Select Board Meeting Minutes 05/29/2019

Printer friendly

Town of Otis

Select Board Meeting Minutes

May 29, 2019


Call to Order:  Meeting was called to order at 7:00 pm in the Town Hall conference room.  A quorum was present and the meeting was recorded.


Present:           Select Board members Gary Thomas, Bill Hiller and Larry Southard, Town Administrator Becky Stone, Jack Conboy, Brian Middleton, Patricia Richard, Kathy Carroll, Larry Gould, Terry Gould, Michael Ernst, Russell Loring, Chris Bouchard, William O’Brien, Richard Phair, Jill Moretz, Dana Carnegie, Sherril Willis, Patti Hallberg, AnnMarie Waller, Jennifer Cherry, Jim Ebitz, Bob Meunier, and Nancy Crandall.


Larry Southard was welcomed as the new Select Board member.  Gary Thomas was appointed the new Select Board Chair for the year.

Review Meeting Minutes: The May 8, 2019 and May 14, 2019 Select Board meeting minutes were approved as written.

Board of Health:  Jack Conboy explained that Plumbing Inspector Brian Middleton recently conducted an inspection at Fratelli’s Restaurant and would report his findings to the Board, discuss whether an enforcement order should be in place, and explain his suggested strategy to solve the issue with the grease trap recently installed at the restaurant.  Jack also explained that Esmir, the owner of Fratelli’s, would not be able to attend the meeting because he is the only cook at his restaurant.  Brian first explained that the current setup involves a grease trap used to allow the grease to go directly into the septic tank, which then goes into the town septic system, but that the new grease trap should eliminate a majority of the grease.  He then explained the evolution of grease traps allowed by code in the last 10 years.  He reported that a recently installed grease trap at Fratelli’s is located next to the sinks.  There is no room in the basement for another grease trap, so that would not be an option.  There are also some other structural and space limitations.  Mount Everett Sanitation typically comes monthly to clean the grease trap.  Brian is concerned that the current grease trap is unvented.  He would like to see it vented properly, so there are no odor or health issues, which would also increase the success of trapping the grease.  Once it is vented properly, he expects that the grease trap will work better.  He would like feedback from Mount Everett after the venting is updated to see if it improves the situation.  Brian asked Larry Gould if Mount Everett could also inspect the septic lines while they are on site after cleaning the grease trap each time.  Jack explained that it was his understanding that venting wouldn’t be necessary if the grease trap is installed properly.  Brian explained that proper ventilation would be necessary and this would probably be the least costly solution.  Becky asked Jack for copies of the weekly pump out reports for the town BOH file.  Jack reported that Mount Everett said the pumping can be done bi-weekly, because at this point it’s not at capacity.  Bill asked BOH to revise the requirement in writing.  Larry Gould suggested that they decide how often to do the pumping after they see what effect the venting has on the grease traps.  Larry Southard questioned why the town is enforcing the work to be done by the renter (the restaurant) rather than the owner of the building.  Larry Gould explained that the renter can take on the responsibility of getting all the required work done.  Bill asked Brian to coordinate with Larry Gould on the work.  Gary Thomas then asked Brian about the old septic tank.  Brian believes that it was filled in and decommissioned.  There was discussion that it should have been, since it was a requirement for any building in order to be allowed on the town system.  There was discussion about the 2 grinder pumps and the grease build up.  There was also discussion about whether an engineer should be involved for the project.  There was agreement that an engineer would only be necessary if there was a dedicated system.  There was also agreement that this should be a coordinated effort to be inspected by the BOH, Plumbing Inspector, and Building Inspector.  There was discussion about the actual costs to the town and a reasonable time frame for the work to be completed.  Jack, Brian, and Larry Gould agreed that they would meet the following day to put together a letter to inform the restaurant owner.

Camp Bonnie Brae 100th Anniversary:  Dana Carnegie, as well as other representatives of the Central & Western Mass Girl Scouts were in attendance to discuss Camp Bonnie Brae’s 100th anniversary coming up this summer. Dana and the group detailed the activities and speakers scheduled for the celebration.  An invitation was extended to the town for the all day celebration on Saturday, August 17th.  Dana submitted language to the Board that could be borrowed for a town proclamation.  Gary read the language to share with those in attendance and signed the proclamation.  Chris Bouchard recommended that we contact the Governor Baker, Senator Hinds and Representative Pignatelli and inform them of the event.

Assessors RRG Contract:  Bill explained the current contract options presented to the town.  There was discussion about the contract and telepresence technology.  Becky discussed the benefits of using RRG.  There was also discussion that initially, taxpayers would only be able to access telepresence technology here at the town hall, but that eventually there would be a link on the town website.  Bill shared a list of approved town assessors to hire for staff hours and proposed the possibility of sharing an assessor with another town as an alternative option for the town.  Larry Gould recommended that we only sign up for one year to evaluate the new services offered by RRG.  Larry Southard suggested that we sign the 3 year contract, which had a discount in pricing, but then opt out if the town decides that service isn’t satisfactory, as long as the contract allows for the town to do so, as Becky explained the town could.  Bill recommended that the town purchase the RRG equipment through the Technology Fund if there is not enough in the Assessor’s budget for the contract.  Michael Ernst recommended that Town Counsel review the contract.  Larry Southard and Becky explained that Jeremia had already done so.  It was agreed that the Assessors meet with the Select Board to discuss other options in the next few months and simultaneously confirm with the Accountant to see if there is enough in the budget for a 3 year contract.  There was a motion to accept the 3 year contract and it was approved.

March 25, 2019 Finance/Select Board Budget Meeting minutes were amended to reflect those present at the meeting, because one name was missing from the list, and then approved.

Warrants would be reviewed and signed after the meeting.


Rec Center:  Patricia Richard inquired what the protocol is regarding new future Rec programs that are not in the current budget.  Bill explained that when the initial budget has been approved and there are changes later on in any fiscal year that the Board would like to see what new programs are scheduled and the cost of each new program.  If there are cancellations and new programs introduced, they would also like to know specific programs that haven’t already been included in the line items.   Patricia asked if this also included the revolving Rec account specifically set up for fees.  Patricia also updated the Board on the swim instructor position and their certification status.  Bill suggested that Rec consider pushing swim lessons to August and perhaps doing some morning lessons, if their swim instructor needs more time to be certified.  There was discussion on different ways to alter the schedule, if necessary.  Patricia discussed the town beach sand, as well, regarding contacting the DEP to replenish the sand.

Fire Department:  Rich Phair asked if he could look into a water softener and conditioner for the Fire Department to improve the water quality for washing the trucks, because it wasn’t initially included in the budget.  Bill recommended that they source 3 quotes for water softeners.  Terry Gould recommended they do a steak roast to acquire them.  Bill also suggested that they reach out to Brian Middleton for a recommendation.

Otis Ambulance Squad:  Jim Ebitz was in attendance to discuss updates and concerns regarding the ambulance squad.  First, he wanted to discuss the requirement of a full annual audit by the town.  He asked if the ambulance squad could be excused from this requirement.  Michael Ernst, Bill and Gary explained they would be satisfied with a copy of the annual 990 tax return rather than an audit.  He asked if the Select Board could draft a letter to Representative Pignatelli urging prompt support for upcoming legislation for a first responder to be allowed to drive an ambulance in an emergency, rather than the current requirement of 2 EMTs.  Currently, if 2 EMTs are not available, the town has to wait for an EMT to come from another town. This bill is for towns with populations with less than 3,000 residents and has already gone through the state Senate.  Currently CT & NY allow a full time responder to drive in an emergency if there is only one EMT available to drive.  Next, he asked that the town consider the ambulance squad’s stance in the event that the town is approached to consider consolidating services with several surrounding towns in the Southern Berkshire Emergency Service Zone.  Jim reported that the 5.1 million dollar project would be an additional tax burden to communities and replace local ambulance squads, though Jim anticipates that the town would still need a volunteer ambulance squad in addition to the consolidated services.  He urged the Selectmen to look closely at the details of the project if the town is encouraged to consider the proposal, because he does not believe it would be favorable for the community.  Jim then asked if the board could look over The Southern Berkshire Emergency Service Zone agreement signed approximately 10 years ago by the Select Board at the time.  He would like to know the terms of the agreement and if it is for a mass event or day-to-day operations.  Lastly, the E911 dispatch was discussed and potential solutions to the problems with cell phone coverage during emergencies.

Update from the Selectmen’s Secretary:  Since the Planning Board Clerk position has not been filled yet, Nancy informed the Board that the ad was still being run and the application deadline would be extended.

Updates from the Town Manager:  Becky informed the Board that the FY18 audit has been scheduled with the auditors for the week of June 10th.  She has informed the department heads about the audit.  She will be available that week in case they need any information to complete the audit.  Once the Town Clerk certifies the vote from the town meeting, she will send each department head a notice to explain what was approved on their budget sheets.  After appointments are done at the June 11th Board meeting she will get revised pay rates over to the Treasurer.  She is currently working with all department heads on capital projects approved at the town meeting.  The highway paving projects will be going to bid.  Derek is having Sourcewell Cooperative take care of all the bidding for the grader and she will work with him on that to insure that nothing is missed along the way.  Now that there is a newly formed Board, she would like to work with the Board on how they conduct business, such as motions and orders of business.  She is also waiting on a signed contract for her position, but mentioned that she would like to look at it again and may have some revisions she would like to discuss at the June 11th meeting.  Moving forward, she would like the Board to consider scheduling lunch meetings to discuss any concerns with department heads, rather than conducting All Boards meetings, since there is not a lot of participation at these meetings and it is not an efficient use of department heads’ time.  She would like to see department heads attend Select Board meetings with advance notice when there are action items.  She would also like to see the Board conduct a staff meeting every 6 months or so, which has been tabled for the past year.  She reported that there was a mailroom security issue with all of the current files from the ZBA mailbox this past week including the Turning Leaf contracts and D&J Development file.  There was also a security issue with Becky’s computer, which Larry Gould added that John is concerned it may have been a programming issue and is looking into that.  Becky expressed an overall concern with building security.

Adjournment:  At 9:06 pm the Select Board unanimously adjourned the Select Board meeting.

Respectfully submitted,

Nancy Crandall

Selectmen’s Secretary, Town of Otis



List of Documents

  1. Camp Bonnie Brae 100th Anniversary Proclamation to declare that August 17th 2019 is “Girl Scout Camp Bonnie Brae Day” signed by Select Board Chair Gary Thomas.


  1. A copy of a note from the Board of Assessors dated May 29, 2019 regarding their concerns about the RRG contract and services that will be available in the future.


  1. List of Assessors Contractors from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue updated on December 7, 2016.