SELECTMEN’S MEETING

JUNE 13, 2005

 

 

Chairman Perkins called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM.

 

Selectman Bond, Selectman Wiksten, and Selectman Andrews were present.

Selectwoman Brunelle was absent.

 

 

SELECTMEN’S MINUTES

 

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

            VOTED:  To approve the Minutes of June 6, 2005 @ 3:15 PM.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

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

            VOTED:  To approve the Minutes of June 6, 2005 @ 6:40 PM.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

HEARINGS, MEETINGS & LICENSES

 

Public Hearing – Trash & Recycling Fees

 

Chairman Perkins opened the hearing to discuss the potential implementation of trash and recycling fees.

 

Mr. Healey provided handouts showing the total cost associated with trash and recycling pick-up, which was $1,012,500 per year.

 

Mr. Healey suggested a fee of $18.00/month based on the total annual cost divided by 4,725 customers (75% of one, two, and three family dwelling units).  He also suggested the fee be waived for the elderly who qualify for a real estate exemption under Chapter 59, Clause 41C.

 

Mr. Healey suggested, if the Board approves the fee, a letter be sent to all residents.

 

Selectman Bond asked if Town Counsel had reviewed the documents.

 

Mr. Healey said the documents were sent to Town Counsel for review and comment.

 

Selectman Bond questioned a suggested Board of Health Regulation that would require private collectors to submit the names and addresses of their customers.  He suggested only the addresses are necessary.

 

The Regulations also suggested that private collectors also conform to the collection schedule set by the Town as to the days of the week, time of day and routes. 

 

Selectman Bond asked if the Town had a right to require this.

 

Mr. Healey said yes, adding it was done in 1982 in Wareham.

 

Selectman Bond told the Board he had contact private collectors for prices, which ranged from $27.00 to $40.00 per month.  Some added for recycling, and all had limits of how many bags could be collected.

 

Selectman Bond suggested the draft letter should not include quotes from private firms, but a more general statement that private arrangements may be more expensive.  He also suggested it be prominently noted that residents must respond in order to opt out.

 

Selectman Bond suggested there could be problems with residents setting up “communal trash pick up”.  He suggested a limitation on the number of bags.  He also asked how a flat fee would be equitable.

 

Mr. Healey asked if Selectman Bond had any suggestions.

 

Selectman Bond said there should be a limit on the number of bags, with a surcharge for going over, or “pay as you throw”.

 

Mr. Healey suggested an initial flat rate to see how it plays out.

 

Selectman Wiksten agreed, suggesting the Board review this in 6 months to 1 year with a goal to go to a bag system.

 

Chairman Perkins asked Don Boucher if he knew what the average number of bags were that were placed for pick up.

 

Mr. Boucher said there is no way of knowing this.

 

Selectman Bond said the trash haulers that he had spoken to suggested between 4 and 6 bags per week for an average household.

 

Selectman Andrews said the question of equity falls out of play because it is already inequitable in that some people are generating more trash than others.  He said the bag system would also be inequitable because there are people who have the means and space for a trash compactor.  Also, people on the Town’s sewage system can have garbage disposals.

 

Chairman Perkins said he had been opposed to a trash fee because he felt that it’s already paid in the tax bill.  However, given the situation the Town is in, he was in favor of imposing a fee to “keep the town going”, and eliminate some layoffs.  He said the fee is substantially less than a private contractor.

 

Bob Lessard sad that he felt this was a “back door tax”.  He suggested the Board should’ve gone for an override.  He also questioned some of the figures that Mr. Healey had provided in regards to employees and uniform costs.

 

Mr. Lessard also noted that the Town of Bourne makes money with its recycling program.

 

Mr. Healey said Middleborough makes about $12,000 year, which goes to a revolving fund.

 

Chairman Perkins noted a letter from Attorney Dan Murray regarding the difference between a tax and a fee.

 

Attorney Murray suggested there is a three-part test which an assessment must satisfy for it to be a lawful fee:

 

1.                  fees are charged in exchange for a particular government service which benefits the party paying the fee in a manner not shared by other members of society:;

2.                  fees are paid by choice in that the party paying the fee has the option of not using the government service and thereby avoiding the charge;

3.                  fees are collected not to raise revenues but to compensate the government which provides the service for its expenses in providing the service.

 

It is Town Counsel’s opinion that “a charge for trash/recycling pick up service would most likely be a permissible fee and not an illegal tax if the charge is calculated to compensate the Town for the cost of the service, not to raise revenue beyond the cost of the service, and if every property owner has an option not to pay the charge and not use its service.”

 

Selectman Bond said he was bothered that by the third component, saying it appears that the fee was brought up in the context of “plugging a budget hole”.

 

Mr. Healey said this is not a new subject, noting he has raised the idea for five (5) years as a way to deal with ongoing problems.  He said the Board knew before Town Meeting that there was a “$2 million problem”.

 

A resident from Smith Street asked why household trash could not be brought to the Landfill.  She said, by eliminating the service, the Board is making it impossible to avoid paying a fee.

 

Mr. Healey said it has been a long standing policy that household rubbish is not accepted at the Landfill.  He said it is far cheaper to dispose of household trash at SEMASS than using up space at the Landfill.

 

Selectman Andrews clarified that the residents was asking for the Landfill to be a “transfer station” where trash can be picked up and brought to SEMASS.

 

Mr. Healey said there would be a cost involved with that, too.

 

Jeff Millette, Old Center Street, said he is employed by the Town as a trash collector.  He agreed with Selectman Bond that bags would be the fairest way to impose the fee.  He also noted that confusion on whose trash gets picked up could result in more complaints to the DPW.

 

Neil Rosenthal said the problem is that he’s not sure that the “hole we are in is necessary”.  He said Town officials have known about a deficit for a long time, and exacerbated the problem by negotiating 11% increases in salary for a few employees. 

 

Mr. Rosenthal suggested charging a flat fee for one or two bags, and paying for additional bags.

 

Mr. Rosenthal questioned the associated costs that were presented by the Town Manager.

 

Mr. Healey said the figures are real, and calculated by a formula approved by the DOR.

 

Mr. Rosenthal asked what would happen if more than 75% of the residents participated.  Would the cost then come down?

 

Mr. Healey said no one knows, noting the town would have to “suffer through the first year’s experience”.

 

Mr. Rosenthal suggested that the third regulation requiring conformity on days of collection be eliminated.  He said this would discourage private contractors.

 

Dean Rantz, 115 Miller Street, expressed concern with more trash being discarded on roadways.

 

Mr. Healey noted dramatic cuts to the Highway Department which requires them to choose between picking up litter, patching potholes, cleaning catch basins, etc.  He also suggested that Middleborough was probably the last town in our area to charge for these services.

 

Steven Holmes, Everett Street, said he worried that the fee would continue to rise each year.  He suggested Town Meeting should approve any increases in the fee.

 

Chairman Perkins said the Board is trying to avoid this, noting Town Counsel’s opinion that the fee must be in relation to the actual cost.

 

Chairman Perkins said that some residents will blame the Selectmen, but said the State is also responsible because it issues mandates and does not fund them.  He noted that the Town is part of the Massachusetts Municipal Association which does a good job lobbying on behalf of the towns.  However, the State does not have money, either.

 

Selectman Andrews said he had spoken to some Lakeville residents who say that trash is not being thrown on the side of the road. 

 

Anastas Velantzas, 255 Miller Street, said he has lived in this town for four (4) years, and felt it was no long a “blue collar town”.  He said it does not make sense to pay more for less services.  He suggested the town needs to start acting like a business.

 

Mr. Healey said the Town has acted as a business in that it has kept track of revenues and expenditures on a monthly basis, and has predicted this day would come.

 

Ed Park, South Middleborough, suggested “pay per bag” would be most equitable.

 

Michael Hall, Smith Street, said he did not agreed with forming town government on the basis of a business.  He said he voted raises for employees because residents need to continue to support the people who work for the town.  However, he suggested talking with Unions to “give them a little less pay” to preserve some jobs.

 

Darlene Anastas, 17 Gibbs Road, felt that the flat rate would be punitive.  She said if a fee must be imposed, it should be a per bag rate.

 

Joan Ellis, Spruce Street, said the fee would actually be a tax because it is paid out of proportion.  She said that Barbara Anderson, Citizens for Limited Taxation, said it is only a fee if you “pay as you go”.  If it is a “blanket fee” it is a tax.  She said that every town that has proposed a flat rate for rubbish has been threatened with a lawsuit.

 

Ms. Ellis also said that she felt the Board was setting the fee to make up a certain dollar amount necessary to balance the budget.  She said the transfer station would be a good idea.

 

Tom White, Susan Lane, say he came to tonight’s meeting in favor of a flat rate, but now felt the Board should look at a bag system or a transfer station.

 

Mr. Healey said there are administration costs associated with the pay as you throw which would drive the cost up.  He said a transfer station would have to be manned on a full time basis, and containers would have to be picked up and transported which would involve paying freight.

 

Selectman Bond said the DEP’s description of pay as you throw is to have a flat fee with a unit based fee.

 

Mr. Healey said the Board should look at setting a flat rate at this time and evolve into the combination of a flat rate and additional cost for bags.

 

Pamela Buck, Rocky Meadow Street, questioned why recyclables are thrown into 1 pile.

 

Don Boucher explained that separating recyclables “costs a small fortune” because of the baling wire and plastics and cardboards involved.  He said newspaper and cardboard are still separated because there is still a market for them.  He said the Town basically breaks even.

 

Diane Ford, 86 Thomas Street, said she understood the Board’s position, but asked that it looked at the trash fees from an equitable point of view.  She said transfer stations would empower residents to be part of the process.

 

Hearing no further comments, Chairman Perkins closed the hearing.

 

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

VOTED:  To impose an $18.00/month trash and recycling fee per household - per apartment - to be billed to the property owner, and to revisit the equity of a flat fee system by February 2006, and the imposition and necessity of the fee one year hence.

VOTE 3 – 1 (Selectman Bond opposed)

 

Selectman Bond said he opposed the motion because the Board is doing something that it knows is inequitable now.  He said the first step should be to go back to the bargaining table, not to look at taxpayers.

 

Mr. Healey said he acknowledges that the fees are not “perfect”, but said it is the 11th hour, and something needs to be done.  He said the choice is to make another $2 million in General Government cuts.  He said the Board does not have the luxury of time.

 

Mr. Healey apologized, saying it is a difficult time.  But noted that every time we go to Town Meeting, we spend everything that we have.  He said all Free Cash was spent to balance the FY04 budget.  He said the Town knew it was “$2 million in the hole” leaving the September Town Meeting.  He said there are no longer any resources.  He said the deficit was complicated by ratification of contracts with raises that were negotiated by the Board in good faith.

 

NEW BUSINESS

 

Request for One Day Liquor License – Professional Bartending Service

 

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

VOTED:  To issue a One Day Liquor License to Professional Bartending Service for an event to be held at Oak Point on July 16, 2005 from 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

Request to Rent Town Hall Meeting Room – LLOSA Life Line Screening

 

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

VOTED:  To approve the request of Life Line Screening to rent the Town Hall Meeting Room on Wednesday, August 3, 2005 from 8:390 AM to 5:30 PM for a ‘Stroke and Aneurysm Prevention Screening’

            Unanimous Vote.

 

Request to Sign TIF Agreement – Prana Lodging, LLC

 

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

VOTED:  To sign the TIF Agreement with Prana Lodging, LLC.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

OLD BUSINESS

 

There was no ‘Old Business’ discussed tonight.

 

TOWN MANAGER’S REPORT

 

Trash & Recycling Fee Analysis

 

Mr. Healey suggested changing language in the letter to residents that would say “we found that private contractors quoted more than we will charge”.

 

Selectman Andrews said the letter needs to include the reflection of the motion that the Board will review this in 6 months to discuss a pay as you throw system.

 

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

            VOTED:  To send the letter to residents as amended.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

Mr. Healey also suggested taking Neil Rosenthal’s suggestion, and eliminating the third regulation under the Board of Health’s regulations for trash and recycling fees, and deleting the requirement for trash contractors to provide “names”.

 

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

VOTED:  To amend the Board of Health Regulations for Trash and Recycling Pick up. 

Unanimous Vote.

 

Mr. Healey also asked that the Board “readopt” the Landfill Trash and Recycling Regulations, which include banned items and acceptable items, as part of the Board of Health Regulations.

 

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

VOTED:  To adopt the copy of the Fees and Rules entitled “Town of Middleborough – Brook Street Landfill”, as amended, as the Board of Health Regulations.

            VOTE 3 – 1 (Selectman Bond opposed)

 

Mr. Healey pointed out the amendment that would clarify that household items are not accepted at the Landfill.

 

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

VOTED:  To adopt the ‘Elderly Waiver of Trash and Recycling Fee” for elderly residents who qualify for a real estate exemption under Chapter 59, Clause 41C.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

Selectman Bond said he assumed everything would be run by Town Counsel.

 

Mr. Healey said it would.

 

Budget Preparation

 

Chairman Perkins noted that meetings have been posted for each day this week to give the opportunity to meet, and hold a joint meeting with the FinCom on Thursday.

 

Mr. Healey provided an overview of the Budget.  He said that Department Heads had been instructed to prepare a new 5% reduction budget that absorbed the contractual increases and the 53rd week and to prepare an impact statement detailing the layoffs and other cuts needed to achieve Target Budgets 5% below the original FY’05 Budgets.

 

Mr. Healey said the Board needs to prioritize where another $500,000 in cuts will come from.  He said the Park is scheduled to open on Saturday, but will wait until the 25th.

 

Discussion ensued on the programs at the Park Department. 

 

Mr. Healey said, as soon as he has gathered the 10% department budget cuts he would deliver them to the Board. 

 

Neil Rosenthal said it is important for the Board to encourage a large turnout at Town Meeting because a small partisan could effect the Town’s ability to run.  He said there needs to be enough people to support the Board and the FinCom rather than some other agenda.

 

Mr. Healey agreed, saying he believes people are “beginning to realize the gravity of the situation”.

 

Danielle Bowker, new Director of the Library, wanted to go on record noting there is a waiver process for the Library’s certification.  She said if the Library is cut, it will have no chance in the waiver process.  If the Library loses its certification with no waiver, residents will not be able to borrow books from surrounding towns.  She asked the Board to keep this in mind when prioritizing.

 

SELECTMEN’S BILLS

 

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

VOTED:  To pay the bill submitted by Collins, Loughran & Peloquin P.C. in the amount of $9,984.00.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

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

VOTED:  To withhold payment on a bill submitted by Thevenin, Lynch, Bienvenue, LLP, and to send a letter regarding the standing of a prior issue.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

OTHER

 

There was no ‘Other Business’ discussed tonight.

 

CORRESPONDENCE

 

v     A copy of an article in The Beacon entitled “New rules could end local franchise fees” will be sent to the Cable Committee.

 

v     The Board was notified of hearings with the ABCC for two (2) establishments selling liquor to a minor.  The Board’s Secretary was asked to find out if additional action can be taken by the Selectmen.

 

v     Upon motion by Selectman Wiksten and seconded by Selectman Andrews, the Board

VOTED:  To authorize the Chairman to sign a letter designating Middleborough on the Move as the Town’s partner on issues relating to revitalization efforts in the downtown area.

            VOTE 3 – 0 – 1 (Selectman Bond abstained)

 

v     Mr. Healey was asked to follow up on a complaint from David Clemons regarding snow plowing.

 

v     Mr. Healey will attend a SEMASS meeting on June 16th.

 

v     Selectman Bond will attend the Plymouth County Commissioners Annual Budget Meeting.

 

 

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

VOTED:  To enter into Executive Session at 10:26 PM, not to return to Open Session, for the purpose discussing Contract Negotiations.

A poll vote was taken.  Selectman Bond, Selectman Wiksten, Selectman Andrews, and Chairman Perkins approved.

            VOTE 4 – 0

 

 

 

 

                                                           

Diane Henault, Secretary

BOARD OF SELECTMEN