The regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen was called to order by First Selectman B. Scott Kuhnly at 7 p.m.
PRESENT: B. Scott Kuhnly, Glenn Ballard, Sally King, Mark Neumann, Edward Ohannessian, Town Manager John D. Ward, and student liaison Jillian Thrall
Pledge Of Allegiance
Introduction Of Superintendent Of Schools
First Selectman Kuhnly introduced Jordan Grossman, the new Superintendent of Schools as of Jan. 1. Grossman has a career that spans over 25 years. He was educated in Connecticut schools and received his doctorate degree in educational administration from the University of Connecticut. His most recent appointments before coming to Granby were assistant principal at Canton High School, principal at Canton Intermediate School, and assistant superintendent of Canton Schools.
Grossman thanked the Town Manager and the Board of Selectmen for their invitation to attend the meeting and shared his appreciation of the warm welcome he has received from the community. He stated it is important to continue the wonderful relationship the school district and the Board of Education has with the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance.
Gerry Ledger, Bushy Hill Road, brought attention to a volunteer program in town called TAP (Transportation Alternative Program). The program offers free rides to medical appointments for residents. Anyone interested in being a driver or needing a ride can contact TAP at 860-374-3957. Ledger would also like the town to reconsider the voting hours for referendums. Currently the hours are from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. He would like to see them changed to 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., the same as most of the surrounding towns.
Bill Scheel, Silkey Road, suggested Kearns School would be an ideal place for a solar-based facility. The roof could support it and the road faces south. In addition, he believes the building is ideally suited for high-speed fiber data transmission, which is connectivity between all of the regional high schools in the area, although he is unaware of how one hooks up to it.
On a motion by Selectman King, seconded by Selectman Neumann, the board voted unanimously (5-0-0) to approve the minutes of the public hearing of Dec. 16, 2019.
On a motion by Selectman Neumann, seconded by Selectman King, the Board voted unanimously (5-0-0) to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of Dec. 16, 2019.
Police Chief Carl Rosensweig addressed the board announcing it is his 40th year in police work. He stated his current staff is the best he has ever worked with. The department is responsible for the preservation of the public peace, the prevention of crime and the apprehension of criminal violators. The department serves to regulate traffic, investigate motor vehicle collisions and to enforce the laws of the State of Connecticut and the municipal ordinances of the Town of Granby. The Granby Police Department is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. The department acts as the first responder to requests for emergency medical assistance within the Town of Granby. All officers are certified by the State of Connecticut as Emergency Medical Responders and many have advanced certification as EMTs. Each officer is trained in the use of intranasal naloxone for the treatment of opioid overdoses. The Granby Police Department operates a multi-town Public Safety Answering Point providing professional police, fire, and emergency medical service dispatch services for the Towns of Granby (police, fire and EMS), East Granby (fire and EMS) and Hartland (EMS). The department is staffed by 16 sworn officers; a chief, a captain, four sergeants, nine patrol officers, and one detective. In addition, there are eight civilian dispatchers (four part-time and four-full time.) and two support staff (a records clerk and an administrative assistant). The Granby Police Department also participates with the Towns of Avon, Bloomfield, Canton, Farmington Simsbury, Suffield, Windsor and Windsor Locks in the North Central Municipal Emergency Services Team and the North Central Municipal Accident Reconstruction Squad. Chief Rosensweig is looking to increase his staff. He would like to see two officers, one sergeant, and one supervisor on duty at all times.
Administration Finance Officer Kimi Cheng reviewed some details regarding the Finance Office. They are responsible for the audits, including the town comprehensive audit, the annual federal and state single audits and insurance audits. The audit was completed in December and preparation of the budget began in November. The department is responsible for the development and management of the Plus-One budget, the Town Manager’s budget, General Fund Operations, the Capital Improvement program, as well as other funds. Other responsibilities include department reports, banking and investments, cash flow control, bonding and debt management, pension management and defined contribution plan and 457 Plan, as well as the bi-weekly payroll for 110 employees. The Finance Department is also responsible for benefit administration that includes health and dental, life insurance and disability, as well as insurance/risk management, town and school liability, workers compensation, professional liability and special coverage. Capital assets control, contract negotiations, purchasing, and accounts payable and receivable are also part of Finance. Cheng noted she establishes and monitors financial policies and procedures and will began reviewing and updating them at the end of the budget season. In addition are the daily activities of the office, such as responding to phone calls, fax transmittals, walk-ins regarding personnel, public relations, public records requests and technical support on matters of finance and reporting.
Town Manager John Ward reviewed administration, which includes the town manager position and his assistant. The town managers office is a support service for the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance. Administration oversees town departments and the hiring of department heads, as well as labor issues. They also provide support to building committees and maintain and support the town website. There is currently an open position in the Finance Department that is being temporarily handled by the three remaining staff members.
Further consideration of Solar Farm at Wells Road School
After being drastically reduced in size from the original project that was voted on at the town referendum, the Solar Farm project is being brought back to the Board of Selectmen for their consideration. A public hearing took place on Dec. 16, 2019 to receive comments from town residents. Most of the residents who spoke were not in favor of continuing with the project as it had been reduced in size and that is not what they voted on. In addition, the Board of Education also advised the project should not continue. Selectman Neumann and Selectman King noted they appreciate the Solar Committee’s feedback. Selectman Ohannessian indicated he was not comfortable with this when he voted the first time. We do need to continue to consider and explore other solar opportunities. We should not go forward with this project as it is now. Also, we should not tap the bond for the $80,000. It should come out of the operating budget. Selectman Ballard inquired about the $80,000 that is already spent and wondered if it would be usable towards another project. Town Manager Ward indicated if the project is discontinued we need to terminate the bonding. First Selectman Kuhnly reminded everyone the question at hand is should the project go forward. He also stated the Intra-Board Advisory Committee needs to come back and have more discussions. There may be other land available for a project like this.
On a motion by Selectman King, seconded by Selectman Neumann, the board voted unanimously (5-0-0) to stop the solar project at Wells Road School and revoke the bonding.
Selectman Ballard suggested the Board of Selectmen, Board of Education and Board of Finance get together to brainstorm some ideas. Selectman Kuhnly stated that is what the Intra-Board Advisory Committee (IBAC) will do.
Consideration of how Kearns could help address municipal spacing needs
As requested at the previous Board meeting, Town Manager Ward put together some figures gathered from Department heads that show their space needs. As requested, he also put together a Request for Proposal (RFP) for real estate broker services if that is what the board chooses to do. Those departments requesting more space are Parks and Recreation, Senior Services, Library and Emergency Management. An estimation of additional costs to reopen Kearns for municipal offices, capital and operational, was presented. The estimate is $945,000. Town Manager Ward stated it would not be beneficial to have departments split into two different locations, particularly the library and the senior center. It would be confusing for residents to know which location they would need to go to. Additional staffing would be needed as well, i.e. Senior Center and Department of Public Works. If the building was upgraded for school use, the requirements would be extensive and expensive. Selectman Ballard suggested moving the whole Town Hall Complex to Kearns and retro-fit the current campus. Town Manager Ward indicated the Selectmen need to decide which way they want to go with Kearns School. There was discussion amongst the Selectmen and the Town Manager.
On a motion by Selectman King, seconded by Selectman Neumann, the board voted unanimously (5-0-0) for Town Manager Ward to issue the RFP for Real Estate Broker Services for the Kearns School property.
Consideration of Approval of GMEA
The town has reached a tentative agreement with the Granby Municipal Employee Association (GMEA), Local 339 of the American Federation of State, County, and Local Municipal Employees Association (AFSCME).
Summary of tentative changes to the existing agreement are:
• Wages for 2019-20 are at +2.25 percent
• This was only a wage re-opener. Other terms of the contract remain the same. The whole contract is open for renegotiation on July 1.
On a motion by Selectman King, seconded by Selectman Neumann, the board voted unanimously (5-0-0) to adopt the changes to the existing agreement of the Granby Municipal Employee Association (GMEA), Local 339 of the American Federation of State, County, and Local Municipal Employees Association (AFSCME) upon the terms of the Tentative Agreement.
Resignations and Appointments
On a motion by First Selectman Kuhnly, seconded by Selectman King, the board voted unanimously (5-0-0) to approve the following reappointments:
Town Treasurer: John E. Adams (R), for a two-year term through Jan. 10, 2022. Town Attorney: Richard P. Roberts for a two-year term through Jan. 10, 2022. Vacancies: Conservation Commission (1) and Capital Project Priority Advisory Committee (1)
Consideration of Plus-One budget 2020-2021
Following past suggestions from the Selectmen to develop a budget that will sustain town operations, Town Manager Ward developed a Plus-One budget that shows requirements to do just that. Namely, budget expectations for salary and wages for employees, including step increases, preliminary cost estimates for employee benefits, and items of a contractual nature or deemed important to adequately maintain operations.
Minimal requirements for existing town operational needs in 2020-21 are: $546,900 or 5.22 percent. This amount includes two add-back items: IT Operations and General and Equipment Maintenance Maintainer II.
Open Items of concern: Town Aid Funding ($256,644) and LoCIP ($80,258) have not yet been authorized by the Legislature or Bond Commission for FY 21.
• Finance staffing: overworked department due to state mandates and rules/regulations/volume
• Human Resources Services: loss of human resource full-time person
• Police Department: additional officers needed for proper staffing levels
• Staffing for all departments: need to plan for future needs in general
• Kearns School: need to monitor for future use
• IT: need to review estimated cost of developing an IT Department for ongoing and future needs
Town Manager Ward reminded everyone this is just a starting point. The next step is the Three Board Meeting and then the budget workshops.
On a motion by Selectman King, seconded by Selectman Neumann, the board voted unanimously (5-0-0) to move the Plus One budget forward.
Consideration of Call for Three Board Meeting
On a motion by Selectman King, seconded by Selectman Neumann, the board voted unanimously (5-0-0) to hold a Three Board Meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 7 p.m., at the Senior Center Community Room.
Town Manager Reports
Town Manager Ward announced the appointment of a new building inspector, Jim Keppler, who will begin Jan. 13, to replace retiring building inspector Bill Volovski.
Kimi Cheng, Administration Finance Officer, along with Ward, attended a CCM seminar on budgets this past weekend.
According to a CAFR Financial Report, we are making progress in increasing our General Fund balance as recommended.
First Selectman Reports
First Selectman Kuhnly reviewed the annual report-calendar for 2020 and all the important information it includes such as meeting times, town appointed officials, elected officials, appointed boards, town services, phone numbers and much more. These are available to pick up in the Town Hall.
Selectman Ballard indicated he would not be available for the next meeting. First Selectman Kuhnly suggested the option of being connected remotely by phone.
Student Liaison Jillian reported there is not a lot going on right now as they just came back from their winter break. The Empty Bowls fund raising event will be coming up in April. It is their biggest fundraiser of the year, helping to support the food bank for those in need.
On a motion by Selectman Neumann, seconded by Selectman King, the board voted unanimously (5-0-0) to adjourn the meeting at 8:45 p.m.