BOARD OF SELECTMEN
Natick Town Hall
September 17, 2007
The meeting was called to order by the Chair Carol A. Gloff at 7:00 p.m.
PRESENT: Carol A. Gloff, Charles M. Hughes, Joshua Ostroff, John Ciccariello, Kristine Van Amsterdam
ALSO PRESENT: Martha White, Acting Town Administrator; Donna Challis, Secretary
WARRANTS: Payroll warrants were signed by the Board of Selectmen on September 17, 2007 in the amount of $1,601,198.70. This figure was included in total warrants signed by the Board of Selectmen of $2,846,408.22.
INTERVIEW FOR APPOINTMENT TO THE HISTORIC DISTRICT COMMISSION
a. Patricia Marr
Patricia Marr told the Board that she had served on the Historic District Commission for a long time. She lived in the South Natick Historic District and had been the Commission secretary for quite some time. She would like to continue to serve because she thought the work the Commission did in preserving the historic districts was really important.
On a motion by Mr. Hughes, seconded by Ms. Van Amsterdam, the Board unanimously voted to reappoint Patricia Marr to the Historic District Commission.
A letter had been received from Historic District Commission member Paul Felopulos. The letter expressed uncertainty about wishing to be reappointed and Ms. Challis advised that in the last conversation with Mr. Felopulos he indicated that he did not wish to be reappointed. Ms. Gloff asked that a letter of appreciation be sent to Mr. Felopulos.
TCAN: REQUEST FOR TENT, BANNER
Representing The Center for Arts in Natick was Sherry Sandoval.
TCAN requested permission to block the sidewalk immediately in front of TCAN at 14 Summer Street to erect a tent for the after concert reception of the upcoming gala on October 13, 2007. The tent would have propane heaters with carbon monoxide testers included. There was a further request to block three parking spaces for people to pass by the tent.
In addition TCAN requested permission to hang a banner across Main Street for the period for the weeks of October 1 and October 8, 2007. Ms. Sandoval understood that time was not available and amended the request to put up the banner for the period of September 18-October 1, 2007.
Mr. Ostroff referred to correspondence from Safety Officer Sergeant Brian Lauzon expressing concern with the tent; however, Mr. Ostroff recalled this tent being approved for a least two years. He questioned if a slightly less wide tent was at all possible.
Ms. Sandoval told the Board that she was made aware of Sergeant Lauzon’s concern and they traded telephone calls, but to have anything narrower would defeat the purpose. Asked if what was being proposed was the same size as last year, Ms. Sandoval’s reply was, “yes”.
Ms. Gloff inquired if Sergeant Lauzon had expressed the same concerns as in the past. Ms. Challis advised that he had.
Ms. Gloff then inquired if the propane heaters had been used before, and again Ms. Sandoval’s reply was, “yes”. An e-mail had been received from Captain Francoise of the Natick Fire Department and Ms. Gloff asked if the heaters would comply. Ms. Sandoval assured the Board that she would check prior to moving forward.
As tents came under the state building code, Mr. Ciccariello asked if TCAN had talked to the Building Department. Ms. Sandoval stated that she had not.
Mr. Ciccariello questioned if the permit had to be voted tonight, but Ms. Sandoval pointed out that the banner would need to be voted on.
Mr. Ostroff wondered if Sergeant Lauzon’s concerns could be allayed if a detail was present and since there was a proposed meeting for later this week, perhaps something could be negotiated that would satisfy his concerns.
A motion was made by Mr. Ostroff, seconded by Mr. Hughes, to approve TCAN’s request to hang a banner across Main Street for the period of September 18-October 1, 2007 in advertisement of the annual gala. The motion passed by a 4-0-1 vote. Ms. Gloff, Mr. Hughes, Mr. Ostroff, Mr. Ciccariello voted in favor of the motion. Ms. Van Amsterdam abstained.
On a motion by Mr. Hughes, seconded by Mr. Ciccariello, the Board unanimously voted to table the request for the tent to September 20th.
NATICK HISTORICAL SOCIETY: USE OF TOWN COMMON
Jennifer Hance of the Natick Historical Society requested permission to use the Natick Common on October 13, 2007 for a Civil War encampment. The event would be from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. with related activities at the Congregational Church. She had spoken with the Recreation and Police Departments.
In his comments to the Board, Safety Officer Sergeant Brian Lauzon advised that the Police Department could assign an on duty officer from the shift, when available, to assist with pedestrians crossing in front of Town Hall. He suggested that the organizers advertise and direct their participants and attendees to the appropriate available parking areas rather than leaving them to use the on street parking. He also recommended that an additional portable restroom, ADA accessible, be required.
Ms. Hance was not aware of Sergeant Lauzon’s comments, but concurred that they would like to take steps to ease the burden on the retailers with regard to parking. She had talked to a company and was told that one porta potty was sufficient. Another one would cost an additional $140.
Mr. Hughes inquired about the set up and was told by Ms. Hance that the plan was to start setting up at 8:30 a.m. and depending on the number of people visiting, they might break down quickly at 3:30 p.m.
A motion was made by Mr. Hughes, seconded by Mr. Ostroff, to grant the Natick Historical Society permission to hold a Civil War encampment on the Town Common on October 13, 2007 (rain date October 14) subject to compliance with Sergeant Lauzon’s recommendation and that the permit be limited to 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Unanimously voted.
Ms. Hance asked for the Board’s guidance on the use of firearms. They would like to use black powder and would follow strict safety regulations. The Police Department said it was up to the Board of Selectmen.
On a motion by Mr. Hughes, seconded by Ms. Van Amsterdam, the Board unanimously voted to table the issue of using black powder to Thursday’s meeting.
TOWN MEETING WARRANT ARTICLES
Article 15, 16, 17
Ms. White noted that she had given the Board an overview of Articles 15, 16,17 and tonight would be asking for a vote on Article 15. With her were Personnel Director Elizabeth Dennis, Benefits Coordinator Linda Clark, and Carol Cormier from Group Benefits Strategies.
Ms. White explained that Article 15 accepts the provision of Chapter 32 §18 that requires eligible retirees to enroll in Medicare B and supplements. This was being put forward because the health insurance budget between fiscal year 2000-2008 grew 188% as compared to the total operating budget which grew 58% over the same period. The Town’s health insurance budget in fiscal year 2000 was $3,984,724 which represented 5.8% of the total operating budget. The budget for health insurance in the current fiscal year (2008) was $11,488,255 which represents 10.4% of the total operating budget. The health insurance budget was a very significant cost area and the Town had to look at every area to rein in costs and there were a limited number of areas to do that.
Ms. White recommended the adoption of Section 18. She acknowledged it would have an impact on retirees, but a number of retirees have moved over to the Medicare groups and one retiree noted that the Medicare grouping was more appropriate for folks as they were aging. There were some groups of retirees that may be affected financially. They were the retirees who were Medicare eligible but have not enrolled in Part B and they may face additional costs.
Referring to a spreadsheet on the rates, Ms. White pointed out that the single retiree. If in an individual plan and not enrolled in Part B, they would be paying $76.00 and moving to B the cost would go to $130, but if they were already enrolled in Part B, their cost would go down. She noted that one concern was were there plans that were portable that would work in other states and there were a number. There were also a few the West Suburban Health Group was looking at that would be available in July and they were portable.
Mr. Hughes inquired if the single person not enrolled in Part B was the only person whose cost would go up and Ms. White responded that subject to the person enrolling in Part B their cost would go up if they were currently a single retiree, Medicare eligible, and not enrolled in any Medicare program.
Carol Cormier, consultant and benefit administrator of West Suburban Health Insurance Group, advised that it was possible there would be an impact for additional retirees. The Town could identify 195 individuals who appear to be Medicare eligible and on active plans. 404 employees were already on Medicare. Of the 195, 66 were already purchasing Part B. Those people would have a reduction in cost if they choose those plans (referred to on the spreadsheet). There were plans that were more costly, but that would be their choice.
Mr. Hughes inquired as to why someone wouldn’t be purchasing B, and Ms. Cormier explained that the Town contributed a high percentage to people enrolled in active employee plans and someone chose to stay on, the Town contributes the same percentage to them. In some cases the contributions were 80% where if they were on Medicare the contribution would be 50%. Especially people with other dependents would look at active plans. The contribution strategy was perverse but Natick was not the only Town that did it that way. Some towns will contribute 50% no matter what plan, but Natick contributes the same as it did with the active employees.
Ms. White continued that it has been the practice for employees not eligible for Medicare to stay on the active employee plans at the same contribution rate and under Article 16 the thought process was not only to stick with the current policy but to not penalize the retirees that were not eligible for Medicare.
Mr. Hughes commented that when an employee became eligible they would have to come off the active plan. Ms. White concurred that if they were eligible for Medicare they would have to come off. Ms. Cormier added that eventually Natick would have no one who was not eligible if they were hired after 1986, but there would always be early retirees.
In discussions with the employees, Ms. Van Amsterdam asked if there was a theme to the questions being asked. Ms. White responded that she was happy the public information session was offered and the plan was to hold another. There were a number of questions that were all over the map. Portability was important and the cost. There wasn’t a lot of overt opposition, but a lot of curiosity.
Referring to Exhibit 5, Mr. Ciccariello inquired about the plans and cost, and Ms. White explained the plans were not necessarily identical. The Network Blue and the HMO Blue were not necessarily identical. There was a handout available that showed the comparability. She noted that one area of concern at the information session was the office visit co-pay. Under active employees it was $5 and the Medicare supplements were $10-15, but some of the plans had better drug coverage. They may save in premiums but pay more in co-pays.
Mr. Ciccariello asked about the retiree who says they couldn’t afford the other program, and Ms. White pointed out that if someone was married or enrolled in Part B, their premiums would go down. It will be important for them to look at each of their Medicare supplement plans and see what best suits their needs.
Noting that a lot of individuals didn’t understand health care, Mr. Ciccariello questioned what kind of assistance the Town was going to afford a retiree. Was the Town prepared to assist individuals who don’t have the expertise to go through this information? Ms. White’s reply was, “yes”, noting that the Benefits Coordinator did that now. She worked one-on-one with employees and retirees and the Retirement Office did so as well.
Ms. Cormier advised that 13 of the 16 towns in the West Suburban Health Group have adopted Section 18 and all had benefit fairs for the retirees and invited health care representatives to come out and talk to them and assist them. She thought there would be plenty of assistance.
Mr. Ciccariello inquired if the anticipated savings of $680,000 was high or low, but Ms. White thought it was hard to tell now. There wasn’t any certainty on the number of eligible retirees that weren’t enrolled. The presumption was that everyone was eligible unless they could prove otherwise. Absent that information it was hard to put a number on it. It will increase over time as the number of eligible for Medicare grew and the cost of insurance grew.
Although he knew that Article 17 wasn’t going to be discussed now, Mr. Ostroff understood the intent of the article was to allow the Board to set a different benefit reimbursement rate for people moving over to new plans. Would the Board have the option to do that without further benefiting people that would be saving money. Ms. White reminded the Board that Ms. Van Amsterdam and Tony Lista from the Finance Committee had been appointed to work on that issue and a meeting was scheduled for this week. She believed there was one flat rate. She didn’t think a distinction could be made between groups. Ms. Cormier concurred.
If Article 15 passed, Ms. Gloff noted that would require a contribution of 50%. Article 17 would allow a higher percentage but it would need to be across the board. If the Town paid 60% the folks having to pay more would be paying less and other folks who would be paying less under Medicare would have a further advantage. Mr. Hughes didn’t interpret it that way. He believed Town Meeting would set the rate, but Ms. White advised that according to Town Counsel, it would be the Board of Selectmen’s decision.
Mr. Hughes commented that he was not prepared to vote tonight. He would like to see the spreadsheet on the savings and would like to know if there was a way to get a better handle on the number rather than just assuming everybody was eligible.
Ms. Cormier noted that a worst case scenario was used assuming everybody would choose Medex which was the one most people were in and the most costly. She didn’t as yet know the premium of B as of January 1, but was expecting it to be known this week. She also didn’t know the rates for the health plan come July 1 and there was no to know which plans an individual would choose. Firming up the number was difficult.
Mr. Hughes explained that he was just trying to get a number on the people affected. Ms. Cormier pointed out that it would have to be based on the data base of people who were turning 65 by January 1. It was known that some had Medicare because of a survey, but they couldn’t be required to give that information until the Town adopted Section 18.
Mr. Hughes thought there were records of who worked here pre and post 1986, but Ms. Cormier noted that if they were married their spouse probably had contributed into Medicare and that would make a pre 1986 employee eligible. You couldn’t ask the status of the spouse until Section 18 was adopted. If adopted each retiree would have to confirm their eligibility or document from Social Security that they did not have eligibility. It was a lot of work, but she had been through this with a lot of towns and had a lot of the documents and letters.
A motion was made by Mr. Hughes to table to October 1st. Seconded by Mr. Ciccariello and unanimously voted.
Ms. White had indicated that she would like to have a vote that night and Mr. Ciccariello asked if tabling would affect anything. Ms. White advised that it would not.
APPLICATION FOR COMMON VICTUALER’S LICENSE: CHILL, INC. D/B/A MELT GELATO AND CREPE CAFE
Before the Board was an application from Chill, Inc. d/b/a Melt Gelato and Crepe Cafe for a common victualer’s license for premises located at the placeCityNatick Collection, addressStreet1245 Worcester Street, Space 4075. Representing Melt Gelato was the owner Brandon Barwin.
Noting that Melt Gelato was already operating, Ms. Gloff inquired as to why Mr. Barwin did not obtain a license prior to opening. Mr. Barwin explained that this operation was new to them. There was a partner who was taking care of all the licenses, but he pulled out at the end and left them scrambling.
Ms. Gloff pointed out that the information was provided to Melt at least twice. Mr. Barwin acknowledged that he had the information but the people handling it on his end pulled out at the last minute. Asked what he meant by the last minute, Mr. Barwin responded that it was in the last week or two.
Mr. Ciccariello inquired if the packet from General Growth Properties included notice that Melt was responsible for getting all the licenses. Mr. Barwin was sure it was included and reiterated that it was missed because the person who was going to be their 50% partner, who was a Massachusetts guy, was looking into all the licenses and pulled out.
Mr. Ciccariello then inquired if Melt had a certificate of occupancy from the Building Department. Mr. Barwin advised that he did as well as all the required permits.
Once Mr. Barwin found out that a license was needed, Mr. Hughes noted that Melt continued to stay open without a license. Mr. Barwin agreed. He explained that the Mall had a grand opening in September and he (Mr. Barwin) came to Town Hall on the day of the (Selectmen’s) hearing, but he was too late. He had all of the other permits and to not open the store for another two weeks would have killed them. All of their employees would have walked away.
Mr. Ciccariello asked if it was fair to say that if he didn’t open he (Mr. Barwin) would have been fined by the Mall. Mr. Barwin said he was sure there would have been some sort of a fine. If he went to the Mall and said he had all the permits but this one, he wasn’t sure how they would have reacted. It was hard to find employees and if he was not able to open for another two weeks, he was sure the employees would have walked away.
Mr. Hughes questioned if Mr. Barwin had all the permits when he first opened. Mr. Barwin replied that he did, adding that the Mall was picky about not allowing establishments to open if they didn’t have Fire and Health permits.
Ms. Gloff told Mr. Barwin that the Board was not happy. He should have gotten his application in so it could have been on the Board’s meeting two weeks ago.
Mr. Ciccariello raised the possibility of the Board granting the license but rather than having it be effective tonight make it for a later date. Ms. White thought that was possible. A license was a privilege, not a right and the Board could impose restrictions or conditions. In follow-up Mr. Ciccariello asked about a fine and Ms. White explained that the $100 fine was under MGL and it was a flat $100, but an alternative suggestion was for the Board to consider a penalty that was a condition of the license.
Noting that Melt had been open for 11 days without a license, Mr. Hughes moved to grant Chill, Inc. d/b/a Melt Gelato and Crepe Café a common victualer’s license for premises at 1245 Worcester Street upon payment of $1,100. Seconded by Ms. Van Amsterdam and unanimously voted.
Mr. Barwin inquired as to the process and Ms. Gloff advised that he would need to come into the office tomorrow, pay the fine, and the Board would sign the license.
FIRE CHIEF APPOINTMENT PROCESS
Human Resource Director Elizabeth Dennis noted that the decisions the Board needed to make was what type of examination whether open competitive or departmental; whether the Board wanted to do an eligible list or an assessment center as the sole ranking device.
Mr. Hughes outlined his understanding. The Town had a list for open competitive. The Board could use an assessment center. That would not change the ranks but would provide a reason to by-pass. The Board could use a departmental and use an exam with education and experience or the Board could use a departmental exam with an assessment center in which case the center would rank the individuals or the assessment center could be used as the sole ranking. Ms. Dennis confirmed Mr. Hughes’ understanding to be correct.
Mr. Hughes then noted that if four deputies didn’t sign up the Board would have to wait a year. Ms. Dennis responded that it would be until 2009 for the exam to be administered. HRD would open the eligibility to the Captains. HRD only administers the written examination once a year.
If the Board were to do a promotional process based on an assessment center, Mr. Ostroff inquired as to how it would work. Ms. Dennis explained that for a promotional the five deputies would be eligible to participate in the assessment center. The Board would say it wanted to use the assessment center as the sole ranking. There must be two components and one could be the assessment center and one education and experience. The Board could say it wanted the assessment center to be 90%. The administration would be delegated to Natick as the appointing authority and the Board would have control over conducting the center and when it was administered and scored. When the center was conducted, HRD would do the education and experience grading, compare those two and create the eligibility list.
If three deputies signed, the Board would petition HRD to open it to the Captains and then you would not have to wait a year.
Should the Board vote on that process, Mr. Ostroff inquired as to how long it would take before a vendor could be identified and how long would it take for HRD to approve the assessment center. Ms. Dennis explained that the Board would have to notify HRD of the decision for the assessment center to be delegated to the Board as the sole rank. HRD would issue a delegation agreement and the Town would have to issue an RFP for a vendor. She would work with the procurement officer to get the RFP and would probably give four weeks or so to respond. The Board would award the contract and then work with the vendor to schedule the assessment center to determine what exercise the Board would want to see and what attributes the Board would like to see in a chief. The process could be 2-4 months.
With respect to the outcome of the assessment center, Mr. Ostroff inquired as to the perogatives of the Board. Ms. Dennis responded that when it was scored and the education and experience was incorporated, HRD would look to see if there were any veterans preference or service preference points and then send the eligible list. The Board could have public interviews, but would have to make the appointment from one of the three individuals. If there were only two names, the process would have to start over again.
Noting there was an open competitive list of four individuals, Mr. Ciccariello didn’t think there was anything precluding the Board from doing an assessment center on the present list. In response to a comment from Mr. Ciccariello, Ms. Dennis pointed out that the open competitive list was already ranked. When asked what the assessment center would add, Ms. Dennis explained it would be a practical examination to see individuals in types of exercises – presentations before the Board of Selectmen, budget. That would be scored but would have no relative ranking. It would give the Board reasons to appoint or reasons to by-pass. She concurred that those reasons would still be subject to appeal to Civil Service.
Mr. Ciccariello commented that the way he looked at it, once the person was ranked number 1, it was pretty hard to not provide them with the position. Ms. Dennis conceded that it was difficult.
If the Board kept it inhouse, Mr. Ciccariello pointed out that at least four deputies had to sign, but only two had to take the exam and that would prevent anybody below them from taking the test. He recalled the last time all the deputies wanted it inhouse but only two took the exam.
Ms. Dennis agreed that if four deputies signed, it would preclude the captains, but if it went forward and there were only two names on the list, the Board could reject the list.
Mr. Ciccariello then asked about appointing a provisional chief and Ms. Dennis advised that when the Chief vacates, the Board would provisionally appoint until the list was sent. Asked if an individual would get points for being an acting chief, Ms. Dennis thought someone serving as acting chief from May-August may get 8/10 of a point additional in education and experience.
Ms. Van Amsterdam understood that the only recourse for the Board should a minimum of 4 deputies sign up to take the exam and only 2 sit would be to reject that list because it was a short list. Should 4-5 sign up and only 3 sit, the Board must take that list. Ms. Dennis clarified that if all three passed, the Board must promote from that list.
If the Board were to do a departmental promotional exam and get a short list or four don’t sign up and the Town had to wait the year, Mr. Hughes questioned if the Board had made the decision to do a departmental or if the next year were they back to the options of an open competitive or departmental. Ms. Dennis’ reply was, “yes”, because this open competitive list expires. The list was specifically for the municipalities and was only generated if it was asked for.
Mr. Ciccariello believed the Board had voted to have an open competitive exam. Ms. Dennis advised that was correct and the list was established August 2006. Mr. Ciccariello continued that the Board voted to have an open competitive exam and a bunch of individuals took the exam. That was the exam the Board in place at that time asked for and requested HRD for a weight scale of 60/40. The Board asked for an open competitive exam, its been done and now the Board was debating whether to go in a different direction. He hadn’t heard from any deputy that they had an interest or asking for an opportunity to become the Fire Chief. There was an individual who came before the Board who expressed an interest in being chief, but he did not take the exam. Only one deputy took the exam.
Ms. Dennis clarified that from what she could tell only one deputy took the (open competitive) exam.
Ms. Ciccariello reiterated that the Board had voted to do an open competitive exam and was now debating whether to reject something that had been agreed to and he had a problem with that. Someone had to convince him why this was being done.
Mr. Hughes pointed out that when the Board voted for the open competitive it wasn’t to fill the current vacancy.
With regard to the timing, the Board had been told a decision would need to be made either this week or October 1 to give study time. If the decision was made to do an assessment center, Mr. Hughes assumed some preparation time would be needed and he wondered how the candidates would get that information and how much time should be allocated.
Ms. Dennis advised there wouldn’t be any study material produced for an assessment center other than what they may want to do on their own. HRD was probably about ready to release the reading list for the 2008 exam. In her experience for assessment centers once the applications were in there was usually an orientation which was only about 1-2 days before. If the candidates were going to be required to write an overnight paper, they would get it then.
In follow-up Mr. Hughes asked if the same reading material that would have helped a candidate study for the exam would help in the assessment center. Ms. Dennis noted that it would as far as theory, but the assessment center was geared toward management type ability and skills.
If the Board went the departmental promotional route with the assessment center as the sole ranking, Ms. Van Amsterdam inquired as to how it would typically come forward. Ms. Dennis explained that it would be the same process used for a written examination only delegated to the Town and the Town would create an announcement. There would be a last filing date which was the key for knowing how many and if there were only three, the Town could talk to HRD and automatically open it up to the captains.
Once the person put their name on the list, Ms. Van Amsterdam asked if they must participate in the assessment center. They could not just sign up and recuse themselves. Ms. Dennis responded that that was not the case. Sometimes people would show up, listen to the opening session and drop out. Ms. Van Amsterdam questioned if four signed up and two dropped out where that would leave the Board. Ms. Dennis noted that it would be the same as if only two showed up for the written examination. The exam would go forward and the Board would get the eligibility list of two people. If only one showed up there wouldn’t be any potential competition and it would not go through the process.
Mr. Hughes was of the understanding that other towns had just used the assessment center. Ms. Dennis confirmed that as being correct adding that the trends were going for an assessment center only. She would provide the Board with some names of towns that did the assessment center only.
Mr. Ciccariello pointed out that the Board could take the open list and send it to an assessment center. Ms. Dennis agreed. It would have no affect on the ranking but would give the Board an idea of how those individuals would behave as a fire chief.
Mr. Hughes stated that he would like to talk to a town that had an assessment center and moved to table to October 1. Seconded by Ms. Van Amsterdam. After some discussion the motion passed on a 4-1-0 vote. Ms. Gloff, Mr. Hughes, Mr. Ostroff, Ms. Van Amsterdam voted in favor of the motion. Mr. Ciccariello was opposed.
In discussion of the motion, Ms. Gloff noted that she would be interested in knowing more about assessment centers. Ms. Dennis offered to provide some written documentation.
Mr. Ostroff felt it was healthy for the Board to fully understand the options and would support waiting for October 1, but he wanted to make sure to do everything possible to make a decision on that date. The men and women in the Fire Department have known of the Chief’s retirement and had some concern for how the department goes forward. It seemed like a drawn out process, but the Board took the responsibility very seriously and wants to do the best thing for the Town.
Ms. Van Amsterdam pointed out that October 1 still afforded six months. Ms. Dennis added that HRD hadn’t issued the reading list as of yet so the delay wouldn’t cause any angst.
Mr. Ostroff remarked that he didn’t find it surprising that no deputy took the open exam. It was a contentious period for the department and the Board and he didn’t put stock in the fact that deputies weren’t taking it at that time.
Deputy Jamie Sheridan told the Board that he was on the list and he was interested in the position. He reminded the Board that this discussion was held in December 2005 and the Board voted to have an open competitive exam. A notice went out to 351 communities with the intent of it being posted in every town hall and fire station. People paid the examination fee and spent 100’s of hours studying for the exam. He called the legal department at Civil Service when the announcement was first posted and they said the list was good for two years. The HR Director said you would have to appoint from that list within two years and he believed the Board had to select from the list. People invested the time and money to be considered and he believed it was only fair that the Board did so from that
Cambridge Deputy Chief Frank Murphy who was a resident of Natick stated that he took the open competitive exam for Fire Chief. The question was asked if an assessment center was used for the current list if all four candidates (on the list) would be eligible. He believed only the top 3 would be eligible. He also believed under the Civil Service laws there was an open competitive list in effect and once the position became vacant, he didn’t believe the Board had the option of an interim promotion. He believed the Board must first go through the process of eliminating those candidates and selecting one of them for the Fire Chief. He wished the Board would get a ruling from Civil Service on that issue.
MIDDLESEX GARAGE LEASE RFP
Ms. White informed the Board that the Governor had signed the home rule petition and the Board could now issue the RFP if prepared to do so. The RFP was for the redevelopment of all the parcels of land that were the site of the Middlesex garage and the intent would be to distribute the RFP widely. The Board had previously decided on several reuse restrictions including affordable housing, minimum parking spaces, additional parking for residential units, architectural compatibility for Natick Center, and encouraged green construction.
There were a couple of questions that Ms. White needed some wider discussion. The RFP was silent on what the public parking was to be – was it commuter or for downtown businesses – and the 20% affordable housing units stipulation may be inhibitive. The Board may want to think about 10%.
It was Mr. Ciccariello’s understanding that the emphasis was on creating parking for the downtown businesses as opposed to commuter parking. He was not in favor of developing a facility that creates parking for residents that come from outside Natick. If the MBTA thought there was an absolute need, they would be on top of the Town to do something. Given that the Town has gone without the Middlesex garage for some time, he questioned whether the Town needed to develop 330 parking spaces to solve downtown parking problems. He hadn’t heard a lot of complaints about the lack of parking except for certain events and his feeling was if anything was going to push developers away it would be the cost to create parking spaces and a parking garage and that may have more impact than 20% affordable units. There
was always a question of a shortage of parking but in reality he hadn’t seen a lot of complaints. He wondered if there should be something that allowed a developer to reduce the amount of parking and offer some other benefits.
Ms. Van Amsterdam preferred to have more parking than less. It was not so much what was needed now, but let’s plan for the future. She didn’t view the downtown businesses and commuters as mutually exclusive. To attract businesses downtown there had to be ample parking to support the businesses, but she was also not opposed to designating commuter spots although she questioned how the Town would prevent someone from coming from another town and paying their money to park there.
Ms. Van Amsterdam could see ending up with a scenario where the businesses could purchase spots for employees and citizens in Natick may purchase parking permits and whatever was left over would be available to the general public. Other than deciding on the number of spaces, she didn’t think it needed to be delineated at this time in the RFP.
Mr. Ostroff pointed out that it didn’t cost the developer less or more if the spaces were commuter vs business so he didn’t know if that needed to be delineated in the RFP unless there was a concern that it may attract a different kind of a bid than wanted. He agreed the percentage of housing was very important and the Board may want to consider a floor of 10% and points for anything above that. He felt parking was very important for the downtown and was glad to see this moving forward.
Mr. Hughes didn’t think either number had to be changed. He thought it was taken care of in the evaluation criteria and thought the Board should put the RFP out and see what kind of responses were received
Ms. Gloff wanted to do the same with affordable housing as she would hate to lower it to 10%.
Ms. White believed there were places in the RFP that stipulate a 20% minimum which was somewhat contradictory to the evaluation criteria and suggested the Board might want to set it at a minimum of 15. Ms. Gloff proposed that instead of required, the RFP could say requested. That left it slightly more flexible.
With respect to parking, Ms. White noted that a management and operation plan was required and perhaps included in that plan could be what type of parking the developer envisioned.
Ms. Gloff stated that the RFP could be flexible on the 20%, but not specify a lower floor. The word ‘request’ could be used rather than ‘required’.
On the 330 spaces, Ms. Gloff stated that she was concerned with more rather than less. Downtown Natick may be suffering because of limitations on its parking and if additional parking was available, there may be increased business.
A motion was made by Mr. Hughes, seconded by Ms. Van Amsterdam to issue the RFP with suggested changes. Unanimously voted.
Mr. Ostroff inquired as to the timing and Ms. White responded that with the objective to get a proposal in front of the Annual Town Meeting, it would be tight. The developers would need quite a bit of time to present proposals because quite a bit of detail was required.
A recess was called at 9:00 p.m. The meeting was again called to order at 9:07 p.m.
FORMATION OF FIRE STATION BUILDING COMMITTEE
Ms. White noted that the Fire Chief had requested that she put an article on the warrant asking for some design money for a substantial renovation or new West Natick Station. She believed that was premature as she didn’t believe the Town had gone through the due diligence.
Ms. White advised that she discussed with the Chair of the Board, Fire Chief, Chair of the FinCom Capital Subcommittee, and Chair of the Finance Committee about establishing a building committee and use Article 8 for funding for the committee work. Before the Board was a draft charge for the committee and she requested the Board’s consideration in approving.
Mr. Hughes inquired if Ms. White was proposing some funds be appropriated under Article 9 to do renovations to the station because those renovations were necessary now and wouldn’t wait until the outcome of this committee. Ms. White’s response was, “yes”, adding that Article 9 was minimum repairs to fire station #4 to improve its inhabitability. There was a very preliminary number from Building Maintenance Director Corey Lovett. He identified just over $28,000 in repairs and a couple of items not as yet costed out and that she had not as yet reviewed with him. It was very preliminary.
Mr. Ciccariello questioned if the asbestos flooring in there now had been taken into consideration. From the breakdown she had in front of her, she didn’t see that it had been. There was talk about flooring in the bedrooms, but she didn’t know if that included asbestos. Mr. Ciccariello recalled that the past administrator, he, and a few others went through Station 4 and looked at some issues in the basement and in the attic. Since Building Inspector Michael Melchiorri was involved he may want to have some input.
Mr. Ciccariello assumed the work would go out to public bid, and Ms. White’s answer was, “yes”. To him some of the numbers were a little low, but Ms. White said she had not as yet spoken with Mr. Lovett.
Mr. Ciccariello was of the opinion that clearly some renovations had to be done to the station even if a new building was needed. He thought the Town had to invest some money. The living quarters weren’t exactly up to par.
Mr. Hughes proposed having two members of the Board of Selectmen. Ms. Van Amsterdam suggested that it be the Fire Chief or his designee. Mr. Ciccariello suggested the addition of a member of the Planning Board since it was in West Natick and the Planning Board had a lot of information on traffic and site issues. Of the two citizens-at-large, his preference was to see at least one be a resident of West Natick. That raised the question of what defined West Natick, and Ms. Gloff suggested that if the other members of the Board agreed, that applicants from that area would be given priority. Mr. Ciccariello asked if the Board would consider a chief from an outside community. Mr. Hughes didn’t think it would be necessary as part of the committee, but could be a resource.
President of the Firefighters Union Daniel Hartwell asked if the committee would be involved with the design of the station. When told that it would, Firefighter Hartwell responded that a 10 member committee for a Fire Department and two fire personnel didn’t seem right. He clarified that he wasn’t saying the committee had to be all firefighters, but the firefighters and deputies had to be involved. The concerns of the citizens of West Natick would be valued, but the Fire Department knew what was needed.
When the municipal complex was done, Mr. Ciccariello noted that the Police Chief and a second member of the Police Department and the Fire Chief and a second member of the Fire Department were on the committee. Then the Police Department had a subcommittee of there own and the Fire Department had a subcommittee. It was important to get all the information needed. A lot of time was spent by the subcommittees and he assumed a consultant would be hired for a conceptual design. There was the chief and the firefighters and the deputies had been left out. He also preferred to have the Fire Chief, not his designee on the committee.
Ms. Gloff explained that with the Chief retiring, the thought was that he might prefer to have one of the deputies.
Mr. Ostroff thought one reason to consider having two firefighters was the meeting schedule and shifts worked to ensure at least one would be able to participate in all the meetings.
Firefighter Brett Corliss suggested that if the facility was going to be moved that consideration be given to training.
A motion was made by Mr. Ostroff, seconded by Ms. Van Amsterdam, to establish the committee as modified. Unanimously voted.
Ms. Gloff requested that appointment of the committee be advertised for the Board’s meeting of October 15.
Ms. Van Amsterdam indicated that she would be interested in serving as the Board of Selectmen’s representative.
TOWN MEETING WARRANT ARTICLES
Article 3 – Personnel Board Pay Plan
Ms. White noted that Article 3 was put forward by the Personnel Board to raise the part-time scale to incorporate the 1/1/08 and 7/1/08 new minimum wage levels. Town Counsel has recently advised that municipalities were not subject to the state minimum wage laws and there was some interest in the Town not considering having its minimum wages equal to the state’s.
Ms. White asked the Board to set aside discussion of this article until the next meeting. The Personnel Board was meeting this Thursday to discuss this new information.
Article 7 – Lease/Repair
Ms. White requested no action.
Article 10 – Authorization to Borrow I&I Implementation
Ms. White noted this was a little premature and requested no action.
Article 13 – Street acceptance
Ms. White noted that the warrant included Jennison Circle and Cottage Street. The Board approved Cottage Street, but Jennison Circle was not being put forward.
On a motion by Mr. Hughes, seconded by Ms. Van Amsterdam, the Board unanimously voted to support Article 13.
Article 16 – Health Insurance Rates
Ms. White explained that Article 16 sought ratification of the policy for non-Medicare eligible retirees.
A motion was made by Mr. Hughes, seconded by Mr. Ciccariello, to table to October 1. Unanimously voted.
Article 20 – Authorize Town Meeting to Fill Town Moderator Vacancy
Ms. White recommended that the Board make no recommendation because if approved it would directly affect the Board’s role of authority in this appointment process.
Mr. Hughes didn’t understand why the Board wouldn’t want to make a recommendation. Ms. White responded that Town Counsel and she discussed it and thought it would be a conflict of interest in the Board’s role in this position. Mr. Hughes countered that any time someone tried to limit the Board of Selectmen’s prerogative under any by-law, he felt the Board would want to take a position.
Mr. Ostroff thought the Board would be asked to comment on this at Town Meeting and having a clear point of view of the discussion ahead of time would be appropriate.
Mr. Hughes suggested that the proponent be invited to attend an upcoming meeting.
On a motion by Mr. Hughes, seconded by Ms. Van Amsterdam, the Board unanimously voted to table to 10/1/07 and ask the proponent to attend.
Article 24 – Increase Property Tax Exemption
As the Senior Center Director was unable to attend, Mr. Hughes moved to table to 10/1/07. Seconded by Ms. Van Amsterdam and unanimously voted.
TOWN CLERK’S OFFICE STAFF APPOINTMENT: WAIVER OF 15 DAY WAITING PERIOD
Ms. White informed the Board that a waiver was no longer necessary as the person planned to give two weeks notice to her present employer.
REAPPOINTMENT TO placeCityNATICK CULTURAL COUNCIL: AMY LAWLER
On a motion by Mr. Ciccariello, seconded by Ms. Van Amsterdam, the Board unanimously voted to reappoint Amy Lawler to the Natick Cultural Council.
ACCEPTANCE OF AUDIT: BROWN, LILJA, BENNETT-HEMENWAY
Ms. White explained that the acceptance of the audit for Lilja, Brown, and Bennett-Hemenway was required by several municipal officials – one of which was the Chair of the Board of Selectmen. In prior years a vote had been taken by the Board authorizing the Chair to sign.
Mr. Ciccariello inquired if the School Committee had given any feedback and Ms. White responded that she met with the Superintendent, reviewed the expenditures excluded and all seemed appropriate. She advised that the timeframe for appeal of any of the items had passed.
On a motion by Mr. Hughes, seconded by Ms. Van Amsterdam, the Board unanimously voted to accept the audit for Brown School.
On a motion by Mr. Hughes, seconded by Ms. Van Amsterdam, the Board unanimously voted to accept the audit for Lilja School.
On a motion by Ms. Van Amsterdam, seconded by Mr. Hughes, the Board unanimously voted to accept the audit for the Bennett-Hemenway school.
Now that all the audits were closed out, Mr. Ciccariello questioned who would pay for the unapproved funds. Ms. White responded that the reimbursement from the state would be reduced accordingly.
APPOINTMENT OF TOWN ADMINISTRATOR
On behalf of the Board of Selectmen and himself, Mr. Hughes thanked everyone involved in the process. He thought the Screening Committee fulfilled their charge by providing five well qualified candidates and made his decision a difficult one to make. He believed Natick would be well served by all the candidates.
Mr. Hughes also thanked the candidates, noting they had been through one of the most unnatural hiring processes. Most of the Board met individually with each candidate and each brought talents and skills and abilities to build consensus. Whomever the Board picked he would recommend that person watch the tapes of the interviews. He noted that he called several references and Personnel Director Elizabeth Dennis called others and they were all very favorable.
Mr. Hughes continued that this was the most important decision a Board of Selectmen ever makes. It was hiring an administrator for a day-to-day operation of a $100 million entity, but it was also an entity that provides service to all residents and the most needy and it was spending money that was not our own. He believed the Board had been through a diligent process doing its work and he believed the decision made would serve the Town well.
Ms. Van Amsterdam believed the citizens of Natick were in a unique and almost enviable position of having attracted the interest of a terrific pool of talented finalists. The Board’s vote this evening was a culmination of an open deliberative process on the part of the Town Administrator Screening Committee, Personnel Director, and her colleagues on the Board. Thanks was deserved to these persons as well as the five finalists; moreover the five finalists have demonstrated their intellectual and technical prowess and steadfast determination to serve the public and a palpable eagerness to use their talents for the betterment of the Town. It was her belief that this evening’s vote bodes well for the future of the Town of Natick.
Mr. Ostroff thanked Personnel Director Elizabeth Dennis; Steven Levinsky Chair of the Screening Committee; members of the Screening Committee and other department heads who participated. To him it was a privilege to sit here and help identify leadership for Natick.
Mr. Ciccariello thanked Ms. Dennis and the Screening Committee adding that they didn’t make his decision easier. He shared the comments made by Mr. Hughes and Ms. Van Amsterdam.
Ms. Gloff felt that everything had pretty much been said, but she would extend her thanks for the little things such as Mr. McKinley coming two nights to the interviews to help usher the candidates in and out. She noted that she was about being fair and she thought the Board tried very hard to be fair. There were five excellent candidates. If agreeable to the other members of the Board, Ms. Gloff proposed that once the Board voted and selected its first choice, any future decision to hire would be based upon the offer of employment and the ability to negotiate an employment contract, medical examination, and CORI background check.
By paper ballot, the Board voted to appoint Martha White as the Town Administrator. Ms. White received 3 votes; Steven Ledoux received 1 vote; Paul Fetherston received 1 vote.
Ms. Gloff voted for Ms. White
Mr. Hughes voted for Ms. White
Mr. Ostroff voted for Ms. White
Mr. Ciccariello voted for Mr. Fetherston
Ms. Van Amsterdam voted for Mr. Ledoux
Following the vote, Ms. Van Amsterdam moved to make the appointment of Ms. White unanimous. Seconded by Mr. Ostroff and unanimously voted.
On a motion by Mr. Ostroff, seconded by Ms. Van Amsterdam, the Board unanimously voted to appoint Ms. Gloff and Mr. Hughes as the subcommittee to negotiate the contract.
A recess was called at 9:55 p.m. The meeting resumed at 10:05 p.m.
With correction as noted, Mr. Ciccariello moved approval of the minutes of the April 23, 2007 meeting. Seconded by Mr. Hughes and unanimously voted.
REQUEST FOR BLOCK PARTY: LODGE ROAD
A motion was made by Mr. Hughes, seconded by Ms. Van Amsterdam, to approve the request of Bill Marston to close Lodge Road on both ends on September 23, 2007 from 1:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. for a block party. Unanimously voted.
REQUEST FOR BLOCK PARTY: FOX HILL DRIVE
A motion was made by Mr. Hughes, seconded by Ms. Van Amsterdam, to approve the request of Gloria Rodriguez to close Fox Hill Drive on September 23, 2007 from 1:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. for a block party. Unanimously voted.
ACCEPTANCE OF RESIGNATION: RECYCLING COMMITTEE
On a motion by Mr. Hughes, seconded by Mr. Ostroff, the Board unanimously voted to accept the resignation of Patricia Severance, with thanks, from the Recycling Committee.
TOWN ADMINISTRATOR NOTES
a. Lieutenant Governor
Ms. White informed the Board that Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray would be coming to the Library on September 19 to talk about MetroWest transportation issues.
b. Heart Safe Community
Ms. White advised that Lieutenant Michael Aries of the Natick Fire Department had filed for the town awards nomination to the EMS Council for the Heart Safe Community program.
c. MMA Innovation Awards
Ms. White told the Board that an application had been filed for the MMA Innovation Awards program for the environmental management system for the placeCitySpringfield Treatment Plant and the 14001 ISO designation.
a. Resignation of DPW Business Manager
Mr. Ciccariello stated that he had been unaware that John Craig, the DPW Business Manager, had resigned and wanted to thank him for his years of service to the Town and DPW.
b. Financial Planning Committee
Ms. Gloff announced that the September 29th meeting of the Financial Planning Committee had been cancelled. The Committee’s next meeting was scheduled for this Wednesday.
Mr. Ostroff requested a brief update be provided to the Board at the next meeting.
c. Office Hours
Mr. Ostroff advised that he would be at the Senior Center on September 27 and Mr. Hughes would have Town Hall office hours on October 2.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:15 p.m.
Joshua Ostroff, Clerk