July 7, 2008 Select Board Meeting

Monday, July 7, 2008, 6:30 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall

Present:  Select Board members: Gerry Weiss, Anne Awad, Alisa Brewer, and Stephanie O’Keeffe; Town Manager Larry Shaffer

Absent:  Select Board member Diana Stein


Mr. Weiss said that the Chamber of Commerce has lined up some of its members to water the downtown flowerpots while Bill Elsasser is away.  Other interested volunteers should contact the Chamber or Mr. Weiss.

Mr. Weiss said that the State has approved an increase in Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) funding to communities with State-owned land for FY09.  I said that this wouldn’t affect Amherst, due to PILOT funds being part of an equation in the Strategic Partnership Agreement with UMass.  Mr. Weiss agreed, and said that the equation protects Amherst from cuts in PILOT funds as well.  Ms. Awad said that she has been the liaison to the group STAR, which is a partnership of communities with State land which works together to lobby for PILOT Increases.  She said the group has been effective and that it’s been important for Amherst to participate, and that we will need a new liaison to the group.

Mr. Weiss read a letter from Comcast about the switch to all-digital broadcasting beginning in February.  The switch will affect only those using “rabbit ear” antennas or roof antennas, while those subscribed to cable will not be affected.  More info is available from Comcast.

Ms. Brewer said that the ballot question seeking repeal of the State income tax had acquired enough signatures to get on the November ballot, and that a campaign in favor of that repeal would probably soon begin in earnest.  Mr. Weiss noted that such a repeal would be a huge problem for Amherst.  Ms. Brewer said that questions about banning greyhound racing and supporting marijuana leniency would also be on the ballot.

Special Liquor Licenses

The Select Board approved special liquor licenses for an event at UMass and a Chamber event at Atkins.

Committee Appointments  (6:40)

The Select Board approved the following committee reappointments:  Denise Barberet to the Hampshire Regional Emergency Planning Committee; Andrew Melnechuk to the Public Transportation and Bicycling Committee; Frank Gatti to the Human Rights Commission; Mark Parent to the Town Commercial Relations Committee; Flo Stern to the Housing Partnership/Fair Housing Committee.

The Select Board approved the Town Manager’s appointment of Bruce Carson to the Planning Board.

The Select Board approved the Town Manager's reappointment of Ludmilla Pavlova-Gillham to the Planning Board.  [Added 7/21/08 -- this reappointment was inadvertently left out of the initial post of this meeting summary.]

The Select Board approved the appointment of Hwei-Ling Greeney to the Committee on Homelessness.

The votes on all the appointments and reappointments was 4 in favor, 1 absent.

Approval of Minutes  (6:43)

The Select Board approved the minutes of the June 16th and June 23rd meetings in votes of 3 in favor, 1 abstention and 1 absent, with Ms. Brewer opting to abstain.

WMECO Pole Hearing  (6:46)

This was a public hearing, as required for such matters.  WMECO representative Walter Chudzik described the pole location on Snell Street and its purpose in providing power to an Amherst College building.  Ms. Brewer asked that the Town Manager provide additional information about abutter notification in the future, because the Select Board has to attest with its signatures that such notification has occurred.  No one from the public offered questions or concerns.  The Select Board voted 4 in favor, 1 absent to approve the new pole location.

Change of Manager – Bertucci’s  (6:53)

New Bertucci’s manager Cindy Kanaley and a representative from the Bertucci’s corporate office answered questions from the Select Board regarding the restaurant’s training of employees on issues related to checking IDs when serving alcohol.  The Select Board voted 4 in favor, 1 absent, to approve the license change to with the new manager.

Parking Lot Use – Big Brother Big Sister Craft Fair  (7:00)

Big Brother Big Sister Director Renee Moss sought permission to use the parking lot in front of Town Hall for vendor registration on Saturday, July 12th from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., as it has done for 28 years.  Ms. Brewer asked if parking meters needed to be bagged also, and Ms. Moss said yes, and that the group always handles that directly with the Police Department, along with the closing off of a section of Boltwood Avenue.  It was noted that bagging meters and closing streets are issues the Select Board has to approve for other groups, and that in the interest of fairness and equity, it would need to do so for this event as well.  It was agreed that this year these matters would be handled as they have been in the past, but that next year a more formal request will be required.  The vote to approve the use of the parking lot for vendor registration was 4 in favor, 1 absent.

Prepare Don’t Despair Presentation  (7:10)

James Broadnax made a presentation about a web portal the Prepare Don’t Despair organization has created that will give a portion of proceeds to the Town from goods purchased through the site, www.AmherstFirst.com.  He said that proceeds to the Town could be as much as a million dollars per year in three years.  He described the group’s organization, the increases in Internet purchasing and projections for the future, the site activity reporting and access that would be available to the Town, reward points for customers and the tools and training available to local businesses.  He said that the shopping portal is supported by a company in North Carolina called Market America, and that it currently has about 35 million products and services available through the site from more than 2,000 stores. 

Mr. Shaffer said that the program is an interesting idea and represents no liability or exposure for the Town.

Ms. Brewer said that people would want to know a concrete figure or percentage about how much of their purchase was going to go to the Town.  Mr. Broadnax said that was difficult to express because different percentage agreements had been negotiated with different stores.  He said that some stores might offer 20%, and others might offer a quarter of a percent, and that the total “goes into a commission structure.”  He said his million dollar prediction is based on an estimate of the types and quantities of products people would be likely to purchase.     

There was discussion about how the group has local representatives but a Dorchester-based Board, that Mr. Broadnax is a business advisor to the Board, and that a local Board is being sought, and that the group is a member of the Chamber.  Ms. Awad noted that the organization is based in Milton and asked if it was pursuing similar “MiltonFirst” or “GloucesterFirst” ventures in other communities.  Mr. Broadnax said that the Prepare Don’t Despair organization’s “only responsibility is to Amherst.”

I said that I found the model interesting and generous, but questioned why the Town needed to know about the organization’s structure or have any direct involvement with the site.  I said I thought the Town should simply thank the group for any money it gives us.  Mr. Broadnax said that Town involvement assures people that the venture is credible. 

Mr. Shaffer said that the idea is intriguing and he likes that there is no risk or exposure for the Town, and said that he has shared his sense of it being “too good to be true” with Mr. Broadnax and others.   He said it is an innovative marketing technique for carving out some percentage of Internet sales and giving it to the Town.  He said he has suggested to Mr. Broadnax that the process should be transparent and accountable, and that people will want to know specifically how much money would go to the Town, and that “a lot of the onus falls” on the group.  He said the Town wishes the group luck, is happy to accept any checks, and is willing to be helpful to the extent that it can be.

Mr. Weiss talked about the Town needing to be careful about promoting a business that is driven by its own profit motive. 

In response to questions, Mr. Broadnax said that checks would be cut to the Town of Amherst, without strings attached or other specifications for its use, unless directed otherwise, and Mr. Shaffer said that unanticipated revenues are accounted for as unanticipated gift revenue, and can’t be spent without appropriation by Town Meeting.   

Mr. Shaffer said that there is a similar local proposal pending, and that there may ultimately be many similar competing web portals, and that the Town will be happy to receive money from any portal or other entity that wants to give the Town a gift, “as long as those proceeds are developed utilizing legitimate techniques.” 

Mr. Weiss thanked the group for the presentation.

Recommendation on Non-Union COLA Increase  (7:53)

Personnel Board Chair Flo Stern said that the Personnel Board negotiates for the non-union employees in a manner similar to what the unions do for their members.  She said there are currently 71 non-union employees working for the Town. She said that last year, the cost of living adjustment (COLA) was 1% for non-union employees, and that this year 2% was available, and that discussions have been occurring about whether to distribute that 2% in the traditional manner – giving 2% to each employee – or whether the total dollars should be divided up evenly among all the non-union employees, which would amount to $1,278 each.  At a recent Personnel Board meeting on the subject, 26 employees were in attendance and in a straw pole, 16 voted for the flat rate while 10 voted for the 2%, and 4 notes from people unable to attend were received, all supporting the flat rate.  Ms. Stern said that all employees had been made aware that this option was under consideration and would be discussed at that meeting. The Personnel Board had determined prior to the employee meeting that its recommendation would be for the flat rate, and the straw vote at the employee meeting was to gauge what the response would be.

There was some discussion about what the distribution was of the number of employees who would make more under the flat rate plan than the 2% plan, and it was not clear what the answer was, with estimates ranging from 72% to 80%, and it was said that those making less than $65,000 would benefit from the flat rate, while those making more would do better under the 2% plan.

Mr. Shaffer noted that his contract calls for him to receive the same COLA as the non-union employees, and that he has told the Personnel Board that, and that he is happy to receive either amount. He congratulated the Personnel Board for their hard work and for addressing the pressures they see on people at the lower end of the wage scale from fuel and food price increases.  He said that he was concerned that the flat fee increases make the 2% increases agreed to by members of the SEIU and DPW unions look bad by comparison, and said that the $1,278 increases for non-union employees was more than the $875 and $1,052 that are the maximum increases members of those unions would receive, and he said that would have ramifications in the next negotiation period.  He acknowledged that those entities have the ability to collectively bargain, and that this was their agreement, and said that that point has been made and is well-taken.  He said that another concern is that the flat rate artificially compresses the wage scale, reducing the classification increments between the low and high ends.  He said that those at the top of the wage scale who receive less under the flat rate approach might decide that unionizing would be beneficial for them, and he said that would cost the Town more money to negotiate, administer and manage.  He said another concern is the sense that “the burden of meeting these very worthwhile social goals is being met exclusively by people at the upper end of the pay range,” and not by the general taxpayers, and that they are being singled out as though “they’re part of the problem, and not part of the solution.” He said he doesn’t see this as a drastic situation or one that will “tear the organization apart,” but said that it is a concern for the precedents it establishes, that it might cost more money in the long run, and that it creates two classes of employees – those who will receive COLAs higher than 2% and those who will receive less than 2%.

Ms. Awad said that she was uncomfortable with Mr. Shaffer presenting information because of his stake in the outcome.   She asked to hear the minority report from the Personnel Board. 

Personnel Board member Tony Butterfield said one point of objection is that the unions went with 2%, so why depart from that?  He said another is that the existing personnel classification system was set up to establish pay grade as a function of the training and skill requirements for each job, and said it was unclear why that would be set aside with an across-the-board flat-rate increase.  He said that while everyone agrees that lower-paid people need the money more, the effect of the flat rate increase is to have those in the higher pay grades donating to those in the lower pay grades. 

Ms. Awad said that it is unfortunate that upper management and support staff are in the same non-union category.  She said that to approve a flat-rate COLA distribution this year didn’t mean this option would carry forward into the future.  She said that she found it to be a fair approach because it recognizes the stresses on families from increased fuel and food costs.  She said that in many organizations, management receives different rate increases than support staff, and said it is her opinion that Town management in Amherst receives comparable or higher pay than those in other communities.

Ms. Stern said that she didn’t agree that the flat rate had the effect of compressing the pay scale, nor that it impacted the fairness of the pay scale.  Regarding the comparison to the union agreements, she said that 2% for the non-union employees would have amounted to higher dollar figures than the 2% for the union employees anyway, because the non-union pay scales are higher.  She said that the increased cost for food and fuel is that same for those on the high-end and low-end of the pay scale, so it was fair to distribute the COLA evenly. 

Personnel Board member Jacquelyn Smith-Crooks emphasized Ms. Awad’s point about this being a one-year decision, and not something that was being committed to far into the future.

Mr. Weiss said that he didn’t think the non-union employees should be penalized “because the unions didn’t come up with something creative for their employees.”  He said the salary scale wouldn’t be compressed because every salary would increase by the same amount.  He said that COLAs are intended to address cost of living increases, and that people on the lower end of the pay scale spend a larger percentage of their income on necessities.  He said that other points made against the flat-rate distribution were “well taken,” but were not sufficient reason to not do this.  He said the concept of the higher paid employees “donating” to the lower paid ones was only true if you think of the raise in the traditional way, but that this was a raise being granted in a different way.  He said he would like to see this kind of flat distribution done more often, perhaps every couple of years, to help “take some of the sting out of” the economic situation and its strain on families.

I said that this was the most complicated issue so far in my time on the Select Board, and that I appreciated the sentiments being expressed though I didn’t agree with the conclusions.  I said my focus was on the process, and that while I might not agree with the recommendation, I could find no reason to oppose it, and that I didn’t think personal value judgments of individual Select Board members should be part of the decision.   I said that the Personnel Board’s recommendation represented due diligence, and that had their recommendation been for the 2% option, I would similarly not have wanted the personal opinions of Select Board members to override that recommendation.  I said that the Select Board’s responsibility is to ensure a well-functioning Personnel Board by appointing good members and providing good liaisonship, and because both had been done and the Personnel Board had engaged in a thoughtful and deliberative process, that I had to support its recommendation.  I said that the issue was not one of one option being right while the other was wrong, but rather that the options represented different ways of looking at the situation. 

Ms. Brewer said she appreciated the point about supporting the boards that we appoint to wrestle with such issues, and recognizing the time and effort they put in to making their recommendations.  She said she was a little concerned about the process regarding employees recognizing that this change was a real possibility, and while acknowledging that turnout at the meeting was good, she said that similar ideas raised in the past with the unions were considered impossible, so people might have assumed the traditional percentage method was the only realistic result and not made their support for it known.  She said that she should disclose that she is employed by a union that is under the umbrella of the MTA.  She said that the possibility Mr. Shaffer mentioned that a couple of higher-paid employees might opt to unionize would not be problematic and said that there were some very small unions within the school system.  She said it could be more cumbersome to deal with, but that within the larger picture, it was not a compelling reason to not support the flat rate. 

Ms. Stern said that the flat rate idea had first been proposed four years ago, and that employees were widely opposed to it, in part because it hadn’t been done before.  She said that they have since decided that it made sense, and that she had not been sure how the vote would turn out. 

I said that while one couldn’t assume that every individual would vote based on his or her personal benefit, if people did, the fact that 70% to 80% of the employees stood to benefit more from the flat rate plan while only 20% to 30% would do better with the 2%, the results of the vote were probably a foregone conclusion.  Ms. Stern and Mr. Weiss said that some people voted opposite their individual interests, and Mr. Weiss said that was evident in the vote percentages not being the same as the percentages of who would benefit more under each plan. 

The Select Board approved applying a flat rate COLA increase for FY09 of $1,278 for each of the 71 non-union employees, as expressed in terms of Full Time Equivalents, in a vote of 4 in favor, 1 absent. 

Mr. Weiss called for a short break in the meeting.

 Town Manager’s Report  - SunEthanol Update (8:40)

Mr. Shaffer gave an update on SunEthanol, and efforts to keep them from relocating outside of Amherst.  He said that he has made every effort to stay in touch with the SunEthanol people and “to provide them with as many opportunities to locate in Amherst” as he can.  He said that two proposals have been offered to them by local developers, with one focusing on existing space and the other on building 15,000 square feet of new lab space, and that a third developer is considering a proposal to build new space as well.  He said that the company faces pressures to relocate from venture capitalists and from other forces such as the need for more lab space and the need to move quickly in their field.  He said he has been meeting with top company executives and would soon be having lunch with the new CEO, and that he would do everything in his power to keep the company here. 

I asked if he had some kind of list of all the major land owners and property owners and developers in town, and some mechanism for notifying them about this or other opportunities, so that they could all offer proposals that might address the needs.  Mr. Shaffer said that he does not have such a list or notification process, and said that “there’s a number of reasons why that may not make a lot of sense” to do that.  He said that he uses the media to make people aware of such situations, and that interested developers get in touch with him and he puts them in touch with the company, and that way he knows the details of the proposals and can advocate for them.  He said that it isn’t a formal process, and that he hopes developers who are interested contact him.

Mr. Weiss said that he appreciates the work Mr. Shaffer is doing with this, and in keeping the Select Board informed.  Mr. Weiss said that good companies have been lost in the past, and different parts of Town government “took a lot of heat for that,” being criticized for not being able to keep them in Amherst.  He said it is that even with the best efforts, SunEthanol might not stay in Amherst.  Mr. Shaffer said the company needs 15,000 square feet of high-end lab space, and that is not currently available in Amherst.

Town Manager’s Report – Collective Bargaining Update

Mr. Shaffer gave an update on the collective bargaining situation.  He said that contracts had been executed with two unions – the DPW union and the SEIU, which he said represents clerical staff, library staff, and custodial and janitorial staff.  He said that wage increases for both are:  1% in 2007, 2% in 2008, 3.5% in 2009 and 3.5% in 2010, which he said equaled a 10% increase over four years, and averaged out to 2.5% per year.  He said that compared to the teachers’ contract which he said was also 10% over 4 years, but distributed differently.  He said the SEIU and DPW contracts both contained inducements for switching the HMOs from PPOs for insurance, which he said cost the Town significantly less.  He said there were other small adjustments in the terms and the language, but that salaries and health insurance were the major costs for the Town.

Mr. Shaffer said that the contracts with the police union and the firefighters union remain unsettled.  He said that both are in mediation and that an agreement appears to be close with the police, but not with the firefighters.

Ms. Brewer asked about the projected timeline for encouraging a shift to the GIC – the State’s health insurance plan.  She said that such a switch requires union approval, so information would need to be prepared in advance of a negotiation. 

Mr. Shaffer said that the Town’s self-insurance program is a “success story,” and that it is in “excellent shape.”  He said that these results mean that he is “not even close” to recommending a transition to GIC.   He said that the final numbers for the fiscal year are being compiled, but that the plan showed a $2 million surplus as of mid-June.  He said the Health Claims Trust Fund has paid back all the money it owed to the General Fund and that the surcharge paid by the Town and employees to cover the previous deficit will soon end.  He said that he expects a shift to the GIC someday, and that the plan is to build up sufficient resources in the fund to cover the six month “tail” of expenses that would be incurred but not reported under the self-insured system, prior to a switch to GIC.  He said that the GIC would currently be more expensive for the Town.  He said that the Town is now focused on unloading risk – by purchasing more stop-loss insurance with the fund surplus – to provide more stability and predictability to the fund.

Town Manager’s Report – Hadley Ambulance Negotiations

Mr. Shaffer said that he met with Hadley Town Administrator David Nixon several weeks ago and would be resuming negotiations with him once the 2008 expense and income numbers are finalized, and the numbers in the proposal to Hadley can be recalibrated accordingly.  He said he would like to maintain service with Hadley, but only if they are paying roughly what other ambulance customers pay.

I asked if the “push-back” from Hadley and the other towns on the cost-per-call model has led to any reconsideration of that.  Mr. Shaffer said there has been no reconsideration of the cost-per-call model, and that he hasn’t been convinced that another model more accurately reflects true cost to Amherst.  He said that Hadley is a large percentage of the Town’s service demand, at about 20% of calls, and said it has to be considered from a future perspective of ongoing commitment, because it factors in to plans for a potential new fire station and all its costs.  He said that his obligations are to Amherst taxpayers, and to get the best deal for them, now and for the future.  He said that there are ongoing commitments from Leverett, Pelham, Shutesbury, and that all are paying a higher rate per call than Hadley, and that he is willing to accept that same rate from Hadley.

Mr. Weiss said that he had requested a scenario from Mr. Shaffer several months ago, outlining what the situation would look like as far as personnel, budget and staffing, if Amherst were to not come to terms with Hadley.  He said that while the contract is not a Select Board decision, it would be good for us to know the ramifications and know how things might need to be restructured.  He said he also has questions about what it would cost to staff fire protection and EMS just for Amherst, and asked if those numbers could be provided.

Mr. Shaffer talked about planning for a potential third fire station and whether the Town can afford that, the yearly increases in ambulance calls, and the need to have or build in capacity if this trend continues, which he said could amount to a 40% increase in ambulance calls over the next 10 years.  He said that some short-term solutions for 2009 could prove “disastrous” in 2019, and that he needs to make calculations based on the long term.  He said that if Hadley’s fee structure is less than that of other participants, it would be difficult to fit them in to long-term plans.  He said that the costs per call won’t be decreasing if major expenses, such as a new fire station and the staff and equipment it would require, are incurred.    

I said that I am in favor of new revenue anywhere it can be found, and said that Mr. Weiss’ point about what it takes to cover Amherst was a starting point that may have been skipped over.  I said that the Town’s primary concern is not to serve Hadley, nor is it to employ firefighters just for the sake of employing them, but rather, that the primary concern is providing adequate protection to Amherst, and I said that the picture of what it takes to do that had yet to be presented.  I said that while I favor a corporate business model for Town government, I didn’t think that public safety could be measured on a cost-per-call model.  I said that if we were to suddenly have significantly more calls next year, the cost per call would be less, which might seem like it was more efficient in some way, when our fixed costs would not have changed.  I said that might be why the cost-per-call model doesn’t feel like the right measurement– because it doesn’t address what the fixed costs are that are minimally necessary for adequate coverage.  I said that I am extremely concerned that losing Hadley would require losing personnel, and that that would result in reduced protection for Amherst, and I cited the vital role emergency medical service plays in the healthcare network of the senior population.

Ms. Brewer said this issue of what Amherst needs for protection has been discussed multiple times, without progress.  She said that the relationship with the Hadley Town Administrator and Select Board may be suffering for this.  She said that getting the numbers on Amherst’s coverage needs would make all involved “feel like we’re working from a real base of understanding.” 

Mr. Weiss said that some believe that the cost-per-call model doesn’t deduct out the cost of the fire service.  Mr. Shaffer said that that cost has been deducted out, and that he has received no proposal to challenge the income and expense formula that he used to calculate the per-call costs, and that he would be happy to consider alternatives.  He said that this is “clearly is not a Select Board issue,” and that he is happy to report back on progress, but that the Select Board doesn’t have “any role to play at all.”   He said that he will continue to talk to Hadley and hopes he has the full support of the Select Board to seek “equitable and fair” revenue from Hadley and that he hopes to have Hadley on board, but that the deal needs to make sense.   

Mr. Weiss said it is the Select Board’s business because of the fire budget, and needing to make recommendations on that budget to Town Meeting.  Mr. Shaffer agreed but said that “the business arrangements are the exclusive purview of the Town Manager.”

Ms. Awad said she agrees with Mr. Shaffer and has agreed with his approach to costs.  She said that combined fire and paramedic service is a successful model and that they are being merged in more communities.  She said that determining and separating out the cost of firefighting would be difficult, because the connection between the two is “seamless,” and that it can be difficult for the smaller communities to understand that.    Mr. Shaffer said that fire prevention efforts have been so successful that there are fewer fires, and EMS has become the principal job of the fire department.  He said that ambulance calls account for about 73% of the fire budget.

I said that there are national standards for staffing based on population to ensure adequate coverage, and I asked if Mr. Shaffer accepts those standards and is using them in his calculations, and if so, if he has determined that the staffing number we would be left with if were to lose Hadley would be above or below the recommended level for Amherst.

Mr. Shaffer said that we don’t meet national standards with our paid staff, but we are closer to meeting them when the volunteer firefighter force is factored in.   He said that if we were to lose Hadley, we would lose 19% of total calls, and 25% of ambulance calls, and that all the time spent providing that service to Hadley could now be spent providing service locally.  He said that 6% or 7% of the time more than three ambulances were out responding to calls at the same time, and 93% or 94% of the time there were fewer than three out, so he said this was not considered a vulnerability currently but could be in the future if the ambulance calls continue to increase at current rates.  He said that the question is whether you drop a large subscriber like Hadley that isn’t paying enough, in order to meet the 3.8% growth rate in calls, or keep Hadley and try to hire to meet the increases, and whether the marginal and incremental costs for that hiring is consistent with the revenue to be received. 

I said the bottom line is: would Amherst be less protected if we were to lose Hadley, if that meant losing personnel?  Would it affect Amherst’s coverage?

Mr. Shaffer said “I don’t think so.  I don’t think it matters either way.”  He said that the issue is not just coverage, but also net cost per call, and that increasing revenues from other towns, UMass and Amherst College, drives down the net cost per call for all.  Other factors improving the net costs are new insurance rates and new rates for the Town.  He said that revenue had been at 41% or 42% of the total expense stream, and the goal is to get it to 65%, and progress is being made.

Mr. Weiss asked if more information could be available in a month, and Mr. Shaffer said yes. 

Ms. Brewer said that this has been asked for in the past and hasn’t been received, and that Mr. Shaffer is saying both that this is issue is not in the Select Board’s purview and that he will provide the scenario requested.  Mr. Shaffer said he will come up with the scenario because he needs it for his discussions with Hadley.  He said that the Select Board has received lots of information and data already.  Mr. Weiss said the data not received yet is what the layoffs and staffing changes would look like without Hadley.  Mr. Shaffer said layoffs might not be necessary given projections on insurance rates and other increased income.  Mr. Weiss said that that is exactly the kind of information the Select Board is seeking.  Mr. Shaffer said the fundamental question is whether Hadley would pay its fair share, and he said that it currently “gets a much better deal than any other participant” in our system.

Mileage Reimbursement  (9:26)

Due to the time, we considered what remaining agenda items had to be addressed tonight. 

I said that there was confusion at the Meals on Wheels program as to the change in the mileage reimbursement rate, and asked Mr. Shaffer for clarification.  He said that he had thought it was to be 58.5 cents per mile, equal to the Federal rate and had given that rate in a newspaper article, but that in fact, the new Town rate is 50 cents per mile, effective July 1. 

Annual Town Report  (9:28)

I said that the due date for departmental and committee reports for the Annual Report is typically September 1st, and we won’t meet again until late July, and should we be doing something to facilitate this.

Mr. Weiss said that he had had a hard time determining what to put in the Select Board report last year, and that suggestions from Select Board members were welcomed for this year's report.

Ms. Brewer said that the issue was both the Select Board’s report, and the fact that the Select Board has responsibility for overseeing the completion of the full report.  She said that Eva Schiffer and Roy Rosenblatt had managed the process in recent years, and that she (Ms. Brewer) had volunteered to do it this year, and that Ms. Stein might help as well, and that Ms. Brewer and Mr. Shaffer needed to meet on the subject.  She said that letters have typically been sent to departments and committees at the end of June, but that the time would be a little compressed this year.  She said that most people doing the reports have done them many times, that much of the departmental content is defined by law, and that the committee handbook describes what is expected from committees.  She said that letters would go out at the end of July. 

The meeting adjourned at 9:31 p.m.  The next Select Board meeting is scheduled for Monday, July 21st at 6:30 p.m. in the Town Room at Town Hall.


Anonymous said:

Regarding the ambulance discussion, once again Mr. Shaffer is saying that something is not an issue for our elected officials. This is an important matter and I'm glad to see you treat it as such. I am concerned that he is not listening to the concerns of our residents about our safety, the issue for us IS coverage! I have read the information on the firefighters web site and feel he is ignoring the information they have given him. We need some solid answers to your questions and he needs to keep our safety a priority.



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