Selectboard Present:Peggy Pschirrer (Chair); Steven Dalessio; Cheryl Mayberry
Staff Present:Sarah Downing (Manager of Administration); Rich Kreissle (Manager of Finance); Justin Cassarino(Recreation Department Director) Chief Michael Paquette (Police Chief); Paul Clark (Highway Department); Justine Fafara (Librarian); Paul Colburn and Benjamin Hoy (Recycling Department); Eloise Clark (Hooper InstituteDirector)
Excused:Mike Rau (Road Agent) and Sandra Smith (Town Clerk and Tax Collector)
CALL TO ORDER: Mrs. Pschirrer called this Staff Meeting to order at 5:00 PM in the Walpole Town Hall. She advised this meeting is being recorded.
Mrs. Pschirrer welcomed Ben Hoy, who will be the new director of the Recycling Center. The group will be saying farewell to Paul Colburn who is retiring after 13 years of service to the Town. There is a celebratory cake in honor of Paul’s retirement.
For this meeting, the format will be changed. Mrs. Pschirrer asked the group what their challenges were for this past year and what would be the challenges in 2019.
Recycling Department: Mrs. Pschirrer asked if Paul Colburn could tell the group what would be different for him and the department in 2019. Mr. Colburn thanked Mrs. Pschirrer for the cake. The biggest difficulty that the department experienced last year and will be experiencing this coming year and most likely years to come is going to be markets. There was a downturn several years ago. This situation is not going to change overnight. There are going to be issues of pipeline, with demand being low and supply being high. Mixed paper has low demand and brings low to no revenue. On a positive note, Walpole has low volume for this type of recyclable. The big commodity is cardboard which Walpole does have in supply. Mr. Colburn hopes to have a contract in place by the end of the year for cardboard. Mr. Colburn predicts there will be changes in markets. The new baler will be helpful with meeting new market demands.
Mr. Hoy thought his new challenge would be getting to know and accommodate the public and staff members. He is soaking in all the new information about the Recycling Center. He thanked the Board for his new job. It is very exciting to be part of the Town of Walpole.
Mrs. Pschirrer asked Mr. Colburn what his future plans were. Mr. Colburn is going to expand his home this coming summer with the help of a carpenter friend. And, he’s going to build a pick-up truck from the ground-up. Mr. Colburn also plans on traveling to Iceland sometime soon.
Mr. Dalessio commented that Ben Hoy will be a good asset to the Town and we shall progress forward.
Recreation Department: Mrs. Pschirrer asked Mr. Justin Cassarino how things went for him this year. Mr. Cassarino said they had a very, very good year. There were a lot of new programs. A lot of people enjoying the pool. Adult Nights were a huge success. The challenges were that people want improvements very quickly and all at once. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to accomplish this. Mr. Cassarino is hoping that improvements can start small and then build. Mr. Cassarino explained pickleball. It is similar to tennis with smaller paddles and nets. It’s a very popular game and there is a demand for courts.
Other upcoming family events include the Daddy and Me Dance and the Mommy and Me Movie Night. Sponsorships with local business are being developed. Mrs. Pschirrer and Mr. D’Alessio agreed that demand for programming is growing quickly. Mr. Dalessio felt the numbers supports investment. Mr. Cassarino agreed with Mrs. Pschirrer that the Recreation Committee is very supportive and involved.
Police Department: Chief Paquette thanked Mr. Colburn for his years of service to the Town. He felt that Recycling Center had improved with professionalizing several areas. Chief Paquette felt that Mr. Hoy will now help move the Recycling Center to another level of improvement.
The biggest challenge in the past year for the Police Department was obtaining their new hire. It took 18 months to find an officer. Then the recruit had to graduate from the academy. Following this is field training (FTO) with seasoned officers. The new officer must learn how to deal with people. There are several hundred items that an officer must demonstrate proficiency in order to work independently. It is a very demanding schedule for the supervisor with planning, documentation and follow-up. This created challenges for scheduling group firearm and strike strip trainings.
It’s been a busy year with over 200 arrests this past year which is the highest yearly recorded amount for Walpole. There is a tremendous amount of paperwork that goes with processing arrests.
Mrs. Pschirrer wondered since the drug epidemic is highlighted in the media, were there any deaths due to drug overdoses in Walpole over the past year. Chief Paquette said there were several overdoes. State statistics are showing a decline in drug related deaths due the use of Narcan. There had been 3 deaths over an 18-month period. There are additional deaths that are under investigation. Mr. Dalessio and Chief Paquette agreed it takes many man hours conducting these investigations. Chief Paquette explained how the court process can be challenging with submitting paperwork.
Mr. Dalessio asked if drugs and alcohol continue to the largest problem. Chief Paquette said it was drugs with less issues dealing with alcohol. There has been a spike in juvenile and child abuse issues along with embezzlement cases this year. Everything larger cities deal with, the local police deal with in a smaller volume.
Mrs. Pschirrer asked Chief Paquette if we should expect to see these trends continue into 2019. He agreed that the drug issues will continue with many of the stops being “pass-throughs” which are vehicles driving through Walpole on their way to some other destination. The police train many hours in order to be prepared for that one moment when they may need to take action. Chief Paquette thanked the Board for allowing the Police Department the time to train.
Highway Department: Mrs. Pschirrer asked Mr. Paul Clark what challenges the Highway Department experienced. Mr. Clark felt that the challenge was providing safety for highway workers. Mr. Clark referenced that accident in which Ken Thompson was seriously hurt. The Highway Department was doing everything right and it was an uncontrollable situation. Changes have been made with new LED signs which have received positive comment from the public. Another change has been the use of cones and one-way road signs instead of flaggers. Drivers are slowing down since they must think of what to do in these situations. There are still drivers going too fast. However, the group is watching each others’ backs to make sure they’re safe.
Mr. Dalessio mentioned that new headgear is now available that allows a flagger to hit a button to send a vibration to the ear muffs of coworkers’ headgear to warn them of possible danger. Mr. Clark told of another incident where the flaggers were ignored on Main Street in North Walpole.
Mrs. Pschirrer gave an update regarding Ken Thompson’s recovery from the accident that occurred in late August. Mr. Thompson recently stopped by to visit the Highway and Police Departments. It will be some time before Mr. Thompson can return to work due to hismultiple injuries. Sick Pool Leave was discussed with how to donate additional time.
Hooper Institute: Mrs. Eloise Clark reported that the Institute had a great year. The challenge in the past year had been the shifting population in the High School Program. There will be adjustments made in the coming year. The challenge for 2019 will be rebuilding the Hooper Institute Committee. There has been some attrition and new members are needed. Mrs. Pschirrer agreed that students’ interests are changing. Mrs. Clark stated that students have limitations on where and when they are willing to work.
Library: Mrs. Pschirrer commented that the Library had an exciting year. Mrs. Fafara reported that they had reached their fundraising goal. The challenge was keeping everyone engaged. The challenge for the upcoming year is going to be the construction to renovate the library. Mrs. Pschirrer explained how the library is an independent institute with payroll being the one item that the Town administers. Mrs. Pschirrer asked Mrs. Fafara how much money was raised. Mrs. Fafara said that $450,000 was raised in the past year. Another opportunity came up which was to add movable stack shelving on a rail system that would hold a majority of the Library’s books. This system would make the library more handicapped accessible since the shelving can be moved. It also increases the capacity of books that can be stored. They are applying for a number of grants to fund the purchase. Mr. Dalessio agreed with Mrs. Fafara that “it will happen”.
Finance: Mr. Kreissle said that on a broad perspective, helping managers with understanding how certain events will affect their budget and how it will show in a budget has been a challenge. The compromised general fund account in July and resolving that issue was also a challenge. It’s taken several months of follow-up to settle. More recently, due to the delay setting a tax rate, the challenge has been cash management in order to pay the $1.7 million Cheshire County tax bill. The bill was approximately $300,000 more than last year. When the Town has excess funds, they are swept into PDIP. Although the town could have tapped PDIP funds to pay the county tax bill, by using cash management, the Town was able to keep funds in PDIP which creates interest revenue for the Town. Another challenge will be the updating of the AccuFund program which will change how W2s and 1099 forms are produced. In 2019, another change will be the adding of a benefit time module to AccuFund. Mr. Kreissle said that the hiring of Mrs. Jodi Daigle, the Water and Sewer Clerk, has been beneficial since prompt, quarterly water and sewer payments help with meeting monthly payment obligations for the Town. Mrs. Daigle also recently assisted Mr. Kreissle with processing payables. There had been software issues with his computer. It was a learning experience for both of them.
Selectboard Office: Per Mrs. Downing, one area of change was increased property tax abatement requests. It took many months to respond to all the requests which were four times more than the prior year. This area may be a challenge in 2019 since several early requests have been submitted which is unusual. There were challenges in July with the General Fund compromise, along with modem and business line phone issues. At this time, we also lost our long-time custodian Gerry Brady, who is missed. The current challenge is being the recording secretary while Regina Borden is on medical leave. On a positive note, Brad Nash will become a full-time custodian in 2019. His job responsibilities will include cleaning office spaces and bathrooms at the Police Department and the Recycling Center.
Water and Sewer: Mr. Dalessio chimed in that the Water and Sewer Department has turned completely around from 2 years ago where the department was losing money, to having over $100,000 surplus in that fund. There is over a $300,000 surplus in water funding. We are heading the right direction. Mr. Dalessio thanked the field operations crew, Jodi, Rich, Sarah, himself and everyone involved with turning these funds around. Mrs. Pschirrer commented that all bond obligations are being met with the Bellows Falls Waste Water Treatment Plant. Mr. Dalessio said the that Waste Water Agreement was finally signed off, after 12 years of discussions. The next challenge is creating a plan for moving the waste water line from under the Vilas Bridge in case the line should become compromised.
Cheryl Mayberry: As the liaison to the Recycling Department, Ms. Mayberry’s challenge for this year is assisting with new leadership and employees at the Recycling Center. As discussed before, changes in the market place are a challenge. There will be a lot of learning ahead for all of us. Ms. Mayberry appreciated Paul Colburn’s 13 years of service and the last two years she has worked with Mr. Colburn.
Peggy Pschirrer: There were several good things in the past year per Mrs. Pschirrer, one of which was July 2nd when the Hooper Property sold to local people. It has been a seven–year project. Mrs. Pschirrer has not visited the property in 4 months and is no longer making weekly trips to the property. It was a great relief when it was sold. There are several other pending property sales. The Walker Road Property will close in the near future. The local citizenry will be buying the land and transferring the property to the Town. The Conservation Commission will have the responsibility of shepherding that land. The land has access points to the Connecticut River. The other property the Town is buying is the Westberg Property, that was the Central Plating site. They are land-locked pieces of property. The Town is working on an EPA Grant for $500,000 toward the cost of $700,000 to clean up the property. The Westberg Estate and NHDES have also promised monies toward the clean-up. The property will become a town parking space. In fact, today it was very hard to find parking in downtown Walpole. Off-street parking is needed. Mrs. Pschirrer said that the DES is very supportive. We need to persuade the EPA that these grants are needed. Walpole may have wealthy individuals living here, but Walpole is not a wealthy town. Both Mr. Dalessio and Mrs. Pschirrer agreed that there are no pending lawsuits which is a positive for the Town. The Selectboard wished the group a happy holiday.
Recreation Department: Mr. Justin Cassarino submitted the following report dated December 20, 2018:
Town Clerk-Tax Collector: Mrs. Sandra Smith submitted the following report dated December 19, 2018:
I HAVE BEEN VERY BUSY COLLECTING TAXES. DUE DATE IS TOMORROW!
COLLECTED TO DATE OF MY FALL WARRANT IS $4,742,830.74 AND THE UNCOLLECTED IS $1,254,575.26
TOMORROW SHOULD BE A VERY BUSY DAY.
EXCUSE THE “CAPS” BUT MY EYES ARE KILLING ME. SPENDING TOO MUCH TIME ON THE COMPUTER.
WATER AND SEWER BILLS HAVE BEEN WARRANTED TO ME AND IF LEFT UNPAID WILL ROLL OVER INTO MY TAX LIEN PROCESS. IF LIENS ARE NOT PAID IN FULL WITHIN 2 YEARS AND A DAY PROPERTY COULD BE DEEDED. JODI IS DOING A GREAT JOB WITH WATER AND SEWER AND I APPRECIATE HER HELP.
WE HAVE COLLECTED $11,173,434.54 TO DATE THIS INCLUDES ALL WARRANTS.
SARAH AND RICH ARE GREAT; WE HAVE BEEN WORKING ON SOME OF THE UNCOLLECTED PROBLEMS AND PROCESSING REFUNDS, ETC. IF PROPERTY OWNERS WOULD UPDATE THEIR MAILING ADDRESSES IT WOULD SAVE US ALL TIME.
MOTOR VEHICLES HAVE COLLECTED APPROX. $73,000.00 AND OVER $18,000.00 FOR THE STATE
SHORT REPORT, AS I HAVE TO KEY IN NEW TAX PAYMENTS. HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS – SANDY
Selectboard Office: Mrs. Downing submitted the following report dated December 20, 2018:
Highway Department: Mr. Rau submitted the following report dated 11/15/18 to 12/19/18.
Walpole Town Library: Mrs. Justine Fafara submitted the Walpole Town Library December 2018 Report:
WalpoleNov. 2018 Nov. 2017
# of Adult Programs1313
# of Adults attendees126162
# of Teen Programs15
# of Teen attendees449
# of kid/family programs1516
# of kid/family attendees154107
North WalpoleNov. 2018Nov. 2017
Big excitement is we’ve surpassed our fundraising goal of $448,000. As of 12/20/2018 we’ve raised
$449,999.83 in cash and pledges.
The Library will be closed Monday the 24th, Tuesday the 25th and Tuesday January 1st. We’ll also be closing early (5pm rather than 8pm) on Monday December 31st
The Fundraising Committee is planning an open house to celebrate our fundraising success with the public on Saturday January 12th, 9am-1pm.
Police Department: Chief Paquette submitted the following report for the period of November 17, 2018 through December 15, 2018.
Calls for Service
Criminal Investigations – 72 at 25%, Public Safety – 118 at 43%, Motor Vehicles – 96 at 34%
ADJOURNMENT: Mrs. Pschirrer declared this meeting adjourned at 6:02 PM.
Sarah Downing, Recording Secretary Pro Tempore