Back to Board of Selectmen Meeting Minutes 2008
Board of Selectmen - Meeting Minutes
January 22, 2008
Regular Session 7:00
Ms. Tully, Mr. Riley, Ms. Burns
Collective Bargaining Agreements
Ms. Harris explained that the FS-1 and FS-2 positions needed an equity adjustment to bring into line with the 19 towns. Hingham was below the median. The paramedics salary level was very low. The Town was in last place of the 13 communities with paramedic service. The stipend for EMTs and ride pay was also increased. Additionally,
The Personnel Board recommended a general increase for each of the next three years. Fire Department representative Bill MacIntyre thanked everyone for the atmosphere of negotiations.
Mr. Ross reviewed the provisions of the recommended police patrolmen’s contract.
The bargaining agreement provides for an equity adjustment effective July 1, 2007 as well as three general wage increases on July 1 of each year. The longevity pay provision that was frozen in 1998 has been unfrozen. Officer Tracy thanked the Personnel Board for their hard work.
Voted - to sign a Memorandum of Agreement between the New England Police Benevolent Association, AFL-CIO, Local 70 and the Town for the period July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2010.
Voted - to sign a Memorandum of agreement between the Hingham Permanent Firefighters Association, Local 2398, and the Town for the period July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2010.
Ms. Gregoire informed the Board that the enrollment study commissioned in 2004 predicted enrollment growth due to the echo effect of Linden Ponds and Shipyard developments. A citizens committee began a master planning process and the January 2006 the report was adopted unanimously. This report included recommendations for improvements to Plymouth River and Foster Schools, building a new elementary school as well as improvements and an addition to the Middle School.
Mr. Killory requested the Selectmen call a special town meeting this spring. The School Building Assistance program has been reviewing applications and at its November 28 meeting the MSBA put Hingham and six other schools in the top group of schools for funding. By placing Hingham in the top category this acknowledges the project is a state priority and that the master plan has been done properly. The Schools are continuing to work with MSBA staff to arrive at a final scope and budget. No contract will be awarded until final approval is received from MSBA. The school master plan called for the improvements to Plymouth River School and Foster School. These improvements such as hvac, roofs, windows and lighting will cost $3.5 million for each school and are not subject to state funding. The School Committee did submit statements of interest for both of the schools however the demand for state funding was far in excess of available revenue. The MSBA will consider only one project per community. Since the Middle School is the next highest priority, awaiting state funding would push off improvements to Plymouth River and Foster for quite some time. There are currently 878 students and the Middle School with a target of 750. As an interim solution the School committee has proposed five modular classrooms as of next September. .
Mr. Riley asked if this expansion would be necessary if class size were to be increased to 25 or 26. Mr. Killory explained that there are already classes in the Middle School with more than 25 students. By not expanding capacity specialists would continue to run in inferior or non-existent spaces. At 850+ students there is not room for class size reduction and no room for program expansion.
Most of the Plymouth River and Foster interior improvements cannot be done until the opening of the new elementary school eases the overcrowding. The work would be done over two summers. The scope of these improvements came at the urging of the Capital
January 22, 2008
Outlay Committee, Selectmen and Advisory Committee. The funding of $3.5 million each would not be eligible for state reimbursement any time soon. Hingham’s is the only new construction project going forward. The next project the Town is likely to submit to the School Building Authority is the Middle School. Since we are still being reimbursed for a project at the Middle School it may take a while to get that underway. The interim solution of modulars will buy 5 years, which will allow an opportunity to review the impact of shipyard, etc.
Mr. Killory noted that according to MSBA standards we are overcrowded compared with other towns. There is a metric of how many square feet per student is adequate; we do not meet that. He also said that the Town has advanced to the final step in the approval process and that the minimum is 40% reimbursement. The MSBA Board meeting is scheduled for the end of March.
Ms. Tully said the Town should be proud of the work done by the Building Committee, School Committee and the administration to plan for the Town and taking a strong leadership role in showing the School Building Authority how this can be done. Not only does the MSBA agree that there is not enough space and they also agree that the student census will remain high. The fact that Hingham has been chosen as the first school to go forward emphasizes the need. Because the MSBA said a single project must be chosen, the new elementary school seemed to be the logical choice. Ms. Tully said it was apparent that the list of projects for Plymouth River and Foster Elementary Schools and the modular classrooms for the Middle School were going to be very hard to do under the normal capital outlay process. Bonding the debt for these improvements will allow the Town to do other things with capital monies.
Ms. Tully said the need for a town meeting must be coordinated with the MSBA schedule. Statute requires a certain amount of notice for the ballot question as well as for the special town meeting. The statutes governing the MSBA process require that they have input into how the article will be written. Town Counsel and the MSBA counsel are working on the ballot questions. Bond counsel is also becoming involved. She said for purposes of projection the Town could safely use a 40% reimbursement figure. The final piece is the approval of the MSBA Board. This project may go forward to town meeting but the construction cannot go forward until the MSBA Board has met and a funding agreement is signed.
Mr. Killory said the Town has done some prequalification of contractors and sub contractors. It was necessary to start that process in November in order to begin February and March bidding. The bid opening will be March 19. Zoning is in place as are the Conservation Commission and Planning Board approvals. He said there had been concern about the construction time frame but it is a clean site and the architect and project manager have presented a good case for delivery on time. A May 2008 construction start would lead September 2009 occupancy. Mr. Killory explained that there has been a moratorium and the large construction firms are interested in the project – 9 have been pre-qualified.
Ms. Tully noted that School Committee recommends a Feb 25 Special Town Meeting but at present the language for the ballot article and warrant article is not finalized. It was suggested that there be a vote that authorizes the ballot question and the election with the proviso that the attorneys agree.
Mr. Riley asked if 40% of the agreed-upon reimbursement number. The School Committee believes they are in a very competitive position. There will be a number by February 5 but it will not be a Board approved reimbursement percentage.
Ms. Burns noted that even if the Selectmen authorize the Town Clerk to print a ballot could there be a change in the date of election. The law requires that the ballot question appear on the town meeting warrant.
Ms. Meyer said there is concern about the budget predictions. She asked if there are concerns about asking people to make such a decision when there may be cuts in town departments. She also requested numbers as to the impact of the project on the tax rate.
The Board acknowledged that it is a tight operating budget but noted that a debt exclusion override is completely separate and does not affect the operating budget. The School Committee has made a very strong case for this project being need not want; the MSBA has made a strong case for need not want. Ms. Meyer said this would force people out of town.
Ms. Smith noted that the original master plan is dated January 18, 2006. The Town approved going forward with the master plan at two meetings. Nothing has changed. The Town is doing what it said it would do in a fiscally responsible way. Statements of interest were submitted; the state said move forward with one school; and that is what has been done.
Ms. Burns explained the reason there was a moratorium was that there were communities getting into trouble with the projects; there was skepticism as to whether towns were building what they needed. She said that those on the state level agree that we are building what we need. While the vote for the building project does not have an impact of the operating budget, the eventual running of the school will. Ms. Burns noted that the Town has not forgotten that this. One of the things included in the budget is a placeholder for the operating expenses of running the school in the future.
Voted - to approve a debt exclusion ballot vote on March 1, 2008 for the purpose of exempting from the provisions of Proposition two-and-one half, so called, the amounts required to pay for the bonds issued in order to design, construct and equip a new elementary school; to design, repair and improve the Plymouth River and Foster elementary schools; and to design and install new modular classrooms at the Hingham Middle School provided that final wording of the ballot language is acceptable to Counsel to the Town.
Mr. Riley made motion to appoint a harbor parking taskforce to discuss the parking issues affecting the merchants.
Voted - to create a harbor parking task force and appoint the following members:
Voted - to grant a one day liquor license to the Hingham High School Rowing Association for a fundraiser at the Hingham Community Center on March 8, 2008.
Selectmen/Town Administrator Reports
The Cable TV Committee is moving forward in discussions with Verizon. They are talking about being ready to turn on the FIOS in the next three months. The first negotiating session is tomorrow night. Ms. Burns remarked that The Boston Globe new Style magazine and the centerfold of the premier issue is about Hingham.. MBTA said there had been some miscommunication between them and Cashman. They will take down signs and fix lights. The equipment is on order for the gate issue.
Voted - by roll call vote, to adjourn to executive session to discuss contract negotiations
Ms. Burns – yes, Mr. Riley – yes, Ms. Tully – yes
Open Session adjourned 9:05 pm.
Betty Foley, Clerk