Select Board Minutes 06.18.12
June 20, 2012
TOWN OF BRADFORD
JUNE 18, 2012
The Pledge of Allegiance was said.
Call to Order and Roll Call:
Harry Wright, Chair called the meeting to order with Barry Wheeler, Sonny Harris, Cheryl Behr, Administrator, Marilyn Gordon, Treasurer and Marge Cilley, Secretary present.
Review and Consideration of June 11, 2012 minutes:
Harry Wright, Chair explained that at a non-public meeting last week the Selectmen intervened between Mr. Bill Martin and Mr. and Mrs. Richard Keller and advised it was a civil matter and nothing to do with the Selectmen. Word regarding an RSA has not been forthcoming for review at this time.
Motion was made by Harry Wright, Chair to accept the minutes of June 11, 2012 as presented. Seconded by Sonny Harris. Motion carried 3-0.
Laurie Brown, Captain, Bradford Rescue Squad and Elliot Brown brought Lucas (an automated CPR machine) for a demonstration. Laurie also advised there will be a CPR class on Wednesday at 7:00pm. at the Fire Station and open to whomever would like to attend. It was advised that Lucas fits about 95% of people. Elliot Brown advised he has actually used this already. The battery lasts from 45 to 1:15 minutes depending upon the size of the person.
The Selectmen signatures were required on a refund overpayment and a deposit error.
Accounts Payable and payroll manifests were reviewed and signed.
Cheryl Behr advised she had contacted the Community Action regarding Elder Care, and they would be available on June 27th. The new lease has to be signed by July 30, 2012 for the beginning of August 1, 2012. Consensus was to set this as a preliminary meeting.
Dave Pickman needs to agree upon a location to place the Police Department generator, then it can be transferred from the Town Hall to where the Police Department is now located on Route 114, and will be done by the Highway Department.
Cheryl Behr advised two people have shown interest in the Health Officer position, and the decision is to put an “Ad” in the Bradford Bridge.
Cheryl Behr advised Pike will begin grinding Fairgrounds Road on Wednesday June 13, 2012.
Cheryl also stated that she had contacted the Insurance Company, and there is no problem with liability with the Town Hall Fire Alarm not being connected to dispatch.
Mention was made that Lois Kilnapp reported to the Selectmen’s Office that she received a compliment from Fred Hubley regarding the road repairs done by Barry Wheeler and the road crew, and especially those that were done in the parking lot of the Church.
At this time, Jane Johnsen requested to look at the payables from Marilyn Gordon, Treasurer.
Discussion ensued regarding the Building Permits that are on the Web Site and suggestion was to make it more concise and have one page with the plans required. Cheryl Behr will work with the Building Inspector, Palmer Porter on this.
Barry Wheeler provided a sheet (see end of minutes) with the Highway Department accomplishments this week as well as anticipated work for next week, which includes work on Fairgrounds Road in preparation of grinding to start on Wednesday.
Cheryl Behr advised she and Harry Wright, Chair met with Jon Marden on Friday morning regarding some issues with FEMA. Cheryl advised she has contacted the person who actually does the FEMA reporting, and he will forward complete copies of application and he does want to look over the payroll fringe benefit calculations.
Jon Marden questioned Cheryl Behr as to when the complete application may be coming in and it was stated July 7th or after, and when received, they will be forwarded to Jon.
The Selectmen signed a Warrant for Unlicensed dogs, which is an annual event.
Cheryl Behr advised she had communication from William Rose, DOT Transportation Highway Grant and the plans are expected to be available around the 26th of June. Advertising will then go out with the review of the bids due back in two or three weeks, the usual time contractors take to respond. Estimation of the project is fourteen weeks with the start date the second week of August, and finishing the end of October.
Sonny Harris will work with Cheryl Behr on the correction of roads on the DOT Block Grant list that were listed incorrectly on a State Report. Sonny Harris gave one example as Solitude Ridge being a Class V town road and they are not, but are private roads.
A young lady who advised she lives right in the middle of Cochran Hill and Fairgrounds Road and the traffic is traveling too fast and is requesting the speed limit be set at 25 miles per hour. It is now listed at 35 and no one is doing that. It was suggested that the Police Department would look into this. Perhaps if the Police could be more visible during the daytime hours would help some.
Harriet Douglass asked Barry Wheeler where they were going to start grinding on Fairgrounds Road, and Barry stated by Harriet’s old house. It was also stated that they will only be grinding one side at a time, so the road will always be open to traffic.
Jane Johnsen advised she has some concerns regarding the Road Agent ever since Town Meeting. At this time Jane handed out copies of Chapter 12 “Public Official Ethics and Conflicts of Interest” to the Selectmen for their following along with her reading portions of it. (This was taken from Knowing the Territory – A Survey of Municipal Law for N.H. Local Officials (Spring 2002 Edition) NHMA).
Jane advised she has written down some things the Town should know and doesn’t know.
Jane read a portion of number 1. What is Full-time? RSA 669-7 It is recommended that anyone whose decisions on budgets might be influenced by his/her personal pecuniary interest should not serve in these positions.
And, on Page two: B. Common Law Incompatibility. Two positions might be incompatible even though they are not listed in RSA 669:7 or any other statute. Whenever two positions bear a special relationship to each other, one being subordinate to and interfering with the other, with inconsistent “loyalties” or responsibilities, then one person cannot legally hold both positions. An example was one school committee member could not sit on a judgment. Back on Page One, Jane read under RSA 669:7 Incompatibility of Offices. No person shall at the same time hold any 2 of the following offices, then goes on to list, Selectmen, then it goes on to list highway agent. Jane allowed her problem is that Barry, Mr. Wheeler has taken over that job and I would like to ask a couple of questions and get some answers, and I’d also like this to be in the minutes in its entirety.
1. Mr. Wheeler, are you on the payroll? Reply Yes
2. Do you fill out or punch a time card? Reply Yes
3. Do you qualify for any benefits? Reply No
How about insurance for a part time employee:? Reply No
4. How long do you feel you will remain as a paid stand-in Road Agent Reply As long as what is going, goes on. Barry advised he is not the Road Agent, is just helping out.
Jane Johnsen stated you are the Road Agent, and Barry Wheeler replied I am not. Jane stated, yes you are. Jane questioned why was the Road Agent put on Administrative Leave? Harry Wright, Chair advised this is a personnel issue that cannot be discussed to which Jane Johnsen stated I think it can be and the town should know. If he did something really wrong, the town should know. So, you are not going to tell us why he was put on Administrative Leave. Harry Wright, Chair advised there is a time for every purpose under heaven. Jane stated I think you are being evasive. Harry Wright, Chair stated he is not being snotty; it is something that cannot be discussed. Sonny Harris stated Jane, no, he is not, we have been directed by the County Sherriff’s Office not to discuss this. Jane interjected then why is he being paid if he did something wrong, then he should have been relieved, and not paid. The answer is, if you have any questions about that, you are directed to call them and they will discuss it with you per Sonny Harris. Jane replied, oh no, I expected to get an answer. 5. Jane questioned why the Board did not get someone else for the job if the Board thought the Agent wasn’t doing his job properly? What made you feel you had more qualifications Mr. Wheeler than the Road Agent? Reply – I don’t feel necessarily that I do, I’m just helping out.
Jane Johnsen stated: But you took over the job. Reply: Someone had to do something, he’s gone.
Jane added: But that’s what I said, why didn’t you find someone else for the job? Why did you feel that it was your responsibility to take over? Reply: I can do it, so am helping out.
Jane questioned: What makes you think you are doing a better job than he did? Reply: I don’t know that I’m doing a better job, but I am doing a pretty good job, doing a lot of thing.
So you feel you are qualified. Now, Mr. Wheeler, you’re getting paid twice by the Town, do you feel that is ethically ok? Reply: It is not illegal, we checked with our..
Is it ethically ok? That’s the thing this whole RSA is about. It is incompatible and it’s unethical.
What are you doing that the absent Road Agent was not doing? I’m not taking up with the Road Agent advised Jane Johnsen, these questions bother me. Reply: I am cleaning ditches that have not been done in about 4 years. I am doing a lot of things on the list.
(List attached to minutes)
Do you make more decisions than he did? Reply: I have no idea what…
But you were a Selectmen, so you would know. Reply: He was pretty much running his own show over there.
But he had to answer to the Selectmen. Reply: I don’t know that he answered that much to us. If something big came up he’d come to talk to us.
Do you think you are doing a better job than he did? Reply: I am doing the best of my ability.
But that’s not my question Reply: I am not going to answer that question that way.
To whom do you report to and get permission for work to be done? As he would have to had to do. Reply: The other two guys.
The other two guys, then that makes you your own boss. Reply: And so was he.
And you don’t own the company. We own the company. So you really don’t have to report to anyone. You know, as a tax payer, I do not understand how you feel you can get $40.00 an hour at this time and the Road Agent got $25.90 an hour, and he’s still being paid. Reply: $46.10 an hour if you figure in benefits
As far as I’m concerned, his pay was $25.90. and we’re putting out more money for Road Agents than anybody else in town. I just don’t like the conflict of interest. I think if you are going to have a Road Agent, he should not be a Selectman. You are being paid twice, it is double dipping. I’m not saying you get a lot of money being a Selectman, but you wanted to be a Selectman you ran for Selectman, you didn’t run for the Road Agents job. I know you are probably doing a good job but I don’t like the incompatibility and ethics of all of it. I don’t know what you plan to do about it, but I want people to know that Barry’s doing this and he’s getting paid for this a great deal of money. That’s not ethical.
Harry Wright, Chair gave a chronology of events being: A few weeks ago it was clear that they were short staffed at the highway with no Road Agent sitting there. The Selectmen encouraged Barry with his experience in the business and suggested he take a look at things and see if we could expend initially volunteer time to dispatch the crew. It came evident early on that to show up in the morning and say do this today was not being done and more active supervision was required. It was agreed upon to put Barry on, not as Highway Agent, because of RSA Legal implications, but as supervisor effectively for what we intend to be a very short term transigent period.
Jane Johnsen reiterated the #1 under Incompatibility of Offices: “No person shall at the same time hold any 2 of the following offices, Selectmen and Highway Agent. Jane allowed you can call it anything you want to, but it is called a Highway Agent. If he’s working as a Highway Agent and he’s getting paid as a Highway Agent, and he’s getting money rather than insurance, he’s almost doubled his salary, he doesn’t answer to any one except you two. You can’t do that, and you can’t be your own boss unless you own the company. And, he’s his own boss. He calls the shots, and you ok it. That’s all I have to say. My name is Jane Johnsen.
Harriet Douglass questioned if she understood that they had checked this out with the Town Attorney and it is legal? Barry Wheeler questioned and you have, right to Cheryl Behr, Administrator. Harry Wright, Chair stated, I don’t know that we have talked with the Town Attorney, but it is a part time job. Cheryl Behr, Administrator advised the Town Attorney advised this is a part time job, and he can be a Selectman and a part time worker.
Barry Wheeler advised people in other towns are doing this as well. A couple of policemen do it; someone works at a dump and is Selectman in Loudon. Jane Johnsen advised she had thought about this long and hard since March, when people got up and insulted the Road Agent. I do not know him, he does not come to my house for tea, but I thought it was terrible that they insulted him, and there was no reason to insult him. If you do not like what he is doing, just fire him. We are a democracy.
Harry Wright, Chair advised that the they that insulted him at Town Meeting were not Selectmen. Jane Johnsen stated she wanted the Selectmen to do something to make it right. Harry Wright, Chair advised they are working very hard to do what’s right in the best interest of the town. Jane stated that as tax payers, they all deserve it.
Marlene Freyler stated that the problem is like it started out at $25.00 an hour two weeks ago or whatever, when I was checking everybody and now it’s up to $40, how did it escalate that much in two weeks time? And it’s part time. Boy, I’d like a part time job paying $40.00 an hour. If this is part time work, that is a lot of money for the town to pay. Jane Johnsen stated she is surprised the Budget Committee hasn’t said something as they want to cut back on as many things as they can. I have a hard time believing the Committee says go ahead and pay Mr. Wheeler $40.00 an hour.
Jon Mardin advised once the town has voted on the money, the Budget Committee has no say in it. In reply to a question by Jane Johnsen if the Budget Committee is aware of this, Jon Marden stated no, the Budget Committee will not be meeting until next month.
Chris Frey stated he would like to defend the actions of the Board of Selectmen, that this has been going on for the past month, and to have someone supervise the highway crew you need two things, someone who knows the town and the conditions of the roads in town, the history of the roads, the equipment, what we have for equipment, and the capabilities of said equipment. There are people in town who could have assumed this position, but it is very hard to interview somebody for a job with that capacity when you don’t know what it’s going to take or how long it’s going to be there for and it is going to end at some point, and the Selectmen have no control when it is going to end as it will probably be in the hands of the Sherriff’s office. In all due respect, the Selectmen made the best decision they possibly could given the totality of the circumstances there. Barry is just part time doing supervisory work and helping as can be, and if we can get past the concept of him being Highway Agent everything falls into place. Jane Johnsen advised she disagreed with Chris that someone could be hired that could learn about the roads and learn about the equipment, and the man that was hired doesn’t know anything, then you’ve done a bad hiring job. You hire somebody because you know they can do the job. Jane Johnsen went on to say that no one went out and looked for someone to take that job.
Marilyn Gordon, Treasurer asked since there are only three Selectmen, what if there is a problem that comes up in the highway department, of course Barry would not be able to vote yes or no because he’s got to stand off. What happens between Harry and Sonny, if Sonny says yes and Harry says no, how would the problem be solved? Marilyn also advised she was under the impression that Barry was only supervising only a couple of hours a day and it’s turning almost into a full time position. If they need so much supervision then I would suggest get rid of those guys and get some guys that can really do the work.
Harry Wright, Chair advised that with the reporting being done on a weekly basis, we are closer to the action now then we were in the past.
Bob Lincoln advised that as far as a Road Agent is concerned, we are getting more work done now with two people then when there were four people working. There has been more done within the last month then in the last year.
Jon Marden clarified that the town has a position for one Road Agent and that Road Agent is currently employed whether he shows up for work or not to which Harry Wright, Chair concurred. We cannot hire another Road Agent, as then there would be two and there’s only one such position.
Barry Wheeler stated they are getting a lot of work done. Jane Johnsen questioned if more then before to which Barry replied, I have to say we are.
Harry Wright, Chair reiterated what he has stated previously, that they are trying to do their best for the town. Jane Johnsen requested what action is being taken against Jeff to which Harry Wright, Chair advised they are not at liberty to discuss that at this time. Harry did ask everyone to be patient.
Marjorie R. Cilley
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