2020 Hampstead Board of Selectmen Meetings

Hampstead Selectmen Approve Stipend for First Responders
By Penny Williams 5-28-20

The Hampstead Board of Selectmen met Wednesday evening, May 27, and addressed the state's Stipend for First Responders program that the board
tabled at the previous meeting.

Selectman Joe Guthrie apologized to Police Chief Joe Beaudoin and Fire Chief Mike Carrier for what might have appeared that he was questioning the first responders. The issue was stalled for lack of a second to the motion to approve at the time made by Chair Sean Murphy. Guthrie said he was only concerned that other town employees were also putting in appearances at hazardous jobs during this very difficult time and weren't being similarly recognized. Selectman Chad Bennett added the board had not denied the request, merely tabled it for additional information. The program would award $300 to eligible full time first responders and $150 to eligible part time first responders. The board without any further discussion approved awarding the stipend to the list of first responders provided by the chiefs.

The board decided to open the single bid for the Hazardous Waste Day company to run the event as Hampstead is the host this year. The one bid came from Tradebe Environmental, Marionville, Indiana, in the amount of $26,457.10 for the entire event. The board voted to pass this on to the Recycling and Waste Disposal Committee for their review and recommendation. Selectmen's Administrative Assistant Sally Theriault said the amount is within the usual parameters for this event.

There was a lengthy discussion with Matthew Johnson, Chair of the Recreation Commission about what would be open and what would remain closed. It was decided that the tennis courts and the basketball court could be open but use restricted to no more than  8 people on the tennis courts and the basketball court. However, it was decided the beach would remain closed and parking for the beach area would be restricted with the larger parking lot being closed. People can access the water and swim but it is at their own risk.  Playgrounds would also remain closed as they can't be adequately cleaned between uses. People are using them but it is at their own risk. Baseball and softball will be restricted to teams of 9 players and a single coach and no porta potties will be available. The Summer Recreation Program is still up in the air awaiting further guidelines from the Governor. However, multiple scenarios are being contemplated.

Theriault said the various town boards and committees are starting to want to begin meeting and she asked the board for approval to allow the use of the Meeting Room so long as less than 10 were involved and social distancing was used. The board approved this with the condition that any users would need to follow the guidelines and clean the areas that were used during a meeting and sign off that they done so after the meeting.

The board approved allowing employees to take advantage of a proposed IRS change that would allow employees to make changes to their Health Trust Flexible Spending Accounts if they chose to or to open a flexible account but they need to do so by August 1.

The board asked that the decision on the Fireworks be moved to the next meeting. Patriotic Purposes Chair Howie Steadman said he needs to have a decision by June 12, and the board's next meeting is scheduled for June 10.

In Other Business:

* There will be a parade through Hampstead on June 7 for Hampstead Pinkerton Academy graduating students sponsored by the Hampstead Civic Club.

* The board signed off on the GOFERR grant submission.

* Board approved of Murphy resigning the Scope of Work for grant for the Water Resource Committee. The re-signing was required because of changes made to the program by the State.

* The board appointed Sara Arroyo to the Recreation Commission.


Hampstead Selectmen Continue Police Lieutenant Pay Discussion
By Penny Williams 5-12-20

The Hampstead Board of Selectmen continued their discussion of the newly promoted police lieutenant's salary at the Monday, May 11 meeting . 

  At the previous meeting Lt. Robert Kelley had lodged a request for an increase in his salary of $74,276 which, was a reduction in his pay when he was promoted from Sergeant to Lieutenant. He had asked that the Board reconsider this in as much as because of accepting the promotion he experienced a reduction in pay of some $8,000.

   Selectman Chad Bennett question Kelley's statement that he had learned of the reduction in pay after accepting the promotion. Bennett questioned why Kelley would expect any change be made after he accepted the promotion with the salary set at that level.

   Police Chief Joe Beaudoin joined the conversation and told the board unequivocally that he had told Kelley to accept the promotion and they would deal with the salary issue afterwards. He also stated emphatically that to give someone a promotion and cut the level of their pay made absolutely no sense. He stated that whoever did the job of proposing the wage range for the position did a very poor job. He also stated that Kelley was the only one capable of assuming the position which runs the department on a day to day basis. Kelley added that his base pay as Sergeant was roughly $82,000 and Beaudoin noted that Sergeant Rick Chambers makes more than $80,000.

  Chair Sean Murphy said the board would go into non-public to discuss this and they would notify Kelley of their decision on Tuesday.

   Murphy at that time told Bennett that he was assuming being liaison to the Police Department at the conclusion of the evening's meeting, something Bennett objected to saying he wanted to continue being the liaison to the Police Department until further notice.

   Murphy said it has been determined last year that if a liaison position decision is a question the decision would be made by the chair and as such he was making that determination and would assume the liaison position to the Police Department as the conclusion of the meeting.

   Bennett objected but Murphy and Selectman Joe Guthrie voted to accept that decision. Bennett then demanded he be given the Fire Department liaison position and Murphy said no and that was the end of the discussion.

   Bennett complained about not being part of the Police union negotiations to which Murphy responded that he had already said the entire board would deal with the police union negotiations.

   The board made the decision to award the mowing contract to Auger Property Maintenance despite Bennett's objections raised during the previous meeting. Both vendors of the mowing bids, Auger and Bennett Lawns,  responded to the questions asked by the board and the Recreation Commission continued to recommend Auger. The board voted  2 to 1 to award the bid to Auger while Bennett stepped down from the board regarding the issue.

   No one from the public spoke during the Blasting Ordinance Fees Public Hearing. Selectmen's Administrative Assistant Sally Theriault made one change, increasing the hourly amount for blasting inspector standby to $30 per hour. The board approved the fees with that change.

   Chief Beaudoin had asked the board to determine whether the School Resource Officer, Detective Mark Conway's hours would backfilled. Murphy indicated that in his opinion the 'summer' that was in the original contract between town and school district was in play due to the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore he should be backfilled.

    Beaudoin had pointed out that his department is already one officer short and he had agreed not to try and hire at this time so he needed the board's approval for the backfilling for Conway as he is working for the  department. The board approved it but also asked that it be determined whether the school district was still paying Conway under these conditions or whether the Town was.

  There was a lengthy discussion about whether the board accepted the First Responder Stipend offered by the state from Federal funds. Certified police and fire full time first responders would be eligible for $300 a week and part time certified would be eligible for $150.

  Guthrie expressed concern that this was spending a lot of money and he wanted additional information saying he thought employees in the Town Clerk/Tax Collector's office and others working in the town office building should be eligible.

  Theriault said the board was only being asked to decide if it would participate in the program and if so, did they want the payments to the first responders to be weekly or as a lump sum at the conclusion of the program.

   Murphy said he was ok with participating in the program and made a motion to participate and to have payment be in a lump sum at the conclusion of the program but neither Bennett nor Guthrie would second the motion.

   Guthrie said the program is just a "big give away." It was decided to hold this discussion and decision until the next meeting.

   The board then discussed whether the town's welfare guidelines should be modified, allowing assistance through the Community Health Services. Currently only a current month's overdue bill would be considered eligible but if guidelines were modified to allow the previous months bills to be also considered it might help  more people during this difficult period.

   The request from GOFERR (Governor's Office For Emergency Relief and Recovery) was for the board to authorize who would sign off on documents for requesting reimbursement for things such as supplies purchased or expenses relating to COVID-19 from the $206,331 allotted to Hampstead. Theriault indicated there have been no welfare requests relating to COVID-19 as yet but that could change. However, Hampstead, to get any reimbursement relative to welfare expenses relating to COVID-19  would have to have spent its entire welfare budget of $23,000, which at this point doesn't seem likely.

        The board after a discussion, approved Theriault as being the designated person to sign such documents and forms. Murphy also made a motion to modify the town's welfare guidelines for this emergency period only to include allowing a look back of 30 days and the board approved this.

In Other Business:

* Chief Beaudoin said that residents have brought tons of food to the Police Department during Police Appreciation Week and he and his officers are extremely grateful for the outpouring of contributions and support from the community.

* All Senior Trips have been canceled for the remainder of the year.

* The board approved Chief Beaudoin using money from his Detail Fund to cover the fees relating to the department's leased motorcycle, the Swat membership and training, and the additional costs related to the new cruiser that has to be a Ford Explorer rather than a Dodge Charger because there are no Chargers available.

* Patriotic Purposes Chair Howie Stedman asked the board to make a decision regarding the proposed fireworks for the Fourth of July scheduled for June 27 by June 12. He also said the Memorial Day Ceremony on May 25, would be 'virtual' only on Cable at 10 a.m.

* The board approved Theriault going out to bid for oil and gas contracts now.

* A contract has been signed with Eversource for flags to be flown on their poles between May and November.

* Theriault clarified that the Warrant Article for Veterans Exemption increase from $500 to $750 applies to all veterans.

* The board voted to change their next meeting date from May25, Memorial Day, to that Wednesday, May 27.

* The board agreed to schedule the Water Resource Committee to come to the board at a June meeting to explain about the water that will be coming to Hampstead starting from Masabesic Lake going through Windham and Salem and eventually coming to Hampstead.

* The board signed the Fire Warden appointments requested by Fire Chief Michael Carrier.



Hampstead Selectmen Discuss Lieutenant Robert Kelley's Pay Issue and Delay Mowing Contract
By Penny Williams  4-29-20

The Hampstead Board of Selectmen met Monday evening, April 27, and the top two issues were a discussion over the newly promoted Police Lieutenant Robert Kelley and why his promotion came with a decrease in pay and the awarding of the Recreation mowing contract.
    Kelley was promoted from Sergeant to Lieutenant in February and when that happened he took a cut in his overall pay that amounts to close to $25,000 since he is no longer a union member and can't do any overtime assignments. He made the point in public session that the position of Lieutenant carries with it a great deal of responsibility since he is the Command Officer and runs the Hampstead Police Department on a day to day basis and Chief Joe Beaudoin affirmed this.

Kelley pointed out in his presentation that other employees on the Town salary matrix pay grades of 13, 14, and 15 (he is grade 14) over the last 10 years have had salary increases of an average of more than 40 percent while the Lieutenants pay has only increased 4.38 percent.

The previous Lieutenant had reached his maximum salary level on the town's then matrix many years back and had not pushed for any salary increase. The range considered for the Hampstead Police Lieutenant position by the 2019 Wage and Salary study that set the matrix considered a salary range of between $59,800 to $78,546 from other localities and the position was advertized between $72,000 and $78,000. His salary is $74,276 with a take it or leave it comment from the board. Beaudoin had encouraged him to take the promotion and they would deal with the numbers afterwards.

Selectmen's Administrative Assistant Sally Theriault defended the matrix study and the Lieutenant's salary amount. Bennett disputed the numbers Kelley provided regarding increases in other town employees salaries over the last 10 years adding that Kelley was well aware of what his salary would be if he accepted the promotion. Theriault noted that many factors such as education level go into the matrix placement and Kelley acknowledged he did not have a Master's Degree. But, he pointed out that 15 years of service from Patrolman to Detective to Sergeant to Lieutenant, which in Hampstead is a very different position than in many other departments given he is considered the Commander in Chief and runs the department on a daily basis, should have been considered.

Kelley felt after being employed by Hampstead Police since 2005 the promotion should have come with a better salary, more in line with the responsibility entailed and he told the board he believes the his salary should be $90,000 and that a promotion should not result in a loss of pay.

Chair Sean Murphy did acknowledge Kelley made some valid points and said he appreciated Kelley discussing this issue in public session. He also said the board would take his presentation under consideration and discuss it further in non-public and let Kelley know what if any salary adjustment might be considered. However, no decision was announced when the board exited non-public.

Matt Johnson, Recreation Commission Chair came before the board and said his commission recommended the low bidder for the mowing contract, Auger Property Maintenance, be awarded the contract.
     The initial bid response for the mowing contract resulted in Auger's bid being the only bid so the board asked Recreation to send out the RFP again for a second time which it did and this brought the same contract bid from Auger and a much higher bid from Bennett Landscape.

Murphy was concerned about the big discrepancy between the two bid amounts and suggested perhaps one or both didn't understand the scope of the work. Johnson said the RFP had been quite clear and he had no information why the two bids were so different for two of the fields, fields that weren't even fields that needed additional work such as dragging the base paths.

Selectman Chad Bennett stepped down from the board and offered some information indicating there had been problems with Auger's handling of the contract requirements in the past.

The board decided to table the decision until Johnson could contact both vendors and see why there was such a difference between the two bids and to ensure both had properly understood what the contract included.

But before the meeting adjourned Marty Auger arrived and asked to address the board. In so many words he said that with a business as big as his and with as many years as he had taken care of Hampstead fields he was able to do the work for the price he proposed - not lose money but not make much either but doing right by his community. He said he was a hometown man and provided the Town with the best possible price.

Auger also disputed Bennett's claim that there were complaints about the work he did. He said Building and Grounds Director Steve Harms checked every cut his company provided this past year and had no complaints about the work done and neither had Johnson and Recreation provided any complaints. He said he was upset because he was doing the right thing by his community and wanted the board to also do the right thing.

Murphy suggested putting off a decision until the next meeting, May 11, and Auger said that would be too late - by then the fields would be hay fields. Murphy said the board would wait until Johnson got back to them with the answers to their questions from Bennett Lawn since auger had already supplied his answers to the questions - why the price difference and did they understand the scope of work - and the board could then call a special meeting to award the contract. The awarding of the mowing bid was tabled until Johnson supplies the board with the requested  information.

In Other Business:

* The board approved allowing emergency decisions to be made by email during the Covid-19 situation when an emergency arises going first through Theriault and then to all three selectmen.

* The board approved Murphy being the designated the signer for the NHDES $20,000 grant for the Water Resource Committee for its Source Water Protection Program.

*  The board will make a decision on the opening of the Transfer Station but it appears that the employees have the necessary PPE and will be prepared by Emergency Director Chris Dane regarding practices and procedures to be followed during this COVID-19 period.

* The board approved accepting the Blasting Ordinance and appointing the Fire Department Chief, Michael Carrier, as the Blasting Administrator.

* Kris Emerson, Building Inspector and Health Officer, was appointed to fill the vacancy on the Cemetery Committee. The board approved a large number of reappointments to town boards.

* Selectman Joe Guthrie said he had attended the Library Trustees meeting. At that meeting, Tuesday, April 21, the Library Trustees reorganized continuing to have Natalie Gallo as Trustee Chair and Charlene Flaherty as the Trustee Treasurer. Flaherty reported that while the Trustee's library investments were down during this period they were so conservatively invested that Chris Adams, Edwards Jones,  said he felt they would be alright but recommended they reinvest the $10,000 for the pathway to the garden project from the money market to a CD which they approved him doing. The library staff continues to work from home but meet weekly electronically and Youth Services Librarian Devin Van Curen has been keeping the programs coming to help with distant learning. Library Director Rosemary Krol is paying as many bills as possible with the credit card so the bookkeeper doesn't have to enter the building but sends her all the information to her on a regular basis.



Hampstead Selectmen Pick Chairman and Discuss Multiple Contracts
By Penny Williams 4-14-20

The Hampstead Board of Selectmen's meeting on Monday, April 13, covered several decisions with regard to contracts as well as the reorganization of the board and the liaison assignments.
    The board, after Selectman Joe Guthrie reiterated his recommendation that the chair rotate on an annual basis, approved Sean Murphy as Chair with Chad Bennett acting as Vice Chair. However, Bennett adamantly insisted on retaining the liaison assignment of the Police Department saying he still has conversations he wants to finish while Murphy wants that assignment. The board finally agreed to table the police liaison assignment decision to their May meeting. No other liaison assignments were changed.

The board discussed the Police Union negotiations that will be coming up and Guthrie wants to be involved. After a brief discussion it was decided that the entire board should be involved with these negotiations.

The board opened the mowing contracts, one from Auger Property Maintenance and the other from Bennett Landscaping and approved moving the bids to the Recreation Committee for their recommendation.

There were two paving contract submissions but Bennett was concerned with past performances of both companies. The board discussed whether they could wait until July to make a decision regarding which company and Road Agent Jon Worthen said the paving could even be put off until next year if necessary but he did ask for permission to do seal crack, drainage and culvert work on the roads in the meantime and get them prepared for paving if it should happen.

It was noted that if a decision on a paving contractor isn't made until later on, the town might find itself at the end of the list when the contractor would be available to do Hampstead roads.  The  board after a lengthy discussion decided to delay making a decision regarding awarding the contract until Bennett could obtain further information from both contractors and check with the contractors regarding the impact and ramifications of delaying awarding a contract until July.  It was decided to return to this at the board's April 27, meeting.

In other business:

• Selectmen's Administrative Assistant Sally Theriault brought up two issues. The first was for the board to approve of the legality of the closure of the Town Building to the public until further notice. which has been done by her and the Selectmen's Office Clerk Tina Harrington and Town Clerk/Tax Collector Patricia Curran  by telephone. The board approved that decision and affirmed it.

The second issue was for the board to approve allowing Theriault and Harrington to rotate weeks with one working from home while the other worked in the office to reduce the risks from both being onsite together. The board approved this and it was noted that the other departments have reduced the number of employees working and are trying to limit it to one or at most two a department. Curran, as an elected official, has charge of that department's decision and has reduced it to only one  and occasionally two in the office at a time. Worthen said they are being careful at the Town Garage to keep the number of people there down and to practice social distancing at all times as well using appropriate PPE. He said they will not be hiring any extra summer help at this point and his two employees are working mostly in the afternoon.

• Ken Richards, Chair of the Water Resource Committee introduced himself to the board and described some changes the committee is undergoing. He asked the board's approval to send out a notice to the homeowners of wells within the impact zone when the Hampstead Area Water Company (HAWC) puts the Angle Pond Well #3 well into production on  May 13th.

Richards wanted people to be aware of the well being in operation as of that date so they would carefully monitor their own wells for any negative impacts and if such an impact is found to occur for the homeowner to get in touch with NHDES immediately and to also let the Water Resource Committee know. This information will be on the Water Resource web page and on the Town web site.

He also said the committee would be receiving grant money to do mapping of the ground water and for outreach.  Richards also noted that the flyer the committee wants to mail out will be forwarded to Sandown and Danville Selectmen for them to decide whether to notify those households that are within the impact zone by sending them the flyer.

The board approved the Water Resource Committee decision to send out the flyer. Bennett suggested using Town Stationary to make it more compelling for people to read.

• Theriault warned the board that the Town would likely get a substantially lower revenue amount in the Highway Block Grant and the Room and Meals Tax this year. This would have a negative impact on the Town's budget. She encouraged people to pay their taxes on time as this impacts the actual tax rate.

• The board heard that the Elderly Exemption submission is due April 15 and that some  elderly residents are having trouble getting all their documents together. It was suggested that they file their submission request by the April 15, deadline with or without all the required documentation and they would have until May 15 to get the remainder of the documentation submitted.










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