November 6, 2006
Present were: Councilors Poulin, Grenier, Chagnon, Roy, Donovan and Danderson; Mayor Danderson, Councilors Lafleur and Nelson were absent. Patrick MacQueen, Peter Morency, Brian Valerino, Pamela Laflamme, media and public were also present.
In the absence of Mayor Danderson, Councilor Donovan moved to appoint Councilor Grenier Mayor pro tem; Councilor Chagnon seconded and the motion carried.
Request to Donate Used Fire Packs
Chief Trull explained that there is an ongoing effort to reopen the Stratford fire department. Berlin was fortunate enough to have had airpacks replaced through a Homeland Security grant and we have 6 airpacks and cylinders that we have not been successful in selling. Mayor pro tem Grenier suggested that Stratford make a monetary donation of $1.00 with provisions that the City is not held liable for any future failures of the equipment. Councilor Chagnon so moved; Councilor Roy seconded and the motion carried.
Appropriating Revenues from Outside Detail
Chief Morency reported that the City's auditors have requested that there be line items for money in and out. They want to see a line item with an estimate of what is anticipated as an expense in the line item. Mr. MacQueen clarified that the law requires municipalities to do gross budgeting, and that is what this is. Mayor pro tem Grenier noted that the resolution will need a 2/3 vote to pass.
Pick Up Truck Seat Belt Campaign
Brian Valerino explained that this grant is similar to the safety belt enforcement grant program with NH Highway Safety. This new grant is a collaborative effort with Gorham where pick up trucks will be monitored for seat belt use. The pilot program will not cost the taxpayers any money. The grant will then pay for information ads and facts to be broadcast in the media to see if the media blitz has an impact on seat belt usage. Chief Morency indicated that seat belt usage is less in pick up trucks and there are more incidents of being thrown from vehicles.
Councilor Donovan asked if all the grants regarding seat belt usage are geared toward getting legislation passed for mandatory seat belts. Chief Morency noted the Chief’s Association will support mandatory seat belt legislation in this legislative session, saying it is the right thing to do.
Councilor Donovan questioned how much federal highway money the State is losing because we don’t have mandatory seat belt laws.
Update on the Tillotson Grant Proposal for Reuse of Mill Site
Pamela Laflamme reported that a grant has been submitted to the NH Charitable Trust who will administer the Tillotson grants and the committee will be making their decision on Monday. Everyone has an opinion of what should be done with the mill site and it would be important to bring the community together to hear their opinions. Some of the grant funds could be used to hire a consultant who has not yet formed an opinion about Berlin. The consultant would deliver a menu of options for the site and would describe how each option affects taxes, jobs, and how it fits into the community.
Councilor Donovan agreed with the ideas noting that we need a plan that can be executed quickly without a lot of fanfare.
Mayor pro tem Grenier reported that wood is being brought back onto the property. He cautioned that a community forum could bring out people who do not have the best interest of the city in mind. There are plenty of people with opinions who cannot attend meetings and that is why there are elected officials. He added that we could go through this process not like the end product.
Councilor Danderson reasoned that the City does not have the final say on whether any plan is put into effect. Ms. Laflamme agreed, reporting that the funding agency has a concern that they would give the City money and the developer would then decide to do something else. It is better to try something rather than sit back and do nothing.
Lot Line Adjustment
Chief Morency explained that the lot line adjustment being proposed will take a small piece of land from the church at no cost to the city which will serve to square the City's adjacent lot. In exchange, the City has offered to clean some of the church property. The end result will create a lot to be about 50 x 200 which will be used for an impound lot. Councilor Danderson asked how many vehicles will be stored. Chief Morency commented that he does not want to create a junk yard.
Councilor Donovan asked if there have been bids to build. The Chief noted he wants to get Don Valliere, Chip Carpenter and possibly Councilor Roy together to produce a set of specifications. Ms. Laflamme said the Planning Board will likely approve the lot line adjustment on condition that the council passes the resolution. After the 20th, the lot line would be registered and the transaction would be complete. REGULAR CITY COUNCIL MEETING - November 6, 2006
Present were Councilors Poulin, Grenier, Chagnon, Roy, Donovan and Danderson; Mayor Danderson, Councilors Lafleur and Nelson were absent
Minutes, Previous Meetings
Councilor Roy moved with a second by Councilor Chagnon to accept the minutes of the 10/16/06 WS; 10/16/06 Regular Meeting; 10/23/06 WS and 10/30/06 WS. So moved, the motion carried.
Disbursement: It was recommended by the Committee on Accounts/Claims that all bills start date 10/17/2006; end date 11/06/2006 be paid for a total cash disbursement of: $1,846,834.08 Draft #1528. Councilor Danderson moved with a second by Councilor Donovan to accept the disbursement summary and pay all bills as recommended by the Committee on Accounts/Claims. So moved, the motion carried.
Gary Coulombe representing the Berlin Firefighters, stated that each City Council member was sent a registered letter by mail regarding the firefighter's contract. He asked that the Council support the factfinder’s report which would settle the contract. Mayor pro tem Grenier cautioned that the Council would not respond to questions and statements are to be addressed to the chair.
Mr. Coulombe went on to say that the firefighters are asking for a wage adjustment as well as the COLA because they make less money than teachers and police officers; however they pay the same insurance. He said the 3% increase will not cover the added insurance cost and the union cannot take a step backwards for its members.
Council Committee Reports
Safety Committee Recommendations
Councilor Roy read the recommendations of the Safety Committee including: that the Council pass an ordinance to install a 15 minute parking space in front of 283 Pleasant Street and also install a crosswalk at that location; and that the Council pass an ordinance to allow parking on the northwest side of Granite Street where it is currently "no parking" from the intersection of Mason to School Streets.
Councilor Poulin opposed the Human Services request stating that there are several reasons not to allow parking on Granite Street. The area is a narrow residential street and cars would be parked in front of homes all day long, it would make it difficult for the plow, and trash pick up. He went on to say that there is a parking lot nearby with 14 places. Councilor Poulin moved to table the safety recommendations; Councilor Chagnon seconded and the motion carried.
Mayor pro tem Grenier stated that tomorrow is Election Day and everyone should exercise their right to vote.
Ordinance to Remove No Parking from Granite St
Due to the Safety Committee recommendations being tabled, this item was not considered at this time.
Ordinance for 15 Minute Parking on Pleasant St
Due to the Safety Committee recommendations being tabled, this item was not considered at this time.
Resolution to Apply for a $100,000 from the Neil & Louise Tilotson Fund
- Councilor Donovan, with a second from Councilor Poulin moved to table the resolution with a public hearing to be scheduled for November 20, 2006. So moved the motion carried.
7:30 p.m. PUBLIC HEARING
Resolution Appropriating $5,000 of Grant Funds to the PD; Resolution to Apply for Funding to Repair Runway
Mayor pro tem Grenier called the public hearing to order at 7:30 p.m. and opened the floor to anyone wishing to speak for or against the subject matter. There being no comments, the public hearing was closed at 7:32 p.m.
Resolution Appropriating $5,000 of Grant Funds to the Police Department
Resolved by the City Council of the City of Berlin as Follows:
Whereas on April 6, 2006, a resolution was passed authorizing the Berlin Police Commission to apply for and receive funds for any and all purposes from the New Hampshire Highway Safety Agency for Highway Safety Project Grants; and
Whereas there is a need to provide documentation in court of motor vehicle operators who commit driving violations, and this can best be accomplished by audio/video recording specific details such as the vehicle's operation and behavior of the operator and its occupants; and
Whereas audio/visual recordings act as a deterrent to disorderly behavior once the operator has been informed that his/her behavior is being visually documented; and
Whereas grant funds are available for the purchase of acquiring in-cruiser audio/video systems for the above purposes. NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the City Council of the City of Berlin that the sum of Five-Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) is hereby appropriated to the Police Department budget for expenses related to the purchase of in-cruiser video systems; and further that the above sum is in addition to all other previously appropriated funds for the Berlin Police Department Fiscal Year 2007 Budget.
This Resolution shall be in full force and effect from and after passage.
- Councilor Donovan moved with a second from Councilor Poulin to remove the resolution from the table. So moved, the motion carried.
- Councilor Donovan moved, with a second from Councilor Poulin, to have the resolution read for a second time by short title only. So moved, the motion carried.
- Councilor Donovan moved, with a second from Councilor Poulin, to have the resolution read for a third time by short title only. So moved, the motion carried.
- Councilor Donovan moved, with a second from Councilor Poulin, that the resolution be passed. Roll call vote resulted in a unanimous affirmative vote.
Resolution to Apply for a $25,000 Grant to Repair Runway
Resolved by the City Council of the City of Berlin as Follows:
Whereas, it has been determined, that a frost heave occurred in the new runway pavement at the Berlin Municipal Airport due to the lack of an underdrain; and
Whereas it is crucial to have the repair done in a timely fashion; and
Whereas, 95% funding will be available in the spring of 2007, through the FAA and 2.5% funding through the State of New Hampshire Division of Aeronautics for such construction; and
Whereas, the Berlin Airport Authority shall be responsible for matching funds of 2.5% or $625.00. NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Berlin City Council authorizes the Berlin Airport Authority to apply for and accept a grant from the FAA in the amount of Twenty Three Thousand, Seven Hundred Fifty Dollars ($23,750.00) and from the State of New Hampshire Division of Aeronautics in the amount of Six Hundred Twenty-Five Dollars ($625.00) to be matched by Six Hundred Twenty-Five Dollars ($625.00) in airport funds to repair a crack that appeared at the south end of the runway at the Berlin Municipal Airport and the Berlin City Council hereby appropriates all such funds to the Berlin Airport Capital Budget Line Item 65-480-000-0004 Runway Reconstruction AIP 15. Be it further resolved that the Chair of the Berlin Airport Authority is authorized
to do all things necessary to effectuate the grant(s).
This Resolution shall be in full force and effect from and after passage.
- Councilor Donovan moved with a second from Councilor Danderson to remove the resolution from the table. So moved, the motion carried.
- Councilor Donovan moved, with a second from Councilor Danderson, to have the resolution read for a second time by short title only. So moved, the motion carried.
- Councilor Chagnon moved to amend the resolution to replace $750.00 with $625.00 throughout the resolution; Councilor Donovan seconded and the motion carried.
- Councilor Donovan moved, with a second from Councilor Danderson, to have the resolution read for a third time by short title only, as amended. So moved, the motion carried.
- Councilor Donovan moved, with a second from Councilor Danderson, that the resolution be passed, as amended. Roll call vote resulted in a unanimous affirmative vote
Resolution Appropriating $45,000 of Outside Details Revenues to the Police Department
- Councilor Donovan, with a second from Councilor Roy moved to table the resolution with a public hearing to be scheduled for November 20, 2006. So moved the motion carried
Resolution Pick Up Truck Seatbelt Campaign $837.75
- Councilor Danderson, with a second from Councilor Donovan moved to table the resolution with a public hearing to be scheduled for November 20, 2006. So moved the motion carried
Resolution Authorizing an Application to the Planning Board for a Lot Line Adjustment on Gilbert St
- Councilor Roy, with a second from Councilor Poulin moved to table the resolution with a public hearing to be scheduled for November 20, 2006. So moved the motion carried
Vote to Accept or Reject Factfinding Report Firefighter's Contract
- Mayor pro tem Grenier stated that the ground rules in RSA 273 prohibit the governing body from discussing the report; it must be accepted or rejected in totality.
- Councilor Donovan moved, with a second from Councilor Chagnon to accept the Factfinder’s Report on the Firefighter's Contract. By unanimous vote, the report was rejected.
Vote to Authorize the Placement of a Crosswalk on Pleasant Street
- Due to the Safety Committee recommendations being tabled, this item was not considered at this time
Communication from Deputy Chief Brian Valerino re: Traffic Lights at Green/Pleasant Streets
- Councilor Chagnon moved, with a second from Councilor Poulin to return the signals to normal.
- Councilor Donovan moved, with a second from Councilor Roy to amend the previous motion by having the signals at Pleasant and Green Streets blinking for the third shift and adjusted to accommodate traffic patterns. Mayor pro tem Grenier noted that this could be problematic to the Police Department if they have something going on in the community. Do we want to tie safety personnel time dealing with lights? Mayor pro tem called for a vote on the amendment. The motion passed on a vote of 4/2 with Councilors Chagnon and Mayor pro tem Grenier voting against. The motion, as amended, passed unanimously.
City Manager's Report
-City receives $350,000 CDFA grant. The City received a $350k CDFA grant to assist Berlin residents in the rehabilitation of at least 25 homes in and around Berlin.
-Boston Globe at Jericho Lake Park. Keith O'Brien of the Boston Globe spent Saturday morning with Mayor Danderson seeing the sites at the Jericho Lake Park on the Mayor's new ATV.
-Supreme Court at Jr. High. The Supreme Court held session at the Berlin Jr. High on Thursday the 26th. Berlin students and students from all over the North Country were then given the opportunity to ask the Justices questions about the cases they had seen.
-New Hampshire Retirement System Sucking Sound. Municipal assessments for this system have been going up dramatically from year to year. While municipalities bear the brunt of this cost and these increases, the State legislature has never seen fit to include a representative of municipalities on the NHRS board.
-Demolition Bids. Demolition bids were opened October 20th for three properties. Seven bids were received which is a very good response. John Gleason Construction from Milan was the low bidder in the amount of $21,250.
-RiverFire. RiverFire came off this last Saturday without a hitch, considering the forced delay of the event by a week. The organizing group will be discussing moving the event to earlier in the year and perhaps tying it into some other event.
-Assessing Inspections. Avitar, the City's contract assessor, is conducting random residential inspections for data verification purposes.
-AVRRDD Public Informational Meeting. The AVRRDD will be holding a public informational meeting for area residents regarding odor issues at the landfill. This will be held on Tuesday, November 28, 2006 in the Berlin City Hall auditorium.
-Solid Waste Meeting. Public Works Director Ernie Allain and Manager attended a meeting in Concord Wed. October 25th, put on by NH DES on solid waste in the state.
-155-B Enforcement Orders. 155-B orders were issued by the Court regarding the Micklejohn property on Pleasant Street downtown and the Fitzgerald property on 767 Sixth Avenue.
-Manager's Time and Vacation. Manager plans to take most of the week (21st-26th ) of Thanksgiving off. Laura Viger will be Acting Manager in my absence.
- Councilor Roy moved to accept the City Manager's report; Councilor Chagnon seconded and the motion carried.
There were no public comments.
Councilor Roy mentioned the sign on the door that says "closed." He feels it should say City Hall is "open" for meetings.
- There being no further business to come before the Council; Councilor Chagnon moved, with a second from Councilor Poulin to adjourn. The meeting ended at 8:00 pm.
A true record attest:
November 13, 2006
Present were: Councilors Donovan, Grenier, Chagnon, Poulin and Nelson; Mayor Danderson, Councilors Danderson, Roy and Lafleur were absent. Margo Sullivan, Fran Cusson, Norm Charest, Ernie Allain, media and public were also present.
Councilor Donovan moved to have Councilor Grenier chair the meeting; Councilor Chagnon seconded and the motion carried.
AV Home Care Services
Margo Sullivan thanked the Council for the financial support given to AV Home Care. Funding goes toward subsidizing Title 20 and is mostly for home care services; however there is also personal care involved.
Fran Cusson explained that November is home care month. With the funding the city provides, the program has managed to deliver 200 hours of extra services. Their services facilitate the elderly staying in their homes rather than being institutionalized. Councilor Grenier asked about John Stevens' plan for elder care that would work to keep people out of nursing homes. He questioned whether the Director of Health & Human Services had made contact with AV Home Care. Margo noted that there is a thrust to close nursing home beds. Service Link which is a referral service for anyone in the community is evidence of the work of HHS.
Councilor Grenier asked if there are the systems in place to work with communities if nursing beds are lessened. Margo stated that there is a very sick population at home with challenging disabilities and acuity. There has been a problem with staffing partially due to the needy population.
Ms. Cusson noted that there were 290 unduplicated clients last year and 72,000 hours of service were provided by AV Home Care. Councilor Donovan asked how staffing is long term and short term. Ms. Sullivan stated that homemakers are trained by the program but the work is not for everyone. The agency tries to keep pace with the pay and they have put more benefits in place for employees. The organization is friendly to women and their schedules. It is satisfying employment and those who work for Home Care have to know that their work means something.
Councilor Donovan asked if there is anything the Department of Employment Security can do to help fill positions in home care. Councilor Nelson indicated there are state-wide data bases where jobs can be posted. Part of the problem is that the people who are moving into the area are not qualified. Margo added that home care can provide an older, capable population with work that is good for the client and for the provider. Councilor Nelson noted that there is funding for people who want to become LNAs.
Fran added that the program currently has 18 licensed nurse's aides, 45 homemakers, and 8 office staff. In the 80's, there were 85 LNA’s and now there are 18. Councilor Grenier thanked Ms. Cusson and Ms. Sullivan for their presentation.
Economic Development Director
Norm Charest asked to be put on the agenda to encourage dialogue between him and the Council. He stated that these are complex, volatile times economically. There is a feeling like the area is on hold though there will be some significant activity next summer due to the state park and federal prison. We will also have a better handle on the mill property by then.
Mr. Charest went on to say that he is not sure that a lot of information gets filtered from different meetings to the Council. He does a monthly written report to BIDPA and as part of that report he was asked to gather information from the businesses at the Maynesboro Industrial Park. There are eight different employers; all the buildings are full. There are 116 employees in the park with an annual payroll of $3,386,069. Most of the people working in the park are local. The accepted economic practice is that the payroll is spent five to seven times and that means $20 to $30 million of activity in the community. The businesses in the park pay $79,000 of lease payments and about $44,000 of taxes.
Through Pat’s work, tenants are on a graduated scale and rental income will increase every year. Everything produced in the park is going somewhere else. Mountain Tire is the 45th largest truck re-treader in the US. Guitabec’s products are going all over the world. There is a company that imports gravestones from China through the port of Montreal. Hexaport is shipping steel all over the world, all making the park a part of a global economy. The park is at close to peak capacity with only one parcel of about 4 acres left.
Mr. Charest acknowledged the vision that was seen in the seventies, making buildings available at the industrial park. He questioned what kind of investment we should be making now for the future. BIDPA has been looking at buying more land and has contacted Georgia Pacific regarding a parcel that they own. There are about 80 acres of usable land which is bigger than the current park.
Mr. Charest added that he has looked at places like Berlin that had commerce concentrated in one area and the impact of a plant closure is the same. Communities that have been most successful after such a closure regionalized more. There is a need to look at the community as Coos County and to think in terms of garnering employees from the region. We are short on workers, connectivity and space.
Councilor Donovan agreed that there is a need for regional approaches when it comes to infrastructure to be competitive. There is a need for cell towers and broadband and there are people in the region who don’t want to that, making it difficult to promote ourselves as a region.
Councilor Chagnon asked if there are plans on the table that would show how to become regional. Norm stated that there are multi county plans that have worked in other regions. Councilor Grenier thanked Mr. Charest for his report. Councilor Chagnon asked that the Council receive a copy of the report that goes to BIDPA as an FYI.
Mr. Charest noted that money will be the deciding factor on what happens with the mill site. He speculated that the City may have been able to buy the property from Fraser. Councilor Chagnon asked if it is too late for the city to buy the land. Mr. MacQueen reasoned that he would like to opportunity to debate whether it would ever be wise to consider such a purchase.
Sewer Abatement Request
The Coos County Nursing Home was billed an additional sewer charge representing an error by the City that occurred in the transfer of accounting systems.
Councilor Grenier noted that he asked for this item on the agenda because being billed after the fact created some hardship for the County. The city is 14.23% of the county’s tax bill but uses about 50% of the services. Councilor Chagnon confirmed that the County will be paying the commercial rate in the future.
Mr. MacQueen reported that the hospital had the same error and they paid the difference. The error occurred when the MuniSmart system was put in place and not all the accounts were properly labeled. Mr. Allain indicated that there may be others that we have missed.
Councilor Nelson commented that she did not think it is right to charge them for our error. Mr. MacQueen confirmed that, to be consistent, the hospital should be reimbursed. Councilor Poulin moved that the City forego additional billing on sewer charges that were omitted in error and correct the mistake prospectively and not retrospectively; Councilor Nelson seconded and the motion carried, with Councilor Grenier abstaining.
Sewer Ordinance Additional Changes
Mr. MacQueen reported that there are a few additional changes proposed for the sewer ordinance. The most significant of those is a written process to charge industrial users for the strength of material being sent through the system. Councilor Grenier asked how we test the strengths and Mr. Allain responded that the city has meters that will take measured, periodic samples from a manhole. The ordinance will be introduced for a first reading at the next regular meeting.
257 Main Street
Mr. MacQueen explained that Andre Caron is working on having this building demolished next at a cost of about $45,000. Councilor Grenier questioned whether there is any salvage value in the building.
There being no further business, Councilor Chagnon moved with a second from Councilor Poulin to adjourn the meeting. The meeting ended at 8:25 p.m.