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2006 - Minutes of December 4, 11, 18 Meetings

Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
December 4, 2006

6:30 PM:        Open Meeting
Quorum present: Michael Kirchner (MK), Curt Wilton (CW), Tina Skorput Cooper (TSC). Also present: Administrative Assistant (AA). No press present.

Board reviews and approves previous meeting minutes.
Board reviews and approves weekly warrants.

Based on interviews conducted at the previous Board meeting, TSC makes a motion to appoint Karen Williams as Town Treasurer to fill the vacancy created by Bruce Turner's resignation. CW seconds the motion. Vote taken, 2-0. MK abstains because he was unable to attend the interview sessions. Karen and Bruce will be contacted so that they can arrange for transition.

7:00 PM:        MK opens the Annual Tax Classification Public Hearing and reads the legal notice as published in the Berkshire Eagle. Representing the Board of Assessors are Assessor Jennifer Wilton and Assessor ex-officio Irene Skorput. CW discloses that he is the spouse of Jennifer and, as such, will not participate in the Hearing.
        Jennifer recommends a single tax rate be adopted as opposed to a split rate. TSC asks for a distinction between single and split tax rates. Jennifer explains that a single rate covers all property - personal, residential and commercial whereas a split rate has a different rate for commercial than for residential and personal. Typically, a commercial rate is higher. West Stockbridge does not have enough commercial property to justify a split rate. Furthermore, many commercial properties already pay a higher tax burden because they are assessed a personal property tax also.

TSC makes a motion for a joint Board vote to adopt a single tax rate. MK seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor. MK closes the Public Hearing.

Jennifer and Irene inform the Board that building permit information is still not being passed along properly and timely to the Board of Assessors. Irene notes that the Assessors have asked Building Inspector Jim Vosburgh several times to see Certificates of Occupancy before final sign off and for more complete, timely and accurate building permit data. The Assessors are getting increasingly frustrated with the Building Inspector.

MK notes that Jim Vosburgh was put on notice a year ago to step up and improve the operation of his office. Apparently things haven't improved measurably. Following a discussion, the Board agrees to call Jim into an upcoming meeting.

Irene notes that the Assessors plan to get the tax rate approved and bills sent prior to the end of December. MK thanks the Assessors.

7:25 PM:        John Piasecki, resident of West Stockbridge and nominee to fill a vacancy on the Conservation Commission, introduces himself to the Board. Following on a 11-30-06 letter from the Conservation Commission in which the Commission notes a 5-0 vote to appoint Mr. Piasecki, TSC makes a motion to appoint Mr. Piasecki to fill the vacancy through June 30, 2007. CW seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor; 8-0 in favor including the Commission's previous vote.

7:30 PM:        TSC reviews the timeline and legal steps required for Irene Skorput to be appointed to the vacancy on the Board of Assessors created by her own retirement. The vacancy will need to be advertised per Town Counsel. It is recommended that the Assessors be asked back to the December 18 weekly Board meeting for a general discussion.

        TSC discusses an overdue bill owed to Berkshire Visitors Bureau. The bill is for a Town of West Stockbridge advertisement in the Bureau's annual brochure. This ad was started a few years ago at the request of downtown merchants. Previously, it had been paid out of the Selectmen's Expenses line item. It is agreed to pay the bill this year out of the same line item but to revisit how the bill should be paid prior to next year's brochure.

        TSC asks about progress on the Senior Center. AA responds that Clark and Green have been issued notice to proceed on altering their original documents to reflect the current construction project at the Village School. Tom Webb has also been in touch with Clark and Green and a Public Hearing to discuss the project is expected to be called in the next 2 weeks. The meeting would be hosted by Tom Webb.

        TSC discusses a recent news article discussing grants available for Brownfields remediation and wondered if it might be an avenue to investigate for the Town's old landfill. Board agrees that would be a great idea and instructs AA to follow up with CET who is the local administrator of the grant.

Other Items:    CW discusses a curb-cut application from R. Klein on Cross Road. Following a review and a discussion on applicable street numbers, CW will refer the application back to Mr. Klein for clarification.

        CW leads a general discussion about Merritt Way, a private way that was sometimes known as Harris Street extension. The owners of the Orient Express have concerns that customers and delivery drivers can't find the restaurant and that the business is suffering because of the recent change in name. CW notes that Merritt Way is private property and that the whole matter has been reviewed with Town Counsel. Town Counsel has indicated that business owners would have a far stronger legal position in affecting a change to Merritt Way than the Town would if they can demonstrate a negative impact to their businesses.

        Board reviews a letter from Amanda Busch requesting documents related to speed zone postings on Gt. Barrington Road. The Board instructs AA to respond to Ms. Busch and inform her that the Town does not, nor has ever, had such documents and suggest that she contact the State Highway Dept.

        AA will be attending a 3-day classroom seminar in Boston next week on procurement law. Following successfully passing an exam, AA will become a Certified Procurement Officer.

        AA provides an update on the Village School construction project including: efforts to get power and phone to the temporary Police office trailer; asbestos abatement project which has just begun; and removal/storage of furniture and other items from the school.

8:05 PM:        There being no additional business to come before the Board, CW makes a motion to adjourn the meeting. TSC seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.

Meeting Minutes approved by:

______________________  ______________________  ________________________
Michael Kirchner, Chair Curt Wilton                     Tina Skorput Cooper

Date: ___________

Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
December 11, 2006

6:30 PM:        Open Meeting; St. Patrick's Parish Center.
Quorum present: Michael Kirchner (MK), Curt Wilton (CW), Tina Skorput Cooper (TSC). Also present: Administrative Assistant (AA). No press present.

Board reviews and approves previous meeting minutes.
Board reviews and approves weekly warrants.

Other Items:    Bob Carter of SEA requests that an informational meeting be set up to present the downtown infrastructure improvement plans to the public. Following a discussion, the Board sets a date of January 8 at 7:00 PM. Board advises to send letters to downtown merchants and put an announcement in the Local Yokel.

        Board has a general discussion about the current asbestos abatement project at the Village School. Also, the Board will consider updating kitchen facility and equipment further into the project if the budget allows.

        Myron Ritrosky of EcoGenesis will hold and supervise asbestos abatement job project meetings at the Village School weekly beginning 12-20-06 at 10:00 AM.

        CW discusses severe storm damage (12-1-06) resulting in many fallen trees, particularly in the Town cemeteries. CW commends Tree Warden Bill Kie for his quick and thorough response to the situation. CW notes that there are still a lot of fallen trees and branches in the cemeteries. CW advises the Board that The Cemetery Commissioners requested that the Highway Dept. clean up the trees when they could get to it. CW states that his Department really doesn't have the time because he has switched over to winter activities. CW suggests writing a note to the Commissioners recommending that the Commissioners investigate ways to clean up the storm damage. It is noted that the Cemeteries and sensitive and important Town facilities and best efforts need to be made to keep them in good shape. Board agrees that Cemetery trees cannot always be the responsibility of the Highway Dept.

        TSC asks if there is any update on the beaver problems at the Card Pond. One of the neighbors has expressed concern that beavers are cutting a lot of trees in the area. AA responds that a trapper has been contacted but no date has been confirmed for beaver removal.

        MK speaks about an e-mail circulated to fellow Selectmen re: withholding pay due to Officer Carm Guarda for police details worked for the Town. MK states that MGL prohibits holding pay for any issue. TSC responds that she was acting in the best interest of the Town by holding back his pay because Carmen had Department equipment in his possession that belonged to the Town. MK states that the Board voted to grant Carmen a leave of absence; they did not release him. So, he was under no obligation to return his uniform and other items. CW agrees that TSC should not hold the check and confirms that there was a vote taken on the leave of absence issue. TSC took offense to the tone of the e-mail and reiterates that she was acting in the best interest of the Town. TSC notes that all items have since been returned and that Carmen's pay has been released. MK states that unilateral Board decisions cannot be made. The Board needs to act as group not individually in order to avoid any perception of single Board members taking actions on behalf of the Board. TSC asks if she is allowed to conduct any Board business while in the Town Hall as Town Clerk. MK and CW agree that if Board inquiries come to Tina, then she should bring that information to the Board on behalf of the caller or suggest that the caller attend a meeting. Former Selectman Larry Tonini notes that in his corporate experience, it is not uncommon to withhold paychecks if the employee owes the company property. MK reiterates that MGL is clear on the subject.

8:15 PM:        There being no further business to discuss, CW makes a motion to adjourn the meeting. TSC seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.

Minutes approved by:

_____________________   ______________________  _______________________
Michael Kirchner, Chair Curt Wilton                     Tina Skorput Cooper

Date: __________________

Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
December 18, 2006

6:30 PM:        Open Meeting; St. Patrick's Parish Center
Quorum present: Michael Kirchner (MK), Tina Skorput Cooper (TSC). Curt Wilton (CW) absent - working on a water main leak emergency.

Board reviews and approves previous meeting minutes.
Board reviews and approves weekly warrants.

Board has a discussion regarding a proposal for work in the Village School gymnasium. Work would include removal of the ceiling (with asbestos present), protection of the floor and removal of the stage ceiling (asbestos present). Board gives preliminary approval for the work as quoted by Whiteway construction but a Change Order for this work cannot be signed until the general construction contract is signed. That contract is currently being reviewed by Town Counsel.

Board calls for a Public Hearing to be held on January 22, 2007 at 6:30 PM at the St. Patrick's Parish Center for the purpose of discussing the Senior Center project and grant application.

Board sets a tentative date of January 22, 2007 to hold an informational meeting to discuss the downtown improvement process. SEA Consultants will make a presentation for stakeholders. This meeting, following confirmation by SEA, would be held at 7:00 PM at the Parish Center.

Board discusses having Chief Cooper come to the next Selectmen's meeting to discuss Department activities and the status of the full-time officer's academy training.

MK discusses investigating asbestos in the adjoining bathrooms in the future library space. If, following investigation, asbestos is not found in the first bathroom then demolition should not take place in the adjoining bathroom since they were constructed at the same time and in the same way. EcoGenesis will be so informed.

The FY 2007 tax rate has been approved by DOR at $8.80/$1,000.

Board discusses beaver removal at Card Pond. It appears that beaver activity is taking place on both Town and adjoining private property. A trapper has been asked to take a look at the area.

7:30 PM:        There being no additional business to discuss, TSC makes a motion to adjourn the meeting. MK seconds the motion. Vote taken, 2-0 in favor.

Meeting minutes approved by:

________________________        ________________________
Michael Kirchner, Chair         Tina Skorput Cooper

Date: _____________

Town of West Stockbridge 21 State Line Road, West Stockbridge, MA 01266
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