TOWN OF OLD LYME
BOARD OF SELECTMEN
The Board of Selectman held a Regular Meeting at 7:30 pm November 6, 2017 in the Meeting Hall of the Old Lyme Memorial Town Hall. First Selectman Bonnie Reemsnyder, Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal and Selectman Skip Sibley were present.
October 16, 2017 Regular Meeting Minutes
A motion was made by Selectwoman Nosal, seconded by Selectman Sibley, to approve the minutes of the October 16, 2017 regular meeting. Motion passed.
- Communication: None
- Appointments: Gregory Futoma (D), Open Space Comm., Alt., 3-year term exp. Jan 2020
A motion was made by Selectman Sibley, seconded by Selectwoman Nosal, to appoint Gregory Futoma (D) to the Open Space Comm., as an Alt., for a 3-year term exp. Jan 2020. Motion passed.
A motion was made by Selectwoman Nosal, seconded by Selectman Sibley, to move item 5. B. Volunteers Incentive Pension Plan up on the agenda. Motion passed.
- B. Volunteers Incentive Pension Plan
First Selectman Reemsnyder noted that she asked this to be moved up on the Agenda because there were members from the volunteer EMS and Fire Department who would like to be a part of the discussion. She began by stating the Volunteers Incentive Pension Plan has been the focus of a lot of their attention since last December. She gave an overview of how the program began; the BOS voted to establish a volunteer incentive plan and in 2004 they Kissel, Knealeand Tobin were retained to write a new plan after there were issues with the original MONY plan. In 2016, Morgan Stanley, who manages the pension funds required that all municipal plans must go through their government office because the IRS was coming out with new rules all the time and they wanted to make sure the funds met all of the requirements. At
that time, it became known that the plan developed by Kissel, Kneale and Tobin was an employee plan, not a volunteer plan. The Town was under the impression that this was ok because employee was defined within the plan as a volunteer. However, the IRS rules state this cannot be done, and the Town could be fined or found negligent if they continue this plan. Plans are very different for employees and volunteers. For the volunteers some of the more troubling issues are; no hardship distributions, tax liability comes due at time of distribution and there is no ability to schedule monthly disbursements. The Town has confirmed this by hiring an attorney who specializes in ERISA plans, which are plans for employees and volunteers. Because of the issues with the current plan, the EMS/Fire Department volunteers have consulted with their own attorney, making specific requests going forward, some of which the town can agree to and some they cannot. The EMS/Fire Dept. have requested to
terminate and liquidate the plan and have requested disbursement of payments by Dec. 31st. In future years they would either get a tax abatement and a payment or just a stipend from the town, equal to what the town gives now. The only change would be it is not going into a pension account it would be a direct distribution.
First Selectman Reemsnyder has also been discussing this back and forth with the Town Attorney and he recommends the BOS would need to have a vote to terminate the plan as it was originally voted on by the BOS. She also clarified that the EMS and Fire Dept. are in agreement and would like the plan terminated. The attorney who specializes in the plans indicated the BOS would need to pass a resolution to terminate the plan and the EMS/Fire Dept. would need to do the same. To accomplish this, the record keeper would need to complete paperwork for each individual volunteer to complete and sign, so disbursements could be made.
First Selectman Reemsnyder stated she respects the wishes of the EMS/Fire Dept. volunteers and wants to make sure they know this in no way reflects how the Town feels about their volunteers. She also added she does not have a resolution prepared to vote on tonight, but hopes to have it for the next meeting. The BOS continued to discuss some of the questions they had, including “what got this started” – it was her understanding it was like this from the beginning; “did we look at other towns” – no because they had consulted with attorney’s and the record keeper they use consults with other towns and programs; “would each volunteer receive one lump sum distribution and be responsible for taxes” – yes this is what she has been told by the representatives and she has offered to attend meetings with the
volunteers as well to answer questions. Selectman Sibley also requested First Selectman Reemsnyder put together an executive summary prior to the next meeting so he can better understand how this came about. He would also like to caution the town about getting back into the tax abatement business as they have worked hard to get out of it. First Selectman Reemsnyder replied that many of the volunteers went into the program based on the plan that existed at the time and she feels considering this dramatic change it would be unfair not to allow them to go back to the tax abatement if that is what they wish (this would be a onetime opportunity).
Selectwoman Nosal added that she agrees with the suggestion of leaving the decision up to the volunteers as to what kind of benefit they desire. She would also like to see a copy of the executive summary and feels it would be helpful.
First Selectman Reemsnyder let the selectmen know she would write up the summary and send it to each of them, and will also have the resolution to them prior to the next meeting so they will be able to vote on it. She also requested the Selectmen email her their specific questions, so she can get the answers for them.
The BOS agreed to take public comment on this topic now, so the volunteers would not have to wait until the end of the meeting.
5. Public Comment:
Barbra Rozanski of 84 Flat Rock Road – Began by saying they are still working on having a few questions answered including; will taxes be withheld from the disbursements; how will the $1800/$800 annual payment be handled - as a 1099 (misc. income) or what are the tax implications with that; she also added that the new plan was too restrictive and would not work for them. She also stated that should the laws change down the road they may want to revisit a new plan then.
First Selectman Reemsnyder added that the Finance Director has been at meetings and on conference calls with her and is in agreement they needed to find the best plan for the volunteers and is aware of what has been going on.
Arthur “Skip” Beebee of 98 Boston Post Road – He began by thanking everyone for working so hard to work things out. He added that a 1099 is not a free gift anymore and it is disappointing to him and the other members to be going through this. It is his hope that they can meet with all of the members of the state to discuss this further. He feels the whole thing is a disaster and it saddens him deeply. He feels this was an opportunity for the young volunteers to put this money away. He hopes they will find something to replace this as soon as it becomes available.
First Selectman Reemsnyder added that one thing individuals can do is put money into their own accounts without tax implications each year. She suggested having someone give suggestions to the EMS/Fire Dept. about how to do this each year and what types of accounts are available to them.
Barbra Rozanski added that they have several consultants available for the EMS/Fire Dept. volunteers to schedule appointments with to discuss options.
4. Old Business:
- Boathouse Hains Park Improvements Project
First Selectman Reemsnyder reported that Ed Adanti, Phil Parcak and BSC are still working on the drainage plan because there is still some waterflow coming down the road and draining near the basketball court. She has contacted Kurt from BSC to see if he can meet her there, so they can make sure this is taken care of. She will keep the BOS posted on this. The Boathouse does have a meeting this week, however First Selectman Reemsnyder will not be able to attend but Selectman Sibley will be attending.
Selectman Sibley noted that he was down at the Boathouse on Saturday and reported that there is healthy grass growing all around the boathouse. He also noted that he noticed the runoff and believes it is coming from Rt.1 and this may be a state issue. He feels that having Phil involved with his background will be a great facilitator with the state in getting this resolved.
Selectman Sibley also gave an update on the donor plaque. He met with Sophie Marsh and Greg Hack and had an informal discussion on the possible location and type of plaque. They discussed incorporating the original plaque for Captain Hains and the new donors in a horizontal, free-standing fixture featuring a small history of Captain Hains on one side and the donors on the other. They also discussed contacting John Pfeiffer and investigating why the original plaque was placed where it was and if there is any significance to its original placement. He also added he has given Sophie a list of the donor names, so she can begin mapping it out as a draft.
- Rte. 156 Bikeway/Sound View Improvements
First Selectman Reemsnyder reported they are still waiting on the final installation of the street signs and banner poles. She reached out to Ken today to try and schedule something with Kurt from BSC on both the Boathouse and Rt. 156 for the final walkthrough. Ken reported they are expecting the missing parts to be in, so the poles can be completed this week. She also reported she reached out to WMC last week to see if they had any estimated time for completion and they anticipate this week also.
Selectwoman Nosal added that the striping on the road has been completed along with the cross walks. She also added that one of the condo associations was so impressed with the updates, it inspired them to install new white fencing on the property, which matches other fencing on Hartford Ave., enhancing the whole block.
- LED Light Installation Update
First Selectman Reemsnyder reported the installation of the new LED lighting is 90% complete and Tanko Lighting expects the remainder of the installation to be completed by the end of the week. There are a few exceptions to lights that have had to have new arms and lights replaced (one due to an accident) and Eversource will need to reconnect them so there may be some delay. There was also one resident on Rt.156 who complained the light was very bright and shining in their house. This has been reported to Tanko Lighting and will be resolved. It seems to have been a very seamless change over. She noted that this is still money in the budget to change out arms if needed but they have only had to change the one arm previously noted. Selectman Sibley added that it may be a good idea to add a light over by Pilgrim landing and Rt. 156 as this
is becoming a very popular area and it is very dark and might be a good idea for safety reasons.
- Cross Lane Playground Committee Update
First Selectman Reemsnyder reported they had expected Al Bond to begin work last week on the playground but was unable to work on the playground area due to the storm. They expect him to begin work today and they are they are still waiting for the equipment to arrive.
First Selectman Reemsnyder reported she was hoping to have the clean copy from the attorney for today’s meeting, but has not received it yet. As soon as she receives it she will forward it on to the Selectmen, so they can discuss it at the next meeting.
First Selectman Reemsnyder reported she gave copies of the updated lease agreement to the selectmen. Most of the changes have been addressed and the Town Attorney is working with the attorney for the Three Beaches to make sure all of the changes are workable for them. She also added the Three Beaches are hoping to have this approved at a Town Meeting sooner rather than later.
First Selectman Reemsnyder suggested they may be able to schedule a late November Town Meeting if this is approved by both parties by then.
The BOS discussed Exhibit B and the importance of understanding the location of the pump station. Selectman Reemsnyder said that they would identify a general area on the map for the location and the specifics will come once the plans have been completed. Selectman Sibley was concerned about the term of the lease which has been extended from 100 years up to 180 years beginning with a 40-year lease with additional 20-year renewals and he is not sure it needs to be that long. The cost sharing agreement and the differences between the original 2015 draft (which included undeveloped lots & possible easements) and the amended draft (which does not refer to undeveloped lots) was also discussed as well as the access and underground piping.
First Selectman Reemsnyder requested the Selectmen email her their specific questions so she can forward them to the Town Attorney to make sure they are answered.
First Selectman Reemsnyder reminded the selectmen that they were all at the last BOF meeting where they discussed the current copy of the policy. She reiterated that it is really up to the BOS to approve a BID policy.
The BOS discussed the definition of a Sole Source Vendor, which should reflect that no one else provides the service, or it is a unique or limited service) and they agree this needs to be clearly defined and approved by the BOS, who would have a list of approved sole source vendors.
They also discussed the formal process and suggest this should be either a request for a proposal (asking for a BID – cost for certain item or service) or a request for qualifications (invitation to submit qualifications which are reviewed for an interview and selection process). All would need to be advertised in a local paper, and could be sent to specific providers (at the discretion of the First Selectman or the Finance Director), and/or in Trade Association websites relating to the specifics of the request. The Selectmen agreed that the policy itself should be kept simple, with reference sheets as needed.
First Selectman Reemsnyder will re-write the draft policy with the recommended changes and get it back to the Selectman for review.
Selectwoman Nosal added that it was comforting to hear the Finance Director had run the draft policy by the Auditors and they confirmed it would meet their expectations.
5. New Business:
- Solid Waste Recycling Committee Update
First Selectman Reemsnyder reported the committee has been working for the last year on reviewing and updating the Solid Waste Ordinance and reviewed the process they have gone through. The process included; reviewing the complete ordinance; updating the ordinance to reflect current processes and encourages increased recycling; they submitted the recommendations for changes to First Selectman Reemsnyder and Cathy Frank for review. First Selectman Reemsnyder provided the selectmen with the updated draft showing the recommended changes made by the committee and feedback from Cathy Frank. She also noted that any changes made to the ordinance will need to be approved at a Town Meeting. She added that once this is reviewed and approved by the BOS it would be sent on to the Town Attorney for review then on to a Town Meeting for final
She asked the Selectmen to review the draft and forward any questions or recommendations on to her, so she can pass this on to the Town Attorney for review. She also added the committee is recommending creating a position for a part-time Director (possibly a sub-contractor) who would have the ability to enforce the ordinance and impose fines. Another item (which they should be doing) is requiring businesses who hire haulers to register with the Town which they are required to do by law. The Town has the option to require an annual fee for registration if they choose but First Selectman Reemsnyder feels it is more important to just get them registered.
Selectman Sibley suggested she send this to the Attorney now so if he comes back with changes they will have time to meet with the committee in case they have questions about the changes.
Selectwoman Nosal requested a few days to submit her changes and recommendations so they could be included before it is sent to the attorney. First Selectman Reemsnyder replied that would be fine.
- Volunteers Incentive Pension Plan – Moved up on the Agenda
6. Public Comment: No additional comments.
7. Other Business:
First Selectman Reemsnyder gave an update on the storm that occurred on October 29th. The storm caused downed trees, wires and power outages. She commended the Public Works Department for their clean-up which began on Sunday and went through the night into Monday. There were however a few neighborhoods who had no accessibility for some time due to downed trees with wires in them. Between the efforts of the PW Director, the Emergency Management Director and herself they were putting as much pressure as possible on Eversource to connect line crews with tree crews. It seemed to be the consensus with other area First Selectmen that Eversource didn’t handle this storm as well as they have in the past and imagines this will be addressed at top levels.
First Selectman Reemsnyder gave an update on the budget adopted by state legislatures. It looks like the Town of OL will get (she handed out a copy of the grant outline to the Selectmen):
ECS Grant - $235,000
LOSEP - $90,500
Pequot Grant-remains the same
Pilot Grant – remains the same
State owned property – remains the same
Town Roads – remains the same
Grants for Municipal Projects - remains the same
MSRF Revenue Sharing – not receiving anything
Over all they have a total reduction of $2,000.00 in grants. They are still waiting for some of the other pieces to be reviewed. One of the concerns she has is the Renter Rebate Program (low income renters support program), which approximately 44 families benefit from (for a total of $21,500). This was approved in the state budget however they did not include an avenue for disbursing the checks and they are working on this (possibly making Towns responsible for these payments). The BOS discussed other options available to the families to assist them including getting assurance from the state that the Town will be refunded if they issue checks to the renters as well as working with the Social Services Coordinator and the fuel fund. The BOS also discussed whether this was a mistake or oversight on the states part and they feel this may be
a way of the state letting the towns know this will be their responsibility in the future.
Selectwoman Nosal asked First Selectman Reemsnyder to give a summary on what is going on with Project HOPE.
She began by defining HOPE Partnership – Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere - which is a regional organization that looks for opportunities to provide affordable housing. They built a 16-unit facility in Old Saybrook on land that was given by the state. There is property in Old Lyme that HOPE is looking at, and they are going through the process of sub-dividing this lot. Part of the property will be for single family homes and part of the property will be for a multi-unit structure. They are having a workshop at the College in Old Lyme on Nov. 14th at 6:30 PM to introduce HOPE to the community, get feedback and answer questions. First Selectman Reemsnyder added that HOPE is very sensitive to the ideas and suggestions offered by communities and wants to be embraced by the community. She also reminded everyone
it is the obligation of Towns to create up to 10% affordable housing in their communities.
First Selectman Reemsnyder announced the next meeting will be held at 4:00PM. At 3:00PM there will be a celebration for Selectman Sibley to honor his 16 years of stewardship and dedication to the Town of Old Lyme.
8. Executive Session: None
A motion was made by Selectman Sibley, seconded by Selectwoman Nosal, to adjourn at 9:33 pm. Motion passed.