Town of Otis
Select Board Meeting Minutes
October 8, 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 Bill Hiller and Larry Southard, Town Administrator Becky Stone, Patricia Mullins, Terry Gould, Jeff Gamelli, Jim Richard, Derek Poirer, Shawn Bliss, Sonia Morrison, Patricia Richard, and Nancy Crandall were present.
Review Meeting Minutes: The September 23, 2019 All Boards meeting minutes were approved by Bill and September 24, 2019 Select Board meeting minutes were approved by Bill and Larry as written.
Board of Health: No new business.
Knox Trail Sno-Riders Club Lease. All of the language of the club lease renewal is the same, except the term of the lease, which was revised from 5 years to 3 years, as recommended by Town Counsel. The lease was signed by Jeff Gamelli, Bill and Larry, and will be signed by Gary, the chairman, later this week, as he was not able to attend tonight’s meeting. Jeff expressed thanks and appreciation to the Board on behalf of the snowmobile club.
Town Administrator Resignation: Becky submitted her letter of resignation. She will be taking a position in Clarksburg, which is closer to home. She wanted to discuss and negotiate the terms of her contract. The contract calls for her to give a 60-day notice of her resignation, but she requested to reduce it to 30 days. She would like to schedule her last day to be November 7th. Without Gary being present, Bill recommended that the Board have a meeting with her regarding her departure and discuss posting the position for a replacement. He also requested that she pull together an overall review and comments regarding the office to be included in the meeting. Since Gary will be out of town next week, the meeting will need to be scheduled after that. Possible date is October 21st. The meeting date will be posted.
Community Development Block Grant Award: Patricia Mullins from the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission was in attendance to discuss the housing rehabilitation grant. She congratulated the Town of Otis on being part of the award. She gave a detailed explanation of the CDGB grant process for the towns of Otis, New Marlborough and Sheffield. The Town of Sheffield will be the lead town on the grant and receive a larger portion of the grant, since they will take on the fiduciary responsibility for all of this. Each town developed a list of interested recipients. The grant application was submitted last February. A total of 1.256 million dollars was awarded and the funds will flow through Sheffield. The maximum funding for each project will be $40,000. At least 20 units between the three towns are expected to be rehabilitated, depending on the scope and price of work for each project, with Sheffield getting more funding. Patricia expects Otis and New Marlborough will each probably get funding for somewhere between 6 to 8 projects depending on their total costs. So far there are at least 29 interested parties from each town. Applications can be picked up here at the town hall, though the town is not involved in who is awarded funding. Those 29 who signed up for applications will each be mailed the paperwork. Funding is awarded on a first come/first served basis to those who are eligible. Elderly applicants and those with homes in disrepair and health and welfare issues will be given priority with regards to program eligibility. Household income of all members of the household are factored into funding determination. The BRPC will get a list of the problems and concerns for each home and then professional inspections will be scheduled with BRPC housing rehab specialists. Building code violations and glaring safety concerns will be addressed and corrected first. Homes built before 1978 will require lead paint testing and mitigation if it tests positive. Each homeowner who is chosen to receive funding will receive a 15-year loan. Financing includes 0% interest and deferred payment loans. Lien is due if and when the house is sold. A list of prequalified contractors is required. Each will have to go out to bid. Lowest bid for each house is awarded the project. If the homeowner wants a different contractor, they are required to pay the difference between their preferred bid and the lowest bid. There is a grievance procedure, if necessary, for both the homeowner and the contractor. Funds are expected to be released at the end of November. BRPC will handle all the paperwork and be the direct contact for the applications and process. Laura Dorr will be the contact person at BRPC. Each project will be given a code number. The town will receive quarterly reports on where the funds are distributed, though the names of the recipients will be kept private. There was discussion on how the grants work and how the money is distributed and how HUD does oversight of the project.
Historical Commission: Sonia Morrison asked about the status of the RFP for the East Otis Schoolhouse. Becky reported that she and Larry Gould will be working on fine tuning the language and the description of the scope of work in the RFP next week, though they may not have it finished and ready to go out to bid next week. Becky mentioned that they aren’t comfortable with the fact that the schoolhouse is not on the Massachusetts Historical Register yet, because it will have an affect on the results of the bid packet, such as subcontractors. Sonia noted that the application for that listing is in process. She would like to see the Historical Commission be involved with the RFP process, because she is concerned about the time frame. She is concerned because she doesn’t want to see this project get held up.
Historical Commission would still like to host a walk on the Knox Trail with Larry Gould and Larry Southard and schedule it before it snows. Larry Southard agreed to get it done before it snows.
There was discussion regarding using the storage room at Harmony Hall. Patricia from Rec was informed by Jim that he needs direction from the Board to have the Maintenance Department move things for Rec. The Historical Commission would like to get some things up there as a temporary home to do inventory. Bill asked if there were locks on the storage room doors. Since there are not, Bill will speak with Jim about putting locks on those doors, as well as moving items for Rec to make room for the Historical Commission. Sonia added that the Historical Commission would still like to attempt to get a grant for $10K or a matching grant to assist the town with paying for the roofing project at Harmony Hall, since it is a historical building.
Highway Dept.: Shawn Bliss of Blandford attended the meeting for an interview for the Laborer/Equipment Operator position. Derek explained the position to Shawn prior to the meeting. Gary was not present for the interview. Though a full interview was not conducted, they will schedule an additional interview, if necessary. However, Bill and Larry asked Shawn some questions about his past experience and qualifications. Larry also asked Shawn about his certification expiration dates. Bill reminded Shawn that the position was not a managerial one. The pay range and probationary period were discussed, as well. Following the interview, Derek and the Board discussed the possibility of either using the maintenance staff to assist with plowing, which is the short-term need for the Highway Department or post a position strictly for plowing and therefore take the position off the table. Following this discussion, Larry asked Derek the status of the grader being delivered. Derek reported that it is due to arrive this month.
Other: Jim Richard was in attendance and explained that though he has a lot in Blandford he would like to obtain a piece of property located in Otis. Since the town has been owed taxes on this property for many years, he would like to know the possibility of when it could go to auction. He is interested, because this small piece of property could be frontage for his property. Bill explained that since there are 400 possible properties and they would have to be in touch with the Treasurer to start proceedings. They informed him that he could get the tax information from the Assessor and then they could forward the information to the Treasurer.
Adjournment: At 8:16 pm the Select Board unanimously adjourned the Select Board meeting.
Selectmen’s Secretary, Town of Otis
List of Documents
- Knox Trail Sno-Riders Lease.
- Letter of resignation from Becky Stone to the Select Board Chairman, dated October 4, 2019.
- Job application from Shawn Bliss for Highway Department Laborer position.
- FY 2019 Community Development Block Grant Housing Rehabilitation Program Application for Owner-Occupied Properties, Program Guide, Citizen Participation Plan & Grievance Procedure and the Sheffield-CDGB Management Organization Chart will be filed with these minutes.
- Community Development Block Grant Management Organizational Chart will be filed with these minutes.