RECAP: Board of Selectmen - 9/27/22

RECAP: Board of Selectmen - 9/27/22
Finance Director Jennifer Barrett presents the "Federal Grants Policy," which would provide some structure around grants and monies brought in by the town. Photo courtest Millbury Public Access. 

NOTE: Founding Editor Chris Naff is a member of the Board of Selectmen. Naff has no editorial input on Board of Selectmen news or information in regard to the Bramanville Tribune.

The Board of Selectmen met at Town Hall at 6:00pm. Mary Krumsiek, Katie McKenna, and Scott Despres attended in person, Chris Naff and David Delaney by Zoom.

Town Manager Sean Hendricks raised the idea of a "Federal Grants Policy," which would "strengthen our internal controls when dealing with these federal funds and, by extension... non-federal funds as well." He views this policy as the "first step down that road" of updating policies throughout town departments.

Finance Director Jennifer Barrett spoke further on the topic. She based the proposed policy on other grant policies from nearby communities. She ran down the contents, which includes "ways of managing cash" that can be applied to all monies. She noted that this was initially to satisfy an audit requirement, but realized that it could turn into something more broad or narrow depending on need.

"It's fairly specific," she continued, "but it really does cover a lot of bases as well."

Hendricks noted that he would prefer to see a specific federal audit policy alongside a broader cash policy due to the way federal grants and monies are often tracked. Barrett noted that the policy will still have robust checks regardless of the financial source.

"We wouldn't change our procedures for a lesser grant just because it was a lesser grant."

Hendricks noted that a policy provides an "additional level of internal control" that acts as more of a rule than a simple guideline, which will help the town in possible audit scenarios.

Other subjects covered by this policy include subcontracting and sub-recipient awards, travel costs, period of performance guarantees, and thresholds for purchasing.

Scott Despres asked if this policy superceded any existing policy; Barrett responded that they were unaware of any existing policies in place.

During "Citizen's Speak," Planning Board member Terry Burke Dotson raised a couple concerns. First, the issue of the new housing moratorium some residents attempted to bring up at the spring meeting. She asked about the 10 signatures for a regular town meeting versus 100 signatures for a special town meeting. Hendricks confirmed that the signature information was presented correctly.

Dotson then said that the Planning Board was "not involved" in either phase of the downtown revitalization, revisiting many of her points from the meeting on Monday. She said that she, with others, plans to go to Boston to appeal for a pause and amendment, and that the Planning Board was allegedly never saw. Selectman Chris Naff noted that he was at meetings where this was discussed. (Minutes from 2019 demonstrate that the projects did, in fact, go in front of the Planning Board in various forms, some of which Dotson was present. Examples: October 28, 2019 (public hearing), November 25, 2019)

Other topics of note:

  • A public hearing was held regarding National Grid/Verizon's request to move South Main Street pole 28. The pole is at the intersection of Rice Road and South Main, and Naff asked whether this was independent of the proposed Rice Road housing project; Hendricks confirmed that this was an ask of the Highway Department and has no relationship to that project. David Delaney asked whether this will impact the turning radius for emergency vehicles; Hendricks believes the concern is addressed and DPW Director Keith Caruso approved the plans. Despres moved to approve the project, Katie McKenna seconded; passed unanimously.
  • Town offices will be closed for Columbus Day.
  • A second vehicle hit one of the jersey barriers in front of the construction for the Fire Headquarters; Hendricks has requested some additional reflective material for the barriers.
  • Hendricks gave an update on the opioid settlement funds. The Johnson and Johnson settlement will come in a bulk check for the first five years; the other check is coming. There are rules surrounding its use.
  • Free cash numbers for this fiscal year will hopefully be certified by 10/11/22.
  • Joshua Ryan was hired as Program Director for the Senior Center. The Assistant Town Planner and Director of Engineering and Facilities positions have been posted, but there have not yet been enough qualified applicants.
  • Hendricks updated the Board of Selectmen on the Wonderland Cannabis application (1, 2), and gave an update on the GreenCare Collective development.
  • Hendricks plans to reallocate some of the ARPA funds from the existing planned bridges due to the permitting process and the need to expend funds. He noted that, with the renewal of the Massachusetts small bridges fund and some federal infrastructure money, the investment will not go away. "We only have three bridges right now that are in need of work," so this change will allow the town to put it out to bid.
  • The "No Right Turn" signs that have been perpetually broken in the center of town are being addressed by the contractor.
  • Preconstruction work has begun on the McCracken Road project. The delays are primarily due to MassDOT.
  • Hendricks complimented the work by the Deputy Town Manager Karen Clark and Stephanie Collins of the Planning Department on their employee engagement tasks. He is looking at some additional morale boosters, including a recognition luncheon in December.
  • Despres asked about the street sweeper status. This topic evolved into discussion about the development of local business network of sorts.
  • Selectman Mary Krumsiek provided a reminder to take public comment into consideration for new projects.
  • Hendricks noted that a yield sign will be installed where Howe Ave meets Millbury Ave. The yield sign will be placed on the Howe Ave exit.
  • During "Citizens Speak," Fran DeSimone asked for some information on how community impact fees work with the host community agreements, and Hendricks gave a detailed explanation.
  • Bob Simmler, during "Citizens Speak," also raised his concerns about the municipal lot that he spoke about at the Planning Board.

The meeting adjourned at approximately 8:33pm, and can be viewed at Millbury Cable Access.