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Selectmen Meeting Minutes 05/20/2014
Selectmen’s Meeting
Nathan Media Center
Fuller Meadow School
May 20, 2014
7:30 PM

Call to Order – Chairman Prentakis called the meeting to order at 7:40.  Also present were Mr. Houten (8:25), Ms. Jones, Ms. Lindberg, Town Administrator Mr. Singer, and Assistant Town Administrator Mr. Ferrara.
        Mr. Prentakis asked for a moment of silence for David Leary, former Fire Chief, Chair of the Planning Board and Council of Aging and one of the founders and driving forces behind the Middleton Food Pantry and according to everyone who knew him, a wonderful person.

Reorganization – Mr. Prentakis noted that the first order of business is to reorganize the Board as is customary after the Town Election.
Ms. Lindberg made a motion to nominate Ms. Jones as Chair of the Board of Selectmen.  Ms. Prentakis seconded the motion and all were in favor.
        Ms. Jones took over the chair and thanked Mr. Prentakis for his leadership and all the other things that he does for the Town.
        Ms. Lindberg made a motion to elect Mr. Prentakis as Clerk.  Ms. Jones seconded the motion and all were in favor.

Minutes – Mr. Prentakis made a motion to approve the minutes of the April 22,, 2014 Regular Session.  Ms. Lindberg seconded the motion and all were in favor.

Approval of Warrants – Payroll Warrant 1446 totaled $121,136.  The Payables Warrant totaled $541,846 and included $364,787 for Purchase of Power, $13,322 for debt service, $10,651 for monthly Solid Waste Disposal and $9,320 for Library books.
        Mr. Prentakis made a motion to approve the warrants.  Ms. Lindberg seconded the motion and all were in favor.

Town Administrator’s Report
  • Town Meeting – Mr. Singer thanked the Selectmen for their participation.  He was pleased with the good attendance and lively discussion.  He also noted the use of technology to present information for each article to the audience.
  • Fromeni Bankruptcy Action – The packet contains a copy of a Purchase & Sales Agreement presented to the Bankruptcy Court on behalf of Alfred Fromeni who owes the Town more than $300,000 in back taxes. This involves the 18 acres next to Angelica’s.  The Town’s Bankruptcy Attorney does not know if the Court will accept this and dismiss the bankruptcy.  If it does, Mr. Fromeni would be obligated to pay the Town in full.  The Town is a protected creditor.  However Mr. Fromeni has filed bankruptcy three times in the last twenty years and has used the protections of the Bankruptcy Court to avoid paying taxes.  So Middleton has engaged counsel and hopes to see payment within six months.  However Mr. Fromeni is in similar situations of owing taxes in other communities.  It is questionable whether the Bankruptcy Court will dismiss the action in Middleton without protecting the other communities.  The P & S is conditional on getting 19 house lots from this property.  The potential purchaser is a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) which the Town could not get much information on.  They may come to the Planning Board with a preliminary sub-division plan.  The purchaser would not be able to get any permits until the taxes are paid in full.  That is a Town by-law.  This receivable is the only hole in Middleton’s books, the only tax delinquent that has a balance over $300,000.  He owns several other properties in Town including seven acres off North Main St.  They are all part of this bankruptcy proceeding.
  • Town Auction – Once the Town obtains a property for back taxes, it has been working very hard to get it sold and back on the tax rolls.  Mr. Ferrara reported that the auction included both land and tax titles.  
_       18 Oak Road was sold to Tom Schank with a requirement to remove the existing house and work with the Town to remove the abutments at the bottom of Oak Road.  
_       40 School St. was up for auction but there were no bids.
_       There was a bit of a bidding war on 21 Acorn St.  The minimum bid was $90,000.  The final price was $110,000 bid by Jay Currier. Mr. Currier also purchased the tax title liens to lots 50 and 52 on Acorn St with a minimum bid.
_       There were no bidders on the Woodland Rd. properties.
Total receipts were $223,000, all to be paid within 14 days and applied within this fiscal year.  Mr. Singer noted that any action by the Bankruptcy Court would not happen before end of fiscal year.  Mr. Singer added that the tax title auctions were for properties that had been foreclosed on, but the Town had not as yet acquired full title.  You can sell tax title as well as land taken for taxes.
Mr. Prentakis asked about 40 School St.  Mr. Ferrara said that the minimum bid was $120,000 which is the receivable.  Over the years, there was some interest but people were put off by the 21E issues.  Mr. Singer feels that it is coming close because if the property did not have those issues, it would be worth $700,000 to $800,000.  The Town does not warranty that it can be used.
The bulk of the marketable tax title land was sold.  Notices were sent to the abutters of all properties.
  • North Shore VoTech Assessment – This remains unresolved.  There was a meeting of the mayors last week.  Superintendent Dan O’Connor and the Business Manager were supposed to be there but did not show.  Middleton has dealt with the problem by including the worst case in the budget voted on at Town Meeting.  The larger communities have a larger variable.  Middleton will probably see a slight reduction when it is resolved.  The additional state aid that Representative Speliotis was able to secure will provide the additional Chapter 70 aid needed to avoid a spike in the assessment.
  • Masco Superintendent Search- Mr. Prentakis, who is on the Masconomet School Committee, reported on the progress of the search.  Four months ago the current superintendent announced his retirement.  The School Committee set up a process which was chaired by Linda Richards, who is also one of Middleton’s representatives to the School Committee.  The New England School Development Council (NESDEC) was hired to manage the process including holding focus groups with the interested parties.  The Screening Committee had representatives of the Towns, the staff, and parents.  Finance Committee member John Erikson represented Middleton.  The Screening Committee forwarded four names to the School Committee.  On May 3rd, the School Committee interviewed the four candidates.  One of them was eliminated.  Site visits were made to the districts where the remaining candidates worked.  Teresa Buono, who is also a representative of Middleton on the School Committee, was part of the site visit team.  Last night the School Committee heard those reports, and chose to make an offer to Kevin Lyons.  He has extensive experience, including serving as a superintendent for many years in different communities.  The negotiation process has begun and it is expected that he will begin on July 1.  Mr. Prentakis commended Ms. Richards for an excellent job as chair of the Screening Committee
  • Regional Emergency Communications Center (RECC) – Mr. Singer reported that Middleton’s cut over to the RECC is complete.  Everything is operating including the remote camera that is triggered whenever someone comes into the Police Station at night.  Mr. Singer is now chair of the Financial Advisory Committee.  The RECC is administered by the Sherriff in cooperation with a Fire Panel and a Police Panel.  The role of the Financial Advisory Committee is to develop the budget and discuss the financial issues.  Construction is not complete yet, because they are still waiting for the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) to construct the 300 ft. antenna that will allow Amesbury and Beverly to cut over.  They are the largest communities.  That should be done in mid-June.  Topsfield will cut over the week that is done, and Amesbury will cut over the next week.  Beverly still has a ways to go.  The Center is taking 911 cell phone calls that originate north of Boston for the State Police.  This is currently about 600 calls a day.  When Verizon cuts over, it will be 1200 calls a day.  Incidentally, in April, 216 cell phone calls originated from Middleton.  The 911 calls are dispatched to the appropriate communities or in the case of participating communities handled directly.  It is expected that by 2015, as much as 80% of the 911 calls will be cell calls.  The RECC also has the ability to do emergency medical dispatch which Middleton did not have.  The State has been very cooperative and the per capita budget is expected to be frozen for the third year.  There are also good relationships developing between the Towns and the dispatchers.  The Computer Aided Dispatch System allows an officer to fully produce a report that can be recalled on the system.  It captures all data so nothing needs to be reentered.  This gives the officers more times in the field.
  • Water Quality Report – Danvers has just released its annual Water Quality Report which is imbedded in Middleton’s report.  The water providers are required to issue this report.  It is disappointing that it makes no mention of the water quality issues being experienced by both Middleton and Danvers residents.  It will be discussed in the Middleton report because the purpose under federal guidelines is to report to the customers.  It is no longer required that it be mailed, so customers will be provided with a link to access it online.
Application for a Change of Manager and d/b/a of Salvosik LLC, d/b/a Panini Pizzeria, Scott Bartoski & Chris Salvo Managers, 15 North Main Street to Salvosik LLC d/b/a Panini Pizza Co, Scott Bartoski & Marco Avila Managers on Common Victualler License by Owners Scott Bartoski & Marco Avila – Mr. Singer explained it was just a simple change and the owners were not advised that they should be here.
Ms. Lindberg made a motion to approve the Application for a Change of Manager and d/b/a of Salvosik LLC, d/b/a Panini Pizzeria, Scott Bartoski & Chris Salvo Managers, 15 North Main Street to Salvosik LLC d/b/a Panini Pizza Co, Scott Bartoski & Marco Avila Managers on Common Victualler License by Owners Scott Bartoski & Marco Avila.  Mr. Prentakis seconded the motion and all were in favor.

Request to Modify Field Use Fee for Masconomet Youth Cheerleading Association – Mr. Singer explained that the Cheerleading Association only wishes to use the field for two weeks.  The current fees are based on a season long use.  Normally it would generate a fee of $1500.  $500 was suggested.  Mr. Prentakis pointed out that the fees were usually calculated on a per person basis.  He suggested setting up a per diem fee structure.  He would like to see a policy developed to encompass this situation.  Mr. Singer said that he will come back with an addendum to the existing policy to capture uses of different duration.
Mr. Prentakis made a motion to modify the field use fee for the Masconomet Youth Cheerleading Association to $500 for the use of the Fuller Meadow fields beginning August 18th.  Ms. Lindberg seconded the motion and all were in favor.

Review of Public Employee Retirement Administration (PERAC) and (PRIT) Fund Overview – Mr. Singer said that he had been hoping to get a copy of a slide show that the head of PERAC presented to the Essex Regional Retirement System.  There are always a lot of questions about public pensions.  PERAC oversees the pension funds for all state employees as well as university and local employees.  They are the umbrella organization over more than100 local retirement plans.  PRIT manages the assets for the State plan and about ½ of the local plans.  Mr. Singer feels that the Board should have a synopsis of what they do, though it would be more interesting to get the slide show.  So he would like to postpone the longer discussion to a later meeting.  
However, he did want to point out a few facts.  There are 57,000 retirees under the State plan.  There average retirement benefit is around $30,000.  Likewise, there are 59,000 teachers with an average pension of $40,300 and 89,000 local employees with an average pension of $24,000.
Nationwide the pension liability is growing larger.  Massachusetts has done more than most to address it.  The liability is still high because of the 2008 recession.  The funds are just climbing out of that and it will take a long time to get to full funding.  Middleton has seen an 8% increase in its assessment in the past three year and will have at least three more increases.  It is hoped that full funding will be reached in 2037.  The State is committing 100s of millions to addressing that.  However that is money that is not available to address current needs.  So it is important to keep a proper balance.

Recreation Commission Summer Youth Employment Lottery - Ms. Lindberg recused herself.  Three boys, one alternate boy, two girls and one alternate girl are to be picked.  Their names were in a box and each Selectman drew names:
Mr. Houten drew Josh Polakiewicz.
Mr. Prentakis drew Alexander Curreri.
Ms. Jones drew Ryan Duval.
Mr. Prentakis drew Kosta Hantzis as an alternate.
Mr. Prentakis drew Lily Polakiewicz.
Mr. Houten drew Samantha Glynn.
Ms. Jones drew Madison Parenti as an alternate.

Fiscal Year 2015 Post Town Meeting Review and Preliminary Schedule for Major Projects
  • Stormwater Management By-law – This by-law has to be summarized, documented and submitted to the Attorney General’s office along with the supporting documentation. This is done by the Town Clerk.  If anything is not done properly, the Attorney General could make the Town start all over again.  The by-law is expected to take effect on Sept 1st.  The Planning Board must also put together rules and regulations to administer the by-law.  This could be a very thick and complete document
  • Addition of a member to the Industrial Design Review Committee – This is also subject to the Attorney General’s review to be certified as being correct and constitutional.  When this is done, that appointment can take place.  The Town Clerk will submit both these matters to the Attorney General’s office by the end of June.  However the Attorney General’s office is getting submittals from all towns that have had Town Meetings this spring so it could take them to October to respond.
  • Home Rule Petition to add an alternate to the Planning Board – This is a Charter change which could take 2 to 4 years through the standard Charter change process.  The Special Act can streamline this process.  It might be next spring before this makes it to the Legislature and the Governor’s Office.  Then, the Selectmen will have the ability to appoint the alternate.
  • Five sub-division streets that were accepted – Mr. Singer expressed his appreciation to the Planning Board for all the work that went into this.  These will be put on the rolls for Chapter 90 funds reimbursement.  The acceptance also allows the Town to respond to maintenance issues.  The Planning Coordinator, Ms. O’Leary is working on the recordable plans and deeds.  It is very helpful to have that position to help the Town through this
  • Natsue Way Purchase – The Town and the landowner will have to sign a Purchase & Sale Agreement which will be reviewed by Town Counsel.  The closing date will probably be in the Fall.  The Town will be borrowing $450,000 and that will require an audit to get the bond rating for that borrowing.  The Town will probably borrow short term on a Bond Anticipation Notice (BAN) and wait for an appropriate opportunity to do the permanent bonding.  The Town must also contract with a Licensed Site Professional (LSP), who will most likely be Bruce Haskell, who is the consultant for the landfill.  This is required in order to be in compliance with the Massachusetts Contingency Plan.  The Town will also need to meet with the Department of Environmental Protection.  The next steps will be to develop a recreational reuse plan and to enter into a short term lease with Baert Marina who currently occupies the site.  This will provide income to offset some of the cost of the environmental permitting.
  • Ch. 90 - Paving must be done between the time the State approves the funds and the closing of the paving plants in December.  The next sections to be paved are portions of Boston St. and the rest of the Upton Hills sub-division.  Upton Hills also needs water system work which will be done in such a way as not to interfere with the paving.  It is hoped that some paving can be done before the end of august.  The Town received $45, 000 in pot hole funding for crack filling and spot paving because of the bad winter.  This work will begin in June.  Originally, these funds were supposed to be expended by the end of June, but that date will probably be extended to the end of the summer.
  • Rail Trail – The Town must negotiate a use agreement with Danvers.  It is uncertain how long that will take.  It would be advantageous to coordinate the paving with the other paving work the Town is doing through its Tri Town Paving Consortium.  Some of that work might be done before winter.
  • Street Light Conversion – Mr. Singer hopes to report on that soon.  Mr. Ferrara will be working with the Middleton Electric Light Department (MELD) Director, Mr. Kelly, on that project.
Other Business

Solar Farm – MELD has received two proposals.  They are being reviewed by the MELD Director and MELD’s consultant.  One proposal was from Kearsage, who formerly proposed a project in Middleton.  Their price this time was higher than the one rejected then.  Mr. Houten said that this was in a very early stage.  It may be several months before the Commission comes back to the Selectmen with a proposal.  Mr. Singer pointed out that that time frame would coordinate well with developing a recreational use plan at the Transfer Station.  The proposal also includes the non-playing field areas at Rubchinuk Park.

Water Treatment Plant – Mr. Houten attended an Open House at the Water Treatment Plant last Saturday and found it very impressive.  Mr. Singer said that this renovated facility is really important to the future development of the Town.

Adjournment – Mr. Houten made a motion to adjourn the meeting.  Mr. Prentakis seconded the motion and all were in favor.  The meeting was adjourned at 8:50.

Respectfully submitted,
Mary Jane Morrin                        
Mary Jane Morrin, Recording Secretary
Kosta Prentakis, Clerk