Back to Board of Selectmen Meeting Minutes
December 19, 2011
5:09 PM - Open Session
North Hearing Room 3rd Floor, Hingham Town Hall
Present: John A. Riley, Chairman; Laura M. Burns; Bruce Rabuffo; Ted Alexiades, Town Administrator; and Betty Foley, Assistant Town Administrator
With a quorum present, Chairman Riley called the meeting to order and reviewed the order of the agenda.
Questions from the Public: There were no questions from the public.
Reaffirming the Vote to Continue to Tax All Classes of Property at a Single Rate – Rick Nowlan: Richard Nowlan, Director of Assessing, stated that the Town received approval from the state of property values for fiscal year 2012. He summarized the Selectmen's recent discussion and vote to tax all classes of property at a single rate for 2012, and he requested a reaffirmation of that vote in order to comply with Department of Revenue guidelines. Mr. Rabuffo noted that he and Mr. Nowlan will be meeting to discuss the most recent property assessments.
Voted – A motion was made by Ms. Burns and seconded by Mr. Rabuffo to continue to tax all classes of property at a single rate. A vote was taken and all were in favor; the motion passed.
Town Clerk on Re-precincting and Effect of Sub-precinct 6A: Eileen McCracken, Town Clerk, reported that she just was informed that due to reprecincting from the 2010 census, the Town's sub-precinct of Linden Ponds and the surrounding streets will no longer be considered separately. Now Linden Ponds will be in Precinct 5 and the surrounding streets in Precinct 6. She presented three possible options: keep the Precincts as they stand now, separate Linden Ponds from Precinct 5 and have it as a sub-Precinct, or separate Linden Ponds from Precinct 5 and the surrounding streets from Precinct 6 and have a sub-precinct as before. Discussion followed. The consensus of the Board was for the Town Clerk to send a letter to the voters on the surrounding streets, asking for their input and a response within two weeks, and to revisit the issue at the Board's next meeting on January 3rd. There was no public comment.
Town Clerk/Elections: Eileen McCracken, Town Clerk, presented a level funded FY2013 budget request in the amount of $173,288, which is a .59 percent decrease over FY2012. Mr. Alexiades noted that the request does not include a 2 percent wage increase for inflation, which the Personnel Board has not yet reviewed. One town meeting is budgeted. With respect to Elections, the requested FY2013 budget is $35,010 with an additional request for $500, which represents a 13.91 percent decrease over FY2012. Ms. McCracken discussed the anticipated decrease in postage/mailing requirements and the addition of $500 for custodian services for special elections.
Engineering: Mr. Alexiades recommended a FY2013 Project Engineering budget that is an approximate 20 percent increase over FY2012. The department request is $371,968 with an additional request of $326,000 for paving supplies; the Town Administrator's recommendation is $446,968, which includes only $75,000 of the $326,000 additional amount requested Roger Fernandes, Projects Engineer, reviewed the paving line item. Discussion followed regarding funding sources, Chapter 9 funding, the effect of the cost of oil, escalation clauses in asphalt contracts, and the inability to do as many roads due to increased costs. Mr. Fernandes stated that Chapter 9 funding is used for the roads and not engineering. Discussion followed regarding the number of roads that the department is capable of doing in one year assuming full funding, staffing, public tolerance, the ability to ever have roads no lower than "B," and the 25-year schedule.
Discussion followed regarding the landfill. Mr. Fernandes said that the project essentially is complete and demobilized, the department should be able to hit the target number, it is going through the final series of gas testing for DEP, some seeding touchup will be done in the spring, and final approval from the state is anticipated in the next few weeks. Mr. Alexiades commended Mr. Fernandes on the work, noting that the original estimate was $2.6 million and the actual cost essentially is at $1.7 million. Mr. Fernandes discussed the consultant's participation and help, and he thanked his coworkers and the residents for their patience.
Mr. Fernandes reported that the Derby Street traffic lights are up, and they will remain on flash for approximately two weeks as a safety precaution. He stated that the project did not come in under budget due to hitting ledge, the Verizon strike, snow, the hurricane and other issues, but the costs will not be borne by the Town.
Public Works/Transfer Station: Mr. Alexiades stated that the total Public Works and Facilities budget request in the amount of $2,666,169 is a 1.97 percent increase over FY2012 and keeps within the 2 percent guideline. Randy Sylvester, Superintendent, stated that the modified level funded budget includes contractual salary increases and increased fuel costs, and a decrease in repair of roads and sidewalks and in repair of drainage. He noted that the budget is weather dependent. Discussion followed regarding the two fuel budgets--one for snow and the other for regular maintenance, sand and salt supplies, the trend line, and the decrease in the road building budget coming from pothole and drainage repairs. Mr. Sylvester requested that funding be added back for these repairs if it would be possible. Discussion followed regarding maintenance of a repair list, EPA and DEP requirements, and unfunded mandates. Ms. Burns acknowledged the weather-dependent nature of the budget and reaffirmed the Board's road building priority; she encouraged Mr. Sylvester to come back if funds are needed. Mr. Sylvester stated that the Irene rain storm impacted their salary funds, he is working on recovering money from FEMA, and that he may need a reserve fund transfer in the spring.
With respect to the Transfer Station, Mr. Sylvester noted that with the turnover in personnel, salaries are down even with the 2 percent increase; the trash contract rate was negotiated downward but will be going up about 3 percent; vehicle fuel is up; communications for a supervisor was added; recycling costs increased about 25 percent due to electronics recycling; the recycling vendor is working on a beneficial use determination which could reduce the rate; and the cost of maintaining the DPW equipment is up. Mr. Rabuffo commended Mr. Sylvester on his efforts. Mr. Sylvester reported that the scale receipts are coming in very well, the scale is used on a regular basis, and the projected income this year for the Town is around $50,000 and close to $100,000 in recycling.
Sewer: Mr. Sylvester noted that he has already presented the budget request to the Sewer Commission, the Commission endorses it, salaries are up contractually, they were able to reduce vehicle and building maintenance and repair expenses, electric usage is reduced, there is an additional cost for office computers, and the MWRA assessment is up. Mr. Alexiades stated that overall the Sewer budget is up about $30,000, it is close to his original projections, capital outlay is not included, the MWRA service charge is not under their ability to control, and they have increased efficiencies with no reduction in the service level. Mr. Sylvester stated that utilization of manpower is working well, he is looking at a training program for some employees, and the MWRA increase goes into a rate formula used by Sewer Commission. Discussion followed regarding future projects.
Bathing Beach: Mr. Alexiades recommended the requested budget of $22,526, which is the same amount for FY2012. Tom Foley, Chair of the Trustees of the Bathing Beach, reported on an estimate of $43,000 to extend stone to prevent further erosion, and an estimate to replace the septic. Mr. Alexiades stated that the stone work is for significant erosion that has occurred and might have to be considered as part of the capital budget. The Town is still pursuing legislation for the bathhouse lease. Discussion followed regarding the Seaport Grant and permitting for the stone work.
Library: Mr. Alexiades stated the FY2013 budget request from the Library is $1,336,125, with an additional request of $21,048; his recommendation is $1,339,253, or a .68 percent increase over FY2012. He noted that the numbers do not include a 2 percent wage increase as the Library has not completed contract negotiations. Dennis Corcoran, Director, discussed the three budgets he prepared, the negative impacts of the 2 percent reduction budget, and the modified level funding budget not reflecting wage settlements for FY2012 or 2011 which the Library is in the process of negotiating. He stated that the budget as recommended by the Town Administrator does not require cuts or layoffs. He reviewed adjustments on gas usage, an increase in the Old Colony Network fee due mostly to increased business, an increase in custodial supplies for electric hand dryers, a second request for new funding for Sunday hours, the e-book phenomena, Hingham being the second largest lender of e-books in the network, parking, an upsurge in the community use of meeting rooms, the challenge of funding library materials, running an annual fund drive, looking for alternative sources of revenues, the age of the building and mechanical equipment, needing to look at how personnel is employed, and the Trustees' need to dip into endowment funds for at least the past five to seven years. Mr. Alexiades commended Mr. Corcoran for doing good work in his department which also is being used elsewhere, such as the snow-on-roof policy. Discussion followed regarding the books and periodicals line item being $0. Mr. Corcoran reviewed funding through the corporation budget operated by the Trustees, meeting the state standard but struggling, waivers on the municipal side, and the requirement to meet a standard. Discussion followed regarding the waiver and the large increases in electric usage. Mr. Corcoran stated that the library is an electric intense building, and he and the Energy Committee are continuing to work on recommendations.
Veterans Services/Celebrations/GAR Hall: Mr. Alexiades stated that this is a unique budget and includes regionalization with the Town of Scituate. He reviewed the structural changes in operations, and the overall almost 7 percent budget increase due largely to benefits as veterans benefits which are administered predominantly at the local level. Keith Jermyn, Veterans' Service Officer, explained the 55 percent Hingham/45 percent Scituate split, a downward shift in expenses, changes in cemetery markings, and an assumption of 24 additional client months. Mr. Alexiades stated that the Town receives 75 percent reimbursement of expenses, and any grant money received for regionalization will be outside of this budget. The Board expressed their appreciation to Mr. Jermyn and to Jon Asher for all of his help.
With respect to Celebrations, Mr. Jermyn assumed a 2 percent price increase in expenses for several line items, a level services budget is a 4.5 percent cut from FY2012, and several costs have been absorbed for Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
With respect to GAR Hall, Mr. Jermyn stated that there are no personnel costs, and a level services budget is a 2.2 percent cut from FY2012. Mr. Jermyn discussed the program with the School Department and noted that 2013 will be the 125th anniversary of GAR Hall.
Hearing on the Request for Entertainment License – Hai Phong, Inc. d/b/a Zendo Asian Bistro & Lounge: Do Le, president and manager of Zendo Asian Bistro & Lounge, was present. He stated that business is slower, and he would like to increase business by offering customers music and bring more people to the Shipyard. Ms. Burns noted that his proposed hours are every day to closing but questioned what kind of music he is proposing. Mr. Le stated he requested every day because he was uncertain of the process, and he would plan on weekends first with jazz and popular music. Chairman Riley asked if would be a live band or DJ; Mr. Le said it would rotate depending on what the customers like. Mr. Le said that he originally was planning on allowing dancing, but due to the ABCC, building, fire, planning and Board of Selectmen approvals needed, he is not going to pursue it. Mr. Rabuffo stated that the Police Department has concerns and he would recommend trying weekends only to start. Mr. Le stated that liquor service ends at 12:00; Ms. Burns suggested ending entertainment at the same time. Ms. Burns asked if the music will be heard from the outside; Mr. Le replied "No." Ms. Burns recommended that he work with neighbors, both residents and other business people. Chairman Riley noted that the Board has 30 days to act on the request. He recommended that the Board take the matter under advisement to allow Mr. Le to get input from the Police Chief and the Building Inspector and to come back to the Board on January 10th. There was no public comment.
Municipal Health Insurance: A. To see whether or not the Board of Selectmen will vote to accept the provisions of sections 21 through 23 of Chapter 32B of the Massachusetts General Laws as provided in section 21(a) of Chapter 32B; and B. To see whether or not the Board of Selectmen will vote to implement and engage in the process to change health insurance benefits under sections 21 through 23 of Chapter 32B of the Massachusetts General Laws: Mr. Alexiades stated that tonight is the first step for the Town of Hingham to adopt and use new healthcare legislation that the state has afforded cities and towns to mitigate their budgets. His understanding is that on January 6th Mayflower Health will meet regarding a new plan, with a vote expected on January 12th. The Town needs to adopt the state provisions in order to proceed with the process; preliminary data shows the Town will save in gross $1.3 million by adopting this plan; and the real issue is how to allocate the savings between the Town and the employee groups. Mr. Alexiades discussed the current and past practice of a 50/50 split, a disproportionate part of savings accruing to the benefit of the Town because of deductibles, GIC's being cheaper because of higher deductibles and tiered systems, and the law requiring the Town to negotiate with PEC on how to allocate the savings. He recommended that the Town approach PEC with a long-term plan wherein the Town and employees continue to share equally. He also reviewed options for the use of the savings, the tight timeframes, the need to provide notices, not foreseeing coming back to the Board for a formal vote until the end of the process, the quoted savings being based on 2012, and not having exact numbers until January. Discussion followed regarding doctors in the GIC and doctors under the Mayflower plan. Mr. Alexiades stated that he will come back to the Board if Mayflower does not adopt the plan. Ms. Burns acknowledged the anticipated level of employee anxiety and stated that employee education will be key. Mr. Rabuffo agreed that information and education will be critical.
Michael Menten, representing Hingham Light, requested the Board to postpone the matter, stating that he has not had time to explain this to Hingham Light's union members. Ms. Burns responded that the vote tonight is to begin talks and explore plans, not to decide on how it will end up. Mr. Alexiades stated that after Mayflower's vote on January 12th, he will have plan designs and rates and will distribute them to Mr. Menten and the employees. Mr. Alexiades reiterated that the process can be stopped, and a final decision is needed in April.
Sean Cavanaugh, representing Police patrolmen and superiors, reviewed the history of the IAC and the hiring of a consultant. He requested a delay on action tonight having received the timeline only six days ago in to meet with the consultant to discuss savings that will be realized to each person. The Board and Mr. Alexiades reiterated that no specific savings and calculations of benefits will not be available until Mayflower votes on January 12th. Discussion followed regarding tabling the matter until January 3rd.
Bill McIntyre, representing the Fire Department, reviewed his membership history, the history of changes in the health insurance provided, and the zero percent increase given to the Department. He spoke against the Board's proposed action, stating that it is too hard to explain to employees without further details. Mr. Rabuffo and Mr. Alexiades both reiterated that this process, once started, can be stopped.
Ms. Burns offered a delay in the Board's action; Mr. Menten declined.
Voted – A motion was made by Mr. Rabuffo and seconded by Ms. Burns that the Board accepts the provisions of sections 21 through 23 of Chapter 32B of the Massachusetts General Laws as provided in section 21(a) of Chapter 32B. A vote was taken and all were in favor; the motion passed.
Voted – A motion was made by Ms. Burns and seconded by Mr. Rabuffo that the Board implements and engages in the process to change health insurance benefits under sections 21 through 23 of Chapter 32B of the Massachusetts General Laws. A vote was taken and all were in favor; the motion passed.
Appointments: Voted – A motion was made by Mr. Rabuffo and seconded by Ms. Burns to reappoint Elizabeth Rockoff to the Historical Commission for a three-year term ending in 2014. A vote was taken and all were in favor; the motion passed.
Voted – A motion was made by Ms. Burns and seconded by Mr. Rabuffo to reappoint Stephen Swett to the Historical Commission for a three-year term ending in 2014. A vote was taken and all were in favor; the motion passed.
Voted – A motion was made by Mr. Rabuffo and seconded by Ms. Burns to appoint Kim Preveza a member of the Hingham Cultural Council to fill an unexpired term ending in 2012. A vote was taken and all were in favor; the motion passed.
Voted – A motion was made by Ms. Burns and seconded by Mr. Rabuffo to appoint Joan Iovino to the Council on Aging for a three-year term ending in 2014. A vote was taken and all were in favor; the motion passed.
Voted – A motion was made by Mr. Rabuffo and seconded by Ms. Burns to appoint Jeff Weggeman a member of the Veterans' Council to fill an unexpired term ending in 2012. A vote was taken and all were in favor; the motion passed.
Voted – A motion was made by Ms. Burns and seconded by Mr. Rabuffo appoint Kathleen Peters to the Community Preservation Committee to fill an unexpired term ending in 2014. A vote was taken and all were in favor; the motion passed.
Selectmen/Town Administrator's Reports: None.
Adjourn: Voted – A motion was made by Ms. Burns and seconded by Mr. Rabuffo to adjourn. A vote was taken and all were in favor; the motion passed.
The open session adjourned at 8:34PM.
Laurie Zivkovich, Clerk Pro Tem
Documents (a complete meeting packet of supporting documentation is on file and available for public review in the Board of Selectmen's office):
1. Town of Hingham FY2013 Budget Workbook
2. Memo dated December 13, 2011 from Eileen McCracken to Board of Selectmen regarding re-precincting.
3. Memo dated December 15, 2011 from Laurie Zivkovich to Board of Selectmen RE: Hai Phong, Inc. d/b/a Zendo Asian Bistro and Lounge – Application for Entertainment License
4. Health Insurance Reform Important Updates
Approved: January 3, 2012