JUNE 15, 2020
PRESENT via Zoom: B. Scott Kuhnly, Glenn Ballard, Sally King, Mark Neumann, Edward Ohannessian, John D. Ward, Town Manager
On A Motion by Mark Neumann, seconded by Sally King, the board voted (5-0-0) to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of June 1, as presented.
Unfinished or Tabled Business
Long-Term Recovery Committee
At the June 1 meeting, multiple appointments were made to the Long-Term Recovery Committee. There were two open spots that were not filled at that time. It is recommended that Cynthia Adams, a nurse, be appointed as the representative of the medical profession. It is also recommended that Mary Ann Guarco, past President of the Granby Chamber of Commerce, be appointed as the economic development representative until Abby Kenyon, Community Development Director, returns from leave.
On A Motion by King, seconded by Neumann, the board voted (5-0-0) to appoint Cynthia Adams to the Long-Term Recovery Committee.
On A Motion by Neumann, seconded by King, the board voted (5-0-0) to appoint Mary Ann Guarco to the Long-Term Recovery Committee until the return of Abby Kenyon from her leave.
Consideration of Holcomb Farm Fund for Holcomb Farmhouse Improvement Funds.
Earlier this year, work was done on the interior of the Holcomb Farm Farmhouse. It was scraped and painted to remove all areas containing lead paint. The removal cost was $45,708.15. Town Manager Ward thanked the Friends of Holcomb Farm Inc. for generously offering to pay half ($22,854.08).
Connecticut Lead Paint Solutions was hired to create the abatement program, to oversee the project, and to submit all the paperwork to the State of Connecticut and the Farmington Valley Health District. The contract totaled $1,840 and again, the Friends of Holcomb Farm Inc. paid half ($920).
On a separate project, Barrett Builders was hired by the town’s property insurer, CIRMA (Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency), to replace half of the roof on the house that was damaged enough in the hail storm of May 2018 to warrant the job. The entire roof was in poor condition; however, only the side affected by the storm was approved by CIRMA to be replaced. Barrett Builders submitted an estimate of $9,875 to replace the remaining portion not covered by CIRMA. Holcomb Farm Inc. verbally agreed to pay $1,225.92 to the town upon completion of the roof. Town Manager Ward would like to schedule the remaining work with Barrett Builders.
None of these amounts were budgeted in the Fiscal Year 2019-2020 adopted budget. Ward is requesting an additional appropriation from Holcomb Farm Improvement Fund balance in the amount of $32,423.15 to fund these projects. He indicated there are sufficient funds in the Holcomb Farm Improvement Fund to cover this appropriation.
In the future, Ward would like to apply for STEAP (Small Town Economic Assistance Program) funds to do other work. The exterior of the farmhouse needs work but there is not funding at this time.
On A Motion by King, seconded by Neumann, the board voted (5-0-0) to authorize an appropriation of $32,423.15 from the Holcomb Farm Improvement Fund balance to fund the interior lead abatement and roof projects and forwards this request to the Board of Finance to approve.
On A Motion by Neumann, seconded by King, the board voted (5-0-0) to reorder the agenda, placing Business Items C, D, and E to be discussed during closed session following Selectmen Reports.
Executive Session: Pursuant to Conn. Gen. Statute 1-200(6)(D), the board moves to go into Executive Session to discuss the sale of real estate. Ward and Administration Finance Officer Kimi Cheng are invited to attend.
Executive Session: Pursuant to Conn. Gen. Statute 1-200(6)(D), the board moves to go into Executive Session to discuss strategy and negotiations with respect to pending claims. Ward and Cheng are invited to attend.
Executive Session: Pursuant to Conn. Gen. Statute 1-200(6)(D), the board moves to go into Executive Session to discuss collective bargaining. Ward and Cheng are invited to attend.
Town Manager Reports
Ward reported the COVID-19 testing site at Town Hall on June 8, was a success. There were 123 individuals tested. The town would also like to bring the testing to senior housing, or hold a second test site at Town Hall.
Phase 2 of the re-opening began on June 10 and continues to June 20. Gyms, movie theaters and museums may open. Youth sports, including Little League, may begin and social gatherings of up to 50 people may be allowed.
Phase 3 is targeted to begin July 20. Bars and indoor arcades may open and social gatherings of up to 100 people may be allowed.
Budget Operations Report
Tax collection is at 102 percent. The town has received the final payment for Education Cost Sharing. The final payment of tuition from other towns has not yet been received. Intergovernmental Revenue is at 99 percent. Overall, local departments have taken in more than what was budgeted for the year. Town Clerk fees are at 128 percent, Planning and Zoning application permit fees are at 273 percent, building permit fees are at 225 percent and short-term investments is at 323 percent. It was noted that interest rates have been very good and because of that, the pension fund is back to where it was before the COVID-19 crisis. Overall, the town is in good shape financially. Edward Ohannessian congratulated those responsible for expense management.
First Selectman Reports
Scott Kuhnly reported there was a good turnout of 150 people at the recent forum on racial injustice and inclusion. Many stories, comments and suggestions were shared by the community. It was unfortunate that they were hacked during the last three minutes of the forum. As a municipality, all meetings are open to the public and that leaves them vulnerable to these kinds of incidents. It is hoped that the next meeting can be held in public, with social distancing. A date has not been set.
King thanked Kuhnly for hosting the meeting. A lot of good can come from these meetings.
On A Motion by King, seconded by Neumann, the board voted (5-0-0) to recess the meeting to closed session.
Kuhnly called the executive session to order at 7:19 p.m.
The purpose of the session was to discuss the sale of real estate, discuss strategy and negotiations with respect to pending claims, and to discuss collective bargaining. The executive session adjourned at 8:14 p.m.
The regular meeting was reconvened at 8:15 p.m. There being no further business to come before the board, the meeting was adjourned at 8:16 p.m.
JULY 6, 2020
PRESENT via Zoom: B. Scott Kuhnly (First Selectman), Glenn Ballard, Sally King, Mark Neumann, Edward Ohannessian, John D. Ward, Town Manager
Anna Sogliuzzo, 15 Old Orchard Road, expressed her disappointment that the Agbotic offer wasn’t scheduled as an agenda item for tonight’s meeting, as it has been five weeks since its presentation. She would like the board to schedule a Public Hearing as soon as possible. Scott Kuhnly noted that tonight’s meeting had originally been cancelled but needed to be rescheduled to address another issue. Per procedure, the board will discuss Agbotic at an upcoming meeting and determine how to proceed on this unsolicited matter.
Consideration of the awarding of the project to replace the low-slope roof at Granby Memorial Middle School to United Roofing and Sheet Metal, Inc.
John Ward thanked the Selectmen for rescheduling the meeting to address this issue in a timely manner. The bid results were opened on June 30. The goal of the building committee is to have the project completed by the end of the summer. The project is estimated to take seven weeks and should start as soon as possible to be completed before school starts.
The School Projects Building Committee drafted a request for proposal to solicit bid proposals for interested companies to replace the low-slope roof at Granby Memorial Middle School. They received seven proposals and after extensive review, selected United Roofing and Sheet Metal, Inc., the lowest qualified bidder at $350,000. The company recently completed the replacement of the large, red metal roof, which was covered by an insurance claim after a hailstorm. United Roofing and Sheet Metal is familiar with the building and works well with district personnel. The project will be funded with bond money and is eligible for a grant from the School Grants Program with the State of Connecticut.
On A Motion by Sally King, seconded by Mark Neumann, the board voted (5-0-0) to authorize Ward to award the project and execute the contract to replace the low-slope roof at Granby Memorial Middle School to United Roofing and Sheet Metal, Inc.
Kuhnly questioned the timing of the process and why this is being done last minute. Ward responded there were several steps to the process. A 240-page bid package was developed for an architect to oversee the project and the town attorney drafted the contract, which took longer than anticipated. This is the fourth project the school committee has to put out to bid.
Neumann asked if this dollar amount was within the budget estimates. He expressed concern if the project would cost more than projected it might have a negative impact on other projects. Ward did not have the budget estimate before him and would check.
Edward Ohannessian asked if the board approved the other projects from the School Building Committee. It was noted that two projects were small ($25,000) and did not require board approval. A fourth project is likely to appear before the board at an upcoming meeting.
On A Motion by Neumann, seconded by Kuhnly, the board voted (5-0-0) to adjourn the meeting.
The next regular meeting is scheduled for July 20.
JULY 20, 2020
PRESENT via Zoom: B. Scott Kuhnly, Glenn Ballard, Sally King, Mark Neumann, Edward Ohannessian, John D. Ward, Town Manager
Anna Sogliuzzo, 15 Old Orchard Road, asked the board if the Agbotic offer is going to be made public. Scott Kuhnly indicated Mr. Preete provided information in his presentation that included his offer. Sogliuzzo feels the offer contains more detail than what is in the packet. John Ward noted the price options are in the memorandum, which is the key component to the discussion tonight. Sogliuzzo responded the details would have to be worked out and it would be beneficial to Granby.
William Glueck, 18 Barkhamsted Road, noted he is pleased to see this issue on the agenda tonight. He is aware that it is a complex proposal with many details to work out. He hopes it will become public and go through the same process that has been done in the past, i.e. informational meetings, etc. He hopes the board will not be voting on this tonight because he feels the public has not been informed.
On A Motion by Mark Neumann seconded by Sally King, the board voted (5-0-0) to approve the minutes of the Public Hearing of June 1.
On A Motion by Neumann, seconded by Kuhnly, the board voted (5-0-0) to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of June 15.
On A Motion by Neumann, seconded by Edward Ohannessian, the board voted (5-0-0) to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of July 6.
Resignations and Appointments to be Considered
No resignations or appointments were received. Vacancies: Conservation Commission (1)
Consideration of Interest in Town-Owned Land at 107 East Street
Ward gave a brief recap of what has been presented over the past several weeks regarding the firm Agbotic, Inc. and its unsolicited offer to the town of Granby for $675,000 for the purchase of 107 East Street. (Evonsion farm)
The land was purchased by the town in 2012 for $2,470,000 and the most recent appraisal done in 2018 estimated the land had a fair market value of $1,500,000 in its entirety. If the town were to sell the development rights and accept the conservation easement, the value would decrease to $675,000. Currently, there is a license for use of the land held by Northern Valley Farms, Inc. for a fee of $13,130 per year through the year 2023. The agreement contains an option for the town to terminate the license at the end of the calendar year.
Ward indicated that although there are no real details on the proposed Agbotic buildings, the Town Assessor has estimated a rough assessment of property taxes to be $100,000 per year.
The town took out a 20-year bond for the $2.7M. There are now twelve years remaining on the bond. Because bond funds were used, any proceeds from the sale of the land would have to be used to pay off either debt or one of the capital projects approved at referendum.
If the board would like to pursue this further, there are several procedural steps that are required. There would need to be an affirmative vote by the Board of Selectmen, followed by the Board of Finance, and then an affirmative vote at a Town Meeting.
King inquired about the remaining balance of the bond. Ward noted it was part of a bond package that also included several projects at the high school. Ward did not have the numbers available but there is over half of $2.47M left to be paid off, including interest, which would be approximately $1.3M. The annual debt payment is in the budget, but that incorporates all the bonds that have been taken out over the past 20 years.
Neumann inquired if the state would be willing to pay development rights. Ward reported it is unknown and would most likely have to be part of the sale.
King suggested consulting with someone who is familiar with this type of company. If we’re going to pursue this proposal, we should get feedback on what the chances of success are, what similar companies are doing, etc.
Ohannessian reminded others that the town was keeping the land open for future town needs. The land is not for sale and was not advertised. If we want to sell it, an RFP should be done to see if there are other options. It was suggested Agbotic could look at other property, possibly Holcomb Farm. Neumann indicated the lack of development rights reduces the land offer dramatically. He doesn’t see the value in discussing the current offer. Glenn Ballard suggested dividing the land, selling Agbotic the 40 acres they want and negotiating a deal. The town should provide a counter offer.
A Motion by Ballard for the board to authorize Ward to negotiate a deal with Agbotic Inc. for the sale of 40 acres at 107 East Street at a percentage of the appraised value, was not seconded. The motion does not move forward.
Ward reminded the board that Agbotic Inc. gave a presentation. Although they sent a six-page draft and sales agreement, there was not a formal submission. There was no mention of 40 acres or tax abatement, and no agreements were signed. If we are to move forward, more details are needed. Ward indicated he would email Preete requesting a more detailed proposal with specifications, including how this will decrease our bond payments.
On A Motion by King, seconded by Kuhnly, the board voted (5-0-0) to authorize Ward to obtain more information from Preete of Agbotic Inc.
On A Motion by Ballard, seconded by Kuhnly, the board voted (5-0-0) to amend the previous motion to include a timeframe to reach-out to Agbotic Inc. within the next 10 days.
Consideration of the Awarding of the Contract for Architectural Services for the Granby Memorial High School to DRA
The School Projects Building Committee drafted an RFP to solicit bid proposals for architectural services for five projects at the Granby Memorial High School. The projects consist of making improvements to the following areas: College and career ready rooms; Performing arts storage space; Instrument assembly room;
Library media room; and high school kitchen facilities.
Four firms submitted proposals. Of the firms that were interviewed, Drummey Rosane Anderson, Inc. (DRA) of South Windsor was selected by the Building Committee. They were the lowest bidder and highest in regards to qualifications. The work will be paid for with bond money and is eligible for a grant from the School Grants Program. The contract was prepared by the Town Attorney.
On A Motion by King, seconded by Neumann, the board voted (5-0-0) to authorize Ward to award and execute the architectural contract for five high school projects to the firm of Drummey Rosane Anderson, Inc.
Town Manager Reports
Ward reviewed the June budget indicating collection rate is at 102 percent, as well as State Education totals that also have a final payment due for Special Education/Excess. State Municipal totals are at 126 percent. Town Clerk fees are $180,823 over the budgeted amount. Building permits are $191,933 over the budgeted amount and short-term investments are $188,367 over the budgeted amount. The General Fund is in a good position. There is $1.8 million unspent. The Board of Education is returning $706,000 to the town. In 2020, the town and BOE took in more revenue and spent less. There are still some June expenses to be paid but the town is in a very good position right now.
Ohannessian questioned how the short-term investments did so well. Ward responded the market has been better than it has been historically.
Ward announced a target date of Aug. 10 to reopen town hall. Plexiglas barriers have been installed in offices. Signage is installed and everyone will be required to wear a mask. The library has been doing curbside pick-up and is looking to possibly open three to four days a week. Recreation and Leisure Services has been up and running for some time now but playgrounds are still closed as the state has not provided any guidance as of yet.
The Board of Education is working to reopen schools this fall. In regard to the Senior Center, it serves the most at-risk group. The reopening will evolve over time and most likely in stages. There hasn’t been reopening guidelines from the state as of yet.
Indoor congregation is high risk, as are those individuals 65 years of age and older. The senior van is still in service.
Ward continues to encourage patrons to use the telephone, the internet, and email to conduct business.
Neumann inquired about the primary and its location. It was noted the primary will be held at the high school.
Ohannessian inquired about reimbursement for personal protection equipment (PPE). Ward responded reimbursements are first submitted to FEMA and any remaining balance is then submitted to the state.
It was noted the Governor’s Executive Orders are in effect until Sept. 9. Meetings can be held in person, as long as social distancing is practiced, but Zoom is still required for meetings to allow anyone to attend.
Ballard asked for an update on Kearns School. Ward reported that he delayed the Request for Proposal (RFP) because the Board of Education mentioned they may be interested in the building. They have since decided they are no longer interested and the RFP will now be issued.
Ward announced that Director of Community Development Abby Kenyon will return from leave on July 23. She has been kept abreast of things and will be up to speed when she returns. A big thank you goes out to Dominic Caruso for filling in during Kenyon’s leave of absence. Also, the retirement of Kerry Kielbasa was announced. She is a true professional and will be greatly missed.
Updated information for the bond projects and MIRA is in the Selectmen packets. Governor Lamont has announced he will not use taxpayer funds to help finance and overhaul MIRA. The plan at this time is to ship the waste out of state. The legislative special session is scheduled for July 21 or 23. Police accountability and transparency are issues expected to be discussed. Amy McCue, Director of Library Services, has been awarded a $64,000 public utility grant to link the Cossitt Library CT Education Network with internet access. Matching funds are not required by the town.
Ballard inquired if the town is still obligated to send trash to MIRA. Ward responded the contract expires in 2027 but there is an opt-out option every year. We are locked in until February. The Selectmen discussed what the options might be in the future.
Capital Project Activity Update
Addressed during Town Manager reports.
First Selectman Reports
Kuhnly reported the second August meeting of the Board of Selectmen may be held at the Senior Center with masks and social distancing. Zoom will continue as well. We will let folks know.
Kuhnly announced the Town of Granby will have an official Facebook page. This will be for posting information only, not for discussion. This has been in the works for quite some time. Ward and Kuhnly worked with the Town Attorney and administrators to make this happen. The town website will continue as the primary portal for information.
Neumann reported that from his own personal experience, the bear barrels work.
Ballard spoke of the letter the Selectmen received from Michael Guarco indicating this has been a rough year for everyone. He indicated he didn’t see this letter posted anywhere and doesn’t know why. The town did not increase taxes to residents this year and any shortfall was made up from the General Fund. The public needs to know that we are dipping into the pot and that we can’t just keep kicking the can down the road. Let folks know the financial reality. Ballard also stated this is the perfect time to review each department to help with next year budgeting. Kuhnly responded the letter was not just for the Selectmen, it was also printed in The Granby Drummer for residents to read.
On A Motion by Ohannessian, seconded by Kuhnly the board voted (5-0-0) to adjourn the meeting.
John D. Ward Town Manager