Thursday, November 3, 2022
Select Board: Andrea Hodson, Kathy Scott, Pegg Monahan
Attendees: Health Officer David Belknap, Town attorney Gary Kinyon
Chair Andrea Hodson opened the meeting at 7:00 pm.
Agenda, minutes of 10/28 – The board moved to approve the agenda and the October 28 minutes.
Water test results – David Belknap explained the results of the tests taken at the fire department holding tank, reporting no bacteria, no coloriform, and no e-coli, but an unacceptable pH level of 5.44. He explained that anything lower than 6.5 is considered acidic and noted a higher than acceptable level of manganese. He will speak to water expert Dan Waterman; Jeff Cady is also discussing with John Farwell. Based on these consultations, Mr. Belknap and Mr. Cady will formulate a plan to address, which may include recommending testing on a wider basis.
DRA/ tax rate – The board just received the preliminary tax rate from the DRA, set at $18.77 with the municipal portion at $5.43, slightly higher than anticipated but less than the $5.49 previously calculated to manage expenses. Following discussion, the board agreed to allocate $35,000 from the town’s fund balance of over $617,000 to slightly lower the impact. The board will send the adjustment to DRA for approval and final tax rate setting.
Tax Collector Audit – With the departure of Tax Collector Jeannine Dunne on November 18, the SB voted unanimously to engage Vachon Clukay for an interim audit, as required by statute. The board also moved and voted unanimously in favor to appoint Neil Sandford as acting tax collector with commensurate pay. The board will further discuss the transition options and search to backfill the Tax Collector position at their meeting on Election Day, November 8.
Finance – The board noted that payment for the roadside digital sign was mailed to the vendor.
Fuel vendors – Though the board had approved the quote from Dead River, the company did not hold the price. The board thus accepted the lower quote for propane from Rymes and noted that Swanzey Oil will continue to provide heating oil and diesel.
Staffing – Pegg Monahan noted she anticipates 2 resumes for bookkeeping work, though the board continues to discuss whether or not to separate position and responsibilities as outlined in the Finance Specialist job description. The board also still has a Clean position open.
2023 Property Re-Valuation – Following review of the submitted proposals and the recommendation of the Assessor, the board moved to approve the proposal from M&N Assessing for $26,500 to conduct the town’s property re-valuation.
Fire Department – Following request of the Fire Chief, the board voted to approve the repairs to the tanker truck.
Legal update – The board reviewed with town counsel easement language pertaining to the section of the Eastview Rail Trail over which the town has an easement, and whether or not the language permits the use of E-bikes. Town Counsel also offered his opinion on NH Law related to e-bikes and municipal authority to enact stricter laws about their use. NH law considers Class I and II e-bikes as bicycles, with classification based on pedal and/or throttle power and speed.
The town easement excludes “motorized recreational equipment,” which Mr. Kinyon interprets as OHRVs, dirt bikes, etc. But he noted that an argument could be made either way based on easement language that was written when e-bikes did not exist.
Following discussion and agreement about the difficulty and practicality of trying to enforce a ban along a section of the trail, the Select Board noted its request for the trails group and e-bike users to work with property owners to ensure considerate use of town trails and to promote a culture of cooperative use. It is the Town that has the easement, not the trails group or e-bike riders.
Separately, Town Counsel noted he will soon file a Motion for Summary Judgment in the case of John Alexander Cucchi v. the Town of Harrisville and Pamela Worden. Mr. Cucchi would have 30 days to respond, after which the judge decides whether or not a trial is needed.
Town Counsel also will draft a Notice of Violation regarding the junk cases and required action by the property owners to remedy the violations and prevent further legal action. He will send to the board to review.
Regarding the potential for combined police operations with Marlborough, Mr. Kinyon agrees that drafting of a contract is best left to the Attorney General’s office, which drafted the contract for Temple-Greenville, though he is available to assist with legal interpretation of contract language if needed.
The meeting adjourned at 9:30 pm.