There was only one public comment which was a letter from Pam Porter to dispel false impressions concerning foot clinic and learning hub. The letter is available on the home page.
Hilma reported on several issues she worked during the week and asked about needed decisions. Much is covered under topics below such as decision on hotspot, the source for funds to pay Carson Ovitt for work at 3 Ledge Road, switch over from analog phones to internet phones at Jacobs Road.
Hilma also reported that minimum wage went up to $13.50 on Jan. 1 and that this only impacts 2 employees. Gloria says that expense is built into the budget. The Board voted on the increase retroactive to Jan. 1, 2021.
Hilma is only waiting on a SB decision to go forward on hotspot. She explained to Cornel Robertson what we had at Jacob’s Road and he said we could get stronger and better equipment. There are other benefits to the hotspot that won’t be available unless we commit to installing the hotspot first.
The Select Board has the option to decide whether the hotspot is for Heath residents only or a regional hub. Brian feels there is space in the building now that the schools have gone to a hybrid model. Robyn wants to move forward and accept the hotspot. People could come in through gym door and times could be scheduled to avoid crossover. Wednesday is now the only day there are students so the hotspot could be made unavailable on Wednesday. Gloria is opposed to more people being in the building. Brian says if things change then we change.
The Learning Hub has gone smoothly. Hilma says there are other towns that set up the hotspot when first offered and she will check on their experience. Brian and Hilma will work on clarifying any open questions. If the Select Board has the data it needs, it will decide next week on the hotspot.
Regionalization (Withdrawal from Mohawk for Pre K through 6 grade)
Budge Litchfield and Bob Gruen were able to get a grant application in by Jan 25 on very short notice with input from Ken Rocke. The grant money would come into the Select Board and then the regionalization committee would request funds from the Board to help with legal fees and administrative costs. While the money would come into Heath, it would aid all the towns wishing to withdraw. The committee hopes to have an answer on the grant by the end of February.
Budge said that we have an OPED (Other Post Employment Benefits) expense that other towns don’t have. [ Heath school employees who have insurance after retirement or other costs that are paid by the town. I believe this is due to the school closing]. The previous OPED numbers need to be carefully reviewed and verified. Locking in the number is most important.
Budge further stated that the effort had lagged somewhat due to the previous superintendent at Mohawk and COVID. The current Superintendent supports the idea of getting the necessary funds to help towns move forward.
The goal of regionalization was to have as many kids as possible sharing the same experience, but school choice changes the sense of community. Heath student locations: 31 at Hawlemont, 11 at Rowe, a few others elsewhere [Is there an additional 12 that are also home schooled? And do we pay the district for these students even if they don’t attend public school? Something else to check on.]
There was a discussion on the logistics of mail handling, what letters required an answer from the Board, what could be grouped for a response, what Hilma could handle, and what should go on the agenda for discussion at a Board meeting.
The Board needs a cutoff time to allow them to read mail prior to the meeting. If Select Board members get email ahead of time, they can respond at the current meeting when possible, and other mail can be put on the agenda for the next week (posted Friday at noon).
The Board determined that mail must arrive by noon Monday to be included in Tuesday email. Robyn will continue to look at packets before meeting and make a brief summary at the meeting.
Hilma will compile budget requests received from department heads into a worksheet to be done by next Tuesday. Most department heads have responded with their budget requirements.
The three-year contract to provide health services is coming due and the provider needs to know what towns are going to commit for the next year.
Bids are due Tuesday for the insulation project at Community Hall. Steve Thane is compiling emails on utilities cost requested by one contractor.
We need to start borrowing for payments due.
The “True up” money is spent [More to research].
Brian would like to see expenses so far.
The Board will wait until next week when meeting with MLP for further discussion
Mail from the Board of Health and Building Use Committee wanting to know the building use policies during COVID.
Response: Put on next week’s agenda: How to we deal with anyone entering building unauthorized. Gloria offered to call Coordinator to discuss.
During COVID there is an extra layer of concern. If inspections are coming out of nowhere and hadn’t happened in the past, then that needs to be addressed. Brian said people should not have gone into the building without letting anyone know, there was no authorization for an inspection and it did upset people.
Acronyms & References
STM 2023 Truck Handout
ADA Accessibility of Sawyer Hall
SB Public Statement on AT&T Tower