2020 Raymond Board of Selectmen Meetings

Raymond's Community TV Meeting Coverage May Be in Jeopardy
Penny Williams    12-16-20

The Raymond Board of Selectmen met on Monday, December 14, and among the topics was the RCTV cable coverage of meetings and the Cable Committee's request for new equipment and a salary increase for the supervisor.

The board discussed the request for a replacement of the Raymond Cable TV Playback Server System.  Kathy Masso, Cable Committee Chair, said the cost of the replacement system would be $45,097 with an additional $5,089 annual payment. The money would come from the RCTV fund that has a balance of $349,303.87 but would not increase the subscription cost for Cable.

The reason for the need for replacement, according to Masso, is the equipment is 18 years old and is having increasing problems and issues. The committee, she told the board, voted to replace it before it broke down completely. She noted if the system goes down there would be no coverage of meetings and since there are no reporters who attend meetings information from meetings wouldn't get to residents. She added that if the system is left to run until it breaks down, the replacement cost could be more and the RCTV broadcasts would likely be down for weeks possibly months.

Selectman Chair Scott Campbell said he understands all about the equipment since he went to college to study that sort of thing and he considers this an unnecessary big ticket item and didn't plan to vote for approval of it. He said it isn't broken so it doesn't need to be replaced. He also asked how many people actually watch the meeting coverage and was told the Cable doesn't have any way to determine that.

At one point Selectman George Plante spoke up saying he wouldn't vote to approve it either and that he better never be ridiculed again as he was at a Cable Committee meeting. He and Masso exchanged comments but no specific details of what went on in the Cable meeting were divulged.

Campbell made a motion not to approve the request to replace the Playback Server System and his motion was unanimously approved.

The board then turned to the 2021 Cable Budget request of $53,875 that included a $7,000 increase to support the town board zoom meetings by providing an operator so boards can focus on the meeting and not the technology.The $7,000 does not strictly support cable users, the Cable committee felt it was a benefit to the entire town.

The budget includes a 6 percent increase for the coordinator. That would amount to $1 an hour with 20 hours a week or $1,046 per year, since the coordinator has not received an increase in two years.

Selectman Jack Barnes asked why the Board of Selectmen were dealing with the Cable budget. He questioned whether the selectmen or the Town Manager Joe Ilsley oversee the Cable budget. Barnes said it should be under the Town Manager and in the CIP. He indicated that the budget should go to the Town Manager and then the Town Manager would make a recommendation to the Board of Selectmen. Selectman Kathy Hoelsel suggested it should moved to the General Fund and be allocated like every other department budget and go to the Budget Committee.

The board and Ilsley discussed this and Campbell made a motion to raise the supervisor pay by 3 percent, reducing the 6 percent request by half. The board approved the motion and then the board decided to return the budget to the Cable Committee for an adjustment after which it can be brought back to the board at their January 11, Selectmen's meeting.

Ilsley went over the budget and the tax impact and the warrant articles. The Operating Budget is $7,637,633 with a Default Budget amount of $7,700,373. This has an estimated tax impact of $5.198. The Water Department Operating Budget is $850,046, with a Default amount of $900,095, which is an estimated $5.315 tax impact.

Ilsley pointed out that there has been a reduction in the Municipal Tax Rate for the third straight year and the operating budget is a reduction of 1.83 percent or $142,633. The Unassigned Fund Balance has grown for the second year.

In discussing the Warrant Articles, Ilsley said that one of the vendors for the Bag and Tag program had fallen out and the program couldn't go forward for a year. He requested the board suspend the Bag and Tag program and the board approved his recommendation.

The board opened the bids for the deed property sales.

* 17 Epping Street had two bidders: S,D,& C Building Developers bid $46,600 and EOR Realty bid $58,000.

* 129 Langford Road had four bidders: Michael Thompson bid $85,100;  Martin McFarland and Gary Brown, bid $75,000; S,D,& C Builders bid $92,200; and, EOR Realty bid $102,00.

The properties went to the highest bidders and Ilsley pointed out the Town received more than the minimum on both properties, for a total of $160,000.

The board honored Financial Manager Julie Jenks with a Proclamation that changed her title to Financial Director.

The board approved a Water Purchase for hands-on training in the amount of $6,080.

The board approved the Trail Agreement between the Raymond School District and The Town regarding maintenance of the Trail being developed as an Eagle Scout Project. Ilsley said he and Superintendent Tina McCoy had worked together on this.

The board approved a number of Notices of Abatement of Taxes for senior citizens who had paid prior to the extension of time to pay. Barnes asked about a letter from a Mr. Mates on Smith Pond Road and Ilsley said he had not responded to the letter yet. The board approved an Intent to Cut Permit  for Fordway Road for Spencer Perry providing him with a temporary Driveway permit The board tabled until the next meeting a discussion of 2020 Current Use Tax request.

The only Public Comment was a question from Tina Thomas regarding CBD asking if it was prohibited and Ilsley confirmed that it appears to be.


Raymond Selectmen Hear Request to Revamp Water Department to Address Debt and 2021 Tax Rate Set
By Penny Williams   11-17-20

The Raymond Board of Selectmen met Monday night, November 16, and Town Manager Joe Ilsley proposed revamping the Water Department practices and culture to address deficits and growing debt.

Starting out by pointing out the Water Department is facing a $142,187 shortfall, he gave the board his proposed solution to addressing this growing annual deficit and how to change the department's culture of deferments that continues to increase the amount of debt the department has to address.

He explained that the department debt is dragging the department down and this needs to be addressed and if not, by 2027 the entire department will collapse. Right now the town is facing a state mandated issue of replacing the Orchard Street 156 Tower that will cost an estimated $4,000,000 plus. He indicated that steps need to be taken over the next four years to implement a short term solution.

First of all the practices and culture of the department need to be changed. Second, he said the $250,000 for the Water Department Capital Improvement Plan be reduced to $200,000 and then raise this by 3 percent annually. Thirdly he said a rate increase must be implemented and he suggests a 4 percent rate increase annually between 2021 and 2024.

This rate increase would have the impact of  only a $17.80 a year increase on Raymond household water bills. For small businesses that would cost them $23.71 annually; medium sized businesses would be looking at an annual increase of $120.23; and, larger businesses would see a $466.50 increase annually.

The water tower strategy needs to be put in place; Water CIP needs assessed; increase 2016 rates to capture best practices; and, between 2021 and 2024, 70 percent of cash flow  needs to be put into Capital Investment. 

He also suggested that the town might want to explore privatizing the water department but he did not recommend it. Rather he recommended putting into play the revamping suggestions he made to fix the program and raise rates.

The board scheduled a Public Hearing at their December 14 meeting on his proposal.

The board opened the tax deed property bids. There were no bids for the Epping Street property. It was also determined that the bid for the 129 Langford Road property was under the minimum bid and the board decided not to release this but to correct the acreage of the parcel before putting it out to bid again.

* The property at 38 Regina Avenue went to the highest bidder for $72,500.

* The property at 1 Bertha Avenue went for $6,000.

* The property 71 Prescott went to the highest bidder for $82,600.

Ilsley told the board the sale of these properties brought in $161,100 revenue to the town. He went on to note that the budget had been tweaked slightly and that only 70 percent of the current budget has been expended providing the town with an excess of $1.3 million dollars. There will be no spikes in the tax rate with the town being  $128,470 over the total revenue projections which means the town is outpacing the previous year by 1.33 percent or $32,964. The board will do a final review of the budget and vote to accept it and warrant articles at their December 14 meeting.

The tax rate that has been confirmed is:
$6.25     Municipal
$1.04     County
$16.64   Local Education
$2.27     State Education
Total  Tax Rate  $26.20

The unassigned fund balance is $5,286,000 which is 16.79 percent retention.

Kevin Woods, Secretary of the Trustees of the Trust Funds said he has been working with the Division of Charitable Trusts and other Town officials to sort out the Cemetery Perpetual Care Fund accounts of which there were 270. These were reduced and allocated to just 5 funds by the Supreme Court some years ago but the town has been trying for 25 years to get these funds all sorted out.

Woods indicated he has managed to do so and he will be presenting two Warrant Articles to deal with the changes. He said work on how best to access funds once the changes take place will be done by himself and Steve Brewer, Public Works Director, and Concord.  He also said special perpetual care funds dealing with placing of flowers will be handled by the Town Manager.

The board opened the bids for the RCTV Master Control Playout System. This was challenged by Selectman Jack Barnes who asked if the current system is broken and if not why was the town going to this expense. Woods noted they want to change the decades old system before it does break down.

Bids were:  Access A/V - $44,497; Audio Video - $58,520; Unique Media Systems - $55,120; and, Teleview Corp. $58,219.99. The RCTV Committee will review the bids and their recommendation will be reviewed and a decision to purchase made by the Board of Selectmen at a future meeting.

In Other Business

* The next Board of Selectmen's meeting will be December 14.

* The Town Offices will be closed for Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 26 and Friday, November 27.

* The board approved giving Impact Fees to the School District in the amount of $119,841.00  Ilsley suggested impact fees for roads and maintenance purposes might be something the town should consider.

* New Life Assembly of God church  provided a $200.00 Gift Card to the Police Department and the board accepted it with thanks.


Raymond Selectmen Hear From Town Manager about Covid-19, Budgets, 2020 Tax Rate, Veteran’s Day and More
By Penny Williams  10-28-20

The Raymond Board of Selectmen went over numerous issues at their Monday night, October 26, meeting.

Town Manager Joe Ilsley delivered most of the information but initially Wayne Welch, Town Moderator, went over the upcoming election information he wanted to ensure Raymond residents knew about. The polls will be open Tuesday, November  3, from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. at the Middle School. Wearing a mask is mandated but there is a place where those unable to wear a mask can safely and securely cast their vote. He said anyone with questions should contact him at 603-490-8998.

Town Clerk Alyssa Richard said absentee ballot applications are available at her office and residents can come in to get an application or can call regarding applications. An application can be filled out there at the Town Office or taken home and then returned to the Town Clerk either by mail or by hand. Or click this link from the town website, Absentee Ballot Application to down load, print it, and take to the town office. On Thursday, Oct. 29, other than regular office hours of 1 pm to 6 pm, the Town Clerk's office will be open from 8  am to 11 am for Election purposes only.  The Town Clerk's Office will be open on Monday, November 2, from 3 to 5 p.m.  

She said there have been 1,359 absentee ballot application requests and more than 1,100 have already been returned. The typical number is around 400. She added that on Saturday morning at 8 a.m. at the Middle School, the pre-count process will start and selectmen were asked to help if they could.

Ilsley reported that COVID-19 exposures have happened in Raymond and the sports leagues have been impacted. He went on to say that the town's road crews might not be able to clear the roads as well as they have in the past if impacted by COVID-19. He indicated that four employees had been impacted last week. He added that there will need to be testing done to differentiate between the flu and COVID-19 but an impact is anticipated. He said they have reached out to try and lay on back up road crews but all are basically already committed but said they would help if they could. He added that everyone should get their flu shot.

On the budget he said his only update had to do with Warrant Articles. He noted he had increased the equipment and revitalization fund and the road revitalization fund articles The Tenant Hose Company article was also increased but he said the amount for renovation of the building was in his opinion much too high. He plans to work with the architect to get the costs down but he recommended not moving forward with any construction in 2021 but to wait an additional year when material costs may see reductions.

Welch spoke up asking the board to limit the number of warrant articles wherever possible to make the Deliberative Session and voting move forward more smoothly, quickly, and safely.

The 2020 Tax Rate is still waiting on the Department of Revenue Administration (DRA). He told the board and listeners that he anticipates a 13 cent tax cut on the municipal side this year.

Moving to the Recycling Tag Proposal, Ilsley said it has been slowed because the Town has been unable to get the printed tags from their vendor. Once the tags are received by the Town he said he still has to work with the distributors so the process will be delayed for awhile.

The board after a brief discussion said Ilsley should move forward with developing a transition from curbside pickup by Waste Management for 2022. Having a variety of vendors for residents to choose from for this service will be more cost effective.

The Veterans Day celebration on the Town Common is on track. Selectman George Plante said he had found a World War 11 veteran who is willing to participate. Ilsley said he would work with the veteran's care taker for the Town to provide whatever might be needed for his safe and secure participation.

Flags will be up around the common, speeches will be given and attendees are to wear masks and social distance. The plan is to play the various services songs that Selectman Jack Barnes had initiated last year, which Ilsley said was a great addition to the celebration.

Ilsley provided the board with the charter for Solid Waste Committee Disposal of Lawn Waste. The board approved the charter as presented. Ilsley noted that there are private enterprises who provide this service.

RCTV Coordinator Kevin Woods spoke to the board about the RCTV budget and a proposal for the future of RCTV.  Woods proposal for the future includes the following information.

The Cable Committee would like to propose that RCTV take on the role of hosting Town Board & Committee meetings that use Videoconferencing. This role would be for a period of one year beginning November 1,  and would be reviewed annually to determine if still required. The School District is managing their remote meetings themselves.

This function would be for Board & Committee meetings held via Videoconferencing either fully remote or hybrid meetings where some participants are in the meeting room and some connect remotely. Note: Only the High school media center is set up for hybrid meetings.

This would utilize a RCTV “Videoconferencing Host” separate from the Government Access Media Operators (GAMO). The GAMO’s would not do both roles.

“RCTV Videoconferencing Hosts” would be paid at the same rate as the GAMOs. They would be paid from the RCTV budget. The estimated cost is $8,000 per year. The RCTV time sheet would be used and approved by the RCTV Coordinator.

If the RCTV Coordinator acts as a Videoconferencing Host, he or she will be paid similarly. A new laptop would be purchased by RCTV for this purpose. Estimated cost is $1,000.

We would require that the Town purchase three (3) Videoconferencing user licenses to be added to the town Videoconferencing account. ($149.90/year/license). These would be assigned to RCTV.

The RCTV Coordinator would be responsible for training and supervising the RCTV Videoconferencing hosts. The RCTV Coordinator would act as technical support for the RCTV Videoconferencing hosts. Marc Vadeboncoeur would assist as back up for support.

The RCTV Coordinator would be responsible for the following:
* Creation of Videoconferencing meetings or Webinars
* Addition of Webinar Panelists
* Providing Board Chairs with Videoconferencing information for their Agendas
* Editing webinar panelists lists as required
* Sending webinar panelists invites to board members

The Town would notify the RCTV Coordinator of the need to assign an RCTV Videoconferencing Host much the same way it schedules Board & Committee meetings.

This Proposal, Woods said, was voted on and approved unanimously by the RCTV Cable Advisory Committee.

On the budget Woods presented a draft of a 2021 budget.  He explained that it is still a work in process and needs to go before the Cable Committee.  Under the Cable Coordinator wages, Woods explained that this number was strictly to show the impact of what the line would be if the town were to hire a new Cable Coordinator.

 Selectman Barnes expressed extreme concern over the size of the increase and how it would impact taxpayers.  Woods acknowledged that many taxpayers are also cable TV subscribers and only cable subscribers pay the franchise fee.  But if this increase should be approved by the cable committee and then the Selectmen, it would not increase the franchise fee that subscribers pay. Barnes said he had absolutely no issue with how valuable Woods is to the Town but that this sort of a rate increase, almost double, was not reasonable.

Woods stated that Raymond has one of the lowest franchise fees in the state at 2% while most communities collect the full 5% allowed by law from subscribers. The amount of the proposed salary was based on other cable coordinators across the state and in keeping with a similar position in the town wage plan. 

Selectman  Kathy Hoelzel asked him what would be the impact if people stopped getting cable TV.  Woods responded that people have been talking about this for over ten years. And yet each year the number of subscribers continues to go up. 

The real question Woods felt was what would the Board and town want to do if Cable (RCTV) went away altogether.  Would the town want to continue airing Board meetings over the internet?  How would it be paid for? The draft budget will be discussed at the November Cable committee meeting.

Barnes questioned who controls and decides on the Cable budget. Ilsley said according to the policy the Board of Selectmen do but if the cable committee disagree with the board's decision and this gets into a very murky area. Ilsley said he has no role in this. This needs to cleared up, he said.

Ilsley said he is working on a project to address the financial and social and emotional impact of COVID-19 on parents that are forced to remain home from work because their children are at home. He said he is working with the Raymond School District to find a location for a Remote Learning Center, possibly at one of the Town's churches. The board approved him moving forward with this project.

To address communication issues with residents, there will be a form available for residents to fill out at the upcoming election that will provide the town with how best to communicate with them.

Raymond Board of Selectmen Held a Special Board Meeting
By Penny Williams 10-12-20

The Raymond Board of Selectmen met in the afternoon of Thursday, October 8, to deal with the release of the liability agreement for 13 Smith Pond Road that was tabled during the October 5, Board of Selectmen meeting.

After opening the public hearing, Selectman Jack Barnes read the release agreement noting the special meeting was being held to assist the property owner in getting his building permit. There were no comments. Barnes made the motion to accept the agreement and the board voted unanimously to do so.

The board adjourned the meeting after closing the public session and vote.

Raymond Board of Selectmen Receive 2021 Draft Budget
By Penny Williams   10-7-20

The Raymond Board of Selectmen met Monday night, October 5, and their Town Manager, Joe Ilsley, went over the draft budget.

While making clear this was a draft budget and the numbers would be subject to changes as the budget season proceeds, Ilsley went over his draft budget.

 He said the board has tasked him with a number of charges:
* Mitigating tax impacts of COVID-19 to the extent possible
* Ensure growth in the Municipal Tax Rate does not exceed the CPI
* Deliberately Fund unassigned Fund Balance by $450,000 plus 5 percent
* Address Capital Investment Funding Shortfalls -keep taxes low
* Ensure Elderly Exemption is not outpaced by Social Security Income COLA
* Incrementally increase Disabled Veteran Credit ($500 per year)
* Attempt to fully fund Torrent Hose Company remodel for 2021
* Develop a plan to save the Bean Tavern and get it before voters

Ilsley said the recommended  appropriation package represents an estimated:

* -$4143,582 in the Town Operational Budget

* -$58,378 in the Water Department Operational Budget with a recommended  

* $50,000 to be added to the Water Capital Improvement Plan with a -$8,378  reduction in the Total Water Appropriations

* $133,082 reduction or 1.55 percent in total tax funded appropriations (Budget and Warrant Articles)

* Investment Capital Funding; 70 percent or $1.7 million from sources other than future taxation including the Block Grant

* 2021 Road Funding Package approximately $941,000 which includes Block Grant

* 2021 Facility Funding Package of approximately $815,000

* 2021 Water Funding Package of approximately $250,000 which is a 25 percent increase from 2020  and 357 percent from 2019

* 2021 Vehicle and Equipment Funding package of approximately $415,000

* $420,000 deliberate growth in the Unassigned Fund Balance

* This is the second consecutive year with overall reduction of $130,000

* Likely to be a third consecutive year in Municipal Tax cuts

The budget has been subjected to fiscal strategies that Ilsley said have been applied over the last three years and the budget cycles are beginning to bear fruit. Spending protocols netted incremental cuts across a majority of lines. Efficiency actions were applied to LED Conversions, Health Plan Conversion, Cyclic and Contingency Warrant Article. Personal actions by employees such as Buy-out mitigations strategy, 2019 Town Re-organization strategy, and employee turn-over reductions as well as systematic reallocation of funding lines to Warrant Article CRFs. Finally, he credited the 2019 Board of Selectmen adoption of the Town Fiscal Policy.

There were a number of 2020 contributing factors to the 2021 Operation Budget, Ilsley said. A Re-organization Strategy created increases and decreases in Department Budgets with an overall net reduction. New Labor changes such as contribution to State Retirement, Non-Exempt /Exempt Labor Laws caused increases in employee cost estimated at  $63,000 impact. Net oil-based energy savings due to 2020 low demand due to COVID-19 and a net 5.6 percent postal increase due to 2020 loss in USPS revenue due to low demand caused by COVID-19. Finally the 2021 budget is the first budget with the two position Town Clerk, Town Tax Collector positions. All in all there is a 1.85 percent reduction or $148,582 from the 2020 budget.

The 2021 Water Department Budget is $848,769,  a savings of $58,378 or 6 percent reduction from 2020.  Ilsley recommends putting $50,000 of the reduction be re-allocated toward Water Capital Investment. Warrant Articles to include Water Capital Investment to $250,000  so the  Budget and Capital Investment Warrant Article is a $8,378 reduction from 2020.

Ilsley briefly went over the Warrant Articles which are not finalized as yet and will be revisited down the road.

He told the board there are a number of pending tasks before the 2021 Operational Budget. These include:
* Meet with Moderator and CIP Committee
* Deliver Drafts to Budget Committee by October 13
* Re-scrub and re-validate all draft numbers
* Add in actual insurance cost when available
* Identify preliminary projected cost of Torrent Hose Company remodel
* Present 2021 revenue projections
* Finalize Default Budgets
* Finalize Water Department Disposal  SRF numbers
* Finalize distribution of Social Service Warrant Article
* Estimate tax impacts on all Warrant Articles including budgets
* Finalize Warrant Articles
* Secure Board of Selectmen Approval on Budgets and Warrant Articles
* Present final product to Budget Committee during public hearing.

The board voted to cap the Social Services budget at $40,000.

The board discussed the request from Wal-Mart for a tax abatement. Selectman Jack Barnes warned that the board should determine whether Wal-Mart would sue if the abatement is denied. He reminded the board they sued previously and it cost the town big money. The board voted to deny the request based on the recommendation from the auditor.

The board approved the Capital Reserve Fund expenditure for the Road Revitalization funds. This give Steve Brewer, Public Works Director  access to $300,000 to finish up the road work.

The board discussed the 13 Smith Pond Road release of liability and decided to send it to the Town Attorney before approving it but agreed to return for a special meeting on Friday, October 9,  to approve it if recommended by the attorney.

In Other Business:

* The board approved releasing CIP funds in the amount of $650,000 for the purchase of a new demonstration fire truck.

* The board voted to approve the acquisition of 10 Old Fremont Road.

* The General Election notice of the polling place Iber Holmes Gove Middle School on November 3  from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

* The board appointed Roger Retzke to the Solid Waste Committee.

* The COVID-19 incident where an Epping student exposed other members of the Youth Soccer League to COVID-19 was handled by the School District. Ilsley said the parents acted very responsibly  and everyone acted quickly  and there are no additional risks.

* The Raymond Fire Department Chief Paul Hammond awarded three 20 years of service axes to department members.

* Buster Hammond complained about work done on Scribner Road and Brewer defended it.

* Next Board of Selectmen meeting is Monday, October 26.


Raymond Board of Selectmen Approve Changed Pay As You Throw Fees
By Penny Williams   9-30-20

The Raymond Board of Selectmen met on Monday night, September 28, and voted on the proposed Pay As You Throw fees, approving the changes.

The schedule of fees was changed regarding the cost of the large and small bags and the  addition of the Tag Permit fee of $2.50 for the pick-up of recyclables.. Large bags will see their cost reduced to $2.60 and the cost of a small bag will be reduced to $2.00. These new amounts will take effect when the tag program starts. The point of the fee changes and additions is an attempt to make the program sustainable at least for the near future. Tina Thomas asked about the possibility of a half size small bag at a lower cost and Town Manager Joe Ilsley said he would look into the possibility.

The board also voted to approve reinstating the $1.00 fee associated with electronic transactions that had been stopped due to Covid-19.

The second Public Hearing on the 10 Fremont Road property, the old Bean Tavern building and the land it sits on,  was held. The Town is looking to acquire the property to protect the historical 250 year old Bean Tavern as the property was being marketed for sale as a commercial property without any reference to the building.

There is a $215,000 Purchase and Sales agreement in place and the proposal has gone before the Planning Board and the Conservation Commission for their feedback.  If the proposal is approved at the October 5, Board of Selectmen meeting, a Warrant Article for its purchase will be developed. If voters approve the warrant article a committee will be created to determine what is the best thing to do with the Bean Tavern.

Tina Thomas questioned the validity of taking possession of the building and Ilsley said there are a number of options regarding what might be done to or for the building but there are no guarantees. However, the point is to preserve the historical building.

Wayne Watjus, Chair of the Solid Waste Committee suggested that the Conservation Commission maybe should purchase the building. Ilsley said he would look into whether this would be possible and see if there is any interest in doing so or in partnering with the town by the Conservation Commission.

The board appointed Chuck Porter to the Solid Waste  Committee. The board called for volunteers to step up and volunteer to be on this committee. The board also approved Ilsley and Executive Assistant/ Human Resources Deborah Intonti to represent the board and the town on the School Care Membership Council.

The board accepted an unanticipated donation of $200 from the Kennebunk Savings Bank for Recreation for the purchase of buying two tents as well accepting $14.34 from the Clark estate for Recreation.

Michelle Weaver, Recreation Director, brought requests before the board for the use of town owned fields from two semi-professional organizations. The Sea Coast Football Association wishes to  use the football field on October 3, and October 17. The Sea Coast Soccer League wishes to use the soccer field on October 10, and October 11.

Ilsley pointed out these organizations make money from their events. He proposed developing a fee schedule for future requests by organizations to use town property when the events would earn those organizations money so that a portion of those profits would come back to Raymond. There were no objections to the use of the fields this time so long as there were absolutely no costs to the town but that future agreements would include use fees.

The board opened the three snow plowing bids

Jack Stickley offered a three year bid of: $130 an hour for 2020-2021; $135.00 for 2021-2022; and, $140.00 for 2022-2023.

Raymond Septic's bid was the same except they had a different bid amount for holidays that was considerably higher and Stickley had no holiday amount. No action was taken other than to give the bids to Public Works Director Steve Brewer. He noted that it would be good to have the third bidder, Ryan Johnson and his smaller truck available, $70 per hour, if it should be needed.

Ilsley said the sale of the deeded properties discussed at the last meeting is expected to garner between $350,000 and $460,000 and interest has already been shown. He said that test pits  on the Bean Tavern Property will be started and that the basement of the building will be inspected. The finalization of the contract to replace the Median is being addressed as the liability insurer had raised concerns.

The flags usually displayed for Veteran's Day are so badly deteriorated they cannot be used and will need to be properly disposed of. He suggested alternative decorations for the Veteran's Day.

He said he will be checking with Concord to see where the matter stands regarding the state's garage and the triangle of land. Household Hazardous Waste Day will be October 3, from 8 a.m. to noon at Industrial Drive. Trees on Bachelor Road will be trimmed where necessary and Riverside Park is looking for volunteers.

Corporal Brian Stice received a letter of merit from Police Chief Mike Label that was read into the record. Selectman George Plante said Officer Spice's name comes up often for his dedication and good work.

The board approved allowing the Knights of Columbus to put the nativity display on the Town Common.

Plante asked Brewer and Ilsley about road conditions and was told the issues he raised are being evaluated and addressed.

The Board of Selectmen will meet on Monday, October 5, and again on Monday, October 26.


Raymond Selectmen’s Meeting Public Hearings Draw No Comments
By Penny Williams   9-15-20

There were four Public Hearings held Monday night, September 14, at the Raymond Board of Selectmen's meeting, but no public had any comments.

The first Public Hearing dealt with the Establishment of Fees regarding the Pay As You Throw program with the Tag Permit fee of $2.50 added and large trash bag costs reduced to $2.60 per bag and small bag cost reduced to $2.00 per bag. No vote was taken that night but a vote will be taken at the September 28, meeting.

The second Public Hearing  was for the reinstatement of town fees associated with electronic transactions. The proposed fee is $1.00. Again there were no comments and a vote will be taken at the next meeting.

The third Public Hearing involved the board accepting unanticipated income in the form of a check for $11,639.50 from the  Clark Estate which will go for Parks and Recreation. A check for $53,000 had been accepted previously from the Clark estate. There were no comments. This was approved by the board.

The final and fourth Public Hearing involved the acquisition of Land and Building for property located at 10 Old Fremont Road. This includes the Old Bean Tavern, a deteriorating building but one of significant historical significance.

The board discussed this because the plan is to put forward a warrant article for $215,000 for this purchase and the Town has a sales and purchase agreement in place. This was the first of two Public Hearings on this and the second will be at the September 28, selectmen's meeting and a vote on the issue will take place at the board's October 5, meeting.

Kevin Woods worried that the advertised sale of the property was for the land only for commercial development and didn't mention the building. However, Town Manager Joe Ilsley said he had checked on it and the Purchase and Sales Agreement involves the land and the house.

The board dealt with the issue of whether or not to hold Halloween. Selectman George Plante said he didn't believe it is the place of the board to decide whether Raymond residents would or would not participate in Halloween. Ilsley recommended the board set a date for Halloween and suggest that those households participating follow state guidelines such as putting candy etc. outside in a basket. The board voted to hold Halloween on October 31, from 5 to 7 p.m., rain or shine.

The board authorized the sale of seven tax deeded properties, which Ilsley anticipates will bring between $300,000 to $400,000 to the Town. The properties include:
* 1 Bertha Avenue
* 17 Epping Street
* 129 Langford Road
* 71 Prescott Road
* 31 Regina Avenue
* 38 Regina Avenue
* 7 Rita Avenue.

The board approved the sale of the properties and Ilsley said he expects this to take place by the end of October.

The board heard from Roger Retzke regarding the lack of a composting location in Raymond. He indicated this is a serious situation with leaves ready to fall. He asked that the town find a location that can be used for composting.

Ilsley indicated that this is a situation he is aware of and that just selecting a spot won't work as it will be abused and things other than composting items will get dumped there. He went on to say that the Solid Waste Committee could create a sub committee to look for a solution to this issue. Retzke reiterated time is of significant importance. Ilsley said the subcommittee could look into partnering with companies in the composting industry to come up with a solution.

 Retzke agreed to be on the subcommittee and it was noted that Chuck Porter had earlier indicated interest in working on this issue. Ilsley said he would work with the Solid Waste Committee to get the subcommittee formed and work on finding a solution.

The Town Manager's Report noted that the draft budget would be brought before the board at the October 5 meeting and on to the Budget Committee on October 13.  He noted the warrant articles will be reviewed at the same time.

He discussed the Bean Tavern issue and suggested putting together information regarding the historical significance of the place.  Selectman Jack Barnes asked how that would be disseminated and he indicated on the Web site, and a slide show of it could run in Town Hall so people there waiting for service could watch it. He also said he would read the article at the next meeting.

He went over upcoming paving and noted that $750,00 has been spent on upgrading and improving roadways and culverts. He said the Media Replacement for the water system will take place in October and that the Hazardous Household Waste Day will be October 3, from 8 to 10 a.m.

In Other Business:

* The board received a copy of the work accomplished by Girl Scouts regarding helping residents plan for a Safety Event. The hand out was attached to the minutes.

* The board approved the Planning Board recommendation that Kendra Fern, Paul Lynn and Alyssa Welch be appointed to the Rockingham Planning Board Commission.

* Boy Scouts received board approval for using the Town Common on September 19 from 2 to 4 p.m. and September 21, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. for their recruitment endeavor.

* The Library received board approval to use the Town Common on Tuesdays and Fridays from 10:30 to 11:50 a.m. for Story Time.

*A letter of merit was read for Police Officer Cassandra Storm.

* Selectman Kathy Hoelzel brought up the State Shed and the State owned triangle of land the town wants to buy. The board authorized Ilsley to move forward with looking into this situation.


Raymond Selectmen Expect Two Percent Reduction in Municipal Taxes
By Penny Williams   9-1-20

   The Raymond Board of Selectmen met on Monday evening, August 31, and Town Manager Joe Ilsley told the board his expectation is that municipal taxes will be reduced by 2 percent again this year.

Ilsley indicated that the effort to control spending  with the spending protocols he has put in place that  saved money last year and reduced fixed spending lines will reduce budget growth again this year and he anticipates continuing the 2 percent reduction in the municipal taxes. It was pointed out that the tax reduction was on the town government side not on the school side.

Discussing the Revitalization plan for Torrent Hall to bring it up to speed for use as a Town Administration building, Ilsley asked the board to approve using $91,000 from the CRF for coverage of construction estimates, architectural design and engineering costs.  Ilsley also said it would be good if a selectman was on the committee working on the revitalization committee. There would be $199,000 left in the CRF for this project and Ilsley anticipated having the review and design reports by February. The board approved the $91,000.

The board discussed briefly the upcoming public hearing schedule. On September 14 there will be a public hearing regarding just the establishment of fees for the Pay As You Throw program. At that same meeting, there will be a public hearing regarding restoring the $1 online fee that was suspended during the COVID-19 period when Town Hall was closed. These fees were covered by COVID -19 reimbursement money that is no longer available now that Town Hall is open. There is a public hearing scheduled for the same date for the acceptance of Unanticipated Fees in excess of $10,000 in connection with the Clark Estate. And finally, the first of two public hearings regarding the sale/purchase of property with the second hearing coming on September 28.

Ilsley told the board he discovered the Media Replacement for the Water Treatment Plant as planned would mean that only well 4 would be viable as a water source for the town drinking water and for suppression purposes. He said this would not be safe so he said an alternative plan was developed that would be a phased approach but would cost an additional $12,000 bringing the total cost to $122,000. He told the board this was the safe way to proceed and would have a minimal draw on the overall system. The board approved adding the $12,000.

The board voted to waive the tax back deeding program until January 1, 2021 on properties and allow people who lost their employment to apply for suspension of 2020 tax deed contract payments for the rest of 2020 from the date of their unemployment. All tax repayment program contracts will be dated to January 1, 2021. This was approved in order to help  negatively impacted Raymond residents during this difficult time brought about by COVID-19.

Kevin Woods asked the board to approve creating a Memorial Fund for money raised in memory of Peter Harney. He wants the funds to be in an account that will be accountable but allow the Harney Family to decide how the money over and above that for the memorial bench is spent. The money was raised to provide a memorial bench but more than needed  funds were raised so Woods wants these funds to be available to be spent for Make a Wish or whatever the family wants. But Woods also wants it to be accountable as to how the funds are actually spent. It was decided that Ilsley would take stewardship of the funds along with the Financial Manager.

In Other Business:

* The board approved the use of the Town Common for Yoga in September subject to their demonstration of insurance.

* A raffle was approved for the Historical Society for September 12.

* The board approved a parade for 90 year old Esther Wallace that would end at the Town Common where wrapped pieces of cake would be handed out on September 12.

Raymond Select Board Approves Accepting Absentee Ballot Grant
By Penny Williams 8-25-20

The Raymond Board of Selectmen met for a scheduled Public Hearing on Monday night, August 24, and voted to accept the unanticipated income in the form of a check in an amount in excess of $10,000. The money, from the state would be for reimbursement of excess costs due to the increased number of absentee ballots for the upcoming election.

Raymond would be eligible for $25,138.42 of which they could receive 80 percent or $20,948.68. The amount would be calculated on the number of absentee ballots Raymond deals with less the 45 they dealt with at the 2016 election times the stipulated state amount per ballot that hasn't been set by the state as yet.

Town Manager Joe Ilsley and Financial Manager Julie Jenks explained that there are two possible means of reimbursement for the additional absentee ballot costs caused by the presence COVID-19  and they want to be able to have this option available if it appears this will provide the Town with the most reimbursement.

The GOEFFR reimbursement would be 100 percent reimbursement but the continued changes to the Cares Act and the reimbursement process makes this questionable as 60 percent of the town's requests for reimbursement up to this point have been kicked back. Thus,  Ilsley wants the option of going for this reimbursement if it will cover more of the excess costs.

After a brief discussion in which Selectman Jack Barnes complained that no one from the public was present for the hearing despite it being noticed for three weeks, the board voted unanimously to accept the unanticipated funds.

Census representative Richard Perrin addressed the board about the census. He said that 66.8 percent of Raymond residents have responded. As of August 1, residents who have not responded will have someone from the census come to their address to seek a response. The deadline is September 30 and Perrin said if anyone has a question or hasn't been contacted they can call 844-330-2020.

The next Selectmen's meeting is scheduled for August 31, at 6 p.m. The board went into non-public regarding litigation.

If you want to watch the whole meeting click on RCTV August 24, Selectmen Meeting on Raymond Cable Television.


Raymond Selectmen Hear the Importance of Absentee Ballots
By Penny Williams    8-18-2020

The Raymond Board of Selectmen held a meeting Monday night, August 17, primarily to discuss the upcoming election arrangements and to emphasize the importance of absentee ballots.

Town Clerk Alyssa Richard said residents will be able to get absentee ballots by registering for the absentee ballot by filling out the absentee ballot application form. This form can be obtained at the Town Hall or gotten online and emailed back but must have the authentic signature. Richard indicated that she can be reached by calling 895-7024.

The absentee ballot can be mailed or hand delivered to the Town Clerk but she noted the drop box at the Town Hall is for the absentee ballot applications only. The absentee ballot comes in a pre-paid envelope.

Richard and Moderator Wayne Welch both emphasized the importance of the absentee ballot process. Last year there were about 40 absentee ballot requests. Richard said she has already received 240 applications for the State Primary scheduled for September 8.

Welch said there have been some changes due to COVID-19. Masks will be required but for those who can't or won't wear one there will be a place where those voters can fill out their vote and file it. People with disabilities will be accommodated as well. He encouraged social distancing and suggested planning to vote at the times that are usually less busy such as mid-morning or before 4 p.m. He said they are looking at using every other booth and that there will be tables with shields.

The Public Works will be asked to assist in the set up, which Welch said will take place on Friday, September 4. In addition, there will be an increased cleaning demand and the Town will need to come up with the manpower for that. He said and Fire Chief Paul Hammond noted that a truck load of PPE will be delivered this coming week and will be available.

The last day to register will be August 26 except for those who choose to register on the day of the election. It was noted that on the application form for the absentee ballot there is a box to be checked for the State Primary on September 8 and a box to be checked if the applicant wishes an absentee ballot for the Presidential Election on November 3.

Again Welch and Richard emphasized the need for those applying for an absentee ballot to get the completed ballot in as soon as possible. The final time of acceptance for such absentee ballots is 5 p.m. on election day. Richard said even though the State Primary follows Labor Day weekend and that Monday is a holiday, the Town Clerk's Office will be open between 3 and 5.

Selectman Kathy Hoelzel appointed inspectors for the elections. She noted that there were no proposed Republican inspectors so she proposed several and the board approved all the inspector proposals.

Hoelzel also made a motion that the board approved to lift the restriction from using the Town Common for public and private activities. It was part of the motion that CDC guidelines must be followed. The board approved lifting the restriction for using the Town Common for use and approved the use of the common by the American Legion for its Car Show scheduled for September 12.

In Other Business:

* Kevin Woods asked when the Public Hearings would be held particularly for the Trash/Dumpsters and fees. He was told there would be two Public Hearings one on September 14 and one on September 21 and the trash and fees would be on September 14.

* The board approved the request to cut trees on Norris Farms Road for the condominium development slated for the seven acre area.

* Fire Chief Paul Hammond asked the Board to accept the special axes that will be awarded to firefighters with 20 year's service. The names of the recipients will be announced at the August 24 meeting of the board. The board approved accepting the axes.

* The board approved acceptance of a pallet of bottles of water donated to the Raymond Fire Department by Walmart Distribution Center.

* Letters from residents were read praising and thanking the Recreation Summer Programs.

If you want to watch the whole meeting click on RCTV August 17, Selectmen Meeting on Raymond Cable Television.


Raymond Selectmen Vote Down Dumpster Fees
By Penny Williams    7-21-20

The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously not to enforce the section of the Solid Waste Strategy Ordinance concerning dumpster fees at their Monday night, July 20, meeting attended by a number of upset residents, some of who spoke in opposition to the fees associated with dumpsters.

In addition to those who spoke in opposition to the dumpster fees, especially the $100 annual fee for dumpster vendors, Kevin Woods, spoke up telling the board they had failed to hold the required two public hearings needed before they could make a change to a town ordinance. He backed this assertion up with a list of the year's meetings and the public hearings posted, none for a discussion of the dumpster fees and the Solid Waste Strategy. Board members remembered clearly discussing them with residents during meetings but they thought these were posted public meetings. However, they admitted they might have been just open discussions. The final result of this is that the issue will be decided by the Town Attorney. Residents expressed opinions on the proposed dumpster fees, an issue that was prompted last year by a resident complaining about a neighbor's dumpster.

The residents voiced their objections to the proposed fees for dumpsters and during the comment period Chair Scott Campbell told the gathering they need not be concerned because when the issue came before the board the fees would be gone.

The one complaint that was echoed by a couple was the unfairness of charging dumpster vendors when oil delivery or Fed Ex or other truck companies were not charged a similar fee. The consensus of the comments were that dumpsters were in use because the system of trash and recycling in Raymond is broken. Selectman Jack Barnes said action needs to be taken as this issue keeps coming up. However, nothing can really happen until the current contract with Waste Management expires in two years. In addition the recycling market is now virtually non-existent.

A motion was made to not apply any of the proposed dumpster fees contained in the proposed Solid Waste Strategy and just adhere to the Ordinance already in place. The board approved this unanimously

The ordinance in place will be enforced and where there are issues of vagueness, it can be tweaked. The board noted that when a resident has an issue with someone's dumpster they need to call Town Hall and the Health Officer or Steve Brewer, Public Works Director will handle the complaint. Campbell suggested that the name of the dumpster owner is on the dumpster and the company of the dumpster complained about should be notified to take care of the situation.   

The board then went on to discuss approving the proposed the Solid Waste Strategy minus the dumpster fee portion, which some residents felt shouldn't be voted on that evening. There was a discussion about whether the Solid Waste Strategy is sustainable and almost everyone agreed it isn't and that Raymond should get out of the trash business. However, the two year contract with Waste Management is in place and not much can be done until that expires.

Most of the comments noted that the shortfall in the financing of the Solid Waste Strategy, the Pay As You Throw policy, isn't working and the cost of the bags (which several people noted are extremely bad bags) will have to increase. However, it was pointed out the residents voted not to pay for the trash out of taxes.

The board voted to accept and approve the Solid Waste Strategy without the dumpster fee portion as proposed but with the provision that there are possibilities of adjustments or amendments that may have to be made going forward.

For more information about the Bag and Tag program, which is not finalized yet, including the cost and when tags are needed, go to page 7 in the Comprehensive Solid Waste Strategy Document.

The board discussed the Hazardous Household Waste Day and opened the two bids. One bid was from Tradebe and the other from ACV Environ out of Norfolk, Massachusetts.

Tradebe provided a single set-up fee and a $28 per car charge while ACV Enviro detailed specific costs for things submitted to them for disposal and a set up fee. The board approved handing the bids to Brewer who will review and research them and make a recommendation.

Brewer told the board that the tax revenue report indicates that at this point in time 96 percent of tax revenue has been collected. This is more than was collected at this time last year. Barnes said he was relieved and surprised as he thought there would be more of a problem with people not paying their taxes.

In Other Business:

* The board approved the Re-opening plan for the Raymond Coalition for Youth which follows the Raymond Town re-opening guidelines.

* The board voted not to re-instate the on-line town fees relating to motor vehicle registrations pushing the vote on this off until next month's meeting.

*  The Town Clerk/Tax Collector's Office will be open by appointment only on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. and on Thursday from 1 to 5:30 p.m. starting Monday, July 20. Marriage licenses can only be obtained with appointments.

* The next Board of Selectmen's meeting will be held August 31, at 6 p.m.

If you want to watch the whole meeting click on RCTV July 20, Selectmen Meeting on Raymond Cable Television.

Raymond Selectmen Heard Updates on Town Opening Phase 3
By Penny Williams    6-30-20

  The Raymond Board of Selectmen met Monday evening, June 29, and Town Manager Joe Ilsley updated the status of the town's re-opening which he initially proposed and the board approved in May.

The town is currently in Phase 2 but Ilsley said that as of July 6, they would be moving into Phase 3. The library would be open for family visits for 30 minute periods but family's could reserve back to back sessions if needed. The Town Hall window's would have separators and two to three people could be in line at each window for services. Masks are required and social distancing.

Park trails are open with state guidelines in place and because of organized sports on the fields porta potties will be put there but the sports organization not the town will be responsible for the cleaning and care of the unit.

Recreation programs will start July 6, with state guidelines in place and Ilsley said the SAU has been very supportive and helpful. He added that they are looking into the possibility of bringing back  Music at the Park but in a drive-in type process. Phase 4 will see the return of employees considered hi-risk.

He called Raymond re-opening a responsible, data driven process. He added that a special phone line for the Town Clerk/Tax Collector has been established - 895-7060 - and that Linda Hoelzel has been hired to man that phone which is constantly being called. He and Town Administrator Debra Intonti asked people to please leave a message and a return number if it is busy and their call will be returned. He added that a couple of people have been hired to address the number of calls and registrations that they are seeing.

  The board approved accepting the Federal Funds for the Stipend for First Responders - $300 for Full Time and $150 for Part Time. Dispatchers were not included and Selectman Jack Barnes made it clear he felt this was a poor decision and asked that Ilsley forward his disapproval of this omission. Ilsley said Health Officers were not approved either and he felt they should have been as well as Dispatch personnel. The board approved accepting a check for $14,085.72 for the Fire Department and a check of  $51,214.22 for the Police Department.

In Other Business:

* A forum for the discussion of purchasing, renovating and converting Bean Hall and barn for a new Police Station was set for July 2, but that meeting has been cancelled.

* The board approved a property tax abatement for the Raymond Baptist Church in the amount of $2,828.

* The board announced that dog registration is due and they signed the Warrant which must be filed with the State by August 31 noting that all Raymond dogs have either been registered or fined and taken to court.

* Next Board of Selectmen meeting will be Monday, July 20 and the Budget Committee will meet on August 18. 

Raymond Selectmen and School Board Discuss Tax Mitigation Strategy
By Penny Williams    6-17-20

The Raymond Board of Selectmen met with the Raymond School Board on Monday evening, June 15, and discussed what is the best strategy to mitigate taxes.

   School Board Chair Joe Saulnier indicated that the School District usually returns a large sum of money to reduce the tax burden. He said the plan is to use much of  the surplus to fund infrastructure plans such as moving the Pre-Kindergarten to the Raymond High School to avoid having to seek a bond to accomplish this. He added this will also eliminate the cost of the trailers at the elementary school.

   Town Manager Joe Ilsley while acknowledging that the financial system at the school district differs from that of the Town he noted that applying excess money to Capital Improvement Funds particularly if spread out over a five year period will help stabilize the tax rate and even reduce it. A case in point would be the need for a school roof replacement and Saulnier agreed.

   Selectman Kathy Hoelzel made the point that it is going to be important for the two boards to work together and to be on the same page during this period given the issue created by the COVID-19 pandemic. She indicated that the boards should plan to meet together going forward so as to use all funds in a good way and for the benefit of the tax payers.

  Ilsley discussed the Solid Waste issue again going over his recommendation that the recycling and trash segments be split into two separate systems so that the recycling would pay for itself instead of being supported by the yellow bag purchases. He pointed out that, the system as it is now, the recycling portion is being misused, over used, and abused. He recommends retooling it so recycling pays for itself. The proposed tag system would have residents pay $36 a year to use the Transfer station for their recycling. This proposed change  will address the current shortfall in the current program. He also noted that long term options can be worked between now and when the Transfer Station contract expires.

   Several residents spoke up complaining about changing the program again and about the proposed changes themselves. Trent Porter suggested finding a town owned location and having a truck there at given times to accept recycling from residents for a fee and then the truck would haul the recycling away. Ilsley felt his suggestion for that, and for finding a composting spot where residents could take grass and leaves, had merit.

   It was brought to the attention of the board that there are citizens in Raymond who do not have access to technology and they don't know what can be and what can't be recycled and they need this information. It was noted that there are brochures with this information available at Town Hall and if they aren't they will be put out in the waiting area and they are also at the Public Works Department. Ilsley agreed that some method other than by the Website posting should be available for those residents who do not have computer/internet access.

   The board approved the request from Celeste Clark, Raymond Coalition for Youth for a Disc Golf Course be developed at Riverside Park and encouraged the plan to  move forward. She indicated that funds are being raised and a couple of families in  town are interested in helping with the fund raising and installation of the course.  Ilsely said this is a great project and one that is low maintenance, making it an even bigger benefit for Raymond families. In addition. it would likely draw more people to use the Riverside Park, something he said is desired.

   The board approved extending applications for the Elderly Exemption until July 1 for people who because of health or COVID-19 reasons didn't get their applications in by the April due date. The board also accepted and approved Ilsley's suggestion that the Town not include the Stimulus Money in the gross income amount for Elderly Exemption applications next year.

   Ilsley said the town is on track and in a good position and at this point in time has spent less than it did last year during the same period. He expects the town will be able to put $400,000 in the unexpended fund balance. He did say that keeping strict control on spending would be critical going forward. He said at the July 20 meeting he would have a report on tax payment revenue.

 Town Hall has reopened in phase 2 with services being provided to residents by appointment and he is looking at the town and its buildings, fields and lands moving to phase 3 in two to three weeks. He said that would allow two people in line for services and then move it up to three as the data indicates.

In Other Business:

* The board approved the change to the Right to Know charge - 50 cent per page as usual up to a certain number of pages and then 10 cents per page.

* The Eagle Scout Trail project is ongoing and the School District is working on the Memorandum of Agreement the Town requested regarding maintenance.

* The board approved $154,400 from Capital Reserve Fund for the one time Cyclic Procurement - Replacement of the Town's Telecommunication system and the associated software, and legal costs.

* The next Board of Selectmen's meeting will be July 20. 

Raymond Selectmen Approve Accepting GOEFRR Grant
By Penny Williams 5-28-20

The Raymond Board of Selectmen met on Wednesday afternoon, May 27, and unanimously approved accessing the GOFERR grant program, the Governor's Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery.

Under this program Raymond is eligible for $245,526. This is a grant that will be distributed to Municipalities for approved expenditures related to COVID-19. The board approved access to the grant money and the Town Manager, Joe Ilsley, and Julie Jenks, Financial Manager,  will oversee the submissions. He also noted there is a FEMA grant program which is somewhat different from the GOEFRR grant program but that there is some overlap and this will be tapped with items deemed appropriate.

The board approved the Land Use Tax Change for properties located on Overlook Drive, moving them out of current use status. The board approved the change's to 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13, and, 15 Overlook Drive, each in the amount
of $6,500, adding $58,500 in revenue for the town.

Ilsley reported that the testing Raymond conducted that was in excess of state requirements, provided the good news that PFOAs (Perfluorooctanoic acid) are present only at the Town's tannery site. The other locations of fields in Raymond that were tested by the municipality showed that the PFOA issue exists solely at the tannery site.

 Ilsley provided information on the Transfer Station Permit Program that will begin on June 1, and RCTV  Director Kevin Woods put together a posting for the Town Web site that follows: Until such time that the Town Offices are Re-opened to the public, obtaining a Resident Permit can only occur by mail or drop box.  Copies of the Permit Application Form will also be available in hard copy in the rack located in the foyer of the Town Office building. Please note,  you do not need a Permit to use the Transfer Station.  You only need the Permit to; receive the reduced pricing, disposal of recyclables, disposal of brush (not soft yard wastes) and gain access during Resident Only hours ( 2nd Saturday of each month ). Each Permit will be assigned to a vehicle registered in Raymond.  The Permit must be affixed to that vehicle windshield in order to become valid.

The Permit will cost $36.00 a year and will expire on the 31st of December each year. The Permit cost will be reduced by $3.00 for each month that has past.  
Jan $36                 Feb $33                 Mar $30
Apr $27                 May $24               June $21
July $18                Aug $15                Sep $12
Oct $9                   Nov $6                  Dec $3

Permits are not for sale for time periods less than the remaining portion of the year at the time of sale. Please download the pdf Application Form, complete the Form, include the current Fee and mail it in or drop it off in the drop box mounted on the side wall of the corner of the Old Firehouse ( you do not need prior authorization to use this drop box for Transfer Station Permits ).  The Permit Application will be processed and the Permit mailed to you at the address provided. Should you have any questions or concerns regarding the Permit program, please call the Public Works Department at 603-895-7036. 
     Ilsley also reported that Recreation Fields and trails have been opened with parking restricted to capacity and users required to follow state guidelines for social distancing and to family groups of no more than 10. There will be no porta potties and beach opening is still under discussion and waiting for guidelines from the Governor. It was noted that Governor's Lake wouldn't be able to open at this time anyhow because of the early bloom that has appeared on the lake. He reminded the board that the Town Fair has been postponed until August 21-23 and that  Recreation Summer Programs are awaiting state guidelines but there is still hope they may be able to open down the road.

  The board appointed or re-appointed for three year terms the following:
 Jan Kent, Conservation; June Dickerson, Conservation; Kathy Masso, Cable Committee; David Washer, Cable Committee; Rich Lamarre, Historic District Commission; Brad Reed, ZBA -PB liaison; Alyssa Welch, ZBA alternate; Janice Arsenault, School Board CIP Representative; and, Beth Price, School Board CIP Representative. Those present were sworn in except for Arsenalt and Paris who n are already sworn in School Board members.

Raymond voters can change their political affiliation prior to the NH State Primary in September but the change must be completed by June 2. The change can be made by obtaining the form located on the Town Website Voter Information Page and then mailed or faxed or dropped off at Town Hall in the black drop box next to the entrance to the Old Fire Station. Supervisors of the Checklist will hold a session June 2, from 7 to 7:30 p.m. at the Dudley Tucker Library where changes can be made, along with voter registration. Wearing a mask is required and participants must bring their own pens.

The board will hold a work session on June 9 and the next regular meeting is scheduled for June 18.

Raymond Selectmen Hear Town Reopening Plan and Cancel Two Parades
By Penny Williams   5-19-20

The Raymond Board of Selectmen met Monday night, May 18, and Town Manager Joe Ilsley went over the Town's Reopening Plan which has reopening phased in over the next several months.

The phased in re-opening plan can be accelerated or slowed given the actual circumstances, he said. Phase 1 would see those non high risk employees back who are not able to completely do their jobs remotely. This started Monday, May 18. Phase 2 would have high risk employees who can work in isolation with PPE return by mid-June. Phase 3 would have all non-high risk employees working remotely back at work in town hall by the end of July and phase 4 would have the return of those high risk employees still working remotely but this would be on a case by case basis.

The Library will be open on June 2 for the purpose of registering to vote or to change party.  Phase 2 of special events and activities would be opening the Town Hall doors to the public with employees and customers using PPE by mid-June and phase 3 would open up town hall, the library by July with full access to follow as soon as it is appropriate. Re-opening of public lands is under discussion with fields still under discussion but beaches will have to be evaluated further. In both instances porta potties are a main issue.

There are discussions taking place regarding the Summer Recreation Program and when and if it will be safe to start this. It depends on the Governor's restrictions and one thing to watch, Ilsley noted, is when Scout activities are opened up. There will be no activities on the Common until restrictions are lifted and will be after the summer but he said his committee is still awaiting specific guidelines from the state regarding this. Any opening will have to be consistent with the Governor's guidelines.

The board voted to cancel the Fourth of July parade and hopefully that would make holding the Town Fair more likely. Ilsley recommended tabling the Town Fair discussion to next month's meeting giving that committee time to come up with potential alternative plans for holding the event at the end of the summer. The board tabled their decision on the Town Fair to the June meeting.

Ilsley said he recommended the Town provide money to support the School District's 2020 graduation event. A discussion was held and it was decided by unanimous board vote that the Town would support the graduation effort by $3,000 to be taken from the Patriotic Purposes fund which could then be offset by the $3,000 not used for the canceled July 4, parade that would have go back into the unexpended fund.

  Memorial Day ceremonies will be handled by the Legion with wreaths being laid and the group handling the ceremonies kept to 10 or under. Selectman Jack Barnes wanted to be involved. There would be no public at any of the related stops for wreath laying. Selectman Kathy Hoelzel asked that flowers be placed on the common, at the cemeteries and in the water trough.

The discussion on the Comprehensive Solid Waste Strategy was to hold a planned discussion at the next meeting regarding the Pay As You Throw segment with the public being able to have their input heard. The new contract has been completed for the Transfer Station and that was phase 1, with phase 2, the decision to move the recycling back to the Transfer Station which was approved previously and the permits for the recycling have already been received.

Phase 3 would be to discuss the Pay As You Throw and decide whether to leave it as it is with the bag sales paying for everything; do a combined bag sale and permit program so recycling pays for itself; or, hear other suggestions from the public regarding a possible cost sharing between the bag and tag elements.

The last phase would be to discuss the residential dumpster ordinance. Ilsley wants to take these segments up one at a time so that residents can have their say. The board agreed to discuss the Pay As You Throw and recycling at the next meeting.

  Ilsley updated the board on the Pine Acres Campground saying they had agreed to the Town's proposed Memorandum of Agreement and Health Regulation and had accepted the additions the town asked for in their re-opening plan. The town requested adding to their plan how they would monitor, report, and handle issues if a COVID-19 issue arose and what their plans were to monitor quarantine and isolation of out of state campers. The town offered campers the mental health services resource available through the town if needed. Ilsley said the Memorandum of Agreement met all the Town's Health Regulation requirements and in fact was actually more restrictive than what was expected.

Steve Brewer, Public Works Director, went over the lists of roads and what would be done to them that his department will be working on this season. He said the department has a little over $900,000 to do the work planned that includes catching up with the road work that didn't get finished last year because culverts had to be addressed. The money for the work comes from the Highway Block Grant, the Shim and Overlay Budget, and, the Road Revitalization Fund. He estimated the cost of the planned work would be $810,000 to $815,000 which would leave some $90,000 contingency funds. The plan is to start the work early since the funds are available,

Ilsley reported an exchange between himself and School Board Chair Joe Saulnier regarding the fact that Raymond Police and Fire Departments are not involved and can't be involved in the birthday parades that were organized to celebrate student birthdays.

Saulnier was upset because the Police aren't participating or providing details for intersections passed through by the parades but Ilsley explained to him the department couldn't because the events are not "officially sanctioned" School District events, thus town participation would open the town to liability. Ilsley said he offered to meet with Saulnier and his committee to make these events official district events that would possibly allow the safety services to participate without liability concerns. He indicated Saulnier said the district wouldn't make it an official event due to liability concerns and that was where things stood.

Ilsley explained to the board a police detail for such an event in addition to the potential liability issues, would cost the town between $940 and $1580 per event and double that if it lasted over 4 hours. Ilsley indicated Saulnier had wanted the Police to donate their time but he indicated he hasn't heard back from Saulnier regarding getting together to work something out.

In other business:

* The Eagle Scout project for the trail is still under discussion as Ilsley is still waiting to hear from the insurance company on some of the issues.

* The board  tabled the request from the Reach the Beach group for approval of the relay race through Raymond scheduled for Saturday, September 19, until their next meeting.

* Tina Thomas asked for information on why the serious safety situation on Blackberry Road was not being addressed and Ilsley said he would bring it to Brewer's attention.


Raymond Selectmen's Emergency Public Health Regulation Addresses Campground Opening
By Penny Williams 5-8-20

The Raymond Board of Selectmen met on Thursday afternoon, May 7, and discussed and ultimately adopted the Raymond Emergency Health Regulation proposed by Raymond Health Officer Greg Arvantis that dealt with the re-opening of the Pine Acres Campground.

The reason for the development of the Emergency Health Regulation is the COVID-19 pandemic threat to public health and its purpose is to protect public health.

Based on Governor Chris Sununu 's State of Emergency, the prohibition of gatherings of more than 10 people and due to the increasing community based transmission caused by non-symptomatic people, a situation has been created by people traveling to New Hampshire from Massachusetts where the risk of infection is higher than in New Hampshire, greatly increasing the risk posed to Raymond residents.

In view of this, his regulation requires the campground to  provide a pre-opening plan to the him that he approves before the Pine Acres Campground will be allowed to open. The Emergency Health Regulation is based on Gov. Sununu's regulations regarding campgrounds re-opening and the Town of Raymond will be solely responsible for enforcement of the pre-opening plan and its compliance with all State guidelines and regulations for campgrounds. Thus this will be enforced by the Health Officer and the Raymond Police Department.

Required in the pre-opening plan that Pine Acres Campground must provide to the Raymond Health Officer is the requirement that there must be compliance with all the pertinent guidelines and requirements from the state regarding privately owned campground to be opened to campground members who have paid their fee for recreational camping. All campers must comply with all New Hampshire State campground guidelines. The campground must submit to the Health Officer a detailed re-opening plan that shows compliance with all those requirements and how the campground will enforce compliance of those guidelines.

If the pre-opening plan is incomplete or inaccurate the Health Officer shall return the plan with notations as to what is missing or inaccurate and an updated corrected plan shall be presented.  Without an approved pre-opening plan the Health Officer may prohibit the campground from opening or if an updated plan based on subsequent guidelines or requirements from the Governor is not submitted, the Health Officer  may close the campground. The Health Officer may also close the campground if it is in violation of compliance with the requirements and guidelines.
    This Raymond Emergency Health Regulation takes effect immediately upon approval of the Board of Selectmen which they did. It remains in effect until the New Hampshire Emergency Order is lifted. It would need to be posted in two places with Town Clerk's Seal on it. Arvantis suggested the Selectmen send a letter to the Governor and to the Attorney General's Office requesting that State Police or Sheriff Department assistance be provided to the Town's law Enforcement in maintaining Campground compliance with the requirements and guidelines.

Town Attorney KeriAnn Roman told the board she had worked with Arvantis on this regulation and it was her belief that even without it the campground would need to submit the pre-opening plan, have it approved by the Health Officer and the Town would have to provide enforcement. She told the board that she had been notified by the Campground it had delayed its planned re-opening until sometime next week.  But it cannot re-open without the approval of their pre-opening plan.

Police Chief Michael Labelle indicated that he doesn't have sufficient resources for enforcement and he is concerned about having his men and all first responders called to the campground be exposed to infection. Guida suggested putting a plan together to hire extra resources and apply for reimbursement since the extra resources were the result of COVID-19.

Town Manager Joe Ilsley said he plans to file a 91A regarding what he called the alteration of the definition of the term membership for campground users. Senator Robert Guida had stated unequivocally in his remarks to the board earlier that Municipal concerns and needs were not considered in defining the guidelines for campground re-openings.

Ilsley stated he felt the campground attorney's law office had been complicit in lobbying for the change of the definition of membership that now includes every user who paid their fee thus allowing out of state users to come to Raymond to Pine Acres Campground. This he felt was a conflict of interest and Selectmen Kathy Hoelzel called it an ethics violation and said she would work with Ilsley on filing the Ethics complaint. Guida had also noted that per the country's constitution out of state people  cannot be prohibited.

Ilsley apologized saying he had failed to protect Raymond first responders and residents in his attempt to deal with the campground opening but that he planned to keep on fighting. James Harris, the campground attorney spoke up denying any lobbying by his firm and claiming they tried to negotiate in good faith but the town has wanted stricter restrictions that were required by the state. He said they would work with the town on the re-opening plan.

Roman noted that the restrictions the town tried to negotiate had been taken from a Pine Acres Campground management letter to a camper outlining what the restrictions would be. At the conclusion of the meeting Roman summarized what had taken place. She said the town has adopted an Emergency Health Regulation and that Pine Acres Campground cannot open until they have submitted a pre-opening plan to Health Officer Arvantis that must include specifically how and in what manner the campground would comply with the state guidelines and regulations and  which received his approval.


Raymond Selectmen Delay Decision on Campground Until Thursday
By Penny Williams    5-1-20

The Raymond Board of Selectmen met Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. to discuss preventing Pine Acres Campground from opening on Monday, May 4. The board recessed during Governor Chris Sununu's presentation to be able to incorporate his guidelines in their decision.

At the outset of the meeting, the Campground attorney, James Harris, Sheehan Phinney Law, addressed the board stating that he was willing to work with the town regarding the town's decision.

Town Counsel, Attorney Keriann Roman, Drummond Woodsum Law, presented the board with two options regarding what they could do with respect to Pine Acres Campground opening.

The first option would be to close the campground given the COVID-19 pandemic and the Town's Health Officer, Greg Arvantis has the authority with approval of the Board of Selectmen, to make that decision, she said. The Health Officer and the Raymond Police Department would enforce any violation of that decision. Under this option the campground would remain closed with no users until the state's guidelines regarding lodging providers/campgrounds were allowed to open and that opening would be governed by the state guidelines. This decision by the Town would take effect immediately when published.

Option two would contain all the same restrictions and details as Option 1 except the campground being closed to all users. The campground would have to adhere and comply with all the state's required guidelines and restrictions relative to the phased opening which would mean all facilities would remain closed and there would be a 14 day quarantine in place for those coming from out-of-state. The campground would be responsible for monitoring and enforcement of compliance by its campers and if there is any first responder activity by Town departments that would be billed to the campground owners.

Town Manager Joe Ilsley paraphrased the options and Option 1 he described as being outright closure and Option 2 being adoption of the Town ordinance for strict controls at the campground requiring compliance with restrictions that might be above and beyond what Gov. Sununu came out with.

The board recessed to listen to Gov. Sununu and when they were back in session Ilsley stated that first of all there needs to be a clarification of exactly what the Governor meant by membership. The Governor had stated that campgrounds could open on May 4, but would be available only to New Hampshire residents and "members" of the campground.

Attorney Roman said she would get that information on what "membership" means and meet with Attorney Harris and try to come up with a Memorandum of Agreement on the rules and restrictions that would be in place for the campground to open. The town had offered such a Memorandum of Agreement to the campground but they had refused to sign it. The Town drew most of the compliance and restrictions for that from a letter identifying the restrictions to camp users that had been sent from the campground manager to a seasonal camper. If the Memorandum of Agreement can be agreed to this would allow the town to forego the Selectmen's Ordinance.

Ilsley recommended Option 2 be considered but he and the board agreed they needed time to review the Governor's statement regarding campground openings and review what the Governor meant by "members" of the campground and see if the campground management and owners would work with the Town on a Memorandum of Agreement. The board voted to post a special meeting for Monday, May 4, at 4 p.m. when they will vote on their decision regarding the campground. ** However, one hour later the meeting was changed to Thursday, May 7.

The chief concerns with allowing the campground to open, particularly with its facilities closed, was the increased the risk of infecting Raymond residents. This increased risk came from campground users coming from areas with much higher numbers of infections. In addition the users  would have to be self contained. They would also have to go out into the community to shop which would put an increased strain on the local supply chain. In addition it was noted there were frequent calls for first responders to go to the campground over the last few years which increased the risk of infection for first responders.

Despite Pandemic Financial Impact, Raymond Should Be Alright
By Penny Williams   4-21-20

Town Manager Joe Ilsley went over in detail how the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the Town's Tax Rate and financial condition.  He was encouraging as he explained the Tax Rate Mitigation Plan that is in place.

      "We're in a decent place and townspeople should not have to worry about their taxes," he said.        

   Ilsley explained the Mitigation of the Tax Impact explaining the assessed value of the town is a major factor in setting the tax rate. Property Values across the country have been reduced by an estimated 15 percent by the Covid-19 pandemic and across New Hampshire by 1.5 percent, however he indicated he did not believe the tax rate would be significantly alter what people pay in taxes.

The collection of property taxes does not directly impact the tax rate but does impact the town's cash flow. The town's primary cash flow obligation is public education and if there was a catastrophic drop off of people paying their property taxes there would be a cash flow shortage. Ilsley doesn't believe such a widespread economic collapse is likely.

   Ilsley expects the state revenues to be impacted. The nearly $240,000 Block Grant used for roads, if reduced would not have a direct tax impact but the $543,270 from Meals and Room Tax if reduced does have a significant impact on the tax rate and if not provided could increase the tax rate by an estimated $0.55 per thousand, a 8.4 percent increase. The Capital Grant of $145,519 per year passed for 2019 and 2020 if lost would have a tax impact of $0.14 per thousand or 2 percent but Ilsley thinks it unlikely this funding will be lost. However, he points out that "The Town has projected to receive $933,789 in 2020 from the state of which $688,789 if lost could increase the tax rate by $0.70 per thousand."

   He told the board that last year Raymond exceeded revenue projections by $614,049 or 2 percent and in 2019 the town projected $2,305,565 and had generated actual revenues of $2,919,614 which is an excess revenue over projections of the $614,049 which was deposited into the unassigned fund balance.

   "If we project a 20 percent loss in actual offsetting revenues from 2019 we could assume we would bring in $2,335,691.20 which would be an estimated $38,811 revenue shortfall or $0.039 per thousand. The town has a strategy to mitigate potential impacts on the tax rate which incorporates an estimated $666967,424 in 2019 excess funds and revenues deposited in the unassigned fund balance. "If required," he said, "these funds could be combined with the $3,821,051 which represents a cash reserve of 61 percent of the Town's 2020 Operational Budget and represents 97 percent of the amount owed to the SAU in July and 48 percent owed throughout 2020.  In short if we had nearly 100 percent loss in property tax revenue (extremely unlikely) we could ensure we covered our cash flow obligations by 97 percent for the short term (6 months) and 48 percent for the long term (until the end of 2020."

   Selectman Kathy Hoelzel suggested and Ilsley and board agreed that given public education is the primary cash flow obligation, the Selectmen and the School Board should meet together to look at the financial situation at the Board of Selectmen's May meeting. Chair Scott Campbell said he would be in touch with School Board Chair Joe Saulnier to arrange this.

   Ilsley told the board the Budget Hold Back Initiative is 8 percent of the 2020 Operational Budget that can be used to cover Covod-19 expenses and to address municipal tax mitigation efforts.

  "If there is a 20 percent loss in actual offsetting revenue and a total loss in state funding, the revenue deficit would be $652,860, which could be covered up to 95 percent by the Budget Hold Back," he told the board. The intent is to prevent an increase in what townspeople would have to pay in municipal taxes; to secure the tax rate the municipal tax reduction projected for 2020; and finally, to be in a position to offer townspeople a temporary onetime tax relief.

   Ilsley said the Hold Back is not achieved by increasing budget lines. "The Hold Back simply work through tradeoffs and prioritization of needs...The Hold Back allows us to trade off not doing something of lesser common good to give us the ability to do something of greater common good."

   He told the board department heads are tracking the costs associated with Covid-19 for potential FEMA reimbursement.

   He concluded his explanation by saying, "This plan outlines a response to a catastrophic economic collapse and a loss of all state funding which is extremely unlikely. However, this program allows the Board of Selectmen to be able to not only ensure the fiscal viability of the Town, it allows for the protection and relief to our residents in the event any of these factors pose a risk of a tax rate spike."

   The board approved the $110,250 cost for replacing the Water Treatment Plant filtration system even though the Department of Environmental Services has suspended requiring this be done immediately due to the pandemic and will wait until fall to get this taken care of.  Ilsley reported there is $127,000 plus change in the Capital Reserve Fund to cover this and he said the $110,250 cost covers all aspects of the replacement.

   The board approved using the non-union Capital Reserve Fund for the coverage of the Sick and Vacation days. Ilsley said there have been two buyouts totaling $66,621.29. The board voted to use the money in the non-union capital reserve fund  in the amount of $39,641.09 and retain $28,000 of the amount budgeted for this and have it available for fighting COVID-19 issues.

In other business:

•   The board discussed at length with Ilsley how the town would address upcoming events including National Prayer Day, May 2, Memorial Day, July 4th, and the Town Fair.

   The board decided that some sort of cablevision address would be developed with the help of Kevin Woods and RCTV perhaps of local ministers speaking on the event the National Prayer Day.  The Memorial Day parade is canceled but perhaps the laying of the wreaths could be covered by RCTV but this would involve only members of the VFW and  the American Legion and no audience and the numbers kept to 10 or less.

   Since the 4th of July and Town Fair are further out it was decided to table decisions regarding these events but they would only be held if it is safe for Raymond residents. It was more-or-less decided that the 4th of July event would be limited to a parade if it was deemed safe to have it.

•   Boy Scout Alex Tellier described his plan to develop a cross country 5 K trail. He said he had to move off of private property but the trail basically would follow the trail system already in place, just be developed and improved. He indicated that he needed the board's approval but would not be starting until the COVID-19 situation was over. He said it would take 3 to 5 weekends with his troop members and members of the cross country team to get this done and that they would be doing fundraisers to raise the money needed. The school and the Conservation Commission have already seen and approved his plan.

    One issue is that there are some trees that need to be removed. Scouts can't use power saws and he said the Scout leaders and dads would do it.  Ilsley said that it would be best if the Town were to handle the tree removals so there would be no liability issues.

      Hoelzel brought up the liability issue of the trail being used by non residents. Ilsley didn't believe this was an issue but agreed to check into it. The board approved Tellier's plan subject to Ilsley determining that there are no liability issues associated with it.

•   Ilsley said the Town is open and operating with roadwork being done, work on the old firehouse taking place, LED conversions taking place and the library and others working remotely.

•   He indicated that the privately owned (under new management) Pine Acres Campground has decided not to open but remain closed during the coronavirus pandemic. He said this was a wonderful community decision.

•  Ilsley thanked Kevin Woods for all he has done with the electronic and remote coverage.

•   For the next meeting Ilsley agreed to go over the Solid Waste Strategy with the board and get the selectmen's comments. He asked the selectmen to sign the Intent to Cut document the board approved.

Five Year Transfer Station Agreement Requires Resident Permits
By Penny Williams 3-23-20

The Board of Selectmen heard the Comprehensive Solid Waste Strategy being proposed by Town Manager Joe Ilsley at their meeting on Monday, March 16.
   The announcement had been made prior to the meeting that the board would accept direct calls with questions or comments and Kevin Woods made it work. However, people tended to call in the midst of a discussion rather than following the  board rules of procedure to hold comments and questions for public/citizen comment times.

In addition, Scott Campbell, the new chair was absent due to his wife having been exposed to the COVID-19 virus so he was self quarantining. In his absence vice- chair Kathy Hoelzel ran the meeting.

The board had planned to meet on Monday March 23, to authorize using the Capital Reserve Fund to cover the costs of  replacing the Water System Filter that is long overdue and make decisions on the Comprehensive Solid Waste proposal but the meeting has now been canceled.

The board had received two bids for the Water System filter work but one didn't follow the rules, rather than sending a sealed envelope it arrive on time but by email. The board voted to open both bids but the vote failed. The Weston and Sampson bid was passed to Public Works Director Steve Brewer for his decision. Authorization of CRF funding will be needed and the board will need to approve. They also had a Scout scheduled to present his Eagle Scout project at the March 23, meeting.. 

Ilsley presented his proposed Comprehensive Solid Waste Strategy and Resourcing Model to the board after Selectmen Jack Barnes and George Plante were sworn in as returning selectmen and the board reorganized with Scott Campbell accepting the nomination as chair and Hoelzel as vice chair.

Ilsley's plan proposal includes the following information:
     Currently in Raymond there are 7 solid waste activities:

* Household Trash  Curbside Pick-up (PAYT)
* Recycling Curbside Pick-up (PAYT)
* Transfer Station Operational Contract
* SAU and Municipal Solid Waste Disposal
* Raymond Household Hazardous Waste Day
* Support Annual Operation Raymond Clean-up Day
* Private Dumpster Regulation and Enforcement

Ilsley said over 40 percent of the Pay As You Throw (PAYT) costs relate to recyclables while 100 percent of the program costs are directed to the Yellow Bags and not shared by those who engage in Recycling activities and this is made worse by the collapse of the recycling market. There is no way to adjust prices other than raising the cost of bags and sole reliance on the Yellow Bag as the revenue source to cover cost of curbside pick-up has allowed abuse of the program. The 2.5 percent increase in the Transfer Station contract was not addressed making matters worse causing a $300,000 increase in taxation prior to 2019.  The increased costs have resulted in more private dumpsters and the town lacks effective  and enforceable Dumpster Regulations. Transfer Station revenues were never linked to any Solid Waste program outcomes resulting in a lost revenue opportunity in excess of $100,000 over the past five years. The Operational Budget covers the SAU and Municipal Solid Waste collection and disposal costs thus paid through taxation amounting to $25,000 annually.

A new 5 year Transfer Station Operating Agreement was signed on January 31, 2020.  With the new contract is a new price list.  The new rates became effective February 1, 2020.   The new contract allows for the establishment of a Resident Sticker program. Clarification of Recycling Disposal at the Transfer Station  as of March 18, notes that the ability to dispose of single stream recycling will resume as soon as the resident permit  program is put in place. The resident permit program was reviewed with the Board of Selectmen on Monday  March 16th and the Town is proceeding to put this program in place. Barring any delays due to COVID 19, the program should be in place by mid to late April. In the meantime, any resident of Raymond is able to dispose of recyclables curbside by participating in the Pay As You Throw – yellow bag program.

Ilsley's plan would sustain and expand solid waste recycling options to all residents and incentivize the migration from private dumpsters through competitive and equitable PAYT program pricing. In addition, effective and enforceable private dumpster codes would be created while preserving free market choices of private homeowners. It would also expand the Transfer funding models to do the following: To support and incentivize through subsidizing the cost of various recycling options up to $50,000 annually with no tax impact and leverage this funding model to reduce the tax impact of the SAU and Municipal solid waste collection and disposal. In addition, it would establish  fund reserves to cover the unpredictability of the Recycling market. It would also support and reduce the Household Hazardous Waste Day and Raymond Clean-up Day costs.

He went on to explain each of the foregoing points noting that there would be a Resident Permit for access to the Transfer Station at a cost of $36 annually or $3 per month. Residents permit holders would have reduced transfer rates and free recycling which would be subsidized up to $25,000 from Transfer Station revenue. There would be a resident only access on the second Saturday afternoon each month and exclusive privileges to dispose of brush  for a fee. This would give residents a cost effective recycling option which after the cost of the Permit would be 73 percent less expensive than recycling PAYT.

Because of the increased Yellow Bag costs many households have migrated to private dumpsters. The proposed restructuring would actually reduce the Yellow Bag costs and the cost to homeowners would be less than dumpster costs. The new program which splits the trash and recycling into two separate programs would allow users to pay for only what they use.

Solid Waste would operate the same but there would be an estimated 40 percent cost reduction and Recyclable PAYT would now be funded through the purchase of the Raymond Recycling Tag, estimated at $2.50, one tag per 18-gallon bin required. Ilsley hopes to have the plan approved and operational in the second quarter of 2020.
  The dumpster code discussion prompted calls from June Dickerson and Jane Bailey who like Barnes felt the fines in the program were excessive but Ilsley pointed out these were based on RSA regulations and violators would have a 20 day notice during which they could correct the violation without penalty.

The dumpster regulations would require responsible placement of dumpsters not on town easements and not in places offensive to neighbors. Fees for dumpster use would be required and enforcement of regulations would be in place. Public Works would participate in dumpster placement decisions and permits would be required. The fine for violation after a warning period of 20 days would be $275 per day and a second offense would be $550 per day.

Ilsley said he would need to find out if the town can change the state required fine amounts and Barnes  said he wanted to see the $275 reduced to $100 and the $550 reduced to $250. He said if the fine amounts can't be altered then the Town will figure out something else that will be enforceable. The board agreed to move forward with the Transfer Station contract with assigned fees and getting the recycling permit up and running. The board decided they would approve the proposed plan at the next meeting, which has now been canceled.

In other business:

• The board opened the 7 bids for the On-call Engineering Service that Public Works Director Steve Brewer wants to have established so when there is an emergency such as the Lane Road culvert collapses the Town will have a firm on call to deal immediately with the situation.

The bids came from Stantec, Auburn; The Tec Engineers Corp, Hampton; Weston & Sampson, Portsmouth; Allen & Major associates, Manchester; DuBois & King, Bedford; Wright Pierce, Portsmouth; and, CMA Engineers, Portsmouth. The bids were handed over to Brewer to review and make a recommendation.

• The board reviewed the tax abatement requests for mobile homes in Leisure Village. That property has been purchased and the mobiles need to be removed so these deeds need to released to the owner to proceed with the clean-up. The mobile units are located at 63 Barberry Court with an abatement amount of $5,678.49; 44 Barberry Court, $3951.80; 55 Barberry Court $1,880.47; 23 Old Cart Lane $4,438.76; and, 16 Old Cart Lane, $6,297.81. The board after a brief discussion vote to approve the abatements after Ilsley said when the town was removing some units the cost was about $12,000 each.

• Ilsley's report was mainly about the Town's response to the COVID-19 issue and this information is posted on the town web site under Code Red. He went over the closures and restrictions noting that Jonathan Wood was working on making the Planning Board meeting electronic but that they had canceled the next two meetings.

• The board approved Christina McCarthy as the Tax Collector effective immediately. She didn't have to go through the usual process since she is already a town employee.

•The board was asked to re-sign the Mendle Road building permit as it had been appealed at the Planning Board but the Planning Board approved it so now the Selectmen need to approve it. The vote was unanimous to approve.

• The board approved appointment of Dylan Chevalier as a full time Raymond police officer.

Raymond Selectmen Approve Amended Comcast Agreement
By Penny Williams    2-13-20

   The Raymond Board of Selectmen held a Public Hearing Monday, February 10, to consider the Comcast Agreement and a Side Letter, an addition to the contract. This hearing was on the amended Comcast contract that Attorney Kate Miller had advised Cable Coordinator Kevin Woods to retain rather than creating a new contract agreement because the Raymond Cable contract in place is particularly robust and favorable. Miller and Woods discussed the contract and side letter with the board and it can be seen on the Town Web Site, www.raymondnh.gov./rctv.

     The amendment to the contract agreement extends the current contract and the Side Letter deals with the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) Ruling concerning free services provided to franchise towns by Comcast must now be paid for. The letter allows Comcast to charge for previously free service drops to places such as the schools, the public safety outlets, the library, and Town Hall.

     Woods said he is working with Comcast to determine exactly where the town has operational free service drops as he doesn't believe the drops at the schools, other than one used by Cable for community meetings, are operable. He did say that he thought the Town should keep the ones in the Department of Public Works, the Dispatch, and the Fire Department. These, if there is a charge for them, would be paid for by the Cable budget money and he said he estimates that each would cost approximately $50 a month for a total of $1,800 a year.

    It was also noted that Cable Committee money would be used for the construction of the updated fiber line to the control room for improved broadcast quality that hopefully will be completed in 2020 at an estimated cost of $65,000. The High Definition line would not cost the town anything and would be in place by 2023.
     The board discussed this and unanimously approved signing the agreement although Selectman Jack Barnes was unhappy that there wasn't a full board present to do this.

In other business:

•   The board then signed off on the documents accepting the acquired land donations at 40 Juanita Drive, Lot 4 Chadwick property and Lot 15 Griset property. Public hearings on this had been held previously as required by law and the only comments had come from Conservation Commission Chair Jan Kent.

•   Town Manager Joe Ilsley reported that the Transfer Station negotiations had been finalized and that he is in the process of developing a sticker program to aid in the recycling area. The plan is to make trash and recycling two independent programs. He said that part of the negotiated agreement is that the roadway to the Transfer Station would be properly maintained.

     Ilsley said he is also meeting with Waste Management regarding trash and recycling curb side pick-up and the proposed sticker program. He said he plans to extend the Waste Management contract to match the Transfer Station contract.

•    The Water Tower Study has been completed and he said the Town owes the State a response on what the plans are with regard to the water tower issues. He said it looks like the cost of the repairs and improvements to the water towers will be in the $4,000,000 range.

     He said he had learned that 60 percent of the town's water storage is for fire suppression purposes while the rest is for drinking water purposes. This is an issue that needs to be addressed because drinking water storage is short term with turnover needed while fire suppression water is just the opposite.

    The demand for water has grown with the growth of the area and the developers should be shouldering a portion of this increased cost and impact fees would have been very useful in this area and development of impact fees will be part of the future planning.

•    Ilsley told the board he has plans to meet with the Planning Board regarding the Master Plan and will go over the 2040 planning strategy for the town he has developed.

;•   The Town Report has been dedicated to Veterans and has been sent to the publisher and will be ready for distribution on Tuesday, March 3.

•    He said the assessment of the remodeling possibility of Torrent Hall is moving along and the engineers will be there at the building to do an actual assessment of the physical building shortly as the town moves toward a decision on exactly what will be the most cost effective thing to do with the building - remodel it or tear it down.

    The next selectmen's meeting will be in March, the date not set as yet.  

 All Town Offices and Town Tax Collector 's Office will be closed for President's Day, Monday, February 17. The Second Session Voting polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 10.


Raymond Municipal Tax Rate Reduced by Thirteen Cents Per Thousand
By Penny Williams     1-29-20

  At the Raymond Board of Selectmen meeting on Monday night, January 27,  Town Manager Joe Ilsley went over who was going to handle which of the articles on the warrant. The board members agreed to the assignments they had accepted. Ilsley said he had reached out to the people who had submitted Citizen Petition Articles asking them to be at the Town Deliberative session on Saturday, February 1st, to explain their article and respond to questions.

     There are three Citizen Petition Articles, one from Lamprey Health, one to prohibit the use of plastic bags in the town; and one about a Scenic Road designation sign.

    Ilsley told the board the estimated tax impact for this year will amount to  a 13 cent reduction of this year's tax.

This translates to the following:
* On a $150,000 dwelling this would be a reduction of $18.90
* On a $200,000 dwelling this would be a $25.21 reduction
* On a $300,000 dwelling this would amount to a $37.81 reduction.

   The board thanked Ilsley for his hard work on reducing the budget, something that hasn't happened in Raymond for a number of years.

  The Selectmen discussed and approved two building permits.

     The first involved a requested building permit for Miendl Road, a private road submitted by Chris Evans, Tuckaway Shores Development LLC. Issuance of such a building permit requires the permission of the Board of Selectmen, a process  which is set out in RSA 674:41. It was noted this is the same process that was used in 2018 when building permits on Branch Road were dealt with by the Board of Selectmen.

     Town Manager Joe Ilsley told the board that the Planning Board had issued a recommendation to the Board of Selectmen on December 19, 2019 regarding this request that included one condition: that the Board of Selectmen vote to issue the permit and the applicant is required to sign and record an Agreement and Release Regarding Building Permit for Property Abutting a Class VI Road which removes liability from the Town in the event that the Town is unable for some reason to respond to an emergency at this property.

    The board reviewed the Agreement and Release document that would allow the owner to construct a single-family residence; owners agrees the Town assumes no responsibility for maintenance of Miendl Road and no liability for any damages arising from the use of the road; and the owner agrees to maintain access and releases the Town from maintenance of Miendl Road and from any loss, damage, or expense arising from the condition of the road including any loss from the Town not providing police, fire and ambulance services. In addition the owner will transport any school age children to the nearest school bus stop. This agreement will be recorded at the Rockingham County Registry of Deeds before the building permit is issued.

       After a brief discussion the board approved and signed the agreement allowing for the issuance of the building permit.

      The board then heard from Brian Griset about an Access Easement for Norris Farm Road requiring the board's signatures.

      Griset explained the purpose of the easement is to provide perpetual access from Norris Farm Road to and from the land owned by the  Griset family for foot and vehicle access. The easement area shall be maintained, repaired, and replaced in accordance with the terms of the Norris Farms at Flint Hill, a Conservation Development Declaration of Easements and Restrictions recorded in the Rockingham County Registry of Deeds. The easement indemnifies the Town from any liabilities claims and damages arising out of any person's use of the easement, except if such is caused by negligence of the Town.

      This easement requires the written permission of the selectmen or the Director of Public Works after consultation with the Conservation Commission which the board noted  has taken place.

    Griset explained that for some reason this agreement never got properly filed at the registry and he is trying to get it done so people can enjoy the Flint Hill conservation property.

     The board discussed this briefly and signed the agreement and it will be properly filed at the registry.



Raymond Selectmen Continue Discussing Pay As You Throw Program
By Penny Williams    1-16-20

    The Raymond Board of Selectmen and Town Manager Joe Ilsley discussed the current trash and recycling issues and explained why the previous meeting on Jan. 6, had been canceled during their Monday night, Jan. 13, meeting.

     The warrant article that had been developed on Pay As You Throw (PAYT) was to have been discussed, reviewed and approved on Jan. 6, but prior to the meeting Ilsley and board Chair George Plante agreed that the article just would make matters worse rather than resolving any current issues, so the board meeting was cancelled and article dropped.

    Ilsley said the current PAYT model, when it was first developed was a good model but today, in a world where recycling issues have drastically changed the landscape, it isn't meeting the town's needs and a new model must be developed.

     He told the board he will be meeting with Waste Management discussing that the town wants to continue supporting both recycling and curbside pick up but wants to keep these two programs separate. He indicated he would keep the board informed on what the Waste Management discussions came up with. He is still negotiating the contract with Waste Management and he hopes to have a new contract regarding the Transfer Station by month's end.

    Selectman Jack Barnes asked if Ilsley had looked at successful local town programs for clues as to what Raymond could do and Ilsley noted that most successful projects have their own operating transfer station which Raymond doesn't have any more.

       Attorney Kate Miller, Donahue, Tucker and Ciandella, spoke to the board about the Cable Franchise issue. Before she spoke  Ilsley read into the record a letter from RCTV Cable Coordinator Kevin Woods.

      Woods explained neither he nor his committee could be present but the committee has no questions regarding Attorney Miller's evaluation and recommendations on the issues. He indicated the committee favors a public hearing on Jan. 27, and moving ahead with the process.

       Miller said that in her meetings with the Cable Company it is apparent they are still trying to work out the new legislative requirements. The Raymond contract agreement is strong and she advised tweaking it rather redoing it as she feels they would never get as good a deal again if the whole contract was to be re-written.

     The issue outstanding is how the Cable Company will deal with the so-called free Cable TV services provided to towns.

     Her advice was to go ahead with the Jan. 27, public hearing on what there is in place and then hold another Public Hearing in February if significant changes are made. The Cable Company told her that they felt if things were resolved by the end of Feb. the new construction Woods wants regarding installing the fiber optic connection to RCTV could happen before year's end.

    She posed two options for the Public Hearing - Jan. 27, or February 10 which could be moved out to February 24 if necessary.

   The board was uncomfortable going to Public Hearing in Jan. when they knew they wouldn't have all the information so decided to post the Public Hearing for February 10,  knowing they could move that back to February 24, if necessary.

     A Public Hearing was opened  regarding the sale of three properties: 40 Juanita Drive, 4 Chadwick Property, and 15 Griset Property - but no one was there for the hearing except Conservation Commission Chair Jan Kent.

     Kent reminded the board the ConsCom letters of approval for all three pieces had previously been read into the record.  She provided the board members with an article detailing the benefits of conservation land which costs an estimated .36 cents per $1,000 value for municipal services as opposed to residential property that costs $1.16 for municipal services per $1,000 value.   

      Kent asked the board to approve the Conservation Commission making Kathy McDonald a full time Conservation Commission member. Kent noted the ConsCom had voted unanimously on Dec. 11, 2019 , to recommend McDonald to be appointed as a full member to the Conservation Commission since she had been participating as a member of the public for many years and had completed the volunteer application and required meeting attendance. The board approved and McDonald was sworn in.

      Police Chief  Michael Labell brought a hiring plan to the board that he had discussed and had approved by Ilsley.

    The department is currently short one officer and is in the midst of the hiring process to fill that position and he has three candidates all at the background stage. Looking ahead, he told the board he is facing three more officers leaving the department between March and July, one to Manchester, one to Salem and one into retirement.

    His plan is to move ahead and hire the replacement officer for the current open spot and hire the another officer for an  upcoming opening. By the time the officer got through the academy and in-field training it would work out just right whereas if he has to wait for the actual open position it could take a year to get the officer actively on board.

     The department should have 17 full time officers and if the planned leaving and or retiring officers should change their minds and stay and he hired two officers now it would mean the department would have 18. That could be addressed by a reduced role for the last hire.  

    Of the 16 members,  one officer just graduated from the academy and one just started the academy so he is actually operating with just 14 officers. He said he has the money in his budget to move forward with this plan. He told the board in the last five years the department turnover has been extreme with the department losing 16 officers.

    The board discussed this briefly and Ilsley praised the plan as creative, effective, and, forward thinking management.  Since Ilsley had the authority to approve it the board simply agreed that this is a good plan.

     The board discussed the three Citizen Petition Articles for the Warrant.

* Article 24 - To see if the Town of Raymond will raise and appropriate the amount of $6,5000 for the Lamprey Health Care Senior Transportation Program.

*  Article 25 - To change Article 13 197-13.1 b Noncommercial Agriculture use
to state agriculture use of land accessory to a residential use where the lot size exceeds 1/2 of an acre in which up to six poultry can be kept.

* Article 26 -  to approve the designation of Old Fremont Road as a Scenic Road .

    The board does not recommend petition articles with no financial aspect so no action was taken with regard to Articles 25 and 26.

     However, a discussion ensued over Article 24. Selectman Kathy Hoelzel indicated she thought the amount in the article could be changed. Ilsley had Finance Manager Julie Jenks look up the RSA and said based on his reading the amount couldn't be altered.

    Board members were concerned that approval of this article will have a negative impact on the board's decision to cap the Health and Human Services line in the budget to $40,000. If this is approved and added then all the already approved requests will have to be reduced to stay within the cap or the cap amount changed.

     Barnes was for approving it this since it addresses transportation for seniors. He had been against it since he didn't believe Lamprey Health should ask for anything since they get their building tax free but when he found out the request was for transportation services he felt differently. It was confirmed that Lamprey  provides rides to seniors five days a week.

     Ilsley noted that the amount of the Health and Human Services line can be adjusted at the Deliberative. After further discussion the board voted not to recommend this article as had the Budget Committee so it will be up to the taxpayers.

    There was a brief discussion about what happens when there is an issue and the board has a conflict and can't sign a request. The board authorized Ilsley to act in the board's stead if such an occasion arises. 

    The sale of 11 Mary property has been delayed as the purchaser works out some title issues but Ilsley said the purchaser's attorney is working with the town to get this worked out.

     The state is demanding that the Town take action regarding its water towers and Ilsley said the full report on the Water Tower Study will be available in February. He added that the plan to renew and renovate Torrent Hall for Town Office space is moving forward and it will save the town 40 to 50 percent by doing this rather than purchasing the bank building. In addition, he pointed out this plan preserves a historic town building.











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