2018 Raymond Board of Selectmen Meetings


Scribner Road Access Agreement Considered Legal by State
By Penny Williams   8-30-18

The agreement with the State that governs the Scribner Road gate is legal and binding, according to Executive Councilor Russ Prescott, who discussed the matter with the Raymond Board of Selectmen at their Aug. 27 meeting. Prescott, who had been asked by the selectmen to look into the matter, said the agreement arrived at in 1985 for the Scribner Road gate is legal, although he noted that Assistant Attorney General Jane Young was reviewing the matter.

The dispute over access arose several years ago when the property owner at the time, now deceased, erected fencing around the perimeter of his property and connected it to the gate to the Rail Trail at the end of Scribner Road to prevent people from crossing his property to access the trail. The matter has gone before the Board of Selectmen multiple times.

Prescott said it does not make sense that the open Rail Trail corridor that runs from Epping to Auburn should have this one place where residents can't walk, and noted that the current status also hinders access to Onway Lake.

Resident Buster Hammond said he does not think Raymond wants to get into a court battle with the State over this issue but thinks it is a situation the State could rectify.

Nearby residents Gretchen Gott and John Beauvilliers both commented, with Beauvilliers asking if the obstruction sits on Town or State property and Prescott explaining that it is on private property. Gott alleged that although the agreement allows access for snow use during the winter, that doesn't happen.

Prescott ended the conversation with the statement that as of now the barrier is legal and recommended by the State. He said he would continue to work on the situation and would get back to the selectmen with whatever findings arise.

In other business at the Aug. 27 meeting:

• Community Development Director Ernie Creveling presented requests for two building permits for Branch Road, a Class 6 road that is not maintained by the Town. He explained there have been houses on that road since the 1930s and the road is maintained by the homeowners.

The requests for building permits have gone to the Planning Board, which recommended that the Board of Selectmen approve the requests with the conditions that a limitation of liability be signed and registered; a formal road maintenance agreement among homeowners be created; and installation of fire suppression be required in new dwellings.

Fire Chief Paul Hammond had recommended clearing the sides of the roads to ensure emergency vehicles can access the roadway, which Walter Page said has already been done.

Selectman Wayne Welch wanted to eliminate the requirement for fire suppression installation in the new dwellings and Hammond agreed.

Selectman George Plante wanted the two requests acted on separately, as he thinks one lot proposes a building too close to the road and he wants to see it staked before approving it.

After discussion the board voted unanimously to approve the request for Lot 7 with two conditions - signing a limit of liability release and a formal road maintenance agreement but eliminating the requirement for installing fire suppression in the dwelling. The selectmen voted to table their decision on Lot 9 until Plante could review the lot when staked. Code Enforcement said both lots were approved for building and that septic testing has occurred and been approved.

• The board then heard from several social service agencies seeking funding from the Town -  the American Red Cross, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), Child Advocacy Center, Child and Family Services, Friends Program/Senior Services and Richie McFarland Children's Center.

The Red Cross asked for $1,800 last year and said 91 cents out of every dollar goes toward services. It is requesting the same amount this year. In the past year, the Red Cross responded to one Raymond incident that involved providing financial assistance.

CASA reported working with 28 children from Raymond in its court advocacy service, an increase over last year. It asked for $500 last year and increased the request to $1,000 this year.
 
The Child Advocacy Center is supported by Police Chief Michael Labell, who said it provides special interrogator personnel who can work with young victims and is important to law enforcement. The Center dealt with 41 cases last year, the largest town caseload in the state after Portsmouth with 49 cases. The Center asked for $2,000 last year and is asking for the same for this year, although Labell said he would support increasing it to $3,000.

Child and Family Services provided services to 172 Raymond individuals across six different service programs last year, providing 1,752 counseling hours, and asked for $6,000 last year and the same amount this year.

Friends Program/Senior Services worked with Ray-Fre Senior Center and asked for $600 last year and the same for this year. It provides volunteers and nutritional and healthy living programs to the Ray-Fre Center, partnering with University of New Hampshire Extension and Lamprey Medical Center.

Richie McFarland Children's Center last year asked for $6,000 and cared for 20 children while seeing that number of children rise to 29 children this year. It is seeking $8,700. The agency deals with children up to 3 years of age and addresses special needs, generally helping to keep 60 percent of those serviced from needing special needs assistance after age 3.

Resident Rani Merryman spoke, saying she opposes charitable giving through taxpayer dollars. She said it is not the job of government to support charities, which instead should be handled on an individual basis.

Selectman Chair Jack Barnes said this decision isn't up to the board but to the townspeople, and noted the warrant article for social services funding receives the greatest support year after year in Raymond. Merryman complained that other voters should not have the power to use her tax dollars in this way.

• Town Moderator Kathy Hoelzel reminded the board of the Primary Election on Sept. 11 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. She requested the Selectmen be present and they said they would be there. She noted that absentee ballots can be picked up at Town Hall or obtained online; absentee ballots would be accepted up to 5 p.m. on Sept. 11.

Residents can register at the polls with proper identification - a license and something proving residence - and if changing party status and wanting to return to the former party after voting residents can do this at the polls or by coming to Town Hall following the Primary, Hoelzel said.

She reminded people that electioneering and giving out of information cannot happen within 150 feet of the door to the polling place.

• Scribner Road resident Janice Melanson said she had witnessed Town equipment knocking down four pillars on private property on that road. Town Manager Joe Ilsley said he would check into it.

• Ilsley said the town budget is in good shape, with 61 percent spent at 66 percent of the year. Revenue is exceeding expectations and is at 64 percent.

• Ilsley said he had received a complaint about heavy trucks using Main Street and he was researching the issue and would work with law enforcement when he had all the facts.

• Ilsley noted that tests have been done at the old tannery site and have shown there is no safety impact, but the Town will continue its safety inspections and tests.

• The board was introduced to Miss Raymond Elizabeth Wolcott, Junior Miss Raymond Frankie DiLeo, and Little Miss Raymond Gina Blomster. Miss Raymond Scholarship Fund Director Christina Vogel discussed the events the organization puts on to raise money for its scholarships.

 


Longstanding Issues Occupy New Raymond Town Manager
By Penny Williams   8-3-18

Raymond Town Manager Joseph Ilsley presented the Board of Selectmen and the public at the July 30 selectmen’s meeting with a report on items he is working on in his new post. Ilsley noted that the board had asked him when he took office this summer to look at several issues that impact the Town; his report detailed the status on identified areas of concern.

Those concerns include tax mitigation liabilities, codification of structures and procedures, the closure of Scribner Road, deeded property, employee purchase of payout compensation, budget review, and contract oversight.
 
Ilsley told the board the Town owns $2.7 million in deeded properties. He has created a group that will look at each of these properties over the coming months, reviewing five each month, with the goal of seeing what can be done with them - whether to re-capitalize or sell them, or follow what other options exist.

The same group will also handle citizen issues regarding their properties, with the plan to meet weekly with citizens. He said the meetings are already booked through September, reflecting a lot of citizen property issues.  

On the issue of employee buyouts, Ilsley said it appears the Town has used this procedure over the years to compensate for low salaries. He said that moving forward there will be an attempt to get salaries closer to market value but that over the last 20 years, this has been a liability of about $4.3 million on the taxpayers, with $555,000 of that still to be paid out over the next seven years. He said he has a proposal coming on how to get this under control.

As far as the budget is concerned, he said it very difficult to find a model that identifies what is fluff and what is needed. To address this he is building a spending model, and all department heads will look at every item in their budget based on the model, so they can determine what can and cannot be cut going forward.

He added that he would be coming up shortly with a proposal for readjustment of the budget process for the town, which will put the risk cycle at the beginning of the budgeting process.

In terms of contracts he said it appears there have been issues with quality control. He said he has assigned all contracts to one person, who will be reviewing them and making sure the town is getting what the contract calls for.

Resident Buster Hammond brought up Scribner Road during Public Comment, and Ilsley said he had already researched the issue all the way back to the beginning and also discussed it with an attorney. Ilsley said the Town has to make a decision on what to do, and the attorney told him the Town either has to commit to taking legal action, at a possible cost of between $5,000 and $125,000 and a 60 percent chance of winning, or drop the issue.

The problem arose when the property owner at the time, now deceased, erected fencing around the perimeter of his property and connected it to the gate to the Rail Trail at the end of Scribner Road to prevent people from crossing his property to access the Rail Trail

Ilsley said that at the end of the day it is a dispute over access and the Town has been unable to get any assistance from the State. The Town suggests that residents interested in the issue could put together a petition article to have the Town move forward with litigation.

During board discussion, Chair Jack Barnes said he wasn't looking to spend money on the issue and the rest of the board appeared to agree. Barnes suggested sending a letter to Executive Councilor Russ Prescott to ask him to attend the Aug. 27 selectmen’s meeting and see if he could do anything to help the Town resolve this issue, as the state is not going to do anything. Barnes said a packet with all the relevant material on the issue should be included with the letter to Prescott.

Selectman Scott Campbell suggested sending a letter to the State indicating the Town was planning to litigate the issue, with the hope that this would spur the State to help the Town deal with the issue.

Barnes said that how the board decides to deal with the issue would be resolved at the Aug. 27 meeting.

In other business:

• New to this meeting is the inclusion of all documents online at raymondnh.gov
that are public information and are included in the selectmen’s packets with the board agenda.

• Police Chief Michael Labell came before the board to give his recommendation on bids received for a recording system the department needs, as the current one cannot be repaired. He said the two bids received were $23,000 from 2 Way Communication and $12,990 from BEI (Business Electronics), which also offered a safety discount of $3,536 that reduced the final bid to $9,544. He said the department had done its research and having worked with BEI before, recommended the board approve that bid.

Labell said payment for the system would come from the Police Department and Dispatch Capital Reserve Fund for Equipment/Vehicle Replacement and that he had received word from the Trustees of the Trust Funds that this was approved. A letter from the Trustees was present in the board packet.

Campbell said given past experiences, he wanted it checked again to be reassured that this funding plan is legal and that it is correct to take money from that fund to pay for the equipment. Ilsley said he had already checked and received assurances it was, but Campbell said he would not vote on it until it was checked again.

Barnes asked if Ilsley could have the assurances Campbell wants by the next morning, and Ilsley agreed. Resident Carol Watjus asked if it is correct to use this fund, as it states that anything from the CIP (Capital Improvement Program) has to be $20,000 or above. Ilsley said he would check on that and have all the answers in the morning.

Barnes said the board members would meet with the Town Manager in the morning and sign off on this if he had the assurances Campbell wanted. To that end the board moved to accept the BEI bid subject to Ilsley’s providing the board with the requested assurance that using the Capital Reserve funds was the legal and right way to fund it.

On Thursday, however, Ilsley said the committees involved are still working through the issues and as soon as he, the committee heads and the board reach agreement, the response will be forwarded to the board to make a final decision.

• Ilsley presented the board with information regarding welfare payments and sought a vote of authorization.

He wrote in a memo to the selectmen, "There is an NH RSA (New Hampshire statute) stating that any Landlord/Property Owner who owns property in the Town of Raymond and their tenant has come to the town for assistance, prior to any payments made to the landlord, the taxes and water bills would be checked to make sure there are no outstanding or past due bills owed to the Town of Raymond. If there are outstanding water or taxes, those payments for rents would not be paid to the Landlord. The payments would be credited towards any outstanding water or property tax bill that is owed.”

Selectman Wayne Welch expressed the concern that if the board authorized this, they would be undercutting the purpose of the welfare system. He said this left the individual seeking welfare assistance in a position for the landlord to evict them.

During board discussion, Ilsley read the RSA into the record, "165:4-a Application of Rents Paid by the Municipality - Whenever the owner of property rented to a person receiving assistance under this chapter is in arrears in sewer, water, electricity, or tax payments to the municipality, the municipality may apply, upon approval of the governing body, the assistance which the property owner would have received in payment of rent on behalf of such assisted person to the property owner's delinquent balances, regardless of whether such delinquent balances are in respect of property occupied by the assisted person. For purposes of this section, a payment shall be considered ‘in arrears’ if more than 30 days have elapsed since the mailing of the bill, or in the case of real estate taxes, if interest has begun to accrue pursuant to RSA 76:13."

The rest of the board did not agree with Welch, and he said if they were all in agreement with it he would go along. The board voted to approve this as Ilsley requested.

• Resident Christina Vogel asked for board approval for the Miss Raymond Scholarship Program to use the Town Common for a Teddy Bear Picnic fundraiser that would include raffles on Saturday, Sept. 22, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.  

She reviewed the Miss Raymond Scholarship Program and noted how much it had paid out recently in scholarships to the Miss Raymond and Junior Miss Raymond contestants. She said the organization is looking for vendors for the Teddy Bear Picnic and forms are available at the Recreation Department.

A motion was approved unanimously to grant permission to conduct a raffle and for use of the Town Common, the town hall parking lot and the municipal parking lot on Horse Shed Road for the proposed Teddy Bear Picnic. The event sponsors and vendors are responsible for clean-up of all areas utilized for the event.

• Resident John Beauvilliers asked the board to look into opening the beach at the elementary school for swimming. He said a portable toilet could be placed at the site. Ilsley said the issue that has to be overcome is the “swim at your own risk” liability but they could look at it again.

 

 


Raymond Selectmen Approve Fraud Policy
By Penny Williams     7-2-18

The Raymond Board of Selectmen, meeting July 2 with Selectman Wayne Welch excused, approved a fraud policy that is geared to protect the Town's public assets against fraudulent activity, misappropriation and corruption by its employees, agents, elected and appointed officials, Board and Committee members, and third parties.

The policy states that it is intended to establish procedures to prevent, whenever possible, fraud, misappropriation and corruption; to ensure prompt reporting and investigation of such activities; and to ensure a coordinated approach for addressing any such misconduct.

The policy, which has been vetted by the Town’s attorney, covers fraudulent statements or financial misconduct, asset misappropriation and corruption, and prohibits any activity that places Town assets at risk of waste or abuse, including, but not limited to, improprieties in handling of funds or the reporting of financial transactions, as well as willful destruction of Town property.

Violations of the policy will result in discipline, up to and including termination. The new policy is meant to supplement applicable conflict of interest laws and other existing Town policies.

Chair Jack Barnes said a resident had asked him for information about HB 1673, and State Rep. Carolyn Matthews, R-Raymond attended the meeting to speak about the bill. HB 1673 changes the interest rates on late and delinquent property tax payments from a fixed rate of 12 percent for pre-lien payments and 18 percent for post-lien payments, to the annual underpayment rate determined by the Commissioner of Revenue Administration, based on the rate specified in the Internal Revenue Code. This would most likely lower the interest rates on late and delinquent property taxes.

Matthews said the Senate amended the bill to lower the interest rates on late and delinquent property tax payments to new fixed rates of 8 percent for pre-lien payments and 14 percent for post-lien payments. She said implementation of the law may cost the Town if it has to change or upgrade software to address the changes.

In other business:

• Town Manager Joe Ilsley told the board he will start looking at the budget and budgeting process with a view to finding ways to implement efficiencies to reduce costs without reducing services.

• The board learned that a new six-wheel dump truck had been purchased, as approved by voters in March, to replace the 1999 dump truck known as Truck #15. Three bids came in and the lowest bid was chosen; the cost of the truck and its equipment was $170,094, and $205,000 had been budgeted. The savings was to be put back into the Capital Improvement Program.

• The selectmen learned that the Prescott Road culvert project will involve three 36-inch culverts. DuBois and King are preparing the design and engineering, and it is expected the project will cost less than the original estimate of $300,000. A memo from Public Works Director Steve Brewer states that this would allow more road dollars to be directed to the Ham Road and Harriman Hill Road reconstruction projects.
  
• During public comment, resident Carol Watjus chastised the board again for not following information she has provided, and again alleged the way the Town handled its 2017 encumbrance funding was illegal. She said she will meet with Ilsley and go over her legal opinion and the conflicting legal opinion from the Town, which indicated her information was not entirely accurate.

She also complained that the board's approvals of money from the Capital Reserve Fund for the Police radar trailer sign and for improvements to the Police Station, discussed during the June 11 meeting, were incorrect.

• The board accepted a donation of $250 from the American Legion to the Police Department for the purchase of a new podium in memory of former selectman Norman Weldy, signed by former Police Chief David Salois.

• The board accepted $4,950 collected in support of the Fourth of July celebration, with $200 from the Lions Club, $250 from Raymond Animal Hospital, $500 from New Hampshire Electric Coop, $1,000 from the Raymond Area Rotary, and $3,000 from taxpayers through a warrant article approved in March, bringing the total donated for that purpose to $7,500.

• The board opened two bids for the Household Hazardous Waste Day event - one for a $2,750 set-up fee with a charge of $28 per five pounds/gallons of waste, from Tradebe Environmental Services, and the second bid from Klean Assurances, with a set-up fee of $750 with a charge of $60 per five gallons/pounds of waste.

The Household Hazardous Waste Day is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 29 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The board forwarded the bids to the Public Works Department for a recommendation.

• The board accepted a letter of resignation from Lorrie O'Connor from the Conservation Commission.

 


Raymond Welcomes New Town Manager, Nuisance Ordinance Defeated
By Penny Williams     6-13-18

The Raymond Board of Selectmen introduced Joseph Ilsley as the new Town Manager at their June 11 meeting. As promised, Town Manager Craig Wheeler, who will retire June 15, will work with Ilsley throughout the remainder of the week.

Selectman chair Jack Barnes noted that Ilsley, who wants residents to call him Joe, is a native of New Hampshire and people should forgive his California license plates.

Wheeler stated throughout the meeting, as each agenda item was taken up, that he had introduced Ilsley to the people involved and/or to the area under discussion, as well as going over all the paperwork available concerning those items.

Health Officer David Hall and Fire Chief Paul Hammond discussed their survey of Green Hills properties. Hall said that from a health and safety perspective, they found two abandoned properties of concern, one owned by the Town, the other privately owned. He said the Town can take care of the property it owns, under the Health Code, if that is the will of the board, and sought board direction on the other property, which he said he did not think was salvageable as a dwelling. In response, Barnes pointed out to Ilsley that the town owned property needed to be addressed.

The board then voted on the Health and Maintenance Ordinance that had previously been proposed by the Planning Department, after residents of Green Hills had complained for over a year about conditions in their neighborhood. At previous meetings, other residents questioned the proposed definition of “nuisance” in the ordinance as presented, and raised concerns about personal freedom.

The selectmen unanimously voted down the ordinance. Selectman Greg Bemis said the Town can deal with all the issues raised with the powers it already has available.

In other business:

• Public Works Director Steve Brewer told the board he has $626,041.41 to deal with paving and road projects. He plans to finish Green Road and work on Industrial Road, and noted he has a project on Prospect Street involving replacement of a water main at a cost of $144,000. Added to the mix is the need to repair collapsing culverts on Prescott Road, something that must be done before winter and is estimated to cost between $250,000 and $300,000.

Brewer told the board there is $90,000 in the Bridge and Culvert Capital Reserve Fund, and much of that can be used to reduce the use of the paving and road construction money for the Prescott Street culvert project. But that leaves approximately $182,000 for road reconstruction projects. He said he wants to finish Ham Road and Harriman Hill Road as well as Cross Street, but admitted he would only be able to work on 2,500 feet of the 10,000-foot-long Harriman Hill project with the remaining money.

The board decided to delay giving him the go-ahead until they have an amount certain for the Prescott Road culvert replacement work. He said he should have that figure by just after July 4.

• The Police Department will soon have a new evidence room. Police Chief Michael Labell has developed a sketch of the proposed reuse of the station’s sally port – a secure, controlled entryway - to house the evidence room, with the repurposing of the current evidence room into a holding cell, which the station does not currently have, along with a conference room and additional desk space.

Labell said this repurposing of an area within the station was a safer and more secure solution than trying to use outside storage trailers to hold evidence, as was previously considered. Brewer showed the board a sketch of the repurposed evidence space and a design for the evidence room relocated to the sally port, which is currently used for storage.

Brewer said contractors have been chosen after going out to bid for the project, and said the cost would be about $41,000. The project is expected to take six to eight weeks to complete.

Selectman Scott Campbell said he wanted the exact figures from the contractor before voting on the proposal, but accepted the figures Brewer had included in the packet. The board voted to authorize the project to move forward, keeping the cost within the $41,000 figure.

• Labell also discussed the need for a new radar trailer, as the current one has a dead battery and is getting rusty, and its data system is outdated. He said he had received three bids and had chosen All Traffic Systems of Pennsylvania at a cost of $9,943. He said the Town will get two years of free data using the Traffic Cloud with the purchase, and after that, if it wants to continue that feature, it will cost $1,500 a year.

Selectman Wayne Welch said the Town and the board use the data from the radar trailer frequently, so having an up-to-date radar trailer would provide much usefulness to the community.

The funding would come from the Capital Reserve Fund and the Trustees of the Trust Funds have already agreed to it. The old radar trailer could be kept for limited use or sold on an auction site, making some money for the Town. The Board voted unanimously to approve the Capital Reserve Fund request for purchase of a new radar trailer.

• Gary Thornton reviewed the wage and salary survey conducted by Thornton and Associates of Scarborough, Maine, a human resources management consulting firm. While he didn't go into specifics, he said Raymond employee salaries are below market value and deficiencies exist. Barnes said he had just picked up his copy of the report and the board members all agreed there was a great deal of information to review, and took the survey results under advisement.

• Wheeler told the board that Town revenues from licenses and permit fees were doing well. They had anticipated collecting $1,800,000, and as of April 30 had already collected 37.8 percent or $68,000. Building permits had been estimated to bring in $50,000 and as of April 30, they'd collected 71 percent or $35,000. Interest on investment has accounted for $33,952, when they had anticipated collecting $35,000 for the entire year, so revenue is ahead of projections.

He said expenditures as of April 30 were within the bounds that they should be, with the General Fund at 4 percent under anticipation and the water fund at 14 percent under, although a debt payment will have to be made. He said a copy of the information had been forwarded to the Budget Committee as requested.

• The board discussed a fence erected by a Scribner Road resident that blocks access to the Rail Trail. Wheeler said he had sent a letter to the New Hampshire Attorney General asking for help resolving this issue, which has gone on for several years. The fence is on the Class 6 portion of Scribner Road but it prevents people from being able to access the Rail Trail. The fence is at the edge of state-owned property, so the Town hopes to get some help in resolving this issue.

Resident Buster Hammond is pushing for resolution, and resident Gretchen Gott said keeping people from using the Rail Trail is personal, as when she is able to get to the trail by crawling under the gate, she meets bike and horseback riders.

Ilsley said he had gone over the documents pertaining to this issue with Wheeler but wants to see the 1980 court-ordered agreement between the Town and the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT). The board assured Hammond this issue is being addressed.

• Jan Kent of the Conservation Commission asked the board to write a support letter for the Commission’s grant application to the Recreation and Trails program. The grant would cover 80 percent of the cost of a parking lot that the Commission wants to build on Conservation land off Robinson Hill Road. The parking lot would be accessed by 100 feet of roadway through an easement between Robinson Hill Road and the Robinson Hill Conservation land. The four-car parking lot would be expected to stop people from parking along the edge of Robinson Hill Road, a situation that prevents a homeowner from being able to reach his dwelling and prohibits emergency vehicle passage if were needed.

The board voted unanimously to provide Kent with a letter of support.

• Several people, including Pastor Kevin McBride of Raymond Baptist Church, resident Ed French, School Board Chair Joseph Saulnier, Labell and the fire chief, all spoke of how much Wheeler will be missed and what a great job he had done. They called him a caring person who was very invested in the community and said his decision making was always people oriented.

Wheeler received a plaque from the Police Department and fly-fishing lures from the Fire Department, and Barnes read a proclamation from the board in his honor.

• Hammond announced the retirement of Micol Greenwood, a firefighter in Raymond for more than 30 years and a Deputy Chief for the last 20 years. Hammond promoted Fire Captain Jerry Gallant to Deputy Chief and announced that Jason Grant, Wayne Larrabee and Gallant were now certified Deputy Fire Wardens, something he said Raymond has been without for a number of years. He also introduced the newest firefighter, Tim Wilson.

• Jason Burt of 21 Essex Drive complained to the selectmen that someone had taken a picture of trailers with scrap metal in his yard and the photo had appeared on Facebook and in the Union Leader newspaper. He said the trailers are now gone.

He was assured the Town had nothing to do with the photo or the article, which talked about a vote to be taken at this meeting. The vote referred to the Health and Safety ordinance that was defeated that evening, and was not related to Burt, who said he was glad it was not the Town that had done that to him.

• The board postponed discussing a fraud policy until the July 2 agenda.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Proposed Nuisance Ordinance Draws Opposing Responses in Raymond
By Penny Williams  5-25-18

Who defines a nuisance and decides whether a homeowner has the right to do whatever he or she wants on their property were issues that took center stage during a discussion on the Town of Raymond’s proposed Health and Maintenance Ordinance at the Board of Selectmen's May 21 meeting. The board members found themselves caught in the middle of questions about whose rights were being protected and whose rights were being trampled.

Resident Pat Couturier raised the issue of rats and trash in her Green Hills Estates community over a year ago and asked the Selectmen for help. Community Development Director Ernie Creveling developed the proposed Health and Maintenance Ordinance as a result. The ordinance would allow the Town to take action on some of the issues Couturier had raised.

Couturier and other residents say their rights are being ignored and the so-called junkyards are diminishing their property values, but other residents maintain that they don’t consider their property to be their neighbors’ business.

The sticking point in the proposed ordinance is the definition of nuisance that includes the following: "For the purposes of this regulation, the term ‘nuisance’ is defined to mean any condition or use of property which unreasonably interferes with the health, safety, peace, comfort or convenience of the general community and is detrimental to the property of others or which causes or tends to cause substantial diminution in the value of other property in the neighborhood in which such property is located. This includes but is not limited to the keeping or the depositing, or scattering over the property, or the maintenance, of any of the following: junk, trash, debris, disabled cars, trucks or boats, parts of cars, trucks and boats, waste, old lumber; abandoned discarded or unused objects or equipment such as but not limited to automobiles, furniture, stoves, refrigerators, freezers, appliances, cans or containers."

The ordinance goes on to address as nuisances compost piles “of such a nature as to spread or harbor disease, emit unpleasant odors or harmful gas, or attract rodents, vermin or other potentially disease-carrying pests, animals or insects;” and attractive nuisances such as abandoned wells, shafts, basements, and excavations, abandoned iceboxes, refrigerators, motor vehicles, structurally unsound fences or structures, lumber, trash or debris.

The ordinance also states that nuisance refers to "personal property of any kind which is no longer in use for the purposes for which it was manufactured and which is not otherwise repurposed for some other use and is in fact used for that repurposed use."

And unsheltered storage of more than one motor vehicle, boat, machinery and/or equipment that is unregistered and inoperable, unused, stripped, junked or not in good and safe operating condition for 90 days or more, whether consecutive or not in any calendar year, is also declared a nuisance, except for a licensed junk yard.

Resident June Dickerson carried a small American flag as she spoke against the ordinance, which she claims is against freedom and is open to abuse.

Selectman Chair Jack Barnes said he too has concerns with the ordinance. He said there are three known properties in Town that are in violation and should be addressed, but he thinks he should be able to let his lawn grow 12 inches high if he wants to, an argument several residents have made.

Couturier asked about her right to have the residences in her neighborhood kept in a condition that didn't threaten to devalue her property or create problems with rodents because of accumulated junk and trash. Another resident said he had tried to sell his property but once people saw his neighbor's yard, the buyer was not interested. He asked the selectmen to come out and look at what he lives next to.

The board said they were in a difficult position in trying to protect the rights of all residents. If a health issue exists, the Health Officer should be called to deal with it, they said, but Health Officer David Hall responded that if he is called to a property because of trash and/or trash attracting rats, but cannot see any trash from the road nor rodents in the area, his hands are tied.

Some Selectmen said safety and health issues needed to be addressed but that the ordinance goes too far in limiting individual freedoms. Selectman Wayne Welch suggested that Hall visit the disputed area, inventory the issues and determine whether they are safety or health related. He also asked that violations be identified and solutions for dealing with the violations be presented to the board. Once the board has this information to review, it would be in a better position to render a decision on the proposed ordinance, Welch said. It was also suggested that Hall take Fire Chief Paul Hammond with him to look for fire hazards.

The board tabled a decision on the proposed ordinance until the June 11 meeting.

In other business:

• Barnes said there was nothing to report regarding filling the Town Manager position - Town Manager Craig Wheeler retires in June - but added that the successful candidate would be announced at the June 11 meeting.

• A report from the University of New Hampshire on the recent Town/School District survey showed a 14 percent response rate, or 663 responses. Survey respondents were mostly residents who either had voted or said they usually vote.

The survey reflected that 50 percent of respondents want Lamprey River Elementary School to remain where it is, while 29 percent want a new school, with the elementary school converted to a police station. Another response showed 46 percent say the school should be left where it is, 39 percent want to see it at a different site and 15 percent favor renovation. As for when this should happen, 23 percent wanted action within two years, 19 percent within five years and 20 percent within 10 years, while 28 percent wanted to wait longer or never do it. Two-thirds of responders considered this as very or somewhat important to the town.

The Police Station drew 54 percent in favor of its remaining where it is, 20 percent wanted to see the elementary school converted to a police station, and 25 percent wanted the police station at a new site. Respondents considered this item a little less important to the Town.

Concerning road maintenance and conditions, 11 percent thought the roads were exceptional or very good; 33 percent saw them as good; 36 percent considered them fair; and 19 percent saw them as in poor condition. The survey found that six in 10 responders wanted to fund the roads at the current level, while 29 percent were in favor of increasing spending. Snow removal received an 83 percent favorable vote. Concerning the need to purchase additional public works equipment, 25 percent would buy, 25 percent would lease and 18 percent would favor neither.

The response on wells and sewer installation showed 40 to 50 percent would consider this but not within five years, and a little more than 50 percent indicated they might be interested in natural gas.

Concerning a community center, 78 percent want to continue using existing buildings and address the idea again in five years. As for Town Office renovations, 66 percent favored continuing to use existing buildings but only 37 percent considered renovations to be important.

The survey results are posted on both the Town website at raymondnh.gov and the School District website at sau33.com.

• The board discussed why they were looking into purchasing two pieces of State-owned land off Route 27. Public Works Director Steve Brewer explained that the parcels are important elements of the design for realigning North Main Street for safety reasons. The state wants $10,000 for a triangle-shaped piece needed to complete the road redesign.

Barnes suggested that if Brewer and possibly some Selectmen were to approach the State about buying the parcels, the State might reduce the cost. The Selectmen decided to "take a road trip" to Concord to discuss this.

The second parcel holds a storage shed, and the State wants $395,000 for it. Brewer said when he heard the cost, he stopped pursuing it. Selectman Greg Bemis said there should not be a shed there, as the parcel is a prime place for commercial development. The shed parcel will be added to the discussion during the selectmen’s visit to Concord.

• Brewer also discussed road paving and reconstruction, and said he has $540,000 to work with. He has received two bids for the roadwork - from Pike Industries, Inc., of Belmont, Mass., at $628,286, and from Brox Industries of Dracut, Mass., at $716,693.75. He wants to work on Ham, Harriman Hill, Lakeview, and Cross roads. The totals include culverts on Harriman Hill, but Brewer said they will likely exceed the money available.

Brewer said he would review the bids and get back to the board with his recommendation and decision on what can be accomplished at the June 11 meeting.

A discussion ensued about the drainage and runoff treatment work at the bottom of Lakeview Road. Brewer told the board there are four options: option 1 at $71,000 for catch basin treatment and diversion of water to a drainage swale; option 2 at $229,000 to install a sectional media filter in a concrete box; option 3 at $336,000 for a biofiltration system that would remove 91 percent of solids passing through, as compared to options 1 and 2 that would reduce approximately 25 percent of solids; and option 4, which would add a level grass spread so the outfall would go through the grass to the swale and on to the wetlands. This would cost $208,000 and would remove 20 percent of the solids.

Brewer said to do the work this year would use up a lot of the road money, and to get permits and more design work done would require fast tracking the project. He said he needs to figure out how far the $540,000 will go and package the roadwork that makes the most sense.

•Brewer also said he had effected repairs to the Prescott Road culvert that collapsed when the pipe rotted out. He explained that there are three culverts that come together and the work repaired the 5-foot elliptical pipe and installed a cement cover, giving it a six-month life expectancy. If the culvert continues to collapse, it will have to be filled in to keep the road open, he said.

Brewer said DuBois and King is working on the issue and the solution would be to move to a box culvert and compress all three units into a 7-foot box. The cost would be approximately $200,000, and $80,000 to $90,000 in the bridge and culvert account could be used. Filling it in would result in continued and increasing overflows, he added.

• On a good note, Brewer said Well #4 is working and when they have to shut down the other wells for repairs to the treatment plant, well #4 will be operating and able to handle the demand.

• Barnes asked resident Carol Watjus whether she would be willing to wait for the new Town Manager to begin work before going forward with her complaint about 2017 encumbered funds. She and her attorney claim the encumbrances were done illegally, while Wheeler and the Town Attorney say the action was legal.

• The board decided to forego any further discussion about alternative forms of government that might be used by the Town of Raymond. They suggested that if a citizens group were interested in that subject, they could pursue it.

• The board approved the Police Department’s reviewing bids for a recording system for Dispatch. The Department’s recommendation will go to the Selectmen at the June 11 meeting. 
   


Decision Expected May 21 on Raymond Blight Ordinance
by Penny Williams    5-11-18

The Raymond Board of Selectmen are considering a Health and Maintenance Ordinance developed by Community Development Director Ernie Creveling to provide the town with the ability to enforce problems with unregistered cars, abandoned appliances and other forms of junk in residential yards.

At a public hearing on the proposed ordinance May 7, Creveling said state statutes on the books, along with some Town regulations, address the blight issues the town is grappling with, but no single, comprehensive ordinance gives the Town the authority to address resident complaints about such things as yards with unregistered cars or abandoned washing machines in full view of neighbors.

In recent months, several complaints have been registered about yards filled with junk, in some cases giving rise to rats. Residents have appealed to the selectmen to address the problems because of drops in their home’s value they attribute to neighbors’ neglect.

Selectmen chair Jack Barnes said he sees three basic attitudes among residents: one where people want their properties to be as attractive as possible; one where people have difficulty with removing offending objects from their property; and one where residents see their property as theirs to do whatever they want with it.

He said one solution might be to create a system where people who want to get rid of unwanted items could purchase a tag at Town Hall for a nominal fee and put it on the item in question; then, on a given day, the Town would pick up the tagged items for disposal.

He also noted that residents who have an issue with a neighbor should try and talk to the neighbor and work something out. Barnes added that the ordinance is a good thing because it puts everything in one place.

A number of residents spoke up in favor of the proposed ordinance, saying it would help with the issues they had. However, Gary Brown of Chester Road had a different take on the ordinance, which he called, "a hit piece" and labeled "Communism." He claimed it would restrict peoples' rights and does not define junk. Brown added that his land belongs to him to do with as he sees fit.

The ordinance is available on the Town Web site at www.raymondnh.gov and a copy can be obtained at Town Hall. It states, "By the thoughtful and reasonable enforcement of the restrictions and regulations contained herein, the growth of blighted areas can be prevented and the health, safety, and welfare of the community protected and fostered.

It goes on to define “nuisance” as “any condition or use of property which unreasonably interferes with health, safety, peace, comfort or convenience of the general community and is detrimental to the property of others or which causes or tends to cause substantial diminution in the value of other property in the neighborhood in which such property is located."

The ordinance contains a list of items that if abandoned or discarded on a property, would initiate the ordinance. Examples include trash, debris, disabled cars, car parts, boats, waste lumber, refrigerators or other appliances, improperly cared for compost, septic material retained in a barrel, abandoned wells, unsanitary conditions and personal property no longer in use for the purpose for which it was manufactured, for more than a period of 90 days. If after 10 days following the issuance of an order for corrective action, nothing is done, the Town can take corrective action, the costs of which will constitute a lien against the property, and if legal action is required, the Town will seek civil penalties and attorney fees.

According to the proposed ordinance, failure to abate noticed and convicted nuisance violations would result in a $275 fine for the first offense and a $550 fine for subsequent offenses, up to $1,000. Each day during which the condition exists beyond the specified date for abatement would be considered a separate offense.

In closing the public hearing, Barnes said a decision would be considered at the next Board of Selectmen's meeting, slated for May 21.

In other business:

• Jan Kent, speaking for the Conservation Commission, discussed a previous idea of putting a toilet at the Lamprey River Elementary School Eco Center. She said the Conservation Commission does not approve the idea, particularly if it involved a chemical toilet, because of the potential for abuse of the facility and potential pollution of the nearby water, should the facility be tipped over. In addition, she pointed out the facility would need maintenance and upkeep, which involves a cost. As a result, the Conservation Commission does not recommend the toilet proposal and is not interested in contributing to it.

• Barnes asked if the Town has a response to resident Carol Watjus’s question from a previous meeting regarding 2017 encumbered funds. Town Manager Craig Wheeler had written a letter to the selectmen with his response and read it into the record. In essence he said that her contention that the encumbered funds were illegal was incorrect, He said he had talked with both the auditors and the Town Attorney to look at how he had handled the encumbered funds and both said his actions were appropriate.

Watjus said she disagreed and asked what state statute he would cite to defend his action, as the law requires that appropriate contracts or invoices must be done by the end of December. In her complaint, she said the encumbrances were not completed until February, and claimed that if he did no have a statute to defend his timing, then it would be illegal and the funds should not be spent - or at the very least a policy should be put in place to ensure this would not happen again.

Barnes said Wheeler and the board would have a specific answer for her at the May 21 meeting.

• Barnes said three finalists for Town Manager would be interviewed May 14. Wheeler is retiring in June.

• Chief of Police Michael Labell presented Officer Michael Valeri with a letter of merit for CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) performed on a resident. Fire Chief Paul Hammond gave letters of merit to Firefighters Curt Fitton, William Hoitt, and Richard Nunziato, who provided assistance for a resident in cardiac arrest, and Labell awarded Lt. Chad Shevlin and Officer Sarah Castelot letters of merit for the same incident.

The family in question, grateful for the actions taken, made a donation to Raymond Fire and Raymond Ambulance, and the selectmen accepted the donation and asked that a letter of thanks be sent to the family.

• Hammond said the second call for resumes for a full-time firefighter position had better results and a finalist has been selected. That person will be introduced to the selectmen once the final background check is complete. With the new person added, Hammond proposes to go from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. fire department coverage five days a week to 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. coverage five days a week.

• The selectmen voted to approve accepting $2,500.50 in donations for the Fourth of July parade.

• The board approved sending a notarized letter of authorization granting the Friends of the Dudley-Tucker Library permission to represent its interests “for all matters and at all public hearings” pertaining to the Friends’ plan to construct a message sign kiosk in front of the library on Town property. The letter was required by the Historic District Commission.

• Gary Brown spoke in public comment to ask the selectmen why, after a year, they have not responded to his questions about the unfunded liability created by an employee who is paid full time and works only part time because she uses sick and vacation time. Barnes said they would address this in the near term.

• Barnes said budget committee financial reports would be provided to the board monthly.

• Joyce Wood was appointed to the Historic District Commission for a fourth term.

• The board reviewed their goals as well as what things they want to accomplish.

 


Raymond Working its Way Out of Financial Department Problems
By Penny Williams    4-19-18

The Raymond Board of Selectmen on April 16 had to swallow a difficult pill when their financial consultant told them that "material weaknesses in the financial department" are not common in most towns. Raymond, however, had been notified in its Auditor's Management Letter of several "material weaknesses."

The board received an update on the Town's financial audit from Eric Demas, their financial consultant, and from their Finance Manager, Julie Jenks. Demas did not mince words in telling the board the biggest reason for the Town’s receiving "material weakness" notices from the auditors was the swinging door of leadership of the Finance Department over the last decade. Staff in that department could barely keep up with day-to-day work, never mind correcting any issues stemming from the past, Demas said.

But there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Demas told the board that promoting Julie Jenks made him feel very sure the Town had found the solution to its problems. While he indicated all the problems would not be resolved immediately, he said great progress has been made by Jenks and the two new employees in the Finance Department.

Demas said the negative $500,000 in the Unreserved Fund Balance that existed when he first came on board has been turned around. He admitted that there are still issues such as tax receivables, and escrow accounts that go back many years, both of which need to be resolved but noted there is difficulty tracing the escrow accounts.

He said that in both cases progress is being made and policies and procedures have been put in place so that the Town won't create more issues in these areas in the years ahead. He said tax receivables now agree with the Town's accounting system, and added that the Town Clerk/Tax Collector is to be credited with making progress in this area.

The Finance Department is working on identifying issues with respect to the escrow accounts but many of them involve developers who paid money for work they planned to do, have not touched that money, and are no longer traceable. If the town did any work in those areas, it needs to be paid back but if the money should go to the developer, there is a difficult process of dealing with this when they cannot be found.

New policies and procedures to ensure this doesn't happen again have been put in place but the selectmen were told that tracing all the money in the escrow accounts will take some time and effort.

From the 2018 Expenditures and Revenue Report, the board learned the Town is roughly where it should be at the close of the first quarter. While Highway expenditures are at 41 percent, this is consistent with the weather, and on the revenue side, motor vehicle registrations continue strong, as does investment interest. Town manager Craig Wheeler said the revenue report indicates that it will continue strong for the year.

Looking at Social Service Agencies’ Expenditures, the board learned that all but one agency had requested the amount the Town approved. The selectmen said a better procedure would be to let the agencies know that payout of their requested amounts will not take place until after the first tax collection occurs at the end of the first quarter.

In other business:

• Selectman Chair Jack Barnes announced the names of residents appointed to the Citizen Panel that will take part in interviewing candidates for Town Manager. The members are: Ed French, Carol Watjus, Leslie O'Donnell, Tina Thomas, Sally Paradis, Jerry Zimmel and Russell Hammond. The panel members will be expected to be at the Fire Station Saturday April 28, when they will receive their interview packet, and the interviews will take place between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Simultaneously, the Board of Selectmen will be doing candidate interviews at the Fire Hall in another area. After the conclusion of the interviews the selectmen will meet with the Primex consultants to move forward with the process.

• Before the selectmen delved into the evening’s agenda, Barnes suggested that Public Comment should be changed in order to allow resident input and transparency. He suggested and the board approved allowing Public Comment at the beginning of the meeting but added allowing Public Comment/Questions on agenda items that would be answered by the board at the conclusion of the meeting.

• In addition, later in the meeting, the board members expressed goals and thoughts on rules and regulations. Selectman Wayne Welch had prepared a list that included: selecting a Town Manager, the Five-Year Plan former selectman Jonathan Wood had developed, a water rate study, MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System), road reconstruction, the water towers on Route 156 and Orchard Street, economic development, balancing the Town's financial needs with taxpayer burden, control of government growth, and promoting efficiency of delivery of services to citizens.

Selectman Greg Bemis agreed with Welch’s suggestions and emphasized that the towers' needs should be addressed, along with space needs at Town Hall. Selectman Scott Campbell suggested looking at changing the structure of Town government to look more like Manchester, which is a city, not a town. It was noted that Raymond is an SB 2 town, which mandates much of how it can be governed. The suggestion was made to invite someone from the Municipal Government Center to talk to the board about what forms of government Raymond could choose.

Barnes said he wants the board involved in employee hiring and suggested a meet-and-greet between new employees and the selectmen. He also said he wants to end “black holes,” which occur when a matter comes before the board and then is never heard about again. And he wants to address questions and issues that come up at a meeting at the following meeting, and said he wants to be kept informed about 91-A (Right-to-Know) requests, how long it takes to answer them and their cost, so residents can be informed.

• Public Works Director Steve Brewer said Well #4 is almost ready to go on line. He said the few things remaining to be completed are being worked on and he hopes will be finished shortly. Well #2 has been cleaned and inspected but the well casing is tipping and its life expectancy is 3 to 5 years. However, he said Well #2 could be redeveloped at its same site, which would be less expensive than going elsewhere. He also said the Water Treatment Plant needs about $50,000 in repairs, but can wait until Well #4 goes online.

Brewer also updated the board on the Roy Street culvert, saying the pipe under the road has collapsed halfway in and will require the road to be closed down to one lane for repair. He will be doing a full replacement of the pipe but will do it in sections so as to keep at least one lane open to traffic. He said the culvert should be fixed by week’s end.

• Community Development Director Ernie Creveling provided the board with copies of a Health and Maintenance Code he had developed that will address such things as junk cars in front yards. If the selectmen approve the code, the Town would have an ordinance that could be enforced. Creveling said the code has been reviewed and approved by Town Counsel and he is looking for any changes or additions from the board before they vote on the final ordinance.

• Bids were opened for road striping from Markings Inc., of Pembroke, Mass.; Highway Safety of Rockland, Mass.; and Industrial Traffic Lines, Inc., of Londonderry. There was a brief discussion about whether the Town could do some of this work internally for less money and Brewer said he thought not but could look into it.

• Barnes received an answer for resident Carol Watjus’s question regarding to whom 91-A requests should be given. Town Manager Craig Wheeler said 91-A requests can be given to either the Board of Selectmen (individually or as a board) or to the Town Manager, and either way, the Town Manager would get the request for information to the appropriate person for an answer.

• Watjus spoke during Public Comment to say she thinks the Town has committed an illegal act in terms of its encumbered funds from 2017. She claimed the encumbered funds did not have the required contract or invoice, and instead of being spent, the money should go or have gone into the Unreserved Fund Balance. She asked for a response. None was given during the meeting.
 
• The board reappointed committee members and swore them into office.

 


Raymond Selectmen Prepare for Town Manager Interviews
By Penny Williams     4-6-18

The Raymond Board of Selectmen worked with Primex consultants Toni Flewelling and Shelly Waltz on April 2 to define what they want in a new Town Manager. The consultants had given the selectmen a list of questions last week, and the answers the selectmen provided will be used by the consultants to develop questions selectmen can use in determining which applicant resumes to consider, as well as in applicant interviews.

Selectman Wayne Welch brought with him a list of responses to each query.

The first question was to identify critical issues the new town manager might encounter. Selectman chair Jack Barnes, who was absent Monday night because he was traveling, said last week that financial issues and finances constituted the most critical area.

Added to this, Welch provided his list, which included communication with residents and staff, handling social media, land use lawsuits, MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System general permits), retirement liabilities, and an increased commercial and industrial tax base.

Selectman Greg Bemis added economic development issues, and selectman George Plante, who chaired the meeting in Barnes’ absence, added contract negotiations and preparing the 2019 budget while overseeing the 2018 budget as key factors as well.

The consultants then asked the selectmen to identify potential roadblocks to a smooth transition.

Again, Welch had a list prepared that included inability to work with staff, not understanding current projects, not being able to listen and communicate adequately, and bringing personal baggage to the position. He cited a line that had been written by State Rep. Carolyn Matthews, R-Raymond, as key; it states, "Raymond's success is built on sound leadership and strong staff."

Bemis added that not getting to know Raymond or not working with the public and department heads would pose roadblocks. Plante said he wanted to see at least a two- to four-week overlap between the current and the new town managers. Current Town Manager Craig Wheeler is retiring in June.

Question three sought to identify the essential knowledge, skills and abilities the board is seeking in the new town manager.

Leading this list was municipal administration experience with an emphasis on finance and budget. This was followed by a knowledge of state statutes (RSA) and current legislation.

Welch wants the new manager to be able to educate and promote staff to perform to the next level and to have positive relations with the school administration. Plante added that knowledge of the community and awareness of resident concerns was important.

The consultants’ fourth question concerned behavior characteristics the board is seeking in the new town manager.

Bemis had prepared a specific list that included compassion, decisiveness, flexibility, patience, resilience, honesty, and being a good planner and a good communicator. The others added the qualities of being personable, respectful, having a sense of humor, and being confident and focused. Welch said the town manager needed to be a self starter who thinks first and acts second, accomplishes goals and tasks, and sees things through to the end.

Question five dealt with the specific qualifications the board wants. Flewelling said a line from the job posting is an excellent answer - someone who is passionate about local government.

The selectmen added that being a strong presence in the community was a qualification sought, although the Town does not require Raymond residency. The selectmen are looking for someone who has at least a bachelor’s degree, but a master’s degree in government or public management is preferred. They also want someone who has five years experience in municipal government, and Bemis said most important is someone who has had hands-on experience as a town manager.

Welch added that having a fiscal background and fiscal knowledge, understanding the laws of municipal government and land use, knowledge of the demands of public safety, and experience with Public Works oversight are all important qualifications. He added that being able to understand and work with the social needs of the Raymond community and meet acceptable community needs in an affordable way were important as well.
 
The consultants said they would compile this information into a report and get it back to the selectmen so they would have it as they start the process of reviewing the 14 resumes that have come in.

Welch said he had a list of projects the consultants had asked board members to develop that could be asked of the applicants. His projects included: (1) going through a bonding project; (2) setting up the process of looking at water infrastructure on the Thibeault property; (3) developing a fund balance policy and guidelines; and (4) doing a five-year projected financial forecast for the town with consideration of the CIP (Capital Improvement Program) schedule.

Other projects suggested by the board included a study of a waste water facility and an overview of the MS4.

The applicants, at their second interview, will be given a project. The board will decide on the project and all applicants will receive the same one.

Matthews spoke up and said she had not heard about the need for the new town manager to have the ability to resolve conflicts among staff and with residents. She said she also thought that having the ability to negotiate and manage a contract was important. Resident Carol Watjus said that accountability was a critical attribute needed.

Watjus had spoken earlier during public comment, expressing frustration and anger with the selectmen over not being allowed to speak at the close of the previous board meeting on March 26th, when Barnes called for adjournment and the meeting ended.

She said her 91A (Right-to-Know) requests are not frivolous and as costly as the board would have residents believe and claimed the Town Manager’s report on how long it took staff to respond to resident 91A requests was filled with errors, misleading information and discrepancies. Watjus has submitted numerous 91A requests, as have other residents.

She said staff are paid to respond to such inquiries and thus the requests represent no additional cost to the taxpayers. She claimed the 91A requests have revealed many important issues that need correction, and the inquiries were made to ensure residents’ rights are not being taken away and that everybody is following the rules.

She also complained about being told by Barnes that she hadn't been allowed to speak at the end of the last session because there had been a change in the rules, with public comment only allowed during the public comment period and at 3 minutes per person at the beginning of the meeting.

Plante, in his role of vice chair, did not adhere to this dictum during the meeting. He told Watjus he had asked for the time and cost information related to the 91A questions because residents had a right to know the answers.

Wayne Watjus asked that public comment be allowed throughout the meetings.

 


Raymond Selectmen Delay Town Manager Selection Process by One Week
By Penny Williams    3-27-18

The Raymond Board of Selectmen heard from Primex Member Services Consultants Toni Flewelling and Shelly Waltz on March 26, as they reviewed what Primex offered the board in terms of its search for a new town manager, but the selectmen delayed beginning the process until the following week. Raymond Town Manager Craig Wheeler is retiring in June.

The town received 14 resumes for the position, as well as queries from residents who wish to serve on the citizen panel for the selection process.

The original plan called for Primex to come up with a list of questions to be asked of the candidates, based on the information gleaned from the selectmen’s completion of a form they were given and the data from that evening's discussion. Primex then planned to interview the selectmen in non-public session about their questions and review the resumes, creating three baskets – candidates whose resumes warrant an interview, those who won't be interviewed and those who are a “maybe” with respect to an interview.

Flewelling emphasized the importance of keeping the resumes confidential, as well as the list of citizens seeking appointment to the citizen panel, and said it was vital to ensure that each candidate was asked the exact same questions.

She said the citizen panel would have input into the process but emphasized that the board has the final say on who would be interviewed and eventually selected for the job. She added that a work project should be developed and given to each candidate to detail how he or she would handle it, noting the importance of giving the same project to all the candidates. Primex will review residents’ questions to ensure they do not raise any legal issues.

While consulting by Primex is free, two options offered by Primex carry a fee - a behavior and motivation assessment of the candidates at a cost of $150, and an assessment of the finalists on how well they match the characteristics the board decides they are looking for, at $40 per candidate assessment. No decision on whether to pursue these options was made by the board.

Flewelling then tried to establish ground rules for the work they planned to do that night, and the board became uncomfortable, with it appearing that members were not prepared to do any in-depth discussion immediately. Selectmen complained that they had just received the paperwork and had not had time to review it.

Selectman Wayne Welch said that he needed time to go over the forms provided. The consultants suggested establishing ground rules for the discussion, and the selectmen only responded that everyone should have an opportunity to be heard and everyone should be respectful. On the question of what critical issues the new town manager might face, Selectman Chair Jack Barnes said an understanding of finance and where the town stands financially was important.

 Selectman George Plante, attending via speakerphone, said he agreed with Welch and did not want to rush into anything. He said the board needed time to take a good look at whom they would be hiring.

Barnes asked if it would be part of the process for a board member or members to visit the town where an out-of-state candidate worked, and was told that would be the board's responsibility. At that point Selectman Greg Bemis suggested the discussion be moved to the next week.

The Primex staff said they could return but warned that putting off the discussion a week made an already very tight schedule even tighter.

The board then discussed the proposed April 3 non-public workshop that would focus on the information from each selectman on the forms Primex had provided, selection of the citizen panel, and review of town manager candidate resumes.

Resident Carol Watjus asked the board why they were going to discuss those questions in non-public session when they were originally to be discussed in public session that evening.

Flewelling agreed with Watjus and said typically such discussion takes place in an open public meeting. The questions on the form that the selectmen were to fill out and what the Primex consultants had anticipated discussing that night include: qualifications, skills and abilities, education; behaviors and motivations; roadblocks to a smooth transition; and critical issues the new town manager might face.

Barnes said he was ready to discuss those questions that night, but a vote of the board showed that Welch and Plante thought they should be discussed in non-public while Bemis, Scott Campbell and Barnes thought an open meeting was the right place. The board decided that the public should be able to offer opinions on the questions and that perhaps they could be posted on the town's website.

After further discussion the board decided to discuss the questions in open public session at the Monday night, April 2 regular selectmen's meeting. The Primex consultants said they would help facilitate the discussion. That would leave the Tuesday, April 3 meeting at 5:30 p.m. at Town Hall for the non-public discussion of the town manager candidate resumes and the citizen panel appointments. The consultants will attend that meeting as well.

In other business:

• Wheeler said he had information for the board in response to its request for the amount of time and the associated cost of that time it took to answer RSA 91A Right to Know requests that have been made. The report he provided said that while there is no actual payment made for the time it takes to respond to a Right to Know request, an estimated cost figure was provided. He made it clear that this was a best-case effort estimate because the staff had not tracked their time. Going forward, however, they will do so and put it on the request document.

The data showed that for the time period between March 17, 2017 and the present, staff had put in an estimated 277.5 hours on 22 Right to Know requests; the associated cost based on the pay of the individuals doing the research was an estimated $8,251.71.

Barnes said he had been asked by several residents what the cost and time of responding to the Right to Know requests amounted to and Plante said he had received several similar requests. Barnes asked if this information could be posted on the Town website for residents to see and was told it would be. Administrative Assistant Deb Intonti emphasized that the hours and costs are best-case scenario estimates only.

Just before adjournment, Watjus and her husband asked to be allowed to speak about their Right to Know requests, but Barnes called for adjournment and the meeting ended.

• Wheeler said Fire Chief Paul Hammond had received six resumes for the open firefighter position but two did not meet state eligibility requirements, two did not meet Raymond Fire Department eligibility requirements and two had withdrawn their applications. After the state testing at the end of April, another list of eligible firefighters would be available and he would advertise again for the position.

• Watjus asked the board to reconsider changing the meeting time from 7 p.m. to 6 p.m., saying the earlier time is inconvenient for residents to watch on TV or attend.

• Carolyn Matthews brought a booklet for the selectmen and one for the Planning Board on “20 Years of Progress,” detailing the work and accomplishments of the Lamprey River Advisory Committee. She also brought a brochure that listed the Lamprey River on the National Wild and Science Rivers. She said there would be copies in the library as well.

 


Raymond Selectmen to Examine Cost of Meeting Right-to-Know Requests
By Penny Williams    3-22-18

The Raymond Board of Selectmen welcomed its newest member, Scott Campbell, and then proceeded to reorganize at the Board’s March 19 meeting. Campbell defeated incumbent Jonathan Wood in the March 13 election.

Selec`tman Jack Barnes was unanimously elected chairman, and George Plante, who attended the meeting by phone, was elected vice chair.

Town Manager Wheeler read a list of 91A Right-to-Know requests submitted by resident Carol Watjus that covered seven items: a year’s worth of monthly Revenue Reports; a year of monthly Expense Reports; all line transfers from 2017; all encumbrance invoices for 2017; impact fee information for the last 10 years for schools and roads; money that was placed in the 2017 General Fund Unassigned Fund Balance and Assigned Fund Balance from 2017 appropriations; and Revenue Accounts listed with balance and breakdown for 2017 from each department.

Wheeler said he received this latest list of 91A requests from Watjus at 6 p.m. that day.

Barnes asked Wheeler if the request was not a whole lot of work. Wheeler responded that some of it was available but that it would take many hours to accomplish by himself and other staff members. He said he would respond to Watjus within the five-day required period with an estimate on when she might expect to get this information.

The board discussed the time and cost to Raymond taxpayers for Wheeler and other Town employees to respond to in-depth 91A requests. Plante asked Wheeler if he could tell him how many hours he had invested in responding to these requests in 2017, and Wheeler said he had a rough estimate; the board, however, wanted more specific information. Wheeler said, for example, it had taken him and others in the office four to six weeks to provide the response to a 91A request for the breakdown of employee timecards. He added that all the requests take time, and time costs the taxpayers money.

Selectman Wayne Welch said he wanted Wheeler to carefully track and document the time it takes him to respond to the requests from Watjus and get that information to the board. It was noted that time and cost information regarding responding to 91A requests should be sent to Concord as well.

Pat Couturier, who has attended past Board of Selectmen meetings to express concern about front-yard trash and old cars on properties in the Green Hills neighborhood, asked the board again during public forum for help in beefing up the town's ordinance that deals with such issues. She said the Health Department has little to work with and the situation is a health issue in addition to negatively impacting other people's property values.

Barnes asked Community Development Director Ernie Creveling to tell the board what, if anything, had been done in response to Couturier's request for assistance. Creveling responded that letters had been sent to several residents but noted the process takes time. He said the letters had given the recipients 45 days to correct the situation, although that time was practically if not already up.

If the residents receiving letters responded by cleaning up the trash, he said that would be good, and he noted that one has already done so. If the others fail to take any action, the Town will have to contact them and tell them they have a specific number of days to comply or the Town will take them to court. He said if that occurs, the court will give them time to respond before actually bringing them into court; thus, nothing will happen quickly.

Couturier said her request is for the Town to put teeth in its ordinance relative to this issue. She said surrounding towns have much stronger ordinances and implored the board to give the Health Department the tools it needs to take action.

Wheeler said the Town has started taking action, as Creveling pointed out. Barnes asked if the ordinance could be changed and Wheeler said he could have a draft ordinance for the board in a month or six weeks, and it would have to be brought before the residents in a public hearing.

Wheeler also noted that the Town has to look at the cost of enforcement, and Creveling added there is a legal cost to taking property owners who don't comply to court.

The matter was left that Creveling would continue with his efforts and Wheeler would work on producing a draft ordinance for the board to review and present to residents at a public hearing. Barnes said he wanted the matter on the May 7 agenda.

In other business:

• Barnes asked the board to consider going to two meetings a month rather than holding a meeting every Monday night. The board agreed it made sense, and noted that if an emergency arose or budget season arrived, they might have to add meetings, as well as during the search process for a new Town Manager.

The board voted unanimously to begin holding meetings on the first and third Mondays of each month starting with the April 2, meeting. They will meet March 26 as usual because Primex is scheduled to attend and review the recruiting search process for the Town Manager. Wheeler is retiring in June.

• Barnes asked the board to consider starting their meetings at an earlier time and Plante suggested 6 p.m. The board discussed this briefly and voted to start using the 6 p.m. start time at the April 2 meeting.

• Moderator Kathy Hoelzel told the Board that 930 voters cast ballots at the March 13 election despite the snowstorm. That number included 91 absentee ballots. She said 19 new voters were registered and every article passed.

• Mason Welch of Boy Scout Troop 101 gave the board his Eagle Scout project paperwork. He plans to build six weatherproof picnic tables for Riverside Park, to be placed near the horseshoe pits. He plans to start in April and have the project completed by May 18. The board unanimously approved the project.

• The board opened bids for catch basin cleaning and road sweeping - three for catch basin cleaning and one for road sweeping. The board approved passing the bids to Public Works Director Steve Brewer for him to review and bring to the selectmen a recommendation for awarding a contract.

• Wheeler said he was working on the Fund Balance Policy and would bring it to the board when finished.

• Barnes made liaison assignments as follows:
Planning - Campbell and Gregory Bemis.
Scholarship - Bemis and Campbell.
Negotiations with AFSCME - Plante and Barnes.
Raymond Business Economic Development - Barnes and Campbell.
Friends of Raymond Recreation - Bemis and Barnes.
Budget Committee - Welch and Bemis.
Historic District Commission – Campbell.
CIP Committee - Bemis and Plante.
Cable Committee – Plante.
Highway Safety Committee -Welch and Bemis.

 


Mike Labell to Lead Raymond Police Department, Water Budget Error Noted
By Penny Williams    3-9-18

The Raymond Board of Selectmen honored retiring Police Chief David Salois with two proclamations, and Town Manager Craig Wheeler announced the appointment of Police Captain Michael Labell as the Town’s new Police Chief at its March 5 meeting.

Labell is a longtime member of the Raymond Police force, and will be sworn in as Chief on Friday, March 16 at 3 p.m. at Torrent Hall. Labell’s swearing in will occur at the time that Salois’ retirement takes effect, providing the town with a seamless succession, Wheeler said.

During public comment, resident Susan Caldwell, who found a math error in the calculation of the Water Default Budget, asked the Board of Selectmen to read into the record the official response from Wheeler.  Selectman Jack Barnes complied.

The response acknowledges that an error in the Water Default Budget calculation was found that made the total sum incorrect. However, the information was received too late to make a change to the ballot, which had already been printed. The error was not found by the Board of Selectmen, the Town Finance Department, the Town Budget Committee or the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration.

Town Legal Counsel stated that should the Default Budget go into effect, the correct amount of $727,633 for the Default Water Budget and the total Default Operating Budget of $8,369,729 (rounded up to $8,369,730) would be used. There is no tax impact from the error.

Residents Carol Watjus and Gary Brown also complained about the error. Brown noted that as two department heads he claimed are reportedly planning to apply to be Town Manager should have found the error, candidates from outside Raymond Town government and who have a degree and background in business management should be sought.

In other business:

• The board discussed recruitment for a new Town Manager and announced a decision with respect to department heads being involved in the hiring process. Rather than department heads asking questions of applicants face to face, they will be asked to submit their questions to Primex, which will present those questions to the applicants and provide the responses for the final interview process. The Board will be meeting with Primex at its March 26 board meeting; the only item on that meeting agenda will be the Primex recruitment process. Wheeler had previously announced that he would be retiring in June.

Resident Wayne Watjus suggested a suggestion box where residents could put their questions to the candidates, as well as a place on the Town Web site where they could submit their questions.

Wheeler said he has received a half dozen letters from residents requesting to be on a resident panel to participate in the recruitment process for the new Town Manager position. Board members said they had received several requests as well. The announcement of who will be on that resident panel will come at the March 26 meeting with Primex.

• Discussion took place about the members of the Finance staff. Wheeler said there are two full-time staff - Julie Jenks, who is financial manager, and a full-time account manager - as well as a part-time bookkeeper and contracted workers. Selectman Chair Jonathan Wood asked for the staff costs to be supplied and it was noted that Community Development Director Ernie Creveling and executive secretary Deb Intonti are also involved with the finance staff.

Brown sought the justification for having so many people in the finance department when formerly there were three, and said Wheeler made a mistake in not hiring a qualified applicant because the person wanted $25,000 more than the Town was offering. He said the town is spending more than that $25,000 in hiring extra help.

Carol Watjus agreed and said the Finance staff costs should be more carefully analyzed.

• The creation of a University of New Hampshire survey of Raymond residents has been completed, and one more question has been added: if natural gas were brought to the respondent’s street, would they be likely to connect to it.

The “Raymond Community Survey” will be sent on behalf of the Town and the Raymond School District to assess residents’ budgetary priorities and to determine which projects should be pursued. Questions concern the future of the Lamprey River Elementary School, expansion and relocation of the Raymond Police Department, and a timeframe for renovations to the current or construction of a new elementary school and police station. Other questions relate to road maintenance and snow removal, additional water wells, sewer installation, establishment of a community center, additional space for Town offices, and information about the respondent’s demographics.

The plan is to send the survey out two weeks after Election Day, with the results due by mid May. The survey will be put up on the Town web site at raymondnh.gov.

• Pat Couturier asked why her request for action with regard to requiring people to clean up their yards - or for the town to do so - had not been addressed. She said she wants regulations put in place that will stop people from leaving washing machines in their front yard and multiple unlicensed cars on their property. She claimed the conditions cause health issues by inviting rats and reduce the value of nearby properties. Wood said her request was noted and would be addressed in the spring.

• a discussion occurred about whether to acknowledge a resident who would be 100 years old on March 7. The board decided to look into the Boston Post Cane program and if the woman proves to be the oldest in Town, to make a presentation to her. In the meantime, Barnes and some of the other selectmen will present her with a birthday cake and flowers. They will also order a replica cane to have on hand.

The Boston Post Cane tradition stems from 1909, when the publisher of the Boston Post newspaper contacted 700 New England towns and gave them a 14-carat gold-headed ebony cane with the request that it be presented with the compliments of the newspaper to the oldest male citizen of the town, and at his death, handed down to the next oldest resident. In 1930, eligibility for the cane was opened to women. The cane remains the property of the Town.

 


By State Statute, Selectmen to Hire New Town Manager
By Penny Williams   2-28-18

Although no one asked to speak under Public Comment, several residents came to the microphone to raise concerns at the Feb. 26 Raymond Board of Selectmen meeting about the planned hiring process for a new Town Manager. Current Town Manager Craig Wheeler is retiring in June.

Wheeler said Primex will work with the Board of Selectmen in recruiting and choosing a new town manager. He noted that Primex handled the search for a town manager with the Board of Selectmen when he was hired, and said that just as in that case, Primex will produce and rank a short list of finalists and bring that list to the Board of Selectmen. The selectmen then will review the recommendations, conduct their own interviews of the finalists in non-public session and per state statute, make the decision on whom they wish to hire.

Wheeler laid out a timeline that saw placing job advertisements Feb. 27, with resumes due March 26 and the new Town Manager in place by May 21. He told the selectmen that according to state RSA Chapter 37, the board cannot require a candidate to live in Raymond as a condition of employment.

Wheeler said there would be two panels selected to review the short list of candidates and to provide Primex and the selectmen with their advisory recommendations on the finalists. One panel would be made up of Department Heads and the other panel would consist of five or six residents. All department heads would be on the department head panel, and the selectmen would appoint the residents for the citizens’ panel.

Wheeler, and later Selectman Chair Jonathan Wood, emphasized that the selectmen would make the final hiring decision but would take the two panels’ recommendations and comments into account. Wood read the RSA that explains that the Board of Selectmen hires the Town Manager in the form of government in place in Raymond.

Resident Dana Hanson said she thought the department head panel was a concern because she claimed it involved employees giving opinions on someone who would be their boss.

Resident Ed French, a former selectman, responded, saying this model is one that is typically used and is perfectly all right. Rani Merryman, Carol Watjus and Hanson all said it didn't make sense for employees to be involved in hiring the person who would be their boss. Both Wood and Wheeler said this model has been used in the past,  in town government as well as in corporations and industry.

Asked for their views, the selectmen all agreed with having the two panels except for George Plante, who questioned involving employees in hiring their supervisor. After Plante spoke, Police Chief David Salois implored the board not to follow this line of reasoning “down the rabbit hole” but to ignore it and move on.

Asked by Plante why the department head panel would be used, Wood said the department heads have specific expertise in their areas and would therefore be able to ask appropriate questions of candidates to help determine whether they were or were not well versed in those areas. Selectman Greg Bemis said the more opinions about the candidates, the better.

Wood encouraged citizens wanting to serve on the citizen advisory panel to email or write the board with their desire and the board would notify those chosen for that panel. Wheeler said he was interviewed by both a citizen and department head panel and Selectman Wayne Welch said all opinions would be valuable in choosing a new town manager.

“We need all the resources you can get to help us make a solid decision for the future of Raymond,” Welch said. “I would look forward to the opinions of our department heads and from a select group of people in the community.”

Watjus questioned whether a town manager would feel obligated to a department head who had backed him or her, and said the department head could expect special consideration for having supported the candidate chosen. “It could happen,” she said.

Wheeler asked the board if he was correct that they wanted him to move forward with Primex and arrange for the two panels, and the board affirmed that was the process to follow. Primex would be expected to finalize procedures with the board March 19.

In other business:

• Wheeler announced the retirement of Police Chief David Salois
David T. Salois Retirement Letter. His last day of work will be March 16.  

Salois, in a brief statement, said he had recently received an opportunity from outside law enforcement and after 28 years in Raymond, he decided this was the right move to make at this time.

Salois said he started in 1989 and in 1995 was promoted to Sergeant, in 1997 to Lieutenant, and in 2000 to chief. He said over the years he has met many great people and credited the Town’s leadership and the community with having a lot to do with the success he has had as chief.

Wheeler said Salois had served the town over the years "with dignity, integrity, high professionalism and with honor," and noted he had accepted the resignation with regret.

• Wheeler reviewed the expenditures and revenues for 2017 and reported that the 2017 default budget had not been overspent, and indeed, some money remained unspent. He said 98 percent of the budget was spent and $134,707 was put into the Unexpended Fund Balance from the Operating Budget and $27,000 from the Water Budget. He added that $276,000 was encumbered.

In addition, two warrant articles were not fully expended, adding $10,000 to the unspent funds. Wheeler said $38,900 was paid in the employee vacation balance, lowering the $500,000 liability by that amount.

He added that motor vehicle registration revenue continues to grow, and noted the 2017 books have been closed and reconciled.

• A Household Hazardous Waste Department of Environmental Services grant of between $3,000 and $5,000 was accepted against the cost of the fall Hazardous Waste Collection Day.

• Town Harassment Training has two daytime classes scheduled for March 30 and March 31; those who cannot attend those classes have four online options they can take.

• Welch suggested that the information on the Manchester Town Website under Motor Vehicle registration be put on the Raymond Town Website. He said it is an excellent explanation of how to figure out what an individual's motor vehicle tax will be.


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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Raymond Voter Information Project

Box 813, Raymond NH 03077
895-4084


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

~ Melody Beattie ~


"Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world.
For, indeed, that’s all who ever have."
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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 ~