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Wakefield selectmen adopt public meeting participation policy

by Thomas Beeler
Editor of The Granite State News
June 06, 2018
WAKEFIELD — At their May 23 meeting, Wakefield selectmen adopted a written policy covering public participation at their meetings.

The policy was created as a result of public comments made at board meetings earlier this year about certain town employees that board members felt were inappropriate. Selectmen Chair Lino Avellani responded to the comments at the time to offer guidelines while making it clear that public comments at meetings were welcome.

The adopted guidelines state that "The purpose of the policy is to provide the Board with the opportunity to hear from residents and taxpayers directly, while keeping the discussions civil and orderly and protecting the rights of others."

There are to opportunities at every meeting for audience members to comments on and ask questions about issues. In the first public comment opportunity, held after any appointments on the agenda, is limited to comments and questions on issues and topics printed on the agenda. The second opportunity, after a review of any correspondence received, is open to any topic. Residents can also request an appointment with the board: a form to do so is posted on the town Web site (www.wakefieldnh.com) on the Board of Selectmen page.

The meeting policy itself is also posted on the town website on the Board of Selectmen page. Click on "BOS Meeting Procedures 2018" to read the complete text.

Invasive species

The board held the required public hearing on distributing the funds from the town's Invasive Species Fund established to help prevent and eradicate milfoil from the town's seven lakes. A total of $32,125 was approved by voters in March to be added to the fund.

Linda Schier, Executive Director of Acton Wakefield Watershed Alliance (AWWA) presented a request for $14,625, unchanged from last year, to help support the Lake Host program at lakes not yet infested with milfoil. The Lake Host program inspects boats for any attached milfoil before they are launched on the lakes. More than 1,000 inspections are done each year, and the lakes associations pay 50 percent of the cost.

Victor Vinagro spoke for the Belleau Lake Association (and also serves as a diver for the milfoil control association). Because the lake was man-made from five lakes without proper permits and has no public access, it is not eligible for state funding. The association has its own Diver-Assisted Suction Harvester (DASH) boat for hand-pulling and removing milfoil. The association requested $10,000 for 2018. The total cost of chemical treatment of 100 acres will be $58,000.

Don Pearson, past president of the Balch Lake Improvement Association, requested $7,500 toward the cost of treating 30 acres in 2018. He facetiously thanked Belleau Lake for providing the milfoil being treated. He said that diving to pull milfoil had begun on May 16 and chemical treatment will be done in the fall. Last year 15,000 pounds of milfoil were removed from the lake.

Other business

The town received two bids to pump the Wastewater Treatment Facility's septic tanks from D.H. Cameron and Lakes Region Septic Service. Chairman Avellani opened them. Lakes Region Septic Service of Brookfield bid 17.5 cents a gallon plus the cost of required analysis of the septage while Cameron bid 20 cents per gallon with no mention of lab analysis included. The town bid documents had requested bids that included lab analysis. Avellani asked Town Administrator Kelley Collins to find out if the Cameron bid included lab analysis; if not, the pumping needs to be re-bid.

Selectman Vin Wallace made a motion to award the bid to Lakes Region Septic as a local company. Selectman Connie Twombley seconded the motion for discussion, but after Avellani proposed re-bidding, she withdrew it.

The board accepted with regret the written resignation from the Conservation Commission by Dave Mankus.

Selectmen approved a request from Collins to write off eight ambulance bills for a total of $7,300 and send a report of unpaid debt on three others worth $1,038.91 to Experian. Total past due ambulance bills are now $16,000.

Collins reported that the town's Emergency Operations Plan expires in 2018. Without an approved plan the town will not be able to accept grants. However, there is a 50-50 grant available to produce a current plan that will not require a cash outlay by the town. The Strafford Regional Planning Commission is willing to help but an independent consultant who can fast-track the revision can do the work for $500 less. The board approved Collins' fast-track proposal.

Brookfield Treasurer Marilou MacLean requested the town to waive the estimated cost of $16 for disposing outdated computer monitors at the transfer station. Avellani said he did not want to set a precedent and the board declined to approve the request.

Collins reported that she has reviewed the minutes of the Greater Wakefield Resource Center and plans to attend the next GWRC board meeting on June 8. The agenda includes a review of the Meals on Wheels program. The Center also needs a motorized door opener for handicap access to the back door to comply with the building code; currently those who park in back need to walk to the front to enter. There is no money in the budget for this, Collins reported. There is also a need to get rid of poison ivy and bittersweet. She said that a Public Works crew can handle this as well as repairing gutters. There is also a need to repair the sidewalk, she reported.

The board signed state form MS-535, the approved budget for 2018. Collins reported that the unassigned fund balance stood at $1.781 million and included funds returned from the renovation of the Public Safety Building project, which came in under budget.

Collins received approval to pursue a contract with a new payroll company. The current vendor, Checkmate, has created problems for the town, including two late filings with the IRS. Collins said she has in the past used other payroll service providers, including ADP and Paychex, and feels the proposed new vendor, who is looking for its first New Hampshire town, will provide better service for $3,000 less than the town is paying now.

Avellani proposed sending a letter of appreciation to Cindy DeBow, who's restaurant was named Business of the Year at Pride Day and the board approved.

All meetings of the Wakefield Board of Selectmen can be view live on ClearView Community TV or online at governmentoversite.com.

The next meeting of the board will be on Wednesday, June 13 at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall conference room.

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