BOS - September 27, 2005 - Workshop

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BOS - September 27, 2005 - Workshop

Postby Suzanne Kane » Tue Sep 27, 2005 6:53 am

Board of Selectmen
Workshop Agenda
September 27, 2005


1. Discuss Town Charter Information

2. Discuss Town Accountant's Position

3. Discuss Administrator's Goals & Objectives

4. Other Business

5. Adjournment
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Board of Selectmen
Workshop Minutes
September 27, 2005
Aproved January 3, 2006



Call to Order:
Madame Chairman Shirley Mosczynski called the meeting to order at 6:32 pm. In attendance: Paula Brouillette, David Furno, Edward Therrien, Executive Administrator Michael Guzinski, and Administrative Assistant Suzanne Kane. Rich Preston arrived at 7:17pm.

Other staff and citizens: Town Engineer William Cundiff.

• Rt. 16 Project: Michael Guzinski reported that he asked William Cundiff to come in for an issue that came up this morning at the construction meeting for the Rt. 16 project. William Cundiff reported that Interim School Superintendent Robert Melican approached Amorello, the contractor, to explore the possibility of adding sidewalks between the High School and the Intermediate School on Rt. 16. The cost would be around $50,000 and would fall on the Town – it is not included on the original design. Options for funding: 1) Town Meeting vote or 2) use Chapter 90 monies which would not require Town Meeting. They would have to get a license from the School Committee and input from the Conservation Commission. He suggests that at a minimum they move forward with getting the license from the School Committee, extending the culvert and moving the wall in anticipation for a side walk at a future date. Mass Highway is also willing to run a sidewalk up to the High School. The cost would be above and beyond the $50,000. David Furno asked if the State is aware of this. William Cundiff stated they will have to talk to the State – they have minimum requirements. At a minimum he feels it would be foolish not to extend the culvert and possibly shift the wall as much as they can. The cost is the State’s minimum requirements. Paula Brouillette asked how this fits into their sidewalk plan. William Cundiff stated this area was flagged as the first priority in the sidewalk plan. Paula Brouillette asked about the sidewalk Robert Melican recommended between the two schools – would it connect the two schools; it’s obviously not connecting to any other sidewalks. William Cundiff stated that was his goal – to simply have a way to get from one school to the other keeping out of traffic. The cost of a sidewalk from the Middle School to down town would be substantial. Paula Brouillette asked about the sidewalk going up the driveway – is the plan to follow the drive as it exists or cut across the field. William Cundiff stated it would follow the drive. Paula Brouillette feels that sidewalks should have been part of the construction of the school – she is glad Interim Superintendent Robert Melican is looking into it. It never made sense to have a school you couldn’t walk to. Shirley Mosczynski stated that in previous meetings the School Committee was against a sidewalk. She asked if Michael Guzinski or William Cundiff have had any conversations with Robert Melican about the connector road. Michael Guzinski stated no and William Cundiff stated he did briefly, he stated that in order to move forward it would be best if they develop a Master Plan for the entire site. Paula Brouillette stated they need a Master Plan for the whole school complex, and then asked if this will contradict anything they do in the future. William Cundiff stated no, it can only help. The fact is they will eventually need a sidewalk that runs from the Middle School to down town. Shirley Mosczynski asked if what William Cundiff was recommending at a minimum would be to plan for the sidewalks. William Cundiff stated that Mass Highway needs to know if they are going to have to extend the culvert and the wall. He would recommend that at least now extend the culvert, relocate the wall, and give him direction to get a license from the School Committee to allow Highway use of Town property and have him talk to Conservation. David Furno asked if it wouldn’t be easier to put the sidewalk in now. William Cundiff stated they may, there is time – they need approval to extend the culvert. He’s telling them to extend it to the right-of-way line so it will be up to the property boundary. That will give them room to build the sidewalk later. Shirley Mosczynski asked if Robert Melican has gotten the School Committee’s approval. David Furno stated the sidewalk would be on Town property not School property. Shirley Mosczynski stated she understands, but the School Committee was against it and she wants to make sure they are on board. Paula Brouillette made a motion to authorize Town Engineer William Cundiff to move forward with getting licenses from the School for use of the property to extend the culvert to the property lines and shifting the retaining wall, pending approval from the School Committee and Conservation that they are taking these actions. David Furno seconded the motion. All – aye. Paula Brouillette stated they need to expedite a Master Plan from the School. Michael Guzinski stated that he, Robert Melican and William Cundiff will have a preliminary meeting then have a broader meeting with the Board.
• School Superintendent Search: Michael Guzinski reported that the Board of Selectmen received a letter from the School Committee regarding hiring a new Superintendent. The School Committee would like a member of the Board to be on the Search Committee. Shirley Mosczynski asked the Board to think about it and asked to have this item on the next agenda.
• Special Town Meeting (STM): Michael Guzinski reported that Interim Town Account Michael Daley would like to come to the Board of Selectmen’s meeting on October 18th to go over the financial items for the STM. He passed out the proposed warrant, entitled Draft Warrant 9-26-05, Special Town Meeting November 7, 2005; which is scheduled to close next Tuesday, October 4th. The Finance Committee will be meeting to go over the articles October 12th. Michael Guzinski went over the articles. Paula Brouillette stated that if she looks at just the things that are identified in the warrant in dollars; approximately $150,000 not including the two with open amounts; then asked if they are going to have anywhere near that amount of money from any available sources. Michael Guzinski stated he and Michael Daley spent an hour today going over available revenues – he should have a better idea by next Tuesday. There are still a lot of pieces to the puzzle they are putting together and part of it involves wrapping up last years budget. There are possible funds like the Overlay Surplus, they did estimate that they have around $25,000 remaining to raise and appropriate. They did review a list of old Capital items that are finished. They could get $50,000 to $60,000 there. Those are really the only choices they have Free Cash will not be ready in time. Outside of that they could use stabilization. There are a couple of articles that could qualify as Capital Items – the Oil Tank, the Rt. 16 Reconstruction Project, the drainage improvement, and the Self Evaluation Plan. The Unemployment article is a special item they need to look at. He does not have an exact amount but there are sources they are looking at. Paula Brouillette asked if they were looking at the fire truck funds. Michael Guzinski concurred saying he would recommend that what ever is available by Town Meeting after they pay off the portion of the truck and wrap up with the lease firm. They should have somewhere around $50,000 left and he would recommend applying that to Article 1 – Replacement of Oil Tank at Intermediate Elementary School. Paula Brouillette stated she is not in favor of taking anything out of stabilization. Her concern is they should look at all the dollar amounts and the priority of each; not go by the articles in order as they appear on the warrant. Michael Guzinski stated if they felt some of the articles could wait; they could pull them off – he could also prioritize them; he grouped them by department. Paula Brouillette asked about Article 5 – Drainage Improvements – she hadn’t heard of that one before. Edward Therrien stated that he and William Cundiff came up with the list – they are streets that need drainage improvements. Paula Brouillette asked if it wouldn’t be funded from Chapter 90 monies – or would this be outside of Chapter 90? Edward Therrien stated he’s used Chapter 90 on sidewalks and Davis Street – they can only do so much. They wanted to start a program so they will tie in with what they have. David Furno added the Highway Department felt they could do a piece a year to keep the cost down. They don’t need to do all streets listed; they could do one street per year. Paula Brouillette stated it would be nice to see these on the Capital Plan. Shirley Mosczynski asked what they are talking about in terms of dollars. Michael Guzinski stated he’s not sure if it’s $30,000 or $40,000. William Cundiff is going to get him figures by the end of the week. From his conversations with William Cundiff; these drainage problems are caused by the resurfacing of the road which changed the flow of the water. Shirley Mosczynski questioned Oak Street under this article; she thought work had already been done down the road from her. Edward Therrien stated it’s coming this way from Wallis Road. They need to tie into the drain coming down to Wallis Road. Michael Guzinski stated it is 69 Oak Street William Cundiff will be putting together a more complete document with prices. Paula Brouillette requested William Cundiff prioritize them. She also asked if the TIF agreements were already on file with the Town Clerk. Michael Guzinski stated it will be on file if the Board approves the article and prior to posting. Paula Brouillette asked if they have any information on the agreement. Michael Guzinski stated he will get a packet on Thursday for their meeting on Tuesday. Paula Brouillette recommended the Board talk about a policy for TIF’s – they should have a plan on how they should approve TIF’s; how are they looking at TIF’s; what would make them say yes or no? Shirley Mosczynski stated they told the business owners that they will be reviewed. They do not have a policy. Paula Brouillette recommended they add that to Michael Guzinski’s list of things to do – create a policy for approving TIF’s. She feels the percents are at their discretion and it impacts the Town financially to have heavy front-ended low taxes. Rich Preston agreed – they need some sort of criteria. He would like to see it flipped since businesses go out within three to five years. In an effort to get those to stay have it high at the beginning, low at the end.

1. Discuss Town Charter Information:
Handed out prior to the meeting is a letter to the Board of Selectmen, from Town Counsel, dated August 25, 2005, re: Process for Adopting a Town Charter; and Massachusetts Municipal Management Association – Form of Government Information Kit. • Michael Guzinski reported that there are two ways to go ahead with a “Charter Commission”. One is the “Home Rule Charter Procedure” – it’s cumbersome, takes some time but a better buy-in from the community. That form requires the election of a Charter Commission (9 members from the public at large). That commission would then work for 18 months to put together a charter for presentation to the voters at Town Meeting. If the charter is approved by both bodies, the charter becomes law without the State taking any part in the process. The second way is the Board of Selectmen appoints a Charter Commission. The Board has very broad latitude in appointing that Commission, it could be 3 members or 30 members. The work is the same – they would work for a period of time, usually 18 months, to put together something for approval by Town Meeting and then sent to the State for approval by legislation (Special Act). The Charter put together by that Commission includes language in the Special Act that requires it to go back to the voters for a Special Election. Either way, it has to be acted on by Town Meeting and an Election. There is a lot of minutia in the document with the pro’s and con’s. There are examples of Charter’s in the Selectmen’s Office. Kopelman & Paige said that more than 50% do not use the Home Rule – it is often started by petition and has been equally successful both ways. He feels there are advantages to the Special Acts Rule. If they chose that root he would suggest they set a specific number of members – 9 being a good number. David Furno stated he doesn’t see a Charter going forward in Douglas – he doesn’t know enough about it to have an informed opinion. He would like to look at the other material in order to have an informed opinion. Michael Guzinski stated that there are resources out there – someone could come in and do a presentation to the Board at a public meeting at no cost to the Community. He would also recommend having Lauren Goldberg of Kopelman & Paige come out and talk about the legal issues. Shirley Mosczynski asked what the Boards thoughts were. Paula Brouillette stated that one of the reasons it all got started was due to the re-codification of the General Bylaws – they are disjointed and not in good form. The Town is big enough now to reorganize. She feels the Home Rule, which has a better buy-in, is the way to go. She could see the Special Act working if they had a unique situation. Shirley Mosczynski pointed out another reason for looking at a Charter was the financial audit DOR did – they recommended the Town make changes. They are running a big business here. They need the authority to be where it should be. They should be the advisors and policy makers; leaving the management to the people they hire. Rich Preston asked if when they are through with a Charter they send it to the Legislature. Michael Guzinski stated it depends on the form – if it’s a Special Act; yes. If it’s a Special Act when the appointed Charter Commission finishes it’s work; they present the final draft document to Town Meeting for approval. If it gets approved it then gets sent to the State. It is almost always required to be ratified locally by general election of the community. Paula Brouillette asked if it’s really the process of how they do it. They have more control with the Special Act. With Home Rule it’s more the elected body that works on it. Michael Guzinski answered yes, the only difference is one has an elected Commission; the other has an appointed Committee. Once it’s created the only difference is one requires a Special Act and the other doesn’t. Rich Preston stated that before they got into the re-codification he went through the General Bylaws and there were deficiencies. The more they looked into them, the more deficiencies. They did the recodification which came up with a number of issues that needed to be addressed. There was a temporary committee that became overwhelmed – they told the company doing the recodification to reorganize what they have without changing anything. The end result is they need to create a Committee to look at all of those issues. There is nothing in the General Bylays about Selectmen and how many they should have. As mentioned before, there are three forms of government – Home Rule Charter, Special Act Charter, and General Law Organization. They have the last one. The General Law Organization has proven to be something that was put together over time and isn’t always accurate or cohesive. That’s how they came to this. He read “Item III. Organization of Town Government” from the BOS Handbook which noted that 74 communities operate under the Home Rule Charter and only 34 operate under the Special Act Charter. He feels that is important to recognize – there must be a reason. Rich Preston recommended they have someone come in to talk to them; keeping in mind they have a problem and need to fix it. Shirley Mosczynski stated they also need to look at the material – they need to move and get it done; the Bylaws they have will be causing them problems. Michael Guzinski stated there is no draw back to having them both here on the same night and suggested they dedicate a three hour night for it. There was a consensus of the Board. Paula Brouillette asked if they could get a listing of what each Town has done as far as Charter’s (from the 74 & 34 Communities). Michael Guzinski stated he can get it from MMA. He hopes to have the representatives in by mid November. Rich Preston asks ASAP also let people know why they are doing it before they start; that they are taking it under advisement, no decisions have been made.

2. Discuss Town Accountant’s Position:
Michael Guzinski reported that the Search Committee met and will have another meeting this Thursday. They will hopefully be interviewing candidates after that meeting and should present names by the Boards next meeting, August 11th. He stated he wanted to begin a dialogue about questions that may come up from the individuals regarding a contract. It is becoming more of the norm that a Town Accountant has some sort of a contract in the community they work in. Several years ago the Town Accountants Association lobbied the legislature to add to the manager’s statute in their ability to negotiate for certain benefits. It’s the Boards call if they want to have a contract with an individual. He is not 100% sure anyone will want one – he would like them to be prepared. Shirley Mosczynski stated they should at least give it some thought. Paula Brouillette asked what is driving having a contract. Michael Guzinski stated it’s a combination of things. Political shielding, severance provisions and benefits something to think about. Rich Preston stated it is his experience that when they are employees there is less negotiations but when there is a contract there is always negotiations. He sees it as an advantage for the employee, not the Town. His concern is that if they pick two or three people, they start negotiating with them, they get into the details they don’t like it and it doesn’t happen – they lose a candidate. He asked if they do a definitive contract – what do they do after three months and it’s not working out? Michael Guzinski stated he would rather bring someone in without a contract but the Board has to make that decision. They are not required by law to give a contract. Shirley Mosczynski asked what most communities do. Michael Guzinski stated he is not sure – Blackstone had a simple agreement. He will check with neighboring communities. David Furno stated they need a probation period. Rich Preston stated he hopes people know the salary was set. Michael Guzinski stated it was listed in the ad but he can make no guarantees. Paula Brouillette stated there is a feeling from the Search Committee that it is not a reasonable salary. Michael Guzinski stated the committee needs to be clear that it is not their decision – it’s up to the Board of Selectmen. Paula Brouillette stated it’s a professional level job that takes what ever hours it takes to get the job done, but it’s a 4 day a week job. Michael Guzinski concurred.

Shirley Mosczynski stated that before they get into Goals and Objectives she has two things to go over.
• Octoberfest: She has been asked to speak briefly at the Octoberfest and recognize the committee. She just wanted the Board to be aware.
• School Committee and Finance Committee Meeting: They had discussed meeting tentatively with the School Committee and the Finance Committee on the 11th – they need to do that before the Town Meeting. Michael Guzinski believes the Finance Committee moved their meeting to the 12th. Shirley Mosczynski asked if they should look at another date. Michael Guzinski stated the School Committee will be going to their meeting on the 12th. He could contact the Chair and see if they can move that date. Consensus to decide at their meeting on the 4th as to when to meet with the two Committees.

3. Discuss Administrator’s Goals & Objectives:
Handed out is a draft copy of the Executive Administrators Goals and Objectives 9-27-05. • Michael Guzinski stated he had a problem trying to define his Goals and Objectives in a way that is measurable. He tried to maintain the general status as far as the Goals and Objectives as they were but try to focus on some of the more critical ones. Number one involving the Charter Commission – if the Board wants to move on this for next spring’s election it would have to happen soon. Number two with the financial problems the Town is facing, especially with the School Department, he feels it is critical to work with the School and the Town departments to come up with a Financial Plan that looks at the possible need for an over ride and where the Town is going to go. A recurring issue that needs to be addressed is Space Needs – these projects take time but he can supply information and recommendations of what he believes is in the best interest for the Town so the Board can discuss what they want to do. The last two issues are items he is already working on and has made headway with. Under Goals and Objectives – Long Term are items he has made some progress on but are ongoing and items that are hard to measure in a short time frame. Like the 4 Town Group, they have made progress but he thinks it’s a long term item – he does not think they will be done next summer. As far as measurement – he is doing the research, presenting reports and recommendations. The Board is going to have to determine the objective measurement on it. Shirley Mosczynski stated the Board agreed that they still want to work towards a Public Works Department – where would he put that under or is it already included. Michael Guzinski stated he would probably put it in a sub category under the Charter Commission. The Board concurred. Michael Guzinski stated he took out the day to day issues – items that are defined as administration issues. Rich Preston stated he feels good with the way it is presented. He feels the Charter Commission, if they go that root, will be an umbrella that will cover a lot of things: Finance Department, Public Works, Governmental Structure, and re-codification. His concern has always been that it is reasonable and achievable and the Board can measure it – he feels in the first half they can. Paula Brouillette stated she would like more time to look at it since they are just seeing it now. The real deliverables in this – her concern is can they really all be accomplished by March 30th. The other is using staff on some of these – he needs to use his staff more to accomplish some of them. Michael Guzinski stated that he feels he has a better handle on the staff and their capabilities – who he can hand what to. He has dependable people; he knows who they are and what he can expect from them. He can start working on the items before they approve it. Consensus of the Board to approve the Goals and Objectives on the 18th.

4. Other Business:
• School Building Association Reimbursement: Paula Brouillette stated they need to have an agenda item for the SBA reimbursement. It is their opportunity to do an over ride that will have minimal impact on the tax payers. They need a time line. If they do nothing – the tax rate will drop. They can accomplish a lot of goals to give the tax payers relief. Shirley Mosczynski stated the tax payers are very disturbed right now. They need to have things up front – from every department but especially the School. There is a meeting tomorrow in Oxford on Chapter 70 funds. Paula Brouillette stated they have been balancing on Free Cash. One of these days Free Cash is not going to be sufficient to the tune of $900,000 which is what they have been supplementing. They need to deal with this in the ’07 budgeting year regardless of the School side. Shirley Mosczynski asked if there is going to be enough for fuel this year. Michael Guzinski stated he has spoken to departments on this – so far they are holding their own but there may be requests for transfers come May. Shirley Mosczynski asked when will they start the ’07 budget. Michael Guzinski stated they usually send out the packets the first week in December – the key thing is meeting with the School and finding out what they are planning for the next year. On the Town side most people know they can’t be looking for much of an increase in their budgets. They do not know if an over ride will be absolutely essential or if some how they can get through another year. There needs to be a dialogue about if there is going to be an over ride. There is an opportunity now – the property tax is dropping and they could do an operational over ride without a noticeable impact on the taxpayers. Rich Preston agrees this is something they talk about often. One of his concerns is Capital Improvement always seems to take a hit – for a couple of years they didn’t fund it at all then they funded it partially. This is something they need to talk about.

• Fire Truck: Rich Preston regarding the half million dollars that was going to be spent on the fire truck – asked what is happening with that? Michael Guzinski stated the first check ($79,000) to the lease company went out about a month ago. The grant that was awarded will be wired to the Town once the Chief notifies them that the ladder truck is in his possession. That should be in a couple more weeks. Once the money has been wired they can pay off the entire lease. That will leave around $45,000 available for expenditure at Special Town Meeting – as long as it gets wired before the Special Town Meeting. What that does for the Town – for the next 6 years they won’t have a $80,000 per year payment that they probably would have taken out of Stabilization every year. Now the $80,000 can go to other projects.

• Firefighters Death Benefits: Shirley Mosczynski commented on something she had seen in the newspaper – the issue of coverage for volunteer firefighters. A Bill has been filed due to the recent death of a firefighter while at a fire. Now there is more discussion about it – it looks like every community is going to have to put up $40,000 per year. In today’s paper there is discussion that it be left up to each community as to whether they want to go into it or not. What is going to come out of the legislation she does not know but she does not feel it is fair for the State to do this. Firefighters do not just work in this town – if they get called they have to go to another town. She feels the State should step up to the plate and pay the coverage. Michael Guzinski stated it’s for half a million in death benefits. The Towns entire insurance bill right now is around $116,000. This would add 25% to our insurance bill. Paula Brouillette stated that no one disagrees with the benefit itself – it’s how it should be funded. Shirley Mosczynski recommended the Board write a letter to their Representative and Senator. Consensus of the Board.

5. Adjournment
David Furno made a motion to adjourn at 8:49 pm. Paula Brouillette seconded the motion. All – aye.


Respectfully submitted;


Suzanne Kane
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