MTRSD FY22 Assessment Error:
Brian reported that the next discussion with legal counsel will be September 6th. The attorneys will be drafting a letter to be sent to MTRSD administration.
Solar Planning Opportunity:
Hilma explained an opportunity being offered by the Clean Energy Extension office of UMass/Amherst to provide students to work with municipalities in evaluating and drafting plans for possible solar array sites. There is no cost for a town to participate. The Select Board unanimously voted to request and support an opportunity to participate in the Solar Planning Opportunity,
Green Communities Update:
The Town was issued a 12-month extension on the grant spending in order to allow the project of winterization by ECI and the lighting exchange by Franklin County Technical School to be completed.
Jacobs Road Generator:
The highway department backfilled the ditch where the gas pipe is laid. The Building Maintenance Coordinator is in the process of contacting Kinsley Power Company to arrange for someone to start the generator.
Resident Mike Platek spoke to the Board with concerns regarding lack of notification for late taxes on his property at 191 Number Nine Road. The Board to consult the Treasurer and Tax Collector and will then communicate the outcome to Mr. Platek.
Municipal Light Board Update: MLB members Art Schwenger, Bill Fontes, Anne Emmet, Ned Wolf, David Gordon, MLP Manager Sheila Litchfield and Finance Committee members Alice Wozniak, Will Emmet and Ned Wolf joined the meeting. to hear a report from the MLB. This was a very thorough update which I moved to the end of the post due to the length.
11 Bellor Road—HCA & Permitting: An email of complaint was sent to the SB and the Building Inspector about the storage boxes that have been placed on the property at 11 Bellor Rd. It was noted that perhaps notification needs to be sent to the developer and True Cannabis (seeking a Special Permit) regarding the need for proper building permitting and the need for payment of the legal fees. Robyn to contact town counsel for consultation.
Town Buildings & Offices—Jacobs Road: The Board reviewed a proposal of office rearrangement of rooms that would include the additional offices to be added and permanent placement of a few offices already in the building. This would include opening the front room to be available for small group meetings.
Community Hall: The Board discussed the option of making the Hall a three-season building with closure during the winter months. Research will be done to determine the feasibility and expense to winterize the building.
Mail not discussed above.
Municipal Light Board Update: MLB members Art Schwenger, Bill Fontes, Anne Emmet, Ned Wolf, David Gordon, MLP Manager Sheila Litchfield and Finance Committee members Alice Wozniak, Will Emmet and Ned Wolf joined the meeting to hear a report from the MLB.
Current Status: All engineering and construction is finished except for possible additional construction because of newly built housing. The installation is ongoing, primarily in Mohawk Estates. The interest infrastructure has been designed to accommodate future growth as needs within the town change. The state grant is finished and closed; there are no more reports that need to be submitted for that. In total, Heath received $2,525,138.00 of state monies. The total project will cost under $4 million. ITG (construction company) has finished their work and the Town only has the retention money left to pay the company.
Heath has 355 active customers (410 customers would be 70% of the potential total). The MLB and MLP Manager continue to meet weekly with Whip City Fiber because installations have not finished.
The MLB is evaluating the best protection of assets. Hub-security monitoring is being coordinated through WiredWest for all their customer towns. A company has been engaged for regular generator maintenance. The MLB is seeking quotes for HVAC maintenance and have received one quote to date.
The POD which remains at Jacob Road can be relocated to Mohawk Estates because it contains installation equipment needed in that area of town. The Town owns the cable wire that remains and needs to find a covered storage location in which that can be stored.
Bill reported that Whip City Fiber had to come fix some of the hard components of the municipal network hardware. One of the ONT’s wasn’t working and had to be replaced. Since the repair Bill did a speed check out of the Community Hall and found that there was normal operation speed in the building whereas before it had a very slow speed. The Northeast IT work ticket may now be closed.
Continued tree trimming will be an important component in prevention of service interruption. It is hoped by the MLB that they can work with the highway department in planning the work.
Redundancy/Resiliency Project: David Gordon reported that the plan for this project is to connect five towns to each other’s internet systems in case there is an internet system failure in one of the towns. The five towns are Colrain, Leyden, Rowe, Charlemont and Heath. With Colrain serving as the lead town, a $400,000 grant was awarded to build the system which will need to be completed by June 30, 2023.
Financial Report: The project is transitioning from the construction phase to the operating phase. The MLB presented a report of the projected cash flow through FY2030. Those present at the meeting reviewed the information about assets, revenue, liabilities and projected expenses.
WiredWest: Their contract with Westfield Gas & Electric has expired and WiredWest is in the process of renegotiating a new multi-year contract. If a new contract reflects an increase in charges, they will be seeking quotes from other ISP entities.
Statement of Priorities: Chairman Art Schwenger presented the MLB’s list of financial priorities, some of which were already incorporated into the projected cash flow. The Municipal Light Plant does have a large enough customer base so that it can become self-sufficient.
Separation of MLB and the Town: Robyn raised the question about whether, once broadband was no longer under construction, should the MLP Manager’s salary be paid out of the broadband monies or will the position end. Sheila explained that a manager will always be needed for continuity and to have someone around to answer questions. It was agreed that there may need to be changes and updates made to the job description.
Office Space: The MLB reminded the Select Board that office space was something they would still like to obtain.
Volunteers: Art made note of the many volunteers who had given personal time and energy to get the internet project where it is today and to make it become a reality.
Acronyms & References
STM 2023 Truck Handout
ADA Accessibility of Sawyer Hall
SB Public Statement on AT&T Tower