April 12, 2010

WARRANT & FINANCE COMMITTEE MEETING                                                                                                                  

APRIL 12, 2010

 

                                                                                                                                    APPROVED

 A.        ROLL CALL – Acton Town Hall

Members present were:                        Debi Rix – Chairman                                                               

Karl Hodgdon – Vice Chairman           

                                                             John Moore

                                                            James Crowley            

                                                            Roger Roy                                                                                             

                                                           Elias Thomas

Also present were Dennis Long and Larissa Crockett, Selectpeople; Scott Mooney and David Winchell, Road Commissioners; Cheri Smith, Town Treasurer.  

B.         APPROVAL OF MINUTES

April 5, 2010 – A Motion was made and seconded to approve the Minutes of the April 5, 2010 Meeting as submitted.  Moore/Hodgdon – 5/1 – Abstention (Mr. Thomas as he wasn’t at the Meeting).

Clarification of Prior Minutes – Ms Rix explained she e-mailed Carlene Doyle, Financial Assistant for the Acton School, but has not received any response to the Committee’s questions which they requested to clarify some of the prior Minutes.

C.        NEW BUSINESS

 

1.         Road and Highway Budget – District 1 – Scott Mooney, Road Commissioner - To Mr. Long’s comment it appears road surfacing has been placed in the Maintenance & Repair portion of the road and highway budget, Mr. Mooney confirmed that it had.  He mentioned he has chosen Goose Pond Road as his special project.  He said the worst part of that road is from the Shapleigh Town Line to just before the 16th  Street loop.  He explained the procedures he will use such as the depth of the gravel and surface material as well as where he intends to grade the road.  He stated he will install ditches wherever possible and will rock and lime them. 

To Mr. Hodgdon’s question wouldn’t it be better to just ditch the road to remove the water, Mr. Mooney explained there a good many frost heaves in that area and the work he is proposing will make the road better [than just ditching it].  He mentioned the guard rails were installed last year.  He stated he has no plans of installing a guard rail at the corner of H Road.  He said with regard to the run off leaching into the lakes, he has spoken to the DEP who is attempting to obtain some funding the take care of the problem.  He advised some of the other areas can be taken care of in the future with funds from the maintenance portion of the budget.  He stated he understands that the lakes areas represent a good portion of the Town’s tax base and fixing the problems in those areas will maintain the property values.

 

To Mr. Hodgdon’s comment that he feels those areas should be given more consideration than some of the other projects, Mr. Mooney said while he understands, he was asked to submit a special project and he chose Goose Pond Road, but will also be working on some of those other problems with the maintenance portion of his budget.  He mentioned that he has received permission from the property owners on  Acton Ridge Road to remove some of the trees even though they are on the town line.  He said he has funds in the budget to do some work this year.  He mentioned that he intends to speak with the Road Committee about what he’s thinking about doing.

 

Mr. Roy suggested rather than spending the money on a special project, he felt the money would be better spent repairing the area on a special project, he felt the money would be better spent repairing the area on Goose Pond Road where a very large frost heave has developed near the ledge.  He also felt that funding could be used to repair Acton Ridge Road since the State will be paving Milton Mills Road.

 

To Ms Rix’s question about what he plans to do with the funds remaining in the repair and maintenance account, Mr. Mooney explained he has contracted with a company to sweep the sand and winter debris from the Ruma house down to West Shore Drive.  He mentioned the contractor told him it would a day and a half to do the job and that the truck is $95 a day.  He said he will do the calculations.  He stated he has removed the sand on Willow Street and Hawk Road and explained other work he would like to do on Acton Ridge Road as well as some other roads.  He stated he would like to retain some funds in that account in the event he has to do work that might result from flooding this spring.

Mr. Long advised any remaining funds from the current year budget will go into the Undesignated Fund and will not remain in the accounts to be used for other work. 

 

To Ms Rix’s comment that there is $42,000 in the salt stock pile list, Mr. Mooney explained that was from the FEMA storm money which was received after the Town filed a claim for the use of equipment, work done and the sand used.  He advised the Town also received $18,000 for sand and salt.  He said the $18,000 was from a prior storm which wasn’t used, but it actually is approximately $12,000.

David Winchell, the other Road Commissioner, said even if that money was spent before the end of this fiscal year, that account will be fine.  He mentioned since there isn’t very much salt left, it will be necessary to purchase more.  He stated 1,800 yards of salt will cost approximately $30,000 and the Town has a contract that won’t expire until October, 2010. He suggested spending those funds before the end of the current fiscal year since there aren’t many companies delivering salt at this time and it might be possible to obtain a deal.  He expressed a concern about the structural integrity of the salt shed and felt nothing should be done there until an engineer has made an assessment of the building.  He said he worked for the company that built it who will have nothing to do with it now.  He mentioned there are areas that are extremely rotted.  He felt the Town should find out what can be done with the building.  He said the building has been in that condition for many years.  He suggested that the remaining funds be rolled over and the Town begin a capital improvement fund with it.

Mr. Mooney explained he had someone look at it last year and that person was supposed to repair it, but never did.  He mentioned there are companies that will patch it for now so that it doesn’t leak to which Mr. Winchell said he didn’t like the “band aid” approach and would like to have it repaired correctly.

Mr. Long felt whatever the Road Commissioners need to do between now and the end of the current fiscal year should be done.  He said he doesn’t have a problem with the funds being spent, but with a $90,000 sand and salt budget each year, the Undesignated Funds have been depleted so whatever amount remains should go to replenish it.  He stated with a sand contract that doesn’t expire until October, 2010, he wouldn’t like to spend any more money on that now.

Mr. Winchell had no problem with that suggestion, but Mr. Mooney mentioned that the price of salt might increase for the coming winter.

To Mr. Winchell’s comment he would like to have a building for the storage of resident sand which should keep them away from the salt area, Mr. Crowley mentioned the area was relocated to address the need for security.  He said the residents generally get the sand when they take their trash to the Transfer Station.  He agreed the salt area should be able to be accessed by the Town workers and not the residents. 

Mr. Winchell said if the Town had a building that held just the sand, that should keep people away from the other area.  He mentioned he has seen residential vehicles getting sand during storms and there are times when the Town workers have to wait to get what they need.  He advised that the residents are also taking the salt as well.  He didn’t think a gate would solve the problem because it would hinder access by the Town workers when they are plowing.  He said if the Transfer Station was open more frequently, there wouldn’t be a problem.  He mentioned residents have telephoned him when the Transfer Station was closed asking to be let in to get sand for their driveways.

District 2 – David Winchell, Road Commissioner – Mr. Winchell advised for his special project he is proposing to work on 2,000’ on Sam Page Road and Route 109 going both ways.  He said he got a price for grinding and grading and explained the methods that will be used.  He mentioned that the final grading isn’t included in the price he was quoted.  He stated he will be laying down the crushed gravel, seeding the grades and supervising the shoulder work.  He mentioned that the ditching and culverts were installed last year, but the road wasn’t repaved.  He said after the snow was gone, it was easy to see that road should be finished.  He stated he didn’t put the project out to bid because Dayton Sand was the company he has used in the past and they do very good work and they are holding the price for the job.

Mr. Long stated when the ditching and culverts were installed, the Board of Selectmen were asked whether it would be all right to pave that road, but they didn’t feel it was worth it.  He said the company [that did the work] may have put in some chip seal.

Mr. Mooney stated the two bids received  were $88,000 from another company and $71,000 from Dayton Sand.

Mr. Roy didn’t think that Goose Pond Road was as bad as Sam Page Road because vehicles have to go onto private property to get down Sam Page Road.

To a comment that it might be better to do a number of smaller projects rather than the larger special projects, Mr. Crowley mentioned the Town hasn’t paved roads in a couple of years so it can’t be too long before it will be looking at some real problems. 

Mr. Mooney agreed doing a number of smaller projects might be better than just one and said when a special project is completed, it doesn’t have to be touched again for a very long time. 

To Ms Rix’s suggestion that the two Road Commissioners make a list of the roads that require work, list what their existing condition is and which should be done first, Mr. Mooney explained that the Road Committee will be receiving such a list from the DOT and it will include what work should be done on the roads listed.

To a comment that plowing Milton Mills Road is difficult because of its condition, Mr. Hodgdon said if the Town puts up one-third of the cost, the State will repave it, but the Town doesn’t have that kind of money to spend. 

To Mr. Hodgdon’s suggest that rather than pave, possibly shimming could be done on all of the Town roads, Mr. Winchell explained that was considered, but with his project [Same Page Road] shimming wouldn’t work which is why it became a special project. 

To a comment that Milton Mills Road is a State owned road, Mr. Winchell said there is nothing the Town can do with that road because the State deals with FEMA.  He said he told FEMA there is a job that is required for Milton Mills Road which the Town has decided to repair.  He stated FEMA said the Town could possibly be reimbursed for the work and that he should give them the exact figures.  He said while it will only cost $200 to $300, getting a number of the small projects reimbursed will add up.

Ms Rix felt Goose Pond Road could wait as it isn’t as bad as some other roads and possibly shimming it will be all that is necessary at this time.

Mr. Long explained the Town stopped paving because of  the economy as well as a plan should be developed which is what the Road Commissioners are doing with the Road Committee.  He felt if there is a plan in place, the Town might put paving into the budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year.  He said the Road Commissioners can do whatever they think is right with the special project funds.  He stated there have been a lot of complaints about Sam Page Road, therefore, the Town will move forward there.  He advised that he hasn’t made any suggestions to the Road Commissioners as to what special project they should do for the coming year. 

Ms Rix mentioned that the special projects will be a separate Warrant Article.  She thought it is easy to see that that Sam Page Road needs attention and more than likely will pass.

To Ms Rix’s question whether the funding for Goose Pond Road could be spent to repair more roads, Mr. Mooney said he installed the guard rails there and almost all the ditching and winter sand removal has been done.  He stated he would like to remove the ledge which will allow him to lay the final coat of pavement and it will be done for a long time.  He mentioned that road gets a lot of traffic.  He felt that would be a real capital improvement.  He said both his and Mr. Winchell’s projects have been discussed and approved by the Road Committee.

Mr. Crowley said he would go with the Road Commissioners’ recommendations since they know where the work needs to be done.

Mr. Hodgdon advised the list of roads from the State should be in this week and if the Town doesn’t do what is necessary, the DEP will come in and do it and then send the Town the bill for the work.

Mr. Long said both the Road Commissioners and the Road Committee have done more work and research within the last year than has been down within the last 50 years, therefore, when the work is completed, everyone will know that everything that is available has been found. 

At this time, there was a very brief discussion about the fact that since a good deal of the people who own property in Town aren’t residents possibility they could be allowed to vote on these kind of issues. 

2.         Town Treasurer – Cheri Smith, Town Treasurer, explained the Deputy Treasurer is included in the  “non-supervisory wages” account which are Jennifer Roux and Michelle Rumney.  She mentioned that account contains $3,000 for those people.  She pointed out that this budget is 3% and $18 less than the current fiscal year.

Mr. Long advised the Auditor suggested the Town cross-train the employees.  He said Ms Rumney fills in when Ms Smith is out and Ms Roux is the Deputy Treasurer for the purpose of collecting delinquent taxes and she works extra hours for that position.  He explained when Ms Roux performs certain duties even though she holds a salaried position.  He said he would like to see some policies that cover the Auditor’s suggestions. 

 

To Mr. Moore’s comment there is a $500 increase in the training account, Ms Smith explained the Selectmen suggested that she increase her budget and she felt that would be the best place to put the increase.  She explained that she works an average of 38 hours a week.  She mentioned she won’t receive the new health insurance rates until August, but she budgeted for a 12 to 14% increase.  She said last year it was increased by 30% which is when they went to a lower priced policy that increased the employees’ deductible while maintaining the same coverage.  She mentioned that while she allots money for insurance for herself, she doesn’t take it, but wants to be covered in the event her husband doesn’t have it in the future.

 D.        OTHER BUSINESS – There was no other business to come before the Committee.

 E.         NEXT MEETING

It was noted the Warrant & Finance Committee will meet on Tuesday, April 20, 2010, at at the Acton Town Hall to continue their review of the municipal budget.

F.         ADJOURNMENT – The Meeting was adjourned at .

 

                                                                                    Respectfully submitted,

                                                                                    ____________________________

                                                                                    ANNA M. WILLIAMS, Recording Secretary