Meeting Minutes of the Select Board

 Location: Town offices   Date:  January 19, 2021
 Opened:    9:00 am Adjourned: 12:45 pm


Select Board Members:  Jay Jacobs, Kathy Scott, Andrea Hodson ______

Members of the public: Don Scott, Erin Hammerstedt, Kathy Bollerud

Budget  – The board reviewed the Fire Department budget with Chief Wayne Derosia.  Following this, the board continued review of the entire proposed budget. The Road Agent is in the process of getting estimates for projects and materials, after which the board will solidify the Highway Department budget and draft the relevant Warrant Article for roadwork in 2021. The board noted that one prospective road targeted for repair but not mentioned in the previous meeting’s minutes is a portion of Tolman Pond Road. The board also reviewed the Recycle Center budget, noting projected increases of $5 per ton for garbage compactor tonnage, and also briefly discussed charitable contribution requests. Budget work will continue at the next SB meeting.

Police Department– The board continued discussion of options for the department staffing structure and reviewed the draft job profile to replace the Police Chief. All agreed the board’s goal is to hire a chief rather than pursue an alternate structure.

Highway Department – The board will work with the Road Agent on timing for backfilling a 3rdposition in the department.

Streetlight Committee– Members of the Streetlight Committee submitted their annual report for the annual Town Report. They updated the Select Board on current inventory of refurbished radial wave fixtures, noting that 8 remain, but that more may be needed. Kathy Bollerud reviewed the committee’s work since its inception, noting they hope to meet with the PUC and Eversource in 2021 to get approval for use of an LED bulb for the historic fixtures. Thirty-two heads still need replacing with the vintage lights. The committee noted the town is not charged for maintenance.

In a lengthy discussion, Jay Jacobs asked the committee to justify the expense to voters of approximately $20,000 in electricity costs for not transitioning yet to LED lights and the associated kilowatts of wasted power by perpetuating an old system. The committee disagreed, stating they continue to work on the project from the 2018 warrant article approved by voters and that they have saved the town money by not transitioning to the new system. Mr. Jacobs continued to maintain his position.

The committee reported it has raised $4600 this year and hopes to combine this with a contribution of $1,500 from the town for an additional 18 radial wave heads. It seeks SB support for this, so that such support can be conveyed to Eversource in its ongoing maintenance. Mr. Jacobs believes the trial LED fixtures should stay as they are and he expressed continued frustration at the length of time it has taken for the committee’s mission to be carried out, the resulting expense to voters, lack of fulfillment of the promise to voters, and for what he argues is a mission that is contrary to the many townspeople combatting climate-change and working for reduction in fossil fuels. The committee again disagreed, cited the challenges of the pandemic in achieving certain goals, and replied it believes it has always been their intention to find a climate-friendly solution.

Andrea Hodson expressed ongoing support for the Streetlight Committee, commended their efforts and supports a town contribution of $1500 toward their continued work. Following additional back and forth, Andrea Hodson moved to accept the Streetlight Committee’s annual report submission, to support the committee’s ongoing work to continue to evaluate, monitor and explore with the PUC and Eversource a viable LED bulb for the town’s system and work with the SB on this, and to recommend adding $1500 to the proposed 2021 budget for streetlights. Kathy Scott seconded. The vote was 2-1 in favor with Jay Jacobs opposed for the reasons stated above.

Warrant Articles– Following the streetlight discussion, Kathy Bollerud noted a petition for a warrant article on redistricting will be submitted to the Select Board with 50 resident signatures.

Concerning a Warrant Article related to the Right of Way along Skatutakee Road, Kathy Scott raised several concerns including the potential costs to the town for engineering and surveying work and the importance to the town of maintaining sections of it for town use. The question again arose if the property owners, who seek from the town release of the right-ot-way along their particular parcel, shouldn’t bring the warrant article themselves by petition. The board also could consider finalizing a draft warrant article allowing for release along this singular parcel, or 3 parcels who did not act on the town’s offer via a 2007 Warrant Article. Discussion will continue at the board’s Thursday meeting, January 21.

Meeting Minutes– The Select Board approved the minutes of 1/7 and 1/12.

Electric Aggregation Committee/ Community Power– Andrea Hodson reported that the EAC received helpful input from state-level experts, and that they are revising the proposed plan accordingly. In light of this, the Select Board and committee may postpone the public hearing scheduled for the same night as the Budget Hearing, Thursday, January 28.

Town Meeting– The board will explore options for a safe, outdoor deliberative session of Town Meeting, including the cost of a tent and accessory needs. Voting will still take place on Tuesday, March 9.