NOTES OF AUGUST 28, 2017 RYE BOARD OF SELECTMEN MEETING
Final Revision B – Provided by the Rye Civic League
Present (clockwise around table): Town Administrator Michael Magnant, Selectmen Craig Musselman, Priscilla Jenness and Phil Winslow, Finance Director Cyndi Gillespie.
Also present and sitting in the audience or the lobby outside: Police Chief Kevin Walsh, Interim Fire Chief Tom Lambert, Public Works Director Dennis McCarthy,
Persons present from the public included: Steven Borne, Deb Crapo, Peter Crawford, Alan Gould, Elizabeth Sanborn, Von Sanborn, Jenny Sears.
Editor’s note: For ease in finding particular sections using the archived video and audio on the Town website, the elapsed time is indicated. Use the slider and the elapsed time indicated at the bottom of the video window to fast forward to the desired section. Videos on the Town website may currently be accessed at www.town.rye.nh.us by clicking on “Town Hall Streaming” at the bottom left of the screen. Follow the link for “Town Hall Live Streaming,” then find the meeting by date under “Previous.”
The video starts at 6:30:36 p.m. (0:00 elapsed).
2. A doctor or registered nurse is being sought to serve on the Seacoast Cancer Cluster Investigation Commission, formed by State legislation. Apply prior to the next Board of Selectmen meeting on September 11.
4. Numerous residents were present to complain about safety issues on Dow Ln., many proposing that it be made a dead end. Despite repeated attempts to get the selectmen to agree to next steps and a timetable, Selectman Musselman said that it would appear on the agenda if and when they decide to take up the issue again.
There were no announcements.
Public comment (0:44 elapsed)
Selectman Musselman said that Dow Ln. could be discussed when that agenda item arises. He warned that the purpose of the public comment period is not to ask questions. The last couple of times, comments have gone on for 20-25 minutes. In the future, these will be limited to the five minutes per person allotted, he said.
Deb Crapo complained about the new assessed valuations and said that the contract assessing firm is using appraised values, not assessed values. She said that her land is valued at $.5 million, but, the next street over, the land is valued for much less. My taxes will go up almost 40 percent, while the town in general is up 14 percent, she said.
Steven Borne expressed hope that the appointment to the Seacoast Cancer Cluster Investigation Commission would be made later, and that it will only be announced tonight. He also voiced various concerns with the Master Plan process, and said that the town needs to “up its game” on planning.
Sealing of minutes (9:09 elapsed)
The motion to seal the minutes of the non-public session on August 22, 2017 carried unanimously.
All four items were unanimously approved. None were taken off of the agenda.
Minutes (10:30 elapsed)
The minutes of the August 14, 2017 meeting were unanimously approved with changes. Selectman Musselman commented that he had no idea what he was saying when he said that the Superintendent has purview over Rye Elementary School. The issue of decision making regarding the schools needs to be researched, he said. The minutes of the non-public session of the same day were unanimously approved without changes. The minutes of the public and non-public meetings of August 22, 2017 were unanimously approved without changes.
Chief Cotreau was present with his wife Priscilla. He said that he had started his career in Dover, NH in 1981 and that he graduated from the New Hampshire Fire Academy. He said that he is excited about moving to the area.
Town Administrator Magnant said that it was not yet Interim Fire Chief Tom Lambert’s last day, but thanked him for his service. He also thanked Alan Gould who, he said, had conducted the search at cost. Editor’s note: Mr. Gould is Rye’s former Police Chief and Town Administrator. He then read some of the comments that Mr. Gould’s firm, MRI, had received when talking to references.
Selectman Musselman said that the Selectmen have a copy of HB484 in their packets. That bill set up this Commission. There are Senate and House appointments and obligations for appointments from the minority and majority parties, he said. He said that someone with a medical background would be preferred. He suggests that volunteers be requested, with responses due prior to the next Board of Selectmen meeting.
Selectman Winslow agreed and said that they should be proactive. He referred to Tom Sherman and Burt Dibble as medical doctors who are possible candidates. Editor’s note: Dr. Sherman was recently the State Representative for Rye, but ran unsuccessfully for State Senate rather than for re-election to his House seat. Dr. Dibble is a member of the Rye Zoning Board of Adjustment.
Other possible candidates who are medical doctors were mentioned. Selectman Musselman said that a Registered Nurse might also qualify.
Infrared repairs to Wallis Rd. (29:55 elapsed)
Public Works Director Dennis McCarthy said that Felix Marine had presented options. They are willing to do the small project. The Town has no experience with the infrared process, which involves bringing in propane heaters and adding asphalt. Heating is done to two inches deep. Repairs should be done when the temperature is above 40 degrees and rising. He said that Greenland finds road repair more challenging due to monetary issues. If Rye were to repave both Wallis and Sagamore Roads it would consume an entire year’s paving budget, he said.
Selectman Winslow said that he would like a quarterly update on use of the $119,000 in Highway Block Grant funds. Editor’s note: See the notes of the August 14, 2017 meeting during which a grant of approximately this amount for additional funding, from the State surplus, was accepted.
The motion of Selectman Musselman to authorize entering into the contract with Felix carried unanimously.
Town Administrator Magnant said that he had put this on the agenda as he had not heard back from the attorney for the Coalition. He has since heard back, and there is a legislative committee that will be studying school funding. Thus, the town probably should still provide its contribution of $5000 per year.
Selectman Musselman explained the history. Rye residents were once on the hook for significant taxes. A total of 35 property rich towns, including Wolfeboro, Portsmouth, New Castle and Newington participate in the Coalition, he said. Editor’s note: In response to the Claremont decision of the New Hampshire Supreme Court, that determined that funding local education solely through local property taxes unconstitutionally deprived residents of property poor towns of their constitutional rights, a state-wide property tax was instituted. While that state-wide tax is still on the books, and in fact, still appears as a $2.49 per $1000 assessed valuation charge on the most recent tax bills, in reality, Rye is able to keep all of the funds that it collects from this tax. As recently as 2004, however, Rye had to remit over $2 million to the State to be used to fund education in property poor School Districts. Rye was considered a “donor town” as it was property rich.
Policy on interest on overdue taxes (39:37 elapsed)
Town Finance Director Cyndi Gillespie said that the auditors had noticed that there is no written policy on this. While the process under the policy is not changing from past practice, there was some confusion with the change in the Tax Collector as to her authority to waive interest.
Selectman Musselman referred to a maximum $25 waiver authority without Board of Selectman approval. He said that there had been a circumstance this year where a notice of taxes due was not mailed to the correct address due to a change of address. In addition, his own tax payment had been credited to the wrong account. He suggested that these sorts of situations could always be handled by the Tax Collector without Board of Selectman involvement.
Selectman Winslow asked what the Town’s cost of borrowing would be if it used it. Ms. Gillespie responded that it was about 3 percent. Selectman Winslow expressed concern that residents are being hit with 12 percent interest. Ms. Gillespie said that the rate is specified by State law. When refunds are issued, these are subject to 6 percent interest, she said.
All were in favor of approving the policy, as modified by Selectman Musselman’s comment.
Notary/Justice of the Peace fees (45:08 elapsed)
Under this policy, the discussion was that the Town will pay for the expenses of town employees who become notaries. It was revealed that there is no charge to Rye residents and property owners for this service.
Ms. Gillespie stated that there are three persons in the Town Clerk’s office who are notaries, and three more “upstairs.” The cost is $75, but it is not annual. Mr. Magnant said that certifications are good for ten years.
All were in favor of approving the policy.
Policy on use of the Town Seal (48:00 elapsed)
Town Administrator Magnant said that the Heritage Commission is planning a fund raiser in which baseball caps and t-shirts would be sold, potentially with the town seal. He inquired of the Town Attorney, who said that the decision was up to the Board of Selectmen, he said.
Selectman Musselman referred to a long policy against corporate logos on banners in Rye. A couple of years ago, there was a mailing to raise money for Town Hall that had a realtor’s logo on it. The Rye Historical Society is allowed to sell the Town Flag, which includes the Town Seal, he said.
Selectman Jenness noted that many responses to the Town’s requests for proposal include the Town Seal. Selectman Musselman noted that his firm does this with their proposals.
Selectman Winslow asked what protection could be obtained if the Town Seal is registered or copyrighted.
Mr. Magnant said that the Town Attorney would have to look into that, as it is not his area of expertise.
Selectman Jenness suggested that a policy be drafted. Selectman Winslow nodded in agreement.
Selectman Musselman said that there had been a good discussion, they appreciated their interest and understood the point. He said that they would “go from here.”
Someone in the audience asked whether it would come up at a later Selectmen’s meeting.
Selectman Musselman responded “it will be on the agenda if it’s on the agenda and you’ll see that as it’s posted.” We’ll encourage you to come when it’s on the agenda, he said.
There was discussion about making Dow Lane one way.
Jenny Sears suggested some interim ideas to improve safety that were not viewed favorably by the Selectmen. Ms. Sears said that she had been plowed into from behind by a car going 45 m.p.h. while she was trying to pull into her driveway. It is a serious problem right now, she said.
Chief Walsh said that a ticket had been issued for distracted driving to the person.
Jenny Sears again asked whether anything could be done in the interim.
Selectman Musselman laughed and said “tonight?” He added that it was being discussed for the first time.
Selectman Winslow suggested rumble strips. Chief Walsh said that the thought would be brought up in a meeting with the State, which has jurisdiction of the possible location for the strips.
Letter to State on Harbor Rd. bridge (131:04 elapsed)
Public Works Director Dennis McCarthy asked the Selectman to sign a document relating to the Harbor Rd. bridge. That will start the process, he said.
Selectman Musselman guessed that the bridge might be funded in 2026.
Editor’s note: See the notes of the May 10, 2017, May 22, 2017 and June 12, 2017 meetings. The weight limit for this bridge has been reduced, following an engineering study of various options to improve the bridge that determined that the bridge is structurally deficient. This will likely have the greatest impact on cement and rock trucks, although oil trucks and septage trucks will likely need to schedule their bridge crossings for times when they are not full. Because of the possibility of using state funds, that would not be available for a number of years, acting immediately to resolve the problem, using solely town funds, was rejected.
Public Works Director Dennis McCarthy said that the bid opening on this had occurred. He did not reveal the amount. Selectman Musselman raised his eyebrows when the low bidder was revealed. Editor’s note: 2017 Warrant Article 10, which passed 916-628, provides $125,000 for the paving of this dirt road, between Parsons Rd. and Ocean Blvd.
Mr. McCarthy said that 550 to 800 lineal feet is involved. It has been determined that it is all ledge, he said.
Town Finance Director Cyndi Gillespie addressed this issue. She said that the new Assistant Building Inspector would be starting September 11. The idea is that the Building Inspector, Peter Rowell, would work out of the old Recreation office.
Selectman Musselman asked why access could not occur within the building. Ms. Gillespie responded that it could, but would need to be through Janice Ireland’s office.
Town Administrator Magnant said that the current hand rail is not ADA compliant.
Ms. Gillespie referred to the difficulty of obtaining responses to small RFPs (requests for proposal). She also spoke about moving her office to the former Sewer office, and providing a drop ceiling for privacy.
That led to discussion about heating and cooling the office if it is enclosed.
Selectman Winslow asked whether the expenditure would be precluded due to non-passage of the warrant article on Town Hall. Editor’s note: 2017 Article 30, to provide $500,000 for town hall improvements, including handicapped access, windows, and energy efficiency, failed to pass 874-702. Under N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. 32:8, also known as “no means no,” no money may be expended for a purpose for which no appropriation was made, which is the case when a warrant article fails to pass.
Selectman Musselman said that he did not believe that the expenditure would be precluded. He asked about the cost to rent a trailer.
Town Administrator Magnant said that they already had those costs.
Ms. Gillespie said that the modifications would not be done by September 11, but could perhaps be done by November.
Selectman Musselman asked how they know that the expenditure would not run afoul of “no means no.” He also asked whether anything constructed would need to meet code. He also asked about approval of the Historic District Commission.
Mr. Magnant said that the Town is not under the purview of the HDC, but in the past has brought issues to them anyway.
Selectman Musselman said that a courtesy review would be appropriate. He said a drawing was needed. He asked whether the HDC would approve composite materials rather than wood.
Mr. Magnant referred to holes in the Town Hall siding. They are hoping to get a contractor in to deal with. There are birds in the attic. Last year there were squirrels and mice as well, he said.
Ms. Gillespie said that she would get a sketch of the proposed changes to the stairway from Peter Rowell.
Adjournment (155:54 elapsed)
Whereupon the meeting adjourned at approximately 9:07 p.m.