By Thomas D’Agostino
Spring is here along with the usual sights and sounds. Flowers are blooming, trees are budding, roads need repair and Webster’s Annual Town Meeting is in the air. At the Webster Board of Selectmen Meeting on April 9, J.T. Gaucher and Kenneth Pizzetti presented a host of issues and warrants for the board to address.
One issue was the roadwork needed around the town. Of the eighty miles of road, nineteen miles need to be crack sealed and four miles are in bad condition. Town Administrator John McAuliffe told the board that crack sealing was paramount in order to keep them from breaking up as well. “You don’t do your worst roads first, because, essentially they’re that far gone…the crack filling program is of paramount importance.” citing accepted engineering tactics for road repair. Mr. McAuliffe also stated that Webster fared better than a lot of communities in regard to road conditions.
Selectman Deborah Keefe asked for a list of the roads that will receive attention. Mr. Gaucher and Mr. Pizzetti will travel the roads one more time to make final determinations and costs for repair.
In regard to the Bay Path School update, the state reimbursement has gone up 1 percent to 64 percent.
In regard to the dog hearings from previous meetings, Selectman Keefe suggested that someone visit the owner’s home to verify that all the proper recommendations have been met and the dog is safely confined to the property. The owner had from the last meeting date until April 9 to comply.
Webster entered into an Inter-Municipal Agreement with Oxford for usage of the water sewer treatment plant. It came to light that Oxford is working with Dudley to make that town a customer of Oxford.. Selectman Keefe said, “Mr. (Joseph) Zeneski (Oxford Town Manager) was explicit, ‘I want to be a customer.’ As a customer you don’t have the right to sell your wares to someone else when you bought it from us. He’s no longer a customer.”
“He is a broker.” Selectman Mark G. Dowgiewicz said while receiving a few chuckles from the attendees.
Selectman Keefe went on to say “I am more than happy to try to work…where we can work something out at that end of the town (Dudley) to accommodate those people. I mean, I think that it's a great thing but it has to go through Webster, not bypass Webster and go through Oxford, making (Dudley) customers Oxford customers…”
Keefe recommended getting together with Oxford and Dudley officials to clarify the issue.
Another issue on the agenda was an update on the sewer tie-ins. The town bylaw 546-1 Sewer Connections states “The Sewer Commission requires the owner or occupant of any building that requires sewerage discharge (hereinafter referred-to as "facility") and is situated upon land abutting a public or private way, in which there is common sewer service available, to connect the same by proper and sufficient drain. In the case of facilities abutting common sewers constructed prior to the effective date of this bylaw, the facility shall be connected to the common sewer within two years of the date that the common sewer first became available. In the case of common sewers installed after the effective date of this bylaw, the facility shall be connected to the common sewer within 18 months from the date that the common sewer first became available.”
There are presently thirty-five homes on the list that are not connected for various reasons. The board asked that the list be broken down and several homes at a time receive explicit attention as to whether they need to be connected or may be exempt from connection. Some have roads in Connecticut or are adjacent to the sewer lines but not along them. Some homes are 200 to 800 feet from the road with bedrock between making it impractical to connect.
In New Business, the issue of raising recreational fees was brought up. The issue is whether the fees should be raised for the new fiscal year or at the start of the next calendar year. Permits for several leagues have already been submitted with the present fees in place. The board was concerned with some leagues paying one fee and others having to pay a new fee during this season.
Chairman Dan Ricci made a request to wait until fall when the fields close as some seasons have already started. If the fees are changed for the fiscal year, then sports starting in July will have to pay a new fee. If the fees are to start with the calendar year, then sports will see a new fee next season. Permits are based on the calendar year. At present, the fees do not offset the cost of maintenance or line items needed in the upkeep of the fields. It was also made clear that the new fees would not have much more of an impact on the issue.
A Warrant has been opened for the Special Town Meeting on June 11. All petitions must be in by May 2, 3:00 p.m.
Town Administrator’s goals and accomplishments were also addressed. Mr. McAuliffe gave a list of accomplishments the town saw in the past fiscal year. One major accomplishment Mr. McAuliffe cited was that the town was removed from the Department of Revenue watch list for Fiscal Year 2011-2012. Town Free Cash for 2011 was $39,745. It now stands at $585,390. Sewer, water and the Stabilization Account have also seen a rise in their funds. “This is a big feather in everyone’s cap.” Mr. McAuliffe added.
Other accomplishments include a police substation on Main Street, continued improvement on restaurant inspection protocol, coordinated liquor license inspections with the Board of Health and Fire Department, no increase in water or sewer taxes, Phase II of the Wastewater Treatment Plant is underway, successfully implemented the water shutoff program to a total of $211,000, the process of merging the fire and rescue departments, a new town website and Facebook account (please check them out), major changes in health insurance, saving the town between $300,000 to $350,000, nuisance properties were razed, approval of a solar farm, and a new heating system for the town hall.
A ribbon cutting ceremony for the new animal shelter brought about by a generous donation from the Fels Foundation will take place on April 21. Mr. McAuliffe urges everyone to attend and adopt a pet.
The warrants for the annual and special town meetings were approved as well. Among the warrants is the approval of new town vehicles. Some of the vehicles are twelve years old and according to Mr. Gaucher, have outlived their life cycle. Chairman Ricci held fast in his request to have one vehicle replaced per year so as not to burden the taxpayers in still tough times. This was his stand last year as well.
“I would support one, but not two for this year.” Chairman Ricci said.
“I think they should have been replaced last year.” Selectman Dowgiewicz stated.
Chairman Ricci was concerned that the town may be purchasing more vehicles than there is workforce to use them.
- Wednesday, 11 April 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Selectmen