Chip Albee Insists Amendment That He Voted For Didn’t Happen

Selectman Chip Albee is insisting that Town Meeting did not restrict the sale of tax-deeded properties to sealed bids only. “This discussion about whether or not [inudible] should only be put out for sealed bid, and not be auctioned, I think the question in my mind is not whether or not the town voted on that, because they didn’t.”

But we did. Continue reading “Chip Albee Insists Amendment That He Voted For Didn’t Happen”

Library Renovation Proposal Presented to Selectmen, Library Trustees, and Public

Skip Hurt followed up on his presentation to the library trustees a few weeks ago by showing his plans for a renovated library this morning to about 30 people, including the selectmen, library trustees, and several former members of the disbanded library building advisory committee.

The key points of Skip’s proposal are that his plan has a peaked roof, unlike the proposed Dearborn library; he estimates a cost savings of $1 million, compared to the proposed Dearborn library; and, he says, construction could begin as early as September and could be down in stages. His proposal, he believes, does not require a 2/3 majority vote at Town Meeting because the town would not have to borrow in order to finance the project.

The library trustees will have a meeting Thursday, May 11, at 8:30 AM at the the library to discuss whether to take any action on Skip’s proposal


Video time stamps:
0:00 Skip intro
6:00 “Continuous use of library during construction”
7:40 Cost of Skip’s plan: approximately $1.3 million
10:50 $70k for material / $70k for labor (generous est) for new roof.
12:00 HVAC
13:00 Existing bathrooms for meeting room. Two new bathrooms for new part of library.
14:30 Parking. Police building report had a 30×30 garage on the back of the building. So assuming the committee did its work, that’s a parking lot. Plus a bigger parking lot in woods behind.
19:15 $1.3 million savings compared to plan for new building across the street on Dearborn property
20:00 Questions/Discussion

Selectmen’s Meeting for May 1, 2017

0:00 CALL TO ORDER / PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
0:30 PUBLIC COMMENT
6:10 APPOINTMENT: Richard Sager
35:40 REVIEW and approval of minutes
41:25 SIGNATURE FILES
51:40 CONTINUED BUSINESS
59:00 SELECTMEN’S UPDATE
1:06:30 Highway Department several lines items over budget
1:08:20 Calendar announcements
1:09:40 Correspondence
1:16:00 RTK from Don McWhirter
1:24:00 OTHER BUSINESS
1:26:00 PUBLIC COMMENT
1:26:10 Chris Sawyer — Fire truck
1:27:15 Guy Pike — Stonewalls in town rights of way
1:27:40 Max Ledoux
1:29:00 RETURN TO BUSINESS: redo motions from last Friday’s meeting because wrong dates were used by accident

Richard Sager Appointment with Selectmen on Auction of Tax-Deeded Properties

Richard Sager met with the selectmen on Monday, May 1, to tell them that they can still conduct an auction of tax-deeded properties even though Town Meeting voted to restrict the selectmen to selling the properties by sealed bids only. He then went own to promote his own services as auctioneer.

You may want to review the video from Town Meeting of Article 9 being amended:

(If you want, you can skip to the 15:12 mark to see Steven Snow amend the article specifically to restrict the selectmen’s authority to selling properties by sealed bid.)

The language of the amended article as passed by a show of hands (i.e. with a clear majority) was:

To see if the Town will vote pursuant to RSA 80:80 to authorize the Selectmen to convey real property acquired by the Town by Tax Collector’s Deed by advertised sealed bid.

Sager incorrectly thought the language was:

To see if the Town will vote pursuant to RSA 80:80 to authorize the Selectmen to convey real property acquired by the Town by Tax Collector’s Deed by advertised sealed bid or in such manner as determined by the Selectmen as justice may require.

This is because the first draft of the minutes was incorrect. However, Heather Cubeddu, Town Clerk, has corrected the minutes on the town website. Sager likely printed out the draft minutes back in March and then didn’t check to see if they had been updated before his meeting with the selectmen.

He told the selectmen that, according to a conversation he had with someone at the New Hampshire Municipal Association, the words “as justice may require” mean that the selectmen could still do an auction even though “public auction” was specifically removed from the article by the voters. However, as demonstrated, Town Meeting removed the the “as justice may require” language completely, rendering Sager’s argument moot.

The relevant statute, as reference in the warrant article, is 80:80-II, and reads:

If the selectmen or mayor are so authorized to convey such property by deed, either a public auction shall be held, or the property may be sold by advertised sealed bids. The selectmen or mayor shall have the power to establish a minimum amount for which the property is to be sold and the terms and conditions of the sale.

Clearly, the selectmen are “so authorized” to sell tax-deeded properties by “advertised sealed bid” only. The selectmen are not “so authorized” to conduct a “public auction.”

The selectmen had simply forgotten that the article had been amended. But I have sent them the above video from Town Meeting, and I am sure that after they review it they will follow the will of the voters and not conduct an auction.

Selectmen Visit Brown Road

On Friday, April 28, the board of selectmen (Lloyd Wood, Bill Marcussen, and Chip Albee) met at Brown Road to set the edges of the town’s right of way on the property of Ted and Carol Steinman. The selectmen’s meeting was posted as a public meeting and Guy Pike, Ben Ladd, and I attended. At issue for the selectmen to examine was a line of large rocks the Steinmans had installed on the of the road last summer within the town’s right of way.

Brown Road Road at Lower Beech Pond is a 3-rod road, meaning the town’s easement is 49.5 feet wide. (A rod is equal to 16 ½ feet.) While a road might not be in the exact center of the original easement, the Steinman’s attorney last week stated that their assumption is the road is centered in the easement. The pavement of the road is 21-feet wide, according to the selectmen’s measurement, which means the town has a 14¼ foot right of way on either side of the road (21+14.25+14.25=49.5).

Although it appeared Lloyd was opposed in general to spending public money, Albee and Bill indicated that they were in favor of having the town Road Agent (Jim Bean, an elected official) move the line of rocks out of the town right of way, farther onto the Steinman’s property.

There is a separate issue of the public access to Lower Beech Pond, which the Steinmans also blocked off.

One possibility there is that NH Fish & Game could install a boat ramp. It’s unclear what the town would have to do, if anything, in preparation for that. Chip mentioned the town could stabilize the bank for Fish & Game.

The board will likely have more to discuss on this issue at Monday’s meeting at 4PM at the town offices.

Brown Road Boulder Issue: Ted and Carol Steinman Meet with Selectmen

Saying that they had met with Carolyn Sundquist “at this table” in a “series of meetings,” Dr. Ted Steinman and his wife, Carol, accompanied by their attorney, Jeremy Eggleton of the law firm Orr & Reno, described to the board of selectmen (left to right: Chip Albee, Bill Marcussen, Lloyd Wood) on Monday, April 24, how last year they had sought and “followed directly the town’s directions” when placing boulders along the edge of Brown Road on their property in order to block access to Lower Beech Pond from boat trailers and bob houses.

Carolyn Sundquist’s emails concerning Brown Road were obtained by Guy Pike through a Right to Know request last December. In one email to Road Agent Jim Bean dated August 25, 2016, Carolyn Sundquist wrote “I advised the Steinmans to go ahead with placing boulders in front of the access.”

Continue reading “Brown Road Boulder Issue: Ted and Carol Steinman Meet with Selectmen”

Resident Seeks Richard Sager’s Invoices

Resident Betsy Frago has made a Right to Know request under RSA 91-A to inspect the invoices from Richard Sager to the board of selectmen from August, 2016, to the present. Sager is the board’s attorney. The selectmen, however, have not been completely forthcoming.

Betsy met with the selectmen at their meeting on Monday, April 24, to find out why they have not provided her access to the records yet.

Betsy has already obtained the town check register for that period and determined that Richard Sager was paid $13,961.40 in taxpayer money during that period. She would like to know what that money was spent for.

An analysis of the check register shows that since the selectmen launched a lawsuit against Bob McWhirter and me in early December of last year Tuftonboro taxpayers have paid Richard Sager $11,113.30.

Sager’s March payment, funded by taxes, was $4,244.18. Sager’s payment in the month before the selectmen sued Bob and me was for $70. In the three months before the lawsuit, Sager received on average $218 each month. Since the lawsuit, taxpayers have written Sager checks for on average of $2,778.33 each month (December – March).

The selectmen are suing me because they are attempting to illegally charge me $6.50 to inspect government records even though RSA 91-A specifically forbids them from charging a fee for the inspection of a governmental record.

 

Selectmen’s Meeting for April 10, 2017

Time stamps are approximate:

0:01 Pledge of Allegiance
0:25 Library update
Christy doesn’t like Trump’s proposed budget that cuts federal funding to libraries
Friends of the Library to donate another $10k. $40k+ over last… ten years.
new fiction book club starting
5:20 NarCan training at library on May 5
7:00 Bill asks Christy to attend emergency management debriefing on Friday
8:10 Roads department update
$5,000 over cleanup budget already
45 road events this year (29 last year)
Dame, New, and Brown Roads are in particularly tough shape
12:15 Selectmen discuss planned emergency management debriefing
13:15 Review and approve minutes
19:18 Signature file
Public employee salary adjustment for RETROACTIVE PAY RAISES
21:00 written permission to send information to auditors
23:20 copier agreement: $.13 per page (Lloyd misread: fee is actual 1.5 cents per page!)
Chip: that gives us a basis for charging for copies
25:10 Veteran’s credit for property taxes two properties
first approved, second denied — application by surviving spouse who moved to NH after the veteran died. credit only available to resident veterans and surviving spouses
31:08 tax levy gravel pit
32:00 notice to excavate
33:55 Continued Business
Board meeting schedule
40:00 Brown Road
Chip: Carolyn Sundquist told Steinmens they could put the boulders in place.
45:25 Lloyd asks for public comment
Bob & Sue both said just remove the rocks
Chip: The rocks were placed there because one selectman made a decision so we need to make a decision as a board
Max: Aren’t the rock the Steinman’s property? If the town removes them, might the Steinmans retaliate legally?
Jim: Just wants to be sure so that if we move the rocks we don’t have to do it again
52:00 Town copy policy
53:40 Bill: clear that “actual cost” not intended to cover labor!
54:45 Chip: We’re not in it for profit
55:05 Lloyd NH supreme court accepted Merrimack county Superior Court decision (Kelley v. Hooksett Assessing Office, Case No. 11-CV-266): you can’t charge for labor.
57:00 Chip: spending $275/hr for an attorney to argue about cost of copy. (Chip probably misspoke: Sager’s last known fee was $175/hour)
57:50 Chip motion to change copy fee to $.15 per page. Motion passes 3-0.
58:50 Police cruiser
59:09 Lang Pond
Review checklist (Jim Bean)
1:11:25 Jack Parsons
1:11:55 Update town contact list (?)
1:12:30 Lake Road boat ramp proposal
1:13:45 Selectmen’s update
Bill:
Planning board
cemetery trustees
old homes days committee will meet April 18 (open meeting)
Master plan update. Zoning in town.
Lloyd: Multitown roundtable April 11 at 6:30 at the fire station in Tuftonboro
1:21:00 Lloyd is recusing himself from fire department-related issues since he’s on the department
1:21:30 Correspondence
1:21:40 Brown Road correspondence
1:23:25 Lloyd wants to send $100 from the town to special olympics in honor of Steve Honeycutt (his obit. requests such donations in lieu of flowers)
1:24:50 RTK response to Ed Comeau
1:32:00 Chip felt Sager’s response was trying to pick a fight and Chip wants to avoid that.
1:34:09 Continue with other correspondence
1:42:13 Other Business
Court case continued. No hearing on April 18.
1:44:00 Public Input
1:44:20 Bob McWhirter asked about emergency management debriefing scheduled for Friday.
1:46:33 Max Ledoux asked the board to investigate using a payroll company to process employee paychecks
Joe Kowalski: Is there a fee for bringing in your own scanner to make copies of public records (No)
1:48:00 Guy Pike: Municipal estoppel (re Brown Road)
1:49:40 motion to adjourn

 

 

 

Selectmen Demonstrate That Their Lawsuit Is Frivolous

In the video at the 3:13 mark Selectman Bill Marcussen says, “When you look at what has gone on through various cases that have gone to court it’s clear that the intent is that the costs of the copies to the public cover the actual cost and it’s not intended to cover the time of the town employees that’s involved.”

Yet the selectmen’s lawsuit against Bob McWhirter and me goes into great detail about the amount of labor that would be involved in responding to Bob’s Right to Know request.

The selectmen seek to charge us a fee to inspect governmental records. We have not asked for the selectmen to provide us with copies. Instead we have said that we would use our own equipment to make copies. And yet the selectmen tried to charge us anyway, even though in the video at the 8:42 mark they concede that they cannot charge a fee for someone to use their own equipment to make copies of governmental records.