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2015 - Minutes of November 2, 9, 23 Meetings
Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
November 2, 2015

6:30 PM:        Open Meeting.
Quorum present: Earl Moffatt (EM), Chair; Peter Skorput (PS); Curt Wilton (CW). Also present: AdminAsst Mark Webber (AA). Press present: Local Yokel.

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

Other Business/Action/Discussion Items:
  • Following a discussion, Board sets November meeting dates for 11/9/15 and 11/23/15.
  • AA informs the Board that Wired West local representative Steve Sautman has spoken with Tom Cohan, Community Liaison for Charter Cable TV. They spoke about Charter's timeline to upgrade the West Stockbridge cable system to high speed fiber, the potential financing role of MassBroadand Institute in public/private partnership setting and time lines for Wired West to build out high speed broadband in Town. Board wants all players to have as much shared information as possible before critical decisions need to be made.
  • AA updates the Board on the Berkshire Hills Regional School District's (BHRSD) initiative to set up a 3-member town committee to study the current regional school agreement. Finance Committee has reached out to its members to see if one would volunteer for the committee. The Town has been asked to submit 3 names of at large residents who would be interested in serving on the committee. Resident Alan Theil has expressed an interest. Board suggests that a notice be posted on the Town website and Local Yokel.
  • AA informs the Board that the Chief of Police responded to a call last Friday of 3 hunters with shotguns in kayaks on Card Pond. They had vacated by the time he responded. Chief is concerned that the Town has no ordinance prohibiting hunting on Card Pond and Mill Pond  and that both areas are dangerously close to residents and traffic. CW will follow up with MA Wildlife and Fisheries to see if the State already has regulations governing these and other bodies of water.
  • Board seeks to reschedule executive session for November 23 meeting to discuss the purchase or disposition of real estate.
  • AA informs the Board that he is working on the USDA sewer extension project closeout and hopes to have it approved during the month of December.
  • Board signs paperwork per their decision from the prior meeting to sponsor current part-time police officer Miguel Santana to the full time police academy, which begins in March 2016. Included in the paperwork is a request of waiver to allow Officer Santana to work on a full time basis from now until the academy begins.
7:30 PM:        EM makes a motion to enter executive session per MGL Chapter 30a, Section 21a(1) for
the purpose of complaints against a public officer and not to return to open meeting session upon its conclusion.

PS, the subject of the executive session informs the Chair that he wishes to have the executive session conducted in public.

Stating that the Board needed some time to review PS's written answers (attached) to previously posed question by resident Dominick Luchi, EM makes a motion to take those answers under advisement and to continue the executive session until November 9, 2015 at 7:00 PM. CW seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.

7:35 PM:        Meeting concludes.

Meeting minutes approved by:

__________________________      __________________________      ________________________
Earl Moffatt, Chair                            Peter Skorput                                    Curt Wilton

Date: __________

Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
November 9, 2015

6:30 PM:        Open meeting.
Quorum present: Earl Moffatt (EM), Chair; Peter Skorput (PS); Curt Wilton (CW). Also present: Admin Asst Mark Webber (AA). Press present: Local Yokel.

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

7:05 PM:        EM reconvenes the Executive Session called on November 2, 2015. EM notes that the
subject of the executive session, Fire Chief Peter Skorput, made it clear at that meeting and again tonight that he wished the meeting to be conducted in open session. EM states that the purpose of the continuance was to allow the Board to review the answers offered by Chief Skorput in response to questions posed by resident Dominic Luchi at the 11/2/15 meeting and that the Board would discuss those responses this evening and will solicit public comment on the same.

CW reads aloud questions 1-6 (document attached) and the Chief's written responses to those (document attached).

EM suggests that since questions 1-6 deal primarily with the process of how the Chief was appointed in 2013, an opinion should be solicited from Town Counsel.

Resident Michael Skorput asks EM whether or not the Fire Chief has Special Municipal Employee status. EM responds that he is not sure but will check but that Special Municipal Employee designation doesn't seem relevant to tonight's questions and discussion.

Resident and long time Fire Department member Les Losaw speaks and questions the Board's motives for this session. Peter has been Chief for a long time without incident and has the support of the Department membership.

CW would like to see the meeting minutes from June 2013 when Peter's appointment was made and the list of appointments. PS states that he did not act on his appointment as Fire Chief.

EM notes that the AA has informed Peter on two occasions at past meetings that he should file Ethics Commission disclosure statements with the Town Clerk and that he should request that an article be brought to the Annual Town Meeting to pass a section of MGL that allows him to serve on the Board of Selectmen and as Fire Chief.

EM states that Questions 23 and 24 are not relevant. EM adds that many questions, including #'s 25-29 are related to normally expected duties of a fire chief. EM adds that other department heads are routinely asked to present updates to the Board, including Police and Highway. EM states that the Fire Chief was asked to give a departmental update 4 years ago.

Chief Skorput responds that he reported, at that time, that everything in the Department was running fine and that he wasn't asked for any follow up information or documents. CW states that tonight's meeting is simply meant to act on and discuss written questions asked by a resident of the Fire Chief. When a document lands on the Selectmen's desk, it is considered a public document and the Board was obligated to act.

George Allen, 45 years on the Fire Department, voices objection to the proceedings and notes that the Chief is supported by the members.

Chief Skorput will respond to Questions 10-29 in writing for the next meeting.

Mr. Luchi states that he doesn't see Peter as a good Chief and that the Town is not being well served.

Department member Steve McMahon asks if mediation would be an option to settle the obvious disagreements between Mr Luchi and Peter. Steve then asks the Board what it plans to do as follow up and conclusion to tonight's meeting.

EM states that a number of items will be referred to Town Counsel for guidance and that the Board will follow counsel's recommendation. Board will review documents and follow up material to be provided by the Chief and, hopefully, conclude the matter.

8:15 PM:        EM makes a motion to conclude tonight's session. CW seconds the motion. Voice vote
taken: CW, aye; EM, aye; PS, aye.

Other business/discussion/action items:
  • No other business to come before the Board.
Meeting minutes approved by:

__________________________      __________________________      ________________________
Earl Moffatt, Chair                            Peter Skorput                                    Curt Wilton

Date: ___________

Board of Selectmen
Meeting Minutes
November 23, 2015

6:30 PM:        Open Meeting
Quorum present: Earl Moffatt (EM), Chair; Peter Skorput (PS); Curt Wilton (CW). Also present: Admin Asst Mark Webber (AA). Press present: Local Yokel.

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

7:00 PM:        EM opens the Annual Tax Classification Hearing. EM reads the legal notice as
advertised in the Berkshire Eagle.

Present for the hearing are Board of Assessor's Clerk Mary Stodden and Regional Resources Group representative Jeff Reynolds. Mr Reynolds explains the tax rate setting process including the difference between a split commercial/residential rate and a single tax rate for all real estate and personal property. Mr Reynolds provides worksheets describing the multiple steps required before submitting information to the Department of Revenue for tax rate approval (attached). Mr Reynolds recommends that the Board adopt a single tax rate rather than a split rate, explaining that this is the common practice in smaller communities without a substantial commercial tax base.

CW makes a motion to accept the recommendation of the Board of Assessors and to adopt a single tax rate. EM seconds the motion. Vote taken, 3-0 in favor.

7:15 PM:        EM closes the public hearing and thanks Mr Reynolds and Mary for their work and
notes that the tax rate approval should be finalized by the 2nd week of December.

Other Business/Discussion/Action Items:
  • CW instructs AA to remind Chief of Police to make sure his part time officers don't regularly exceed the 19 hour per week work limit as prescribed by State regulations.
  • CW notes that the Town received an approved National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit from the Federal EPA. This certificates shows that the West Stockbridge sewer treatment facility is in compliance with all clean water standards and operations. This permit is in effect for 5 years. CW notes that the permit is a reflection on the Town's licensed operator Mike Buffoni and his work. CW adds that treated effluent from the treatment plant is discharged into the Williams River, which maintains its status as a Class A trout stream at the area of discharge; testimony to the plant's efficient operation.
  • PS informs the Chair that he has a box of Fire Department operations' records available for review per request of the Board's previous meeting.
  • Board grants conditional approval of a sign permit request as submitted by Kardin Rabin, operator of Boundless Massage, Personal Training, Acupuncture located on the 2nd floor of the Shaker Mill Tavern. Final approval pending on sign dimensions accuracy following an inspection.
  • Joe Roy and Bob Thibeault, representing the West Stockbridge Village Association (WSVA), address the Board as a follow up to a previous meeting's discussion on utilizing the Town's public restrooms hallway for a display area to promote tourism and local merchants. Joe offers some proposed modifications to the public restrooms building (attached). EM notes that this subject was not listed on this evening's meeting agenda and, accordingly, the Board will not be making any final decisions on the requests. CW adds that he has serious concerns about the display location, stating privacy, courtesy and handicap concerns. CW adds that there must be a more appropriate location than the wall of the Town bathroom building. CW adds that he would not support keeping the restrooms open year round as the cost of modifications  and utilities would be prohibitive. The building was constructed for seasonal use was not designed to be heated. EM concludes by instructing the WSVA representatives to consult with the Town's building inspector to get his opinion on building code issues, particularly handicap access concerns before the Board can act on the requests.
  • Parks and Recreation members provide the Board with a description of the December 4th West Stockbridge Sparkles event and an outline of the upcoming year's event calendar (attached). Board thanks the members for their efforts.
  • AA informs the Board that the BHRSD regional agreement study committee is ready to begin their work and that the West Stockbridge representatives have been selected as follows: Curt Wilton, Board of Selectmen; Andy Krauss, Finance Committee and; Alan Thiel, Henry Baldwin and Lou Oggiani as the 3 at large representative. The Committee's first meeting will be December 2nd.
  • CW asks the Board if, per request of the COA, it would be all right if the Highway Department changed the COA van's tires over to snow tires. CW notes that he be happy to assist but would rather not be responsible for the van's full maintenance, which should be done at a certified repair facility. PS agrees that changing tires would be fine but that repairs and typical service should be farmed out.
7:40 PM:        EM reads the posted executive session notice as follows: 'per MGL chapter 30A, Section
21(a) (6), the Board will enter executive session to consider the purchase, exchange, lease or value of real estate and not to return to open meeting session upon conclusion of the executive session'. CW seconds the motion. Voice vote taken: EM, aye; PS, aye; CW, aye.

Meeting minutes approved by:

__________________________      __________________________      ________________________
Earl Moffatt, Chair                            Peter Skorput                                    Curt Wilton


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