Nathan Media Center
Fuller Meadow School
September 24, 2013
Call to Order – Chairman Prentakis called the meeting to order at 7:30. Also present were Mr. Cresta, Ms. Jones, Mr. Houten, Ms. Lindberg, Town Administrator Mr. Singer, Assistant Town Administrator Mr. Ferrara, Chief Financial Officer, Andrew Vanni, Town Treasurer Donald Carder and Public Works Superintendent Robert LeBossiere.
Minutes – The minutes of the September 10th meeting were not available.
Approval of Warrants – Mr. Vanni presented the warrants. Payroll Warrant #1412 totaled $122,904. Payables Warrant #1412 totaled $893,835. $659,229 was for purchase of power and $74,665 was the Town’s assessment for the North Shore Vocational School (NSVT). Mr. Cresta asked if the NSVT has increased the assessment as they had suggested they might have to do. Mr. Singer said that they had gone back to the original assessment. They were able to absorb the deficit within their budget.
Ms. Cresta made a motion to approve the warrants. Mr. Houten seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Town Administrator’s Report
Mr. Singer asked for a moment of silence for former Town Counsel, Dan Donovan. He grew up in Middleton, and served as Counsel for Danvers and Masconomet as well as Middleton. Ms. Jones added her memories of Mr. Donovan.
- Route 114 repaving – Mass Highway has started work on the third segment of this project. They are now doing additional milling, paving and catch basin work. They will be working on wheelchair ramps for the next two weeks. The contractor cut back brush on North Main St., but is not responsible for cleaning up the trash that was exposed. Mr. Singer has asked Mass Highway to clean it up. If they don’t, arrangements will be made for a crew from the jail.
- Lily McCormack - There was an informal good bye for Fire Department dispatcher, Lily McCormack, who is transferring to the Regional Emergency Communications Center (RECC). Ms. McCormack is a 24 year employee of the Fire Department and has worked for four chiefs. She has always been highly efficient and knowledgeable about the Town. There will be a more formal event later in the year. The Fire Department will cut over to the RECC tomorrow (Sept 25) and the Police Department will follow next week.
- February Blizzard – The last set of reimbursement forms has been submitted to both MEMA and FEMA for the February blizzard. The Town expects to be reimbursed for $60,000 out of the $80,000 it cost. The Town was able to cover these expenses through internal transfers rather than having to put it on this year’s tax rate. The money will go to the General Fund. It is expected to take four to six months to arrive.
- Village Road – There is an ongoing traffic safety issue on Village Rd. Eight years ago, Middleton accepted its portion of Village Rd. as a public way. The road was brought up to Town standards. Danvers did not choose to accept its portion of Village Rd. There have been a number of accidents at the intersection of Village Rd. and Locust St. which is on the Danvers portion. Ms. Lindberg attended a meeting with Middleton residents, representatives of the hotel and representatives of Danvers regarding this issue. Middleton has 800 to 900 residents who regularly travel through that intersection. There is also heavy traffic for North Shore Community College (NSCC). Ms. Lindberg found the Danvers representatives unresponsive and feels that the Middleton Selectmen should communicate
directly with the Danvers Selectmen to address this problem. Ms. Lindberg also reported that the Doubletree Hotel has expressed their willingness to do whatever they can to make the area safer, but they are uncertain what they should do. Mr. Singer noted that the Town tried to get a traffic study for NSCC. There should be a second egress from the campus. Mr. Prentakis suggested involving Representative Speliotis since he represents both Middleton and Danvers.
Recommendation to Appoint Gerard Noel of Lowell, MA as Local Building Inspector to replace Scott Vandewalle, who resigned to accept a full time position in Malden – Building Commissioner Rick Bienvenue introduced Mr. Noel. He told the Board that Mr. Noel has worked in construction for many years and has been an inspector for Housing Authorities. He is a Certified Local Inspector. Mr. Noel said that he has worked in construction for 33 years and owed his own business for 28 years. He spent seven years as the Inspection Manager for Section 8 Housing working in 44 towns under the supervision of the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). He added that before accepting the job, he
drove around Middleton and liked what he saw. Mr. Prentakis asked if he did any construction work in Middleton. He answered that he did not.
Mr. Cresta made a motion to appoint Gerard Noel of Lowell, MA as Local Building Inspector for a term ending June 30, 2014. Mr. Houten seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Recommendation to Appoint Katrina Leary of Rowley, MA as Planning Coordinator – Mr. Singer explained that Ms. Leary is being recommended by the search committee which consisted of Ms. Lindberg for the Planning Board, Mr. Bienvenue the Building Commissioner, Mr. Fullerton the Health Director, Ms. Piselli of the Board of Appeals and Mr. Singer. Ms. Leary has a Master’s Degree in Planning and has worked for the towns of Rowley and Salisbury. Ms. Leary introduced herself. She said that she grew up in Danvers. She received a Master’s Degree in Planning from the University of Massachusetts and worked for Beverly and Salem before taking some time off to raise a family. She has worked part time as the first Town Planner in Rowley and is now ready to take on a full time job. She understands the problems of being the first planner for a town.
Ms. Jones asked her if she would be doing any grant writing. Ms. Leary replied that grant writing is in the job description and that she hoped her skills would enable the Town to pursue additional grant opportunity. Mr. Singer noted that Middleton has not qualified for Block Grants for many years because of its high per capita income.
Mr. Cresta added that she will find that the Town has great Boards but that volunteers have been overworked. There will be a lot of new idea. Mr. Prentakis asked if Ms. Leary would be able to attend night meetings. She said that she would. Her start date is October 21st. Mr. Prentakis noted that there is a Master Plan Committee meeting that night and invited her to attend.
Mr. Cresta made a motion to appoint Katrina Leary of Rowley, MA as Planning Coordinator for a term ending June 30, 2016. Ms. Jones seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Application for Common Victualler License for Panini Pizzeria at 15 North Main Street by Scott Bartosik and Chris Salvo, Owner /Managers – Panini Pizzeria will be taking over the location of Tonelli’s. Mr. Salvo introduced himself. This will be his fourth pizza shop. He currently has a Panini Pizzeria in Danvers. The menu will include traditional pizzas cooked on a stone, Panini, soups, salads, calzones and fried foods since there is a Fryolator on the premises.
Ms. Lindberg made a motion to approve a Common Victualler License for Panini Pizzeria at 15 North Main Street by Scott Bartosik and Chris Salvo, Owner /Managers. Mr. Houten seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Request of Town Clerk to Declare the Town’s Website Domain of “townofmiddleton.org” as Middleton’s Official Posting Site for all Public Meetings and Notices under the Provisions of Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 30A et al – Mr. Prentakis noted that doing this will simplify matters while still giving 24 hour a day access to the information as long as the internet is up. Notices will still be posted on the indoor Bulletin Board. The State has ruled that a web site is an acceptable posting site. The notice will have to be both on the indoor Bulletin Board and the website 48 hours before the meeting.
Mr. Houten made a motion to declare the Town’s Website Domain of “townofmiddleton.org” as Middleton’s Official Posting Site for all Public Meetings and Notices under the Provisions of Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 30A et al. Ms. Jones seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Application for Change of Manager/Liquor License for OptiGolf New England LLC at 216-220 South Main Street from Wayne E. Pasanen of North Andover, MA to Nicholas Turczak of Beverly, MA – Attorney Jill Mann represented the owner, Dr. Pasanen. Dr. Pasanen started the business a few years ago and Mr. Turczak has been the General Manager. Dr. Paasanen would now like Mr. Turczak to also be the manager on the Liquor License. The packet contains the application for a change of manager, letters of recommendation, Mr. Turczak’s resume and the ABCC form 44. Ms. Mann also provided a copy of his TIPS certification.
Mr. Cresta made a motion to approve the application for a Change of Manager/Liquor License for OptiGolf New England LLC at 216-220 South Main Street from Wayne E. Pasanen of North Andover, MA to Nicholas Turczak of Beverly, MA. Mr. Houten seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Departmental Operations and Capital Project Updates:
1) Town Accountant/CFO, Andrew Vanni –
Free Cash – Mr. Vanni said he is currently working on the spreadsheets for the State and should be ready to submit in mid-October.
Auditors – Mr. Vanni has met with the new auditors and is gathering the documentation that they have requested. They will begin work in February or March. They have asked for a huge number of documents since they are new.
Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) – The OPEB study is under way in preparation for the financial statements. An audit is required every other year. The contract for doing the audit was awarded to Odyssey. They will have a final product in three to four weeks. This will include a calculation of the Town’s unfunded liability for benefits for retirees. The Town currently funds retiree health benefits on an on-going basis. However, these costs are predicted to rise. The Town established this fund four or five years ago. This liability does have to be identified in the Town’s financial statements just like its unfunded pension liability.
Mr. Prentakis asked if there were recommendations for when the Town should begin to draw down from the OPEB account. Mr. Singer replied that was fifteen or twenty years down the road. The more pressing question is what is a reasonable contribution? There is currently between $400,000 and $500,000 in the account. The unfunded liability may be $18 million. There are no guidelines as to how much should be contributed. The aim now is to try to fund so as to avoid increasing the unfunded liability. In the Essex Regional Retirement System, Towns are being asked to increase their pension contribution by 8% a year.
Mr. Cresta asked when the Town would be able to invest its OPEB Fund. Mr. Singer replied that, with petition, the Town could transfer the funds to the State Retirement Plan to get some return. Mr. Cresta asked if the OPEB Fund were like an irrevocable trust. Mr. Singer answered that the Town had accepted the statute but not actually set up the trust. If the money were transferred to the State Retirement Plan, it would be irrevocable.
Mr. Cresta asked if there were any discussion about a contribution to the OPEB fund from the Middleton Electric Light Department (MELD). Mr. Singer said that there had been some informal discussion. In the future, the Town should ask about their making a proportional contribution. Mr. Prentakis asked if there were any proposal for drawing down the OPEB fund and Mr. Singer said the guidance just wasn’t there.
Management Information Systems (MIS) – Mr. Vanni also serves as the Town’s MIS Director. Earlier he stated that a new server will be purchased for the Assessor’s office and should be in place in January or February. It won’t be implemented until after the tax bills have gone out.
The Town was one of three communities offered the opportunity to receive a full security scan from MIIA, the Town’s insurer. This would have been an $8,000 to $10,000 value. MIIA is developing a template to be able to offer this service to other member communities. The full report has not as yet been received. There has been some discussion of having Wi-Fi at Memorial Hall but there are security concerns because there is such sensitive personnel information. Mr. Prentakis asked about back-up. Mr. Vanni explained that he does a back-up every night and brings home a copy on hard drive every Friday so there is a copy off-site. The back-up would enable him to recreate the whole system on another machine. Mr. Cresta noted that in other
places that he has worked the backups were stored in a safety deposit box off-site. Mr. Singer said that when they receive the audit from MIIA, these types of issues can be discussed. They are working on a comprehensive computer use policy.
Financials – Mr. Cresta asked if local revenues from motel tax which come through the Department of Revenue, were up to date. Mr. Vanni answered that they were.
Mr. Cresta brought up articles carried forward to FY14. These total about $500,000. He noted that Mr. LeBossiere had provided a detailed break-down on the status of articles pertaining to the DPW, and said that he would like to see something similar for the other departments. He wants to know if the money will be used or are the projects complete. Mr. Singer will have each department head go over that when they come in. An example would be the server for the assessor’s office which Mr. Vanni had discussed earlier.
Mr. Cresta asked about encumbrances. Most of this amount is under salary and wages for the School Department. Mr. Singer said that the amount under the Fire Department is due to there being one more contract with the call firefighters which is still to be finalized. The encumbered amounts under the Police Department are due to transitional issues associated with the cut over to the RECC. The delay in the cut over will necessitate using some of those wages.
Mr. Prentakis asked if Mr. Vanni could make a prediction about Free Cash. He said he thought it would be higher than last year. Mr. Singer attributed that increase, in part, to Mr. Carter’s aggressive tax collection efforts.
2) Treasurer/Collector, Donald Carter
Outstanding Real Estate - Mr. Singer noted that the outstanding real estate tax receivables are predominantly due to one individual who files for bankruptcy regularly. Hopefully the bankruptcy court will see through this and allow the Town to foreclose. Mr. Cresta asked if the Town could sell the liability at auction. Mr. Singer said buyers don’t want to touch something that is in bankruptcy. The bankruptcy proceeding may prevent the Town from even selling the liability. Last year’s total real estate receivables were $792,000. There have been add-ons because the Town is being more aggressive. Clearing these receivables helps the Town’s Free Cash and frees up property to return to the tax rolls.
Property Tax receivables – Outstanding Motor Vehicle Excise Taxes from 2008 or earlier have been written off. They are still marked at the Registry of Motor Vehicles so if the taxpayer reappears they will have to pay. Mr. Singer said that 99% of other outstanding personal property taxes are simply uncollectible. The total is down to $27,000. When these items are written off, the procedure is that the Assessors abate the principal but the Treasurer waives the demand and the interest.
Utility Bills – Both unpaid water and unpaid electric bills may be added to the tax bill. Both Danvers Water Department and MELD have the option of shutting off service.
3) Public Works Superintendent, Robert LeBossiere – There is a memo in the packet with updates on various projects. Mr. Prentakis asked if the Department were fully staffed. Mr. LeBossiere said that it was, though he did have someone going out for surgery. That person will be out for a month.
114 Paving – Mr. LeBossiere noted that work is going on right now. There are liners in the catch basin which allow water to pass but trap debris from the milling of the pavement. Mr. Singer said that the project is ahead of schedule, though they may not get to the Square before winter. Some areas that were paved in the last few years will not be done again. These are from the Danvers Town Line to River St, the vicinity of the Golf Course and the Forest St. Essex St. intersection.
Library Project – The grading has been done for the sidewalk and the curbing has been installed. The brickwork won’t be done until spring so that it will not be damaged by the 114 paving project in the Square. Mr. Prentakis asked if the area would be presentable for Veteran’s Day. Mr. LeBossiere said that he does have a contract in place for the landscaping. He added that MELD was very helpful in installing the light pole bases. The tops are on order. Mr. Ferrara showed renderings of the electronic community bulletin board. The DPW will do the installation. This is a new vendor. The plan is to use them for other signage in Town and to have a “branding scheme”. The lead time for the sign is four to six weeks. Mr. Prentakis asked how the message on the sign will be changed. Mr. Ferrara answered that there will be a Wi-Fi connection to the Library. One of the staff will be responsible for the messages. The Library Trustees will develop policies for use of the sign. The
Friends of the Flint contributed $30,000 for it.
Memorial Hall – Trees have been cut in preparation for the extension of the parking lot. Mr. LeBossiere said that he did not want to start the paving project because it might not be possible to complete it before winter. There are some problems with the playground equipment that was to be relocated to Memorial Hall. Some of the connections have bent from being moved. Replacement parts are needed. There is money in the budget so some new pieces can be purchased. Ms. Lindberg observed that nice playgrounds become a destination and that brings traffic to local businesses. They are an investment.
Upton Hills Road Repair - Ms. Jones said that she has gotten calls from residents about the condition of this road. Mr. .LeBossiere said that the road repair is on the Ch. 90 schedule. However, the paving contractor has diverted his trucks to another project. Mr. LeBossiere does not want to start this project until he is sure the vendor will be available to put down the binder before winter. Mr. Singer added that we get a great rate but we can’t always control the timing. Quite a bit of patching has been done. The road needs repaving but is not falling apart. Other aspects of the project are proceeding including some work on the bridge and on a stone wall.
Staffing – Mr. Cresta asked if the DPW needs more help. Mr. LeBossiere said that impending storm water management requirements will add to the workload. Mr. Houten asked about contracting out field mowing. Mr. LeBossiere said that some of the athletic associations are not meeting their financial obligations. He would like to increase his summer help to take care of the fields. Mr. Singer said that could be brought back during budget discussions.
Gregory St. – This has been mowed in response to some resident concerns expressed during the hearing on the Department of Youth Services facility.
Executive Session under MGL Chapter 30A, Section 21, Paragraph 6 (to consider the purchase, lease or value of real property)
Mr. Prentakis announced that the Board would be going into Executive Session under MGL Chapter 30A, Section 21, Paragraph 6 and would not be coming back into open session. Mr. Houten called the role. Mr. Cresta voted yes. Mr. Prentakis voted yes. Ms. Jones voted yes. Ms. Lindberg voted yes. Mr. Houten voted yes. The Board entered Executive Session at 9:45.
Mary Jane Morrin
Mary Jane Morrin, Recording Secretary
Timothy Houten, Clerk