.
Budget Hearings - The all-day hearing on the Operating Budget will be this coming Saturday, February 16th. Masco’s first hearing will be tomorrow night (Feb 13). There has been a huge enrollment shift towards Middleton. Middleton’s assessment will go up by as much as $450,000. The new Chapter 70 aid formula alone would have a $175,000 negative impact on Middleton even if there had been no shift in enrollment. Adding an expected 3% to 4% increase in the overall budget for Masco, Middleton could be looking at an increase of $725,000. The Chapter 70 aid formula seems to have a negative effect on communities who are in regional district and have more growth than the other members of the region. He doubts
that this was an intended consequence. Mr. Singer suggests contacting the legislative delegation.
Proposed Solar Farm on South Main St. – A 4.5 Megawatt Solar Energy Farm is being proposed by Kearsage Energy, for an area in back of Middleton Market Place. They have not as yet arranged an interconnection through the Middleton Electric Light Department. This project might affect the land’s current Ch. 61A status, but Mr. Singer is not sure how that transition would be triggered. He sees positive aspects but there is still a lot to sort out.
Presentation of “Middleton Reads” Program – Flint Public Library Director, Melissa Gaspar described this program. Its intent is to have the community have a shared experience of reading together and building communication. The book that was chosen is “The Town that Food Saved” by Ben Hewett. It ties into the Farmer’s Market, local farming and shopping locally. Ms. Gaspar has done presentations at the Howe Manning for each grade and will do presentations at the Fuller-Meadow School in March. The Garden Club will be planting vegetables in the gardens in front of the Library. The program kick off will be Sunday March 10 with the author and the reading program will run through September.
Ms. Gaspar added that the Library will have eight e-readers available which will be pre-loaded with this book. The Library has 125 copies and she passed out copies to everyone present. The books have been paid for by a grant. Ms. Jones asked if it people who had their own Kindles could download this from the Library. Ms. Gaspar said that the Consortium doesn’t have this title, so you would either have to use one of the Libraries e-readers or buy the book.
Mr. Cresta commented on the convenience of being able to download a library book onto his own e-book. Ms. Gaspar added that you can download it for three weeks. The Library runs e-book help sessions a few times a month.
Ms. Jones expressed her appreciation for all the effort that has gone into this program.
Vote to Exempt Certain Volunteer and Part Time Positions from the Mandatory Training Requirements of the State Conflict of Interest Law Pursuant to Chapter 28 of the Acts of 2009 –Mr. Ferrara explained that he has worked with the Town Clerk to come up with a list of positions that could be exempted from the training requirement, because they have no decision making responsibilities. He added that 45% of those who are required to take the training have completed it. The Town’s goal is to have everyone in compliance by March 5th. The State’s deadline is April 5th.
Mr. Houten made a motion to exempt the positions in the attached list, incorporated by reference, from the mandatory training requirements of the State Conflict of Interest Law Pursuant to Chapter 28 of the Acts of 2009. Mr. Prentakis seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Review of FY 2013Quarterly Financial Reports, Town Accountant/CFO Andrew Vanni – Receivables - Mr. Vanni discussed the receivables in the categories of Real Estate, Personal Property and Motor Vehicle Excise taxes. The table shows amounts committed, amounts paid, and abated exemptions leaving amounts outstanding. Though this is dated January 31, 2013, full cash receipts are reconciled as of November 30, 2012. This document represents the Treasurer’s best estimate as of January 31st.
Mr. Cresta asked whether the two recent tax takings are included in these numbers. Mr. Vanni said they were. Mr. Singer added that the receivables for FY ’13 will be reduced by $300,000 when these go on the auction list.
Mr. Prentakis asked about collecting older Personal Property and Motor Vehicle Excise taxes. Mr. Vanni said that the Motor Vehicle taxes are marked at the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Mr. Singer added that payments for bills as old as fifteen years have showed up when someone had to clear the mark with the RMV. There is no need to abate these taxes.
The option for Personal Property taxes is to sue in Small Claims Court. Mr. Cresta noted there is only $31,000 due from prior years. The collection rate is over 99% collection. Mr. Houten said these companies are probably long gone and Mr. Prentakis suggested it was time to take them off the books by requesting that the Assessors abate the taxes. Mr. Singer agreed though it does need to be followed up on.
Getting back to the Real Estate Receivables, Mr. Cresta how many parcels were in tax title. Mr. Singer asked that Mr. Vanni produce a list. Mr. Cresta also asked how long it took to go from Tax Title to actual taking. Mr. Singer said it was a minimum of six months but usually longer because of all the notices that have to be sent. Mr. Cresta noted that the mortgage holder had the first claim. Mr. Singer replied that most of the properties in tax title do not have mortgages. The properties that were taken, with a combined value of $300,000, did not have mortgages.
Mr. Vanni then discussed the status of the various categories of “Local Revenue Not Reserved for Direct Appropriation”.
Motor Vehicle Excise tax – These bills have just gone out, so very little has been collected. The receipts listed are holdover commitments from prior years. The first commitment from the DMV is $1.1 million which puts the Town on track to more than achieve the $1.335 million projection. Receipts in this category could be $1.5 million
Motel room taxes - The Department of Revenue used to be behind in remitting these funds to the Town. They are now totally caught up. The $179,000 in receipts reflects a retroactive payment of $129,000 in addition to the first installment for this year.
Most of the other categories are behind because of the time of year.
Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) - The largest PILOT comes from Danvers and that usually comes in June.
Fees should come in on target. These are not building fees. They are items such as Fire Alarm Connection fees.
Building fees - Mr. Singer noted that looking at the Building Commissioner’s latest report, the Town is close to the $280,000 in projected revenue even though it is only seven months into year.
Investment income is worrisome because of low interest rate. Estimates have been lowered significantly but the Town has essentially been getting nothing on its daily cash. There was a bounce in investment income last year because of the cash the Town had from the school building project. The Town was able to keep the interest.
All other areas are on track or ahead of projections.
Year To Date Budget Report – This looks at expenses. Mr. Cresta asked if there were any line items that Mr. Vanni wanted to bring up. Mr. Vanni said that everything is going smoothly. Mr. Singer said the one exception will be snow and sand account. However, it is still a balanced budget because other items are in the black. There are still resources for a few more storms.
Mr. .Singer noted that the Board has the Management Letter from the Auditor and that it was a very good report with no major deficiencies.
Application of Allushi Restaurant Inc. d/b/a Freddy’s Place Restaurant for a Beer and Wine License at 214-A South Main Street - Attorney Arthur Carakatsane represented the owners, Elona and Eduard Allushi. Ms. Allushi is also the manager. They were both present. Mr. Carakatsane explained that Freddy’s Place is currently open for breakfast and lunch. The owners are looking to expand the business by opening for dinner. A beer and wine license would be a benefit. They plan to serve until 9:00 PM on Thursday through Saturday. If this is successful, they may expand further.
Mr. Cresta noted that the Common Victullar’s License currently allows the expanded hours.
Ms. Carakatsane said there would be no physical change in the premises. The beer would be stored in the existing coolers. The beer and the wine will all be secure.
Ms. Jones asked about TIPS training. Ms. Carakatsane said that they had not done that as yet but would complete the training as soon as practical. He feels the owners can get the staff certified within thirty days.
Mr. Cresta asked Ms. Allushi to talk about the business. Ms. Allushi said that their customers had been asking for the expanded hours. The former owner tried the expanded hours for a while. She feels it didn’t work out because it was not promoted enough and they did not have the beer and wine license. Mr. Prentakis asked what they would be serving. She replied they would be serving pasta and homemade entrees. Their plan is to provide a casual and reasonably priced venue.
Ms. Jones expressed concerns about the TIPS training. Mr. Singer noted that TIPS training is not required by the ABCC. It is a local option. The Board could make it a condition of granting the license. Mr. Cresta pointed out that the restaurant would need the proof of TIPS certification to get the necessary liability insurance and that it is a priority for this Board. Mr. Carakatsane noted that it is an owner run business and the manager is on-site whenever the restaurant is open.
Ms. Lindberg made a motion to approve the application for beer and wine license of Allushi Restaurant Inc. d/b/a Freddy’s Place Restaurant at 214-A South Main Street. Ms. Jones seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Application of Marisa J. Hancock of Melrose MA for a Transfer of the Class II License to Sell Used Cars from Middleton Auto Exchange, Manager Michael Hancock at 184 and 186 North Main Street to Route 114 Motors Corporation, Manager Marisa J. Hancock.
Note: [The applicant must demonstrate through the application, submission of additional information and testimony at the license hearing that “they are a proper person to engage in the business” and that it will be their “principal business” and that “they have a place of business suitable for the purpose” under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 140, Section 59.]
Mr. Cresta listed the supporting documents included in the packet. The former business owner, Mr. Michael Hancock has moved to New Hampshire. The applicant is his sister. Ms. Hancock explained that she has worked around cars all her life helping her father with his business in Melrose. She has been at this location part time for six months and full time for two months.
Mr. Cresta said that he has noticed that the business seems to be slowing down. Ms. Hancock says that her brother has gotten rid of “stale” inventory and brought in 20 new vehicles. The license does allow 60 vehicles on site.
Mr. Houten pointed out that the activities allowed on the site are stated on the license. He wants to make sure that she understands these restrictions. Mr. Cresta said that he appreciates that she recognizes the past problems with this business. He also notes that her application was complete and addressed questions that might be asked tonight.
Mr. Prentakis asked Ms. Hancock if she was familiar with the Building Commissioner’s letter referenced in the license. She said she did not have that letter. Mr. Singer said that in addition to repairs being done on site, there was an issue with a house on the property which was not to be used as a residence. Ms. Hancock said she was familiar with the problem though not the specific letter. Mr. Cresta urged her to call the Building Commissioner if she had any questions about what was allowed.
Ms. Jones asked who owned the inventory. Ms. Hancock said that it was her brother’s but she would purchase it from him if she is granted the license. She does have the support of her father and she feels that she is ready to take over the business.
Ms. Hancock presented a letter from Montvale Auto in Woburn stating that they have been doing repairs for this business and will continue to do so. Mr. Cresta said that he would take her at her word that no repairs would be done on site. However, she should expect to be watched because of the past problems with the business. The Building Commissioner does drive by that location every day.
Mr. Cresta asked the police chief for his input which had been provided in a letter to the Board. The Chief stated that an inspection of the property had been conducted and a large number of tools and machinery used for car repair were found. Mr. Cresta asked for a motion.
Ms. Lindberg made a motion to grant a Transfer of the Class II License to Sell Used Cars from Middleton Auto Exchange, Manager Michael Hancock at 184 and 186 North Main Street to Route 114 Motors Corporation, Ms. Marissa Hancock Manager. Mr. Houten seconded the motion. The vote was 3-2-0 with Ms. Jones and Mr. Prentakis voting in the negative.
Ms. Lindberg had to leave.
Executive Session under MGL Chapter 30A, Section 21, Subsection (2) and (3) – Mr. Cresta announced that the Board would be going into Executive Session under Section 21, Subsection (2) and (3) and that the Board would not be coming back into open session. In Ms. Lindberg’s absence, Ms. Jones called the role. Mr. Prentakis voted yes. Ms. Jones voted yes. Mr. Houten voted yes. Mr. Cresta voted yes.
Executive Session was entered at 9:08.
Mary Jane Morrin
Mary Jane Morrin, Recording Secretary
Christine Lindberg, Clerk