Capital Improvement Plan Public Hearing October 21, 2013 RCL Notes


Revised Final Revision C – Provided by the Rye Civic League

Present from CIP Committee:  Mae Bradshaw, Ray Jarvis, Jeanne Moynahan, Ned Paul (arrived slightly late).  Not present:  Phil Winslow

Also present:  Finance Director Cyndi Gillespie, Town Administrator Mike Magnant, Library Director Andy Richmond, , Police Chief Kevin Walsh, Fire Chief Skip Sullivan, Recreation Director Lee Arthur, Public Works Director Dennis McCarthy, Transcriptionist Dyana Ledger.

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 references herein are to the October 18, 2013 draft of the CIP Plan which appears to have been the last one available prior to the hearing.

Introduction by Chairman Ray Jarvis (0:41 elapsed)

Mr. Jarvis went over the executive summary and then went over the high points of the CIP Plan.  He emphasized that the residents approved the investments, the CIP Committee does not.  Mr. Jarvis went over the changes to the CIP Plan document and the tables that had changed and those that were added.

(10:01 elapsed:  Ned Paul arrived)

            Mr. Jarvis stated that the $3 million request from the Conservation Commission had been presented to them within the last couple of days.  The Conservation Commission is anticipating a warrant article in 2014 and the first payment in 2015.  There is a new page 25 that will include that project.

Questions and comments by Sam Winebaum (22:46 elapsed)

Mr. Winebaum stated that the CIP Plan is very well done.  The current draft of the Master Plan makes this CIP Plan challenging.  Mr. Winebaum spoke about issues of sea level rise, which might affect the sewer pumping station on Old Beach Rd.  Few of the requests reflect shared infrastructure.  An exception is the sewer connection to Hampton.

Mr. Winebaum stated that he believes that Rye has the oldest median age in the State at 49.  That may have implications, he said.

He continued ,stating that the draft does not state what is driving the need for a water treatment plant.  There should be some sort of minimal justification.

He asked whether the $250,000 salt shed would be all that is needed at the Recycling Center.

Public Works Director Dennis McCarthy explained how the funds to study the site had been requested two years ago.  While a majority of the voters approved, the measure did not receive the required supermajority.  The Board of Selectmen then determined that the funds would be taken from the operating budget the following year.

The study is currently being done by Weston and Sampson, which specializes in Public Works sites.  They now have a survey of the entire site and all of the environmental issues have been identified.  There are some substantial ones.  The site is a good one for them as it is in the middle of town.  The study will hopefully be completed by this December.  The total cost to be recommended by the study will be more than the Town wants, but a phased approach will also be suggested based on the most important environmental issues.  In his view that is the salt shed, but Weston and Sampson may have other conclusions.  A “massive” plan for the next ten years will be developed.

Mr. Winebaum suggested that issues beyond the salt shed should be penciled in.  Mr. McCarthy stated that they could not do that as the study was not yet done.

Mr. Winebaum pointed out a typo in the amount for the Recreation Community Center on page 14, which does not match the project sheet.  Ms. Arthur agreed that the figure on the project sheet was the correct one.  Mr. Winebaum suggested that the Recreation facility follow a phased approach with the ability to add to it later.

Mr. Winebaum had questions about the Conservation numbers, which do not seem to add up.  There was speculation by the Committee as to the reasons.  Editor’s note:  The Conservation Commission was invited, but sent no representative to this meeting.

Mr. Winebaum stated that the money spent on conservation has generally been well spent, but the spreadsheet on page 90 is the only evidence that the Town residents have as to what they have received for their money.  There needs to be money for stewardship, management and a master plan for all of the land.  The terminology should not be “conservation,” but “conservation, open space, trails, and non-motorized recreation and transportation.”  If land is taken out of circulation it will positively affect property values, provided that the open space is visible.

Victor Azzi’s questions and comments (45:03 elapsed)

Mr. Azzi followed up on what Mr. Winebaum had said, stating that he and Mr. Jarvis had devoted a lot of effort together on Conservation issues.  He referred to Appendix C, which relates to the $5 million already spent.  People are interested in (1) where are the restrictions to access and (2) what are the restrictions?  In some cases the residents will never see or be able to access the land.  The only benefit to them may be a savings in taxes if the land is not developed.  There should be a mapping of the parcels as some of them are connected.  That was discussed five or six years earlier.

Mr. Jarvis stated that this might be out of the province of the CIP Plan and in the province of the Master Plan.

Ms. Bradshaw stated that the book and page are listed and the deeds have further information which is public.

Sam Winebaum indicated that the members of the Conservation Commission might need help and financial resources to assemble the information as they are volunteers.

Town Administrator Magnant pointed out that the assessing clerk is starting to color the tax maps to indicate town-owned land.  He was unsure as to whether the easements are included.

Peter Crawford’s questions and comments (52:46 elapsed)

Mr. Crawford referred to page 4 of the Draft CIP Plan and the Town tax rate, which increased from $2.25 in 2007 to $3.44 in 2012, an increase of 9 percent annually.  He then referred to page 21, which shows a projected increase in the tax rate of $1.62 in 2019.

Mr. Jarvis responded that the chart assumes that all projects will be approved.  He also appointed that the figures should not be added together cumulatively.  The figures reflect the total impact of the projects on each year’s taxes, he said.

Mr. Crawford stated that the tax impact of the capital expenditures would need to be added to inflation in the operating expenses, such as salaries.  The increase rate in the operating expenses will hopefully be coming down from 9 percent annual increases.  There are also bonds that are maturing.  He stated that he calculates that the maturing bonds will reduce the tax rate by about $.60 by 2019.  These bonds include the Public Safety Building debt and some of the early Conservation bonds.  But there’s still a net increase of approximately $1.00 in the tax rate, plus the inflationary impacts of things like health care and retirement on the operating costs.  These two items have had a major impact, he said.

The question is how the taxpayers are going to react as these projects come up for approval.  Mr. Crawford asserted that it would be better for the department heads to know sooner rather than later that there is public opposition.

Ned Paul pointed out that much of the cost relates to the Water Treatment Plant which may not need to be built.

Ms. Gillespie pointed out that there may be a problem with page 21, which refers to the Conservation bonds starting in 2019 rather than sooner as is now being planned.

Mr. Jarvis stated that the purpose of the plan is to make sure that the residents are aware of the proposed projects.

Mr. Jarvis agreed that there is a problem with the amount of the tax rate increase and that it needs to be looked at.

Mr. Crawford asked whether the $1.25 million for water main replacement is part of the $3.4 million approved earlier in 2013 for that purpose, or was in addition to it.  Nobody present could answer the question. 

Mr. Crawford asked whether the Water District had been invited.  Mr. Jarvis responded that they had been, and that Conservation also had been invited.  Mr. Crawford stated that it was incredible that neither sent a representative.

Mr. Crawford stated that he would skip Town Hall as everyone knew about that already.

He asked about the Recreation Community Center for $2.5 million and inquired as to how many square feet that would be.  Ms. Arthur stated that a needs assessment is needed.  There is money in the revolving fund to cover that.  The process needs to be followed.  A different avenue may play out.  The feasibility study needs to take place first.  The Recreation Commission is very frugal and a huge building has never been their vision.

Mr. Crawford asked whether the plan was based on 15,000 sq. ft. facility.  Ms. Arthur confirmed that it was, at $150 per square foot, plus soft costs.

Mr. Crawford asked a question on the vehicles, stating that the $100,000 annual funding of the Highway Equipment Capital Reserve was not going to be quite enough.  Mr. McCarthy confirmed.  There is a hole and they are looking at various options.  He  described the vehicle acquisition program in further detail.

Mr. Crawford asked whether the vehicles are becoming more reliable.  Mr. McCarthy confirmed that they were.

Mr. Crawford asked the two Chiefs about their vehicle programs and the impact of increasing reliability.

Chief Walsh described the program for police cars.  There is no hard data as the vehicles planned are new models.  The police cars they are using have a lot of mileage.  They get every bit of money and then some out of the vehicles.  Typically when the car goes to another department the transmission is ready to fail.  Editor’s note:  The Police Department has been purchasing a new cruiser each year.  The retired vehicles are then provided to other Town departments for continued use.

Mr. Crawford asked about the fire trucks and the ambulances.  Chief Sullivan stated that they are in great shape.  He was planning to replace the ladder truck, but it tests the same as it did 25 years ago.  It has started to show some rust.  He’s pushing for the second ambulance this year.  However, the Town Attorney has informed him that the cell tower money may not be used as the applicable warrant article says “new.”  He will be asking that the word “new” be taken out of the warrant article so that money can be saved by buying a used vehicle.

Mr. Crawford asked about page 51 and the $50,000 per year for a fire truck.  Editor’s note:  That page shows $50,000 each year from 2015 to 2019.  Chief Sullivan stated that he was looking to purchase a pre-owned vehicle for $250,000 in 2014.  The CIP Committee may have adjusted this to be paid for with a five year note, he said.  Chief Sullivan stated that there is only $153,000 in the capital reserve to pay for the fire truck.  That is not enough.  Chief Sullivan stated that the truck could be pushed out to 2015 from 2014.

There was then discussion both as to how the fire truck would be presented in the CIP Plan and how it would be financed.  Chief Sullivan indicated that he may request that funding of the capital reserve be restarted.  There was then discussion about the various capital reserves, including the one for the Library.

There was also extensive discussion about the presentation of the CIP Plan to the Selectmen and the changes that would be made prior to then.

Adjournment (93:13 elapsed)

Mr. Crawford thanked the department heads for coming and stated that a special issue of the Civic News had gone out to publicize this hearing.  Nearly 30 people opened up the CIP Plan, he said.  People are interested.  This is the first year for a public hearing.  Hopefully there are more people watching on TV and more will attend next year, he said.

The meeting then adjourned at 8:04 p.m.