SB Notes, March 8, 2022
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, email@example.com.
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.
devon r clark
3/15/2022 10:18:10 am
Listening to the recordings, regarding the Mohawk assessment "error" also known as a "screw-up", I like that Tom, Alice, and Barbara asked the questions of how did this happen, where is the proof, how do we know this won't happen again. I did not like how Budge pooh-poohed the why and how and kept saying we just need to pay it somehow.
3/15/2022 02:33:31 pm
I agree, we can't just say ok, you made two mistakes and now we have the right amount and should just pay it. And if it is the consulting firm that made the error, they should bear the cost of it.
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