Taken from Town Coordinator minutes for 3/31 meeting
Appointment of Election Workers: On a motion by Susan Lively and a second by Brian De
Vriese, the Select Board unanimously voted to appoint Dena Briggs, Cindie Garland, Susan
Draxler, Cathy Wilkins and Hilma Sumner as Election Workers, and Doug Wilkins and Cathy
Tallen as Alternate Election Workers.
Board of Assessors’ Recommendations: Robyn explained that the Assessors met and voted to
recommend to the Select Board a change in the Assistant Assessor job description to eliminate the
restriction that an elected assessor cannot hold the position. For the same person to hold both
positions simultaneously, the Select Board also needed to declare all three assessors as special
municipal employees. On a motion by Susan Lively and a second by Brian De Vriese, the Select
Board unanimously voted to strike the restriction in the Assistant Assessor job description that this
position could not be held by an elected assessor and that all three members of the elected Board of
Assessors are deemed as special municipal employees.
Broadband Loan Repayment Schedule: The recommendation of the Finance Committee was
reviewed in that their recommendation was to use an 18-year repayment schedule. On a motion by
Susan Lively and a second by Brian De Vriese, the Select Board unanimously voted to select the
18-year repayment schedule for the broadband loan repayment.
Colrain Central School Capital Project: After review of the article wording to be presented to the
Annual Town Meeting, on a motion by Susan Lively and a second by Brian De Vriese, the Select
Board unanimously voted to approve the article wording to authorize the project and borrowing to
fund the project. School Committee Representative Budge Litchfield, who was present at the
meeting, will share the decision with the MTRSD building subcommittee and school committee.
FY22 MTRSD Operating Assessment Error: Budge asked if the Board would make a decision to
move forward with working out a payment plan for paying the school district the amount of the
assessment error. By doing so, MTRSD would be able to apply to the statehouse for a bond that
would allow the district to close its financial books for the fiscal year. Robyn addressed this by
stating that the subject was not listed on the agenda and the Board would not be making any decisions
at this meeting but would continue discussion at the next meeting.
FY23 Budget and Salary Review: As introductory explanation, Robyn provided the analysis that
she and Hilma had completed in their work together. Salaries for two positions were currently behind
the mid-range for the pay grade of each one. The two positions are the Highway Superintendent and
Town Coordinator. The position of Mechanic/Operator is proposed to be increased greater than the 6
percent COLA because of the current wage being significantly lower than wages listed on the
FRCOG Wage and Salary Survey. The Treasurer’s wage was in a similar position and was increased
by about 15 percent. Robyn also noted that the increase in the Town Coordinator salary was not only
to raise it to mid-range pay grade but also to increase the position to 40 hours per week.
Several positions need to be re-evaluated in the coming year such as Tax Collector, Treasurer, Town
Clerk and Police Department positions.
Special Projects: To have a number in the budget worksheet, $10,000 was added to this account line.
Hilma will pursue estimates for this year’s projects, in particular the Community Hall double doors
and either mending or replacing the cement steps.
Robyn stated that she had obtained a copy of the deed and restrictions for the Bray Road property.
She had also spoken with the seller’s attorney to make certain of understanding. According to the
documents, the Town can store salt on the property, but it must be contained within a building, not
outside in piles. There can also be communication antennae, but no building is to be higher than 30
feet. The Board discussed the possibility of beginning with building a new salt shed on the property
and making plans for other construction needed for the highway department, fire department and
emergency services. Board members discussed the possibility of appropriating funds to hire an
operation planning manager and developing plans in case there is opportunity to apply for federal
infrastructure money when it becomes available. It was also noted that the Town needs to reach out to
its state representatives in the near future and begin talking about these needs.
Boards Clerk: Hilma presented a rough draft of likely work tasks and qualifications needed for the
position. The description was written for a position that would combine clerical duties for Planning
Board, Conservation Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals and Board of Health. This will be
further reviewed and discussed. Robyn will contact the Board of Health chairman to discuss the
Green Communities Update: Brian reported that an audit of the Jacobs Road building needs to be
updated for the air sealing and insulation work that has been approved. Franklin County Technical
School will be able to do the energy exchange of updated light fixtures on the outside of the building.
On a motion by Susan Lively and a second by Brian De Vriese, the Select Board
unanimously voted to enter into Executive Session pursuant to G.L. c. 30A, sec. 21(a)(3), To
discuss strategy with respect to collective bargaining or litigation and the chair declared that an
open meeting may have a detrimental effect on the bargaining or litigating position of the public
body; For deliberation and strategy in New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC d/b/a AT&T mobility v.
Town of Heath, Town of Heath Planning Board, and not to reconvene in open session.
Susan Lively Aye Brian De Vriese Aye Robyn Provost Carlson Aye
Board of Health
The Select Board voted to keep the mask mandate in place in all public buildings at least for another 2 or 3 weeks. The BoH had voted to lift the mask mandate in public buildings except for the Library and Post Office (Kate Barrows and Charlene Reynolds do not want the mask mandate lifted in those areas).The BoH indicated that there is no way to social distance in Sawyer Hall but there is at Jacobs Road. There has been a request to have the bathrooms available in Sawyer Hall and the Select Board voted to allow use.
FY22 MTRSD Assessment Error
Sue Lively is not convinced that we should pay until all options are explored. Mohawk needs to help cover some of this. Brian asked if we are satisfied that the calculations are correct. Robyn doesn’t feel that all questions were answered last week. She would like FinCom and SB to write a formal letter with all outstanding questions before moving forward. Concerned that there was never an answer about professional liability
Barbara Rode, school committee member, attended the district committee meeting. The gist of the meeting was that though both TMS and the district made an error, and Heath should pay what they "owe." Barbara disagrees. She feels the role of district treasurer should be reviewed and does not feel the calculations are accurate,
Brian asked if any of the funds could be applied to the salt shed because that is infrastructure. Hilma responded that it could, and it could also be used for the purchase of a town truck. Robyn asked Hilma to check if the money might also be used for anything not covered by the CARES Act.
Town Buildings, Special Project Review, Future Assessments
Robyn wants to address some of the needed repairs on town buildings. Estimates that $15.000 available. Important outstanding projects:
Hilma has job descriptions from other towns. Sue Lively and Hilma to pull together the information to get a description for the job.
Green Communities update - Brian
Shapiro Land Hiking Tail - Hilma
6:15 p.m. MTRSD School Committee Representatives
FY22 Assessment Error
This was an extremely long discussion (approx. 1 hour plus) regarding the district’s $44,000 error in last year’s school assessment. There were two representatives present for the Mohawk Trail Regional School District. A lot of time was spent on how this error happened, why it was first reported as a $90,000 error, and then a $44,000 error, and how much confidence can we have in the new number.
It was presented as an error caused by the different zip codes in determining the number of Heath students. Barbara Rode, Heath School Committee member, spoke strongly that we need to understand how it happened, and that some financial responsibility should fall to TMS, the consulting firm that was responsible for the budget. Alice Wozniak, FinCom member, also strongly expressed similar views. Sue Lively did not feel Heath should be responsible after our budget was set and the voters passed the budget. FinCom and Select Board members to submit questions for continued discussions with MTRSD representatives.
FY23 Proposed Budget and Assessment
School Committee member, Budge Litchfield, was comfortable with the budget. Barbara Rode voted against it. She felt our cost was disproportionate to the number of Heath students and has issues with sustainability. Select Board members questioned the budget and would like a way to explain it to the voters. Barbera Rode: The Student Opportunity Act [of 2019] has caused our minimum contribution to jump which is determined by a [state] formula that is disadvantageous to Heath and other rural towns—need advocacy for rural towns.
Colrain School Capital Improvement Assessment
Heath will need to share cost of major pavement redo: take down pavement, re-grade, fix drainage, and repave. Bids are out. Heath will not know their percentage at town meeting in May, but will know the bid.
Warrant Articles for RA Proposed Amendments
Could not follow thi discussion, needed some background to understand. The Select Board expressed appreciation for the hard work and dedication of Budge Litchfield, Barbara Rode, Bob Gruen, and Ken Rocke on school related issues.
Flag Hill Road Extension
Need to extend Flag Hill Road two tenths of a mile to make road passable for contractors for a landowner planning to build a house. This is the result of a town vote several years ago to clarify what were town roads vs private roads. The Panning Board at the time did not want to landlock any owners. SB needs to determine where the money will come from for the work.
Broadband Loan Repayment Schedule
FinCom had recommended 18-yr vs 15-yr. No change on that.
Potential Capital Expenses
Salt Shed: Jeff Johnston and Robyn determined a possible $400,000 cost estimate for the project.
Truck: Tom Lively concerned about the cost of a truck in the Highway department budget. Feels it is too high and we need other estimates, but Jeff has found them very hard to get right now. Alice forwarded information to Jeff on a used freightliner truck for $129,000.
5 Ledge Road, non-conforming lot
Hilma investigated the best way to dispose of the land, by tax auction or issuing an RFP [long process and may have some associated expense]. Best way is auction and there may be other bidders besides the Historical Society. This is not a buildable lot.
Hilma provided a summary of allowable uses of ARPA funds. Heath has received $100,000 which is in the bank. Need to determine the priorities for the money. Anyone can send Hilma any thoughts or suggestions on how the money can be used as long as it falls under allowable uses, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Free from the state: A voluntary COVID testing program for town employees to be administered by the Town Nurse and nurse, Susan Gruen, was approved by the Select Board. No cost to the town. Greenfield Community College testing site is closing April 1.
SB moved to Executive Sessions regarding AT&T Tower, property on 5 Ledge Road, open meeting law complaint.
Board of Health COVID Policy Update
Upcoming Town Report
Review of February 22 meeting with Finance Committee
MTRSD FY22 assessment reported error of $90,000 [MTRSD, Mohawk Trail Regional School District]
Town Buildings—Professional Assessment for Use & Structural Condition
Job Classification overview
Special Town Meeting possibility – Legal Council has agreed to wait for payment on fees so there is not a need for a STM.
Green Communities – no update, waiting on responses
Regional Animal Control [Sue Lively is Heath’s representative to the Regional Animal Control Committee, Robyn is alternate. ]
Branch Brook bridge update
US Treasury ARPA Final Rule – Hilma provided a summary for the Select Board [ARPA, American Rescue Plan Act] Excerpt from the website link:
The final rule – which takes effect on April 1, 2022 – provides state and local governments with increased flexibility to pursue a wider range of uses, as well as greater simplicity so governments can focus on responding to the crisis in their communities and maximizing the impact of their funds.
The State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Program final rule provides additional clarity and flexibility for recipient governments . . .”
Office relocation cost
Request for road improvement on Flag Hill Road
Tim Lively vacation coverage
Town Zoom account purchase not possible
Acronyms & References
STM 2023 Truck Handout
ADA Accessibility of Sawyer Hall
SB Public Statement on AT&T Tower