October 01, 2013NEW DURHAM — The Sept. 23 meeting of the New Durham Board of Selectmen began with an appointment and ended with some issues being aired.
Issues on the board
Chairperson Terry Jarvis stated she heard someone from New Durham went to the Alton Police Department, stating they were a selectman, and was looking into regionalizing the police department.
Vice-Chairman Jeffrey Kratovil admitted it was he that went to Alton to investigate where the police department there stood on the issue and to get their input.
Selectman David Swenson and Jarvis reprimanded Kratovil for taking this action as a selectman.
"There is a difference between a citizen getting the information and a board of selectman member doing it," stated Swenson.
Jarvis said the visit "looked official" and he was not sent there by the board.
"I did not misrepresent my intentions," argued Kratovil stating he never said he was acting on behalf of the board.
Although Kratovil disagreed with Swenson and Jarvis regarding the message sent in his visit, Swenson stated the key point was to have this issue in the selectmen's minutes and clarify that it was not an official visit.
Swenson also wanted that message clearly sent to the Alton police department.
Jarvis and Swenson next took issue with Kratovil over his letter published in the Sept. 12 edition of the Baysider.
Jarvis stated the letter revealed non-public information. She went on to say Kratovil was guilty of multiple violations of RSA 42:1-A, which deals with the breach of confidentiality.
Jarvis said this was a violation of a town officer's oath and that recourse for this violation is through the courts.
Kratovil disagreed stating that the information he shared was already in the public.
Swenson argued his comment about the current fire chief needing managerial coaching had not been stated in public, but Kratovil asserted it had.
Swenson told Kratovil he has an "obligation" to leave certain information in non-public and that in the June 6 and Sept. 12 issues of the Baysider, Kratovil disclosed information from non-public sessions where the minutes were sealed.
Kratovil claimed this issue arose as "retaliation against me for changing my position" on the fire chief.
"In my opinion, you have broken your oath of office," replied Jarvis.
Jarvis went on to tell Kratovil that she found his behavior to be "embarrassing."
She clarified that when the board is dealing with policy it should be in public, but when dealing with specific individuals they should be kept non-public.
Swenson suggested they have the ethics committee look into Kratovil's behavior.
"It is unfortunate for the town of New Durham that communication has been going through the Baysider," said Swenson.
Kratovil accused Jarvis and Swenson of only being sorry they were "caught" in their dishonesty and said, "I can't dance around issues like you two do."
Swenson and Jarvis stated they were not sorry for anything and they stand on their voting records.
Jarvis motioned the board no longer have a vice-chairman position. Swenson seconded the motion.
Kratovil stated this was an effort to keep him quiet.
"I don't think in my wildest dreams anything the board of selectmen does could keep you quiet," replied Jarvis.
The motion passed with only Kratovil opposing.
Afterward Jarvis gave Kratovil the floor to make any motions he wanted regarding the fire chief position.
Kratovil had tried to make some motions about the fire chief position during the board's last meeting, but Swenson failed to go along with him stating it was not an appropriate time to discuss the issue.
The board had been in a joint meeting with the budget committee at the time.
Kratovil made a motion to revert back to the old pay rate for the fire chief and Swenson seconded his motion. They both voted yes and Jarvis was opposed.
Kratovil stated that in the absence of a study of the fire department he was not interested in pursuing a new applicant for the fire chief position.
Peter Farrell, a licensed forester from Alton, was contracted in 2010 by New Durham to manage the plan for Shirley Forest and was the first appointment for the board. Shirley Forest is New Durham's town forest.
Farrell proposed the selectmen consider "testing the waters" in the timber market. According to Farrell inventories in the timber market are currently at the lowest point in many years.
He suggested the board allow the town to participate in a small scale cut this fall and, if it goes well, continue with a somewhat larger cut through the winter.
Farrell stated they would follow good conservative timber cutting, which focused on taking trees to break up crowding and looking for trees that are beginning to deteriorate.
Some considerations mentioned by Farrell were the possible temporary closing of the portion of road where the cutting will occur and the possible interruption of snowmobile traffic on the trails in the Stockbridge Corner Road area.
The selectmen agreed they would like to do their best to keep the trails open and they did not object to temporarily closing the Shirley Forest portion of Stockbridge Corner Road.
Farrell also informed the board about the logistics of having the company hired do "cut to length" work on site. He suggested the board go with this type of work since it makes it easier to bring the timber out of the woods without damaging other trees.
He stated this cutting method does tend to leave brush behind, but the company hired will be responsible for making sure it is kept away from the snowmobile trails.
Farrell suggested the board move forward with getting bids immediately so work could begin in late October or early November.
In discussion over where the income from the timber sale would go in the town budget, Jarvis stated that according to the will governing Shirley Forest the money must go into the Shirley Forest fund and the town would vote at town meeting how to spend it.
If the selectmen enforced a timber tax on the proceeds, that money would go directly into the general fund.
Farrell also reminded the board that money from cutting timber only comes about every 15 years. He encouraged the board to reinvest in encouraging the growth of young trees in the forest.
Swenson agreed he was all for maintaining a forest that can provide income in the future.
The board unanimously agreed to let Farrell begin the RFP (request for purchase) process and seek bids for the fall cutting based on the presentation he provided during this meeting.
Road Agent Mike Clarke wanted to clarify some statements he made during public input at a previous selectmen's meeting. He had previously stated he felt it was time for the town to move away from their contract with MRI (Municipal Resources Inc.) and hire their own town administrator.
Clarke stated those statements were not meant to be a poor reflection of the work the current town administrator, Jeremy Bourgeois, is doing.
Disposal of waste products
The board took a second look at the bids for waste disposal and the new terms offered by the two top bidders Waste Management and Casella.
After careful review, Swenson stated the bottom line suggested Casella was the lowest bidder for any contract that extended for more than one year. If the town pursued a one-year contract, then Waste Management came in lower.
In year one, there was a $4,000 difference between the two, but by year seven (if the board went for a contract that long) the difference moved to more than a $6,000 difference per year.
The board then needed to decide how long of a contract to enter with Casella.
Former selectman David Bickford suggested the board consider going with a shorter contract than five or seven years.
Transfer station office manager Cathy Orlowicz and foreman Joe Bloskey, both agreed that a three-year contract was best.
Jarvis stated she believed the longer the contract the more savings to the town.
Jarvis motioned to accept Casella's bid and enter into a five-year contract with them.
Swenson and Kratovil amended Jarvis' motion to a three-year contract. The amended motion passed unanimously.
Clarke informed the board that Broad View Construction Corporation, who was awarded the bid for the extension and improvements to the town garage, did not follow the RFP. Their quote of $93,400 did not include the cost to re-roof the existing structure.
Clarke recommended the board go with the next bid, which was for $115,442 and included everything in the RFP.
The board voted to repeal the Broad View Construction award and to now award the contract to E. Guimond Construction, LLC for an amount not to exceed $115,442.
Clarke also informed the board that the bridge on Davis Crossing Road needed some new stabilization.
When the bridge was redone in 2009 the engineering company realized it was on a peat bog at the inlet area. They thought they were able to stabilize it, but monitoring over the years since has revealed that is not the case.
There is erosion taking place and cracks are forming due to the instability. Clarke asked for permission to go to the original contractors, Earth Construction, and get estimates for possible repair options.
The board agreed, but directed Clarke to also look over contracts regarding the original project for a possible recourse related to the design.
The New Durham Board of Selectmen next meet on Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. in the town hall.
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