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2018 Raymond Board of Selectmen News


Liberty Utilities Presents Gas Pipeline Proposal to Raymond Selectmen
By Penny Williams  2-16-18

Liberty Utilities came before the Raymond Board of Selectmen on Feb. 12 to explain its proposed plan for a 27-mile high pressure gas pipeline along the Route 101 right-of-way and an LNG (liquefied natural gas) tank to be built in Epping off Route 101’s exit 6.

The utility is seeking the Raymond Board’s support for the project. The board took no action.

Liberty Utilities is one of two natural gas companies serving the state, and has titled its project Granite Bridge.

The proposed 16-inch high pressure pipeline would go along the Route 101 right-of-way starting in Stratham and passing through Exeter, Brentwood, Epping, Raymond, Candia and Auburn before terminating in Manchester. The pipeline would connect the Maritimes and Northeast pipeline along the coast to the TGP/Kinder Morgan Concord lateral line. Because the project is sited solely within a state-designated and state-owned “Energy Infrastructure Corridor, it would not involve any eminent domain land takings.

The LNG storage and liquefaction facility would be built on a 140-acre parcel in an abandoned quarry adjacent to Route 101 in Epping.

Liberty's Michael Licata, Director of Government and Community Relations, and Chico DaFonte, Vice President of Regulated Infrastructure Development, said the project is for current customers and for future growth in New Hampshire. Given market supply challenges, they said Granite Bridge would provide New Hampshire customers with a more reliable and secure supply of natural gas and a measure of energy independence.

The project still needs approval from several state and federal agencies, including the state’s Public Utilities Commission, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, and the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (SEC). Pipeline construction is not expected to begin until next year at the earliest.

According to the company’s construction timeline, the pipeline construction would be finished in 2021 and the storage tank would be finished in 2022.

Licata said the Epping LNG tank would be safe and would feature a “full containment tank system,” i.e., a tank housed within a tank. He said the impoundment area, by being in a quarry, would have further impoundment areas to help contain during any liquid release. On-site automatic fire protection and safety systems would be in place, Licata added, along with 24/7 on-site and remote monitoring from Londonderry, where the company will control the tank and pipeline.

In response to a question he said there would be coordination and training with local fire departments and first responders, and a full X-ray of all pipeline welds and inspections at the fabrication mill would be provided. The pipeline itself would be buried 48 inches underground, within the New Hampshire Department of Transportation right-of-way, and pipeline inspections would exceed federal requirements.

 

 The Epping storage facility would be designed to liquefy, store and vaporize natural gas, and the full containment tank system would be able to store 2 BCF (billions of cubic feet) of LNG. The facility would be approximately 150 to 170 feet high and 200 feet in diameter.

Licata said because of its location on an abandoned quarry floor, the tank should not be “highly visible.” It would be filled in summer when prices are low and drawn upon during the winter when prices are high, providing the lowest cost supply option for customers.

Licata said the Concord Lateral gas line that provides natural gas to southern and central New Hampshire has reached capacity, and without additional infrastructure there would be limited natural gas supply to the area, restricting economic growth and increasing reliance on propane and oil. New customers would be limited without the pipeline, he said.

According to Licata, this project would provide potential new natural gas service to towns along Route 101, including Candia, Raymond and Epping. He said it would also be a contributor to economic development because low-cost natural gas spurs economic development as well as providing local property tax revenue. He added that it would provide over an estimated $200 million in total state and local property tax revenue for all communities involved over the life of the project, and would allow for the retirement of 50-year-old propane facilities and reduce propane and LNG truck traffic to Nashua, Manchester, Concord and Tilton.

He cited the addition of 300-plus jobs for communities involved as another benefit.

Licata invited residents to visit the web site www.granitebridgenh.com and asked for the board and the town's support for the project.

In other business:

• The Board held a public hearing for Keno, which is on the March ballot. Resident Lee Weldy spoke in support of the warrant article that would allow Keno at businesses serving liquor by the drink, and said the American Legion would be interested. He added that allowing Keno would keep money in the community.

The selectmen were told that 8 percent of the money from Keno goes back to the host establishment, 70 percent is for payouts to winners, 2 percent covers Keno overhead, 1 percent goes to Health and Human Services and 19 percent goes to the Department of Education Trust Fund, where it is earmarked for full-day kindergarten. Raymond is eligible for full-day kindergarten funding whether or not residents vote to allow Keno in town.

• Town Moderator Kathleen Hoetzel reviewed the Deliberative Session, saying she thought it had gone well. She asked that the Town Clerk/Tax Collector's Office be closed during voting on March 13, so she could have additional help at the polls. Town Manager Craig Wheeler said the office could be covered part time that day so she would have the extra help.

• During Public Comment, resident Carol Watjus asked the board if there has been discussion regarding the upcoming renewal of the Town Manager's position. Resident Tina Thomas complained that when minutes of meetings posted on the Web site refer to attachments, the documents are not attached. She questioned why her 91A (Right-to-Know) request for the Unassigned Fund Balance policy has not been responded to and was told there is no such policy. She also asked that the 2018 Town Report be dedicated to Nelson Sherman and John Stewart.

The selectmen as per policy did not respond to public comment.

    


Raymond Selectman Chair Offers Information About Defamation, Slander
By Cheryl Killam    1-31-18

Raymond Board of Selectmen chairman Jonathan Wood addressed residents at the opening of the Jan. 29 selectmen’s meeting to offer a list of definitions from the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary. He said he wanted to bring the definitions to the Public Comment portion of the meeting.

He said “Privileged” means not subject to the usual rules or penalties because of some special circumstance; i.e. an adjudicative proceeding.

“Unethical” means not conforming to a high moral standard. “Corrupt” means having an unlawful or evil motive; especially characterized by improper and usually unlawful conduct intended to secure a benefit for oneself or another (as by taking or giving bribes)

In addition, “defamation” means communication to third parties of false statements about a person that injure the reputation of or deter others from associating with that person. “Slander” means defamation of a person by unprivileged oral communication made to a third party, and defamatory oral statements. And “libel” means to hurt a person's reputation by publishing a false statement

His final comment was, “While we may disagree, we will not be disagreeable tonight,” and then proceeded to open the Public Comment portion of the meeting.

In other business:

• Town Moderator Kathleen Hoelzel discussed the Town Deliberative Session, scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 3. Hoelzel said the budget would be discussed first, followed by the collective bargaining agreement. She also emphasized that zoning amendments cannot be amended at Deliberative.

Hoelzel added that she was in agreement with Wood’s definitions and will not allow personal attacks at the Deliberative. She said any papers concerning warrant articles that are put out at the hallway table must state “Personal Opinion” and the name of the person(s) writing it. She added that Raymond Coalition For Youth will have food for sale at lunchtime.

Town Manager Craig Wheeler said all warrants were posted Jan. 19 and were reviewed by Town Attorney Laura Spector and the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration (DRA). He said Carrie Anne Roman will serve as the attorney at Deliberative Session, and the Town will have Power Point presentations for each article, which will be shown when the relevant article is up for consideration.

Wheeler noted that sign-up for elective office closes at 5 p.m. Friday at the Town Offices.

Wheeler said that Article 24, the Keno citizens’ petition, has been properly placed on the warrant but per RSA 285-4:51, the selectmen need to hold a public hearing 15 days but not more than days 30 before election day on March 13. The selectmen decided to hold that hearing on Feb 12.

• Public Works Director Steve Brewer reminded the selectmen of a discussion Nov. 20 regarding a petition from residents seeking to address storm water runoff around Governors Lake and reduce the amount of salt used on the roads. They also asked to place Lakeview Road on the list of roads to be reconstructed in 2018. He said at the time that he could survey the road and seek proposals for what storm water treatment options are available.

Brewer said the survey has been done, and Requests for Proposals for the work were sent to 15 firms in December. Only one proposal resulted.

The bid for preliminary engineering of storm water options for Lakeview options was opened, and shows a cost of $16,200 from CMA Engineers.

• Police Chief David Salois spoke during Public Comment to address comments made at prior meetings regarding Special Police Details. He said Police Details occur frequently and 2017 had a record number of details. He noted that when Raymond does not have police officers available to work a detail, officers from other towns are used.

Salois noted that Capt. Michael Labell answered a series of questions correctly at a recent budget meeting, and he wanted to make sure the record is clear. “We do not allow officers to use sick time to do details, never have and never will,” Salois said. “That is inappropriate. Officers are not prohibited from using vacation time, (but) typically do not do that because of constraints to backfill for the time off; however, they are not prohibited from doing that.

He also said the Detail fund is healthy and is used to purchase cruisers or offset the cost of cruisers or vehicle equipment, as well as for the motorcycle lease. He said Details, which help an officer earn extra money and make the town additional revenue as well, most importantly provide safety on the roads.

In addressing the selectmen on April 24, Salois had also discussed Details, and noted “police details are…funded completely by the entity that hires them.” Police Details are often needed for work by such companies as Eversource.

• Resident Pat Couturier told the selectmen she wants to improve the quality of life in her Green Hills neighborhood and cited concerns over abandoned vehicles, trash, furniture and debris. She said she has seen rats walking around yards, and presented the selectmen with a petition with 47 signatures to make improvements and update the zoning laws.

Wood responded that it is the town ordinances, not zoning, that need to be examined.

• The selectmen approved an application for the use of the Town Common and public roads for the Del Tufo Cancer Foundation Road Race on April 28 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

• The selectmen were advised that Alissa Del Tufo Welch was voted by the Zoning Board of Adjustment for appointment from a full member to an alternate member.

 

 


Raymond Selectmen Receive Committee-Approved Budget
By Penny Williams     1-27-18

The Raymond Board of Selectmen reviewed the Town Warrant at its Jan. 22 meeting, noting the operating budget for the Town, as approved by the Budget Committee in Article 7, is $7,510,131, and the Water Department Operating Budget is $782,078, making a total of $8,292,209 or an increase of 1.1 percent.

The Default Budget comes in at a total of $8,428,175, with the Town Operating Budget at $7,642,097, and the Default Water Department Operating Budget at $786,078, making the Default Budget $135,966 higher than the total Budget Committee Operating Budget.

The estimated tax impact of the Town Operating Budget is $5.134 per thousand, and the tax impact of the Default Budget is $5.275 per thousand.

Town Manager Craig Wheeler told the board that the Budget Committee recommended Articles 7 through 21 and Petition Article 25, and noted that he told the Budget Committee that their budget bottom-line was "one I could live with." Wheeler added that the Planning Board had recommended Zoning Amendment Articles 2 through 6. The Warrant can be seen on the Town Web page at raymondnh.gov.

A discussion ensued about Petition Article 25, which funds a fourth full-time firefighter, with Selectman Wayne Welch saying the selectmen had voted to include money in their proposed budget for a fourth full-time firefighter. This was verified by executive secretary Deb Intonti, reading from selectmen meeting minutes. The board noted that the fourth firefighter was expected to be in the budget, and was surprised when Wheeler said it was not in the budget as approved by the Budget Committee.

Josh Mann, chair of the Budget Committee, spoke up to say he wished to clarify the issue of the fourth firefighter appropriation. The position is not in the budget, he said, and explained that the committee had consulted with the Town Attorney, and the amount added in by the selectmen for that position was not allowed because it was placed in the budget too late to have a required public hearing on the change. Therefore, the Budget Committee removed that amount from the selectmen's proposed budget.

Mann also said that the $60,849 in cuts the Budget Committee made to the selectmen's budget came after the money for the fourth firefighter had been removed from the Selectmen's budget, which is how the Budget Committee Town Operating Budget reached the $7,510,131 figure.

Fire Chief Paul Hammond said he favors Petition Article 25. He also spoke to the board about the grant program known as Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER). He said that through this grant program, the department could apply for money to increase its number of firefighters to provide 24-hour coverage. Raymond would have to apply for a fifth firefighter position to be eligible for the grant program.

Selectman Jack Barnes was not in favor of this, stating that a request to increase the number of firefighters should go through the taxpayers. If Hammond needs a fifth firefighter position, Barnes said, he has only to let the board know and they will make it happen.

In other business related to the warrant, communications volunteer Kevin Woods discussed what he had added to the Town website and Facebook page. He said residents can access the budget and noted that several articles are explained in more detail for the public's information. He suggested dedicating the February Talk of the Town Newsletter to the warrant articles and budget as well as explaining what the Deliberative Session is about, noting that people new to town may not have this information. He invited candidates for election to contact him and record a program for RCTV.

In other business:

• Wheeler responded to a question from residents Carol and Wayne Watjus about mosquito spraying and the loss of their bees. He said research showed that spraying took place in 2012, 2013, and 2014 but there had been no spraying in 2015, 2016 or 2017.

• During Public Comment, Carol Watjus asked about the selectmen’s plans for what she called “the surplus.” She said the Unassigned Reserve Fund is surplus and if unspent appropriation money and revenue were put into the fund on alternate years, in the other years this money could be used to reduce the tax burden. She said people had attended the budget hearings and asked that the budget be cut but no one appears to be listening to what the people are saying.

The Board of Selectmen has a policy that it does not respond to public comment.

Later in the meeting, Wheeler provided an in-depth explanation of the Unassigned Reserve Fund, which he had presented to the Budget Committee on Jan. 18. He made the point that according to the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration (DRA), the fund is not surplus, and using the term “surplus” for the fund is incorrect.

He said the Town's Unassigned Reserve Fund has grown because any unexpended appropriations automatically go into it, and projected revenues that go into the fund have grown as well. He said his goal is to reach the DRA-recommended 17 percent, which means the Town needs to have between $3 million and $3.2 million to reach that goal.

Wheeler said he thinks the fund is currently in good shape, and if things remain on track, in the next budget year some of the fund could be used to address lowering the tax rate. He again emphasized the fund is not surplus.

Selectman Jonathan Wood said the fact the Town has been collecting back taxes and had not filled the Finance Director position for many months also contributed to the growth of the fund. Wheeler agreed and added that the Town had projected investment interest at $9,000 when in fact it has received $75,000.

Selectman Wayne Welch added that it is best to remember that this fund can dwindle very rapidly if it has to be applied to an emergency.

• During Public Comment, resident Dana Hanson again complained about pay increases given to a specific town employee, whom she identified by number, and questioned the information Wheeler had provided about those raises. She also made allegations about police officials working Special Details while taking vacation or sick days. Again, as per its policy, the selectmen did not respond to her public comment.

• Wheeler told the selectmen he continued to respond to many 91A (Freedom Of Information) requests over the last several weeks and he and his staff are working to address all the requests.

• The Raymond Police Department and Chief David Salois presented Sgt. Scott Payne with an award in recognition of his many years of service.

• Intonti told the board the Town’s Social Media Policy had been reviewed and approved by Town Counsel and was ready for them sign. She said training will made available for all employees. The board unanimously voted to approve and adopt the policy as presented.

 

   


Raymond Police Officials Explain Contract Details
By Penny Williams   1-11-18

Raymond Police Chief David Salois and Police Captain Michael Labell reviewed the recently negotiated Police Contract agreement at the Jan. 8 Board of Selectmen meeting, and went into detail about what they consider a serious Raymond Police Department issue – turnover of personnel.

Salois and Labell said surrounding communities have jobs available for officers at a higher pay rate then Raymond, and this has cost the town money when it loses staff it has paid to train. The town trains its officers at considerable cost, and those officers, fully certified and trained, often leave for a town where the pay is higher. They said it costs approximately $50,000 to train an officer.

The Raymond Police current rate of pay is $18.33 per hour, while the state average is $20.98. Neighboring Candia pays $20.50 and Chester pays $23.50; both towns also have similar benefit packages to Raymond.

The newly negotiated contract raises the base pay to $21.17 per hour for officers. In addition, the private police detail rate, which is entirely funded by the private enterprise hiring the detail officer, currently is $39.40 per hour, but over the next five years this would increase to $45, then $46, $47, $48, and finally $49 per hour. The private enterprise hiring the officers now pays $72 an hour, with the balance going into the Detail Fund

Salois said the new contract also has benefit and step adjustments, all designed to attract more officers to Raymond and to encourage them to stay with Raymond.

The Police and Dispatch Union Agreement will cost $132,000 in the first year; $57,000 in the second; $65,000 in the third; $39,000 in the fourth; $51,000 in the fifth; and for the first three months of the sixth year, $13,000.

Town Manager Craig Wheeler asked if the Board of Selectmen would recommend this agreement and approve it, and the board voted to do so. Wheeler then amended Article 8 with the contract numbers and had it ready for the Budget Committee discussion the following night. The board approved changing the language of the article to reflect that it is a five-year and three-month agreement.

Also concerning the warrant:

• Wheeler said an adjustment is needed to the Fire Department salary line in the Fire Department Operating Budget, which would be a change from the Board's previous recommendation. He said a full-time firefighter position should be added to the Selectmen's budget in the amount of $58,000.

In addition, resident Tina Thomas proposed a citizen petition to add $60,000 to the Fire Department budget to cover this position. A discussion followed, and some said the citizen position would guarantee the added full-time position is funded. However, the Selectmen added in the full-time firefighter position to their budget after a lengthy discussion about why this had not been done earlier. They decided that even if both the budget and Thomas’s article passed, it would cover only the one full-time firefighter position being added to the department.

Fire Chief Paul Hammond said this issue came about when he transitioned from Deputy Chief to Chief after the retirement of Chief Kevin Pratt. That move left a full-time officer position unfilled, but he said he neither wants nor needs an officer – what he does need is a full-time firefighter.

Discussion followed about correcting the default budget to cover four positions, not three, and the Selectmen approved the change in their budget, adding $58,000 for the firefighter position. Wheeler made the necessary amendment changes to the article for the Budget Committee meeting the following night.

• The third amended article was Article 17, Shim and Overlay Special Revenue Fund. The state notified the Town that it would receive more money than it had budgeted so the number in article 17 had to be adjusted from $244,000 to $247,009. This change was approved and moved to the warrant.

In other business:

• Executive Assistant Deb Intonti told the board she had finished developing the Town's Social Media/Town Media Policy and said it had been reviewed by Town Counsel, who made a few minor changes. Intonti said she discovered that the Police Department has a Social Media Policy as well. Due to the sensitivity of many police matters she said that rather than melding the two policies, she decided to refer people to the Police Department policy within the Town policy.

The board took the policy under advisement and said they would discuss and vote on it at the next meeting.

• A representative from New Hampshire Keno explained the electronic game and noted that it could be offered at nine establishments in Raymond if an article is put on the warrant and approved by the voters. Keno is administered by the New Hampshire Lottery and can be offered only in age-controlled establishments with a valid liquor license.

• The board learned that the Town had helped a resident with funeral costs of $745 when the resident could not pay for the funeral. Later the resident discovered an insurance policy and brought a check to the town repaying the $750 and adding $255 as a thank you. The Board approved accepting the gift.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Develop an attitude of Gratitude !!
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

~ Melody Beattie ~