Selectmen's Update - Nov 7, 2023
Selectmen’s Update – Nov 7, 2023
Thank you to all community members who attended last night’s Selectmen’s meeting to discuss the impending removal of asphalt from the Quimby Field parking lot. As the parking lot was paved without appropriate approvals, the removal was prompted by the request of the Quimby Trustees. The Selectmen have since held several discussions with the Trustees and employees involved in the planning process to better understand how to avoid such issues in the future. The Town is fortunate as a benefactor of the Trust’s generosity and understands the importance of maintaining dialogue between itself and the Quimby Trustees as we work to fulfill our similar missions of serving the Town.
Because the parking lot paving was done in conjunction with road paving, the costs of paving the Quimby lot are less than ordinary driveway paving and were paid for with ARPA funds. Additional costs for the removal of the paving will be minimal (approx. $1,000) as the work will be performed by the Highway Department employees and most of the equipment used will be town owned. Disposal of the asphalt will be at no cost to the town with the asphalt to be ground and reused by Ambrose. The Board maintains its commitment to respect the wishes of the Quimby Trustees to remove the asphalt. The pavement is slated for removal early next week.
Also in the work session, the Board continued to review its employee retirement program. Eligible (full-time) police and fire employees participate in the NH Retirement System, a pension program with mandated participation for certain employees per state law. Other municipal employees participate in a 457b retirement plan. The Board will be seeking further information and employee input to understand town budget impact and employee thoughts related to any proposed changes to its existing program. The Board’s goal is to provide the best value to the town while retaining/attracting quality employees.
In that same vein, the Board discussed 2024 wage projections. The Board has identified benchmark communities for Sandwich related to wages/employee benefits and is now in the process of compiling wage data from such communities to inform 2024 wage adjustments. Benchmark communities were identified based upon several factors including population, town budget size, and town tax rate as a proportion of overall tax rate.
In the regular meeting, the Board continued its review and discussion of an updated draft Procurement Policy. The Board will be discussing the draft policy with employees prior to approval.
The Board reviewed/approved for signing several items including accounts payable and payroll manifests, an employment offer letter for the vacant Highway Maintainer position, and a timber intent to cut form.
The Board reviewed and approved meeting minutes.
In other business, the Board discussed several items:
- The Energy Committee and Compliance Officer are in discussions about wetlands setbacks for the proposed 2024 municipal solar array. The proposed array would be constructed on the property that contains the Town’s sewer system leach field.
- The Board will meet for an early work session next week at 3 PM at the Squam Lake beach to discuss beach and boat ramp improvements. This meeting is open to the public. The Board will then reconvene at 4 PM at Town Hall for a Budget Advisory Committee meeting focused on 2024 Police Department and Fire Department budgets.
- The Board discussed a request from the Conservation Commission to support reconsideration of the proposed name (Eastman Cove) for Squaw Cove. The Board requested further information to better understand authority and context related to the discussion.
- The Board also discussed a request from the Conservation Commission to support prohibition of bouldering and geocaching in the Sandwich Notch Park (Beede Falls) to reduce erosion and damage to the natural environment of the park. The Board agreed public input and further deliberations are required to better inform their response to the request.
- The Planning Board is encouraging community members to participate in its housing survey prior to Monday, November 13th. The Planning Board will be hosting a community forum to discuss its planning efforts related to housing opportunities. Highlights from survey participants will also be discussed. The forum will be offered both November 17th at 6 PM and November 18th at 11 AM in hopes to facilitate greater participation – both will take place upstairs at Town Hall. Anyone experiencing trouble accessing the survey is encouraged to reach out to the Selectmen’s Office.
- The Board discussed several 2024 budget updates.
- The Board will be working to finalize the 2023 tax rate in the coming week or so. As a reminder, the November/December 2023 tax bill (timing varies depending upon Dept. of Revenue scheduling) is for services provided by the Town from June 2023 to December 2023. A separate notice will be posted publicly upon finalization of the tax rate.
Reminder: Town Offices will be closed Thursday, November 9th in observance of Veteran’s Day. Thank you to all our Veterans! Don’t forget, property tax credits are available to Veterans and their surviving spouses. More eligibility information and application materials can be found here.
Board of Selectmen