SELECTMEN’S MEETING

JULY 5, 2005

 

 

Chairman Perkins called the meeting to order at 7:02 PM.

 

Selectman Bond, Selectwoman Brunelle and Selectman Andrews were present.

Selectman Wiksten was absent.

 

 

SELECTMEN’S MINUTES

 

Upon motion by Selectwoman Brunelle and seconded by Selectman Bond, the Board

            VOTED:  To approve the Minutes of June 27, 2005.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

HEARINGS, MEETINGS & LICENSES

 

Meeting with Town Accountant – RE:  Auditors

 

Lisa Higgins was present.

 

Chairman Perkins explained that the Board has been confronted with a “he said-she said” situation in regards to an issue with the auditors.

 

Ms. Higgins told the Board that she had provided correspondence explaining the situation.  She said, when she arrived in April 2004 the FY03 Audit had not been completed.  She said, in May, she was introduced to the Auditors and provided whatever information was needed to facilitate the completion of the audit.  She said there is a discrepancy in the amount charged to the Town.  The audit fee was $18,500 with a clause for GASB work to be performed.  Services would be billed as rendered with management approval.  By April 2004, $27,000 had already been paid.  Now, the auditors are requesting an additional $4,500.  She said there is not a sufficient appropriation to pay the additional amount.  She also noted that the audits say approval to incur the additional expense was approved.  However, there is nothing written given this approval.

 

Ms. Higgins said the FY04 audit has not yet been completed.  Financial Statements are supposed to be submitted by March 31st.  She said she never received the engagement letter that the auditors allege was given to her.  $10,000 has been paid to date for this year’s audit.  She said her office has done everything it can to facilitate the request.  She said a comment was made by the auditors that they are waiting for the capital assessment statements for FY04.  She said she has given this to them.

 

Ms. Higgins said that everything that goes through her office is documented.  She said the FY04 audit is being held because of a dispute regarding the FY03 audit.

 

Chairman Perkins asked about extensions that have been filed.

 

Ms. Higgins said the Town has received additional extensions for filing financial statements.

 

Chairman Perkins asked what the ramifications were if extensions are not granted.

 

Ms. Higgins said funds could be held back.

 

Selectman Bond asked if Ms. Higgins confirmed what the cost would be with the auditors.

 

Selectman Bond asked if the FY04 audit could be produced if it were ordered to be given to the Town.

 

Ms. Higgins said no, because there is work that needs to be completed.

 

Selectman Bond said the FY04 audit needs to be completed as soon as possible.  He asked what options the Town has.

 

Ms. Higgins said arrangements could be made to pay the $4500 or they could be fired and a new firm hired.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle asked if Ms. Higgins knew whether or not the previous Town Accountant had approved the additional work for FY03.

 

Ms. Higgins said there was no indication.  She said she could find nothing in writing.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle said the prior Town Accountant should be contacted.

 

Ms. Higgins said the Accountant is not the custodian.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle explained, in the past, the Board had not always been involved in the process. 

 

There was no dispute that the work had been done by the auditors.

 

Selectman Bond said, absent the prior Accountant’s confirmation, it’s the auditor’s burden to prove.

 

Ms. Higgins said it is “standard practice” that the GASB conversion be performed by the auditors.  Waiting for the Town Accountant to do it is erroneous.  She said the Town has already paid for this service.

 

 

 

Selectman Andrews said the Board has two (2) possible courses of action:  pay the $4500 or go to Town Counsel immediately to force them to get the audit done without paying the $4500.

 

Chairman Perkins asked if the $4500 was available.

 

Ms. Higgins said there is no appropriation.  She suggested seeking the money that was overpaid and applying it to the FY04 audit.

 

Selectman Andrews asked for Ms. Higgins recommendation.

 

Ms. Higgins said it has been a difficult work relationship, and noted that the auditors were not hired for next year.  She said there is still a “tremendous” amount of work to be done, and said she “wouldn’t mind” offering the FY04 audit to a new firm.

 

Selectman Bond reiterated that the Town doesn’t have the money.

 

Ms. Higgins said the money would have to be appropriated at Special Town Meeting.

 

Chairman Perkins said the Town has a contract for services at a given price.  If they don’t want to complete the work it should be given to Town Counsel.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle noted that State and Federal monies are being put in jeopardy.

 

Selectman Bond suggested the Board could get an injunction.

 

Chairman Perkins said he “couldn’t see voting to spend more money”.

 

Ms, Higgins said she had spoken to colleagues, and another option would be for the Town to take an “adverse opinion”.  However, this would limit the Town’s rebonding.

 

Upon motion by Selectman Bond and seconded by Selectwoman Brunelle, the Board

VOTED:  To forward all information to Town Counsel, instructing him to contact the auditors to see if there’s a way, short of litigation, to complete the FY04 audit, and to report back to the Board by next Monday.

               Unanimous Vote.

 

Selectman Andrews noted the Board must consider the trade off of spending more time and money to save the $4500.

 

NEW BUSINESS

 

Request to Approve & Sign Agreement – Middleborough Gas & Electric Department

 

Discussion ensued on correspondence from Town Counsel suggesting an Agreement between the Town and the MG&E in regards to Plymouth County Pension payments.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle asked if the Town Treasurer had reviewed the document and commented.  She wanted to be sure the Treasurer understood that the request is to transfer monies into an interest bearing account.

 

Upon motion by Selectwoman Brunelle and seconded by Selectman Bond, the Board

VOTED:  To ask the Treasurer to comment on the proposed Agreement.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

Request to Approve & Sign Septic Betterment – Bergen332 Plymouth Street

 

Upon motion by Selectwoman Brunelle and seconded by Selectman Andrews, the Board

VOTED:  To approve and sign a Septic Betterment Agreement with Barry & Janice Bergen, 332 Plymouth Street, for $9,725.00.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

Request to Approve & Sign Septic Betterment – King – 1 Kings Way

 

Upon motion by Selectwoman Brunelle, and seconded by Selectman Andrews, the Board

VOTED:  To table signing the Septic Betterment Agreement for Jeanne King, 1 Kings Way, until an outstanding tax liability is paid to the Town.

Unanimous Vote.

 

Request to Use Town Hall Meeting Room – Girl Scouts

 

Upon motion by Selectwoman Brunelle and seconded by Selectman Andrews, the Board

VOTED:  To approve the use of the 2nd Floor Auditorium for the Girl Scouts meeting on the following dates from 6:00 PM to 9:30 PM:

Wednesday, July 27

Tuesday, August 30

Thursday, November 17

Tuesday, December 13

Wednesday, March 15

Unanimous Vote.

 

Discussion ensued on allowing the use of the Hall for no charge. 

 

Selectman Andrews said the Board must “consciously make a decision not to charge fees for the Girl Scouts to use the Town Hall.”  He said he supports the request, but needed to ask the question given the Town’s financial situation.

 

Upon motion by Selectman Andrews and seconded by Selectwoman Brunelle, the Board

            VOTED:  To waive all fees for the requested dates.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

 

Request to Accept Peirce Trustees Donation – Health & Building Departments

 

Upon motion by Selectwoman Brunelle and seconded by Selectman Andrews, the Board

VOTED:  To accept three (3) checks from the Peirce Trustees on behalf of the Health and Building Departments for the stated purposes.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

A letter of thanks will be sent.

 

OLD BUSINESS

 

There was no ‘Old Business’ discussed tonight.

 

TOWN MANAGER’S REPORT

 

There was no “Town Manager’s Report” as Mr. Healey was on vacation.

 

SELECTMEN’S BILLS

 

Upon motion by Selectwoman Brunelle and seconded by Selectman Andrews, the Board

VOTED:  To pay the bill submitted by SEMASS Partnership in the amount of $12,247.77.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

Upon motion by Selectwoman Brunelle and seconded by Selectman Bond, the Board

VOTED:  To pay Three (3) bills submitted by the Middleborough Gas & Electric Department in the amounts of $36.22 and $36.22 and $114.77, totaling $187.21.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

Upon motion by Selectman Bond and seconded by Selectman Andrews, the Board

VOTED:  To pay two (2) bills submitted by Verizon, totaling $49.00.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

OTHER

 

Trash/Recycling Fee:  Proposal for Trash Stickers

 

Selectman Bond told the Board that he a new concept for trash pick up that would help the Board in “getting out of a flat fee”.  He provided documents to the Board.  He said there are three (3) basic pricing structures:  proportional, variable, and multi-tiered.  He said he is proposing the proportional pricing, or charging by the unit.

 

Selectman Bond said he proposed a sticker that would be placed on each trash bag.  He said the sticker would include a DPW number and a “counter” creating a running number to try to deter any form of attempting to counterfeit the sticker.

 

Selectman Bond said he based the pricing on 6,300 households using 3 bags, or stickers/household.  This would produce $982,800 annually.  He said the cost of buying ‘avery stickers’ would be about $22,500.  He suggested stickers would be sold in sheets of 10 by the Landfill and the Town Clerk’s Office.  They would also be available by mail if residents included a self addressed stamped envelope.  He said the concept is to avoid billing issues and assuming the risk of collection.  He said with this system the money would be collected up front.

 

Selectman Bond said each bag would be no larger than 33 gallons.  A hearing would have to be held prior to increasing the price of the sticker, and would have to show the relationship to the cost.

 

Selectman Bond said the funds collected would be put into a revolving fund to be used to supplement the rubbish collection budget.  He noted that a revolving fund could not be set up until next year with authorization of Town Meeting.

 

Selectman Bond said the concept is to take the policy in principle, and “tweak it” during the next couple of meetings.

 

Chairman Perkins said he believed Selectman Bond was “on the right track”, but said he had concerns with the proposal.  He said stickers could be “counterfeited”.  He suggested contacting other communities before changing the vote because the Board “can’t afford to make this more confusing than it already is”.  He agreed that ‘pay as you throw’ is the way to go.  He noted material in the packet from DEP, along with an offer from Joe Lambert to meet with the Board to make a presentation.

 

Selectman Bond suggested that the Board not continue the flat fee to “give an incentive to get it done in the next couple of weeks.

 

Upon motion by Selectman Bond and seconded by Selectwoman Brunelle, the Board

VOTED:  To freeze and end the flat fee to give an incentive to get ‘pay as you throw’ done as quickly as possible.

VOTE 1 – 3 (Selectman Bond in favor).  Motion does not carry.

 

Discussion ensued on the motion.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle said she doesn’t mind moving forward, recognizing that there are a lot of inequities in the system, but noted that the fee was instituted because of the financial situation the town is in.

 

Selectman Bond said the fee started when Mr. Healey said to do a $20 fee to “plug our financial woes”.  He said the fee is a wrong that shouldn’t have happened in the first place noting it was done too quickly.

 

Discussion ensued on Selectman Bond’s comment that the flat fee was an “end run for an override”.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle said the option is to not pick up trash at all.  She said it is a service that has to be paid for and can no longer be paid through the tax base.

 

Selectman Andrews noted his motion regarding instituting the flat fee was not to keep it at a flat fee, but tweak the system, getting three (3) months on the first billing.

 

Judy Bigelow asked why the fee was not considered an override because the budget for trash pick up is not being eliminated.

 

Chairman Perkins said, based on an explanation from Town Counsel, a fee can be imposed for a particular service as long as it does exceed what the service actually costs.

 

Chairman Perkins noted that a cost analysis had been done including direct costs, SEMASS, fuel, insurance, and indirect costs.

 

Selectman Bond said there needs to be rationale relationship between the cost of the service and what is charged.  It cannot be used solely for the generation of revenue.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle said the revenue is generated to offset the cost of curbside collection.  She said it would have to go to the general fund this year because there is not an enterprise system.

 

Bob Lessard presented pictures of trash left at the end of Paul Road.  He asked how the rubbish could be differentiated between the various residents.

 

Darlene Anastas, Chairman of the Agricultural Commission, expressed concerns regarding the possible dumping on agricultural land.

 

Chairman Perkins said these are all questions for Mr. Lambert of DEP.  He said written materials indicate that towns have not experienced an increase of illegal dumping.

 

Upon motion by Selectman Andrews and seconded by Selectwoman Brunelle, the Board

VOTED:  To direct the Board’s Secretary to contact Mr. Lambert to schedule a meeting with the Board at his earliest convenience.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle encouraged the Board to act quickly, noting if a different system was put in place, flat rate bills would not be sent.

 

Approval of ‘Certificate of Qualification Form’ for Trash Exemption

 

Upon motion by Selectwoman Brunelle and seconded by Selectman Bond, the Board

            VOTED:  To table this issue.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

CORRESPONDENCE

 

v     Correspondence from Town Counsel regarding the Law Department Budget will be forwarded to Mr. Healey when he returns from vacation.

 

v     Upon motion by Selectwoman Brunelle and seconded by Selectman Bond, the Board

VOTED:  To direct the Board’s Secretary to contact the ABCC for further information regarding a suspension imposed on China Buffet.

Unanimous Vote.

 

v     A Job Posting from the COA was received.

 

Upon motion by Selectman Bond and seconded by Selectwoman Brunelle, the Board

VOTED:  To reinstitute a hiring freeze, asking that any job postings go through the Board of Selectmen for approval.

      Unanimous Vote.

 

v     Upon motion by Selectman Bond and seconded by Selectwoman Brunelle, the Board

VOTED:  To direct the Board’s Secretary to contact the DEP to obtain a report regarding 355 Wareham Street.

Unanimous Vote.

 

 

v     It was noted that the ‘water situation’ improved dramatically over the weekend.

 

 

 

Upon motion by Selectman Bond and seconded by Selectman Andrews, the Board

            VOTED:  To adjourn at 8:50 PM.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

 

 

                                                           

Diane Henault, Secretary

BOARD OF SELECTMEN