Minutes Regular Meeting COVENTRY TOWN COUNCIL/COVRRA February 6, 2012 The February 6, 2012 regular Town Council/COVRRA meeting was called to order in the Town Hall Annex by Town Council Chairperson Elizabeth Woolf at 7:30 p.m. Members Present: Elizabeth Woolf, Julie Blanchard, Steven Hall, Lisa Thomas, Joan Lewis, Jeff Shorts and Michael Griswold Staff Present: John A. Elsesser, Town Manager; Beth Bauer, Director of Finance. Also Present: Interested citizens and a member of the press. The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag was recited. Audience of Citizens: Claire Connolly, Orchard Hills Apt. 41, was present to share concerns regarding the management of Orchard Hills and recent changes to snowplowing procedures. Tenants are now required to move their cars so snowplowing can take place, or their cars will be towed. There is an option to have the car moved but this would cost $5 each time and she cannot afford it. Tenants are forced to pay this fee or walk out in the snow and ice to do it themselves. Some of the residents have given their cars to friends or relatives for the winter to avoid the situation, but she relies on her car for her volunteer work. She does not feel there is a fair appeals process through the Housing Authority and cited concerns with nepotism and lack of oversight. She is requesting that this policy be overturned. The car represents one-third of her income and she is looking for reasonable accommodation for the handicapped. She just wants to be able to leave her car where it is. Elizabeth Woolf replied that she and fellow Council Member Lisa Thomas have set up a meeting on Wednesday to discuss this issue with the management of Orchard Hills. Karen Skudlarek, 118 N. Farms Road, is a parent and volunteer for STEPS. She expressed that it is a wonderful opportunity for Coventry families and she supports the project whole-heartedly. Hearing no further requests to speak, Ms. Woolf closed the Audience of Citizens portion of the meeting. Approval of Minutes: January 17, 2012 Regular Meeting Motion #11/11/334: Joan Lewis moved, Lisa Thomas seconded the Town Council accept the January 17, 2012 Council meeting minutes with the following correction: Pg. 2, 4th paragraph: put Steve Hall’s name in bold type. The motion to approve the minutes as corrected carried unanimously. Consent Agenda: Motion #11/11/335: Joan Lewis moved, Lisa Thomas seconded the Consent Agenda be accepted as presented. Lisa Thomas requested to remove item 6C2, Staff Town Council February 6, 2012 Minutes 1. Meeting Minutes. The motion to accept with the removal of item 6C2carried unanimously. New Business: Item: 11/12-62: Update, STEPS Program. Liz Woolf welcomed Kathryn Hassler to the meeting, noting that she has been doing wonderful work on the program. Several parents and members of the committee were also present. Kathryn began by sharing background on STEPS, which stands for “Sharing Together Enriches Potential Success.” The mission of the organization is to achieve the result of all Coventry children, birth to age 8 are healthy, nurtured and engaged and successful learners. Detailed information is available at www.coventrysteps.com. Early accomplishments included the development of a website, a resource guide for families, a birth packet distributed by the Town Clerk’s office and the creation of an Early Educators Collaborative. Coventry received a 2-year grant of $50,000 from the Graustein Foundation to create a community plan to improve outcomes for Coventry children and their families. The plan utilizes Results Based Accountability. Three committees are involved: Health, Nurturing and Education. The plan is scheduled for completion on June 30, 2012 and will include data, strategies, performance measures and a financing plan. Implementation of the plan is set to begin in July 2012, pending grant application approval from the Graustein Foundation. STEPS is seeking $25,000 from the Town of Coventry/Board of Education. If Coventry is able to contribute $25,000 towards the implementation of the plan, STEPS will be funded $50,000 from Graustein and $12,000 from SDE. The contribution could be cash, redeployment of staff or resources, or a combination of cash and redeployment. Lisa Thomas thanked Kathryn for her presentation and noted she is happy to see a former student on the committee. She asked for details about how the financial or in-kind support from Coventry would be used. Kathryn replied that they are looking to implement the plan, which is still in development. Lisa asked if STEPS needs a commitment prior to the finalized plan. Kathryn replied yes. The application is due in late April. John Elsesser noted they are making this presentation now because it is budget season. Kathryn also made this same presentation to the Board of Education. Graustein does not stipulate whether the money should come from the Town or Board. It is a good discussion for the Council to have with the Board during budget sessions. Liz Woolf noted that regardless of whether it comes from Town or Board, the money still comes from taxpayers. Liz Woolf asked if Kathryn could elaborate on the use of funds referred to in the presentation for “local decision-making infrastructure.” Will we hire people? Kathryn replied no, we already have people and support in place. Kathryn asked Alison Schultz, a Town Council February 6, 2012 Minutes 2. representative from the Graustein Foundation, to share additional details. Alison indicated that Graustein funds are primarily focused in infrastructure – it does take people to make these initiatives happen. People are needed for data collection, coordination, communications and outreach. In-kind resources could include such things as office space. John Elsesser said we need to determine roles and responsibilities. There needs to be dialog with the Board of Education. Mike Griswold asked if he could review paperwork from the first grant to see how the money was spent. It would help going forward. Kathryn offered to provide it. Steve Hall asked how this ties in with objectives for all-day kindergarten. John Elsesser replied that this is before that (pre-school). STEPS has worked closely with CECC. School doesn’t start at kindergarten. It starts when help is needed per State mandate. Steve asked if it is an objective of the Board this year to propose all-day kindergarten (yes.) Would this be in addition? John Elsesser replied this would be in addition, if it is not in the Board budget or a 50/50 split. We would have to put in $12.5 thousand or staff. Steve asked if we donate building space whether it would count (we don’t know.) Lisa Thomas said she is uncomfortable not knowing what the plan is for implementation. There are many demands on resources. She would feel more comfortable advocating if we understand what we are going forward with. She needs to know how this is supporting foundational pieces of education. Kathryn replied she will have initial strategies to share with the Council in a month or so. John Elsesser suggested that STEPS share the pre- school feasibility study, too. Mike Griswold asked if there are any success stories from other towns. Kathryn replied yes. Twenty-two towns have implemented. Mike asked if there is a contingency if the data shows we’re not getting results. Kathryn replied we continue to work on it. We are seeking long-term programs and policy. Mike asked if they will keep coming back every two years, or whether this eventually will be put into the budget. Kathryn indicated that the Graustein Foundation hopes to diminish their contribution over time. She noted that the Town of Mansfield has had a lot of success. They have been at it longer. Their coordinator is incorporated into the town budget. John Elsesser noted they already have a town-run preschool facility, etc. We can get some more information. They are two years ahead. Kathryn will send the Council links to existing implementation plans from other communities. The Council thanked her for her presentation. Reports: Council Chairman’s Report: Elizabeth Woolf We received an email from resident Wes Bergenholtz citing the exceptional services of the Coventry rescue squad during a recent medical emergency. Kudos to all involved. Town Council February 6, 2012 Minutes 3. Council Members Reports: Lisa Thomas asked if Town email addresses have been set up yet for Council members. John Elsesser replied the process is not yet complete. Lisa asked if we reply where it would go. John replied it would show up on the server where it came from. He noted we have also been having Internet problems – not from our site but from CEN. It is very complicated and Fred Lambert has his hands full trying to solve this difficult issue. Lisa Thomas also mentioned that we just had visitors from China, and her family had the wonderful experience of hosting a student. It blew apart some of her misconceptions and perceptions and she was very appreciative of the experience. She is thankful to the district and town for making it happen. Jeff Shorts attended the CCM workshop for new members. It was very informative. Among other things, he learned that sub-committees should not be emailing each other. We also should not be making a motion to table anything if we plan to bring it back. Liz Woolf noted that specific instructions will be formalized. Mike Griswold noted that with the mild weather it is time to be thinking about golf. The CECC golf fundraiser will take place on May 12, 2012 at Skungamaug River Golf Course. Details are available at www.scrambleforourschools.com. Steering/Liaison Committee: Lisa Thomas Resignations: Lisa recognized Wayne Vaillancourt and Jennifer Ojala for their involvement on the Energy Conservation/Alt. Energy Committee and Parks & Recreation Committee, respectively. Wayne has been chair since the committee’s inception. Both had to leave for work commitments. We appreciate them. Reappointments: Motion #11/11/336: Lisa Thomas moved and Joan Lewis seconded to reappoint Arthur Hall to the Conservation Commission, term to expire 1/1/2015. The motion carried on unanimous vote. Motion #11/11/337: Lisa Thomas moved and Joan Lewis seconded to reappoint Sean Butler to the Parks & Recreation Commission, term to expire 1/1/2014. The motion carried on unanimous vote. Motion #11/11/338: Lisa Thomas moved and Joan Lewis seconded to reappoint William Root and Joseph Recesso to the Veterans Memorial Commission, terms to expire 1/1/2014. The motion carried on unanimous vote. Motion #11/11/339: Lisa Thomas moved and Joan Lewis seconded to reappoint Michael Kurpiewski to the Human Rights Commission, term to expire 1/1/2014. The motion carried on unanimous vote. Town Council February 6, 2012 Minutes 4. Appointments: Motion #11/11/340: Lisa Thomas moved and Joan Lewis seconded to appoint Linda Pagliuco to the Cemetery Commission to fill the Griswold vacancy, term to expire 10/17/2013. The motion carried on unanimous vote. Motion #11/11/341: Lisa Thomas moved and Joan Lewis seconded to appoint Stephen Savell to the Energy Conservation/Alt. Energy Commission to fill the Vaillancourt vacancy, term to expire 3/1/2015. The motion carried on unanimous vote. Motion #11/11/342: Lisa Thomas moved and Joan Lewis seconded to reappoint Drew Kelleher and move him from an alternate to full member of the Parks & Recreation Commission, term to expire 1/1/2014. The motion carried on unanimous vote. Motion #11/11/343: Lisa Thomas moved and Joan Lewis seconded to move Teri Merisotis from an alternate to a full member of the Parks & Recreation Commission, term to expire 1/1/2013. The motion carried on unanimous vote. Motion #11/11/344: Lisa Thomas moved and Joan Lewis seconded to appoint Tom Woolf to the Conservation Corps as the Inland Wetlands Liaison, term to be concurrent with his service on the Inland Wetlands Commission. The motion carried on unanimous vote. Lisa thanked all of these volunteers for stepping forward. She also noted that Steering discussed at their last meeting holding additional Town Council hours in conjunction with the budget, and came up with two possible dates. There cannot be more than 4 Council members present at one time due to FOI requirements. The purpose of these meetings would be to give community members a more private opportunity to express concerns on any issue, especially the budget. We also discussed “themed” office hours on particular topics in the future. Dates and Council member availability were discussed as follows: February 21, 2012, 6:30 PM, Town Hall Conference Room B: Lisa Thomas, Jeff Shorts, Joan Lewis March 19, 2012, 6:30 PM, Town Hall Annex: Julie Blanchard, Mike Griswold, Lisa Thomas An e-blast and slide for Channel 13 will be developed. Finance Committee: Joan Lewis No report. The Committee meets next on 2/13/12. Town Council February 6, 2012 Minutes 5. COVRRA: John Elsesser reported that we are changing our bulky waste disposal to Willimantic Waste this month. They will not charge for mattress disposal and we had been paying $75 per mattress previously. The rest of the changes will probably not take place until November. Municipal officials from the Windham region are meeting to discuss regional equipment sharing possibilities. There is a 50% State grant. This led to an interesting side discussion about the possibility of a regional transfer station or private sector station. This is of interest to a number of officials. Ours is in the middle of a park and has limited hours, etc. We will explore – the distance to the Willimantic Waste station is only 2.9 miles from our current location. Having a transfer station in every town doesn’t make a lot of sense. Jeff Shorts asked if this will free up a Public Works employee. John Elsesser said yes – the employee could be redeployed or the job could be eliminated. That is premature to talk about. The position is currently 19 hours per week. Town Manager’s Report: 1. Projects Update: The new Annex table and chairs have arrived. The chairs are adjustable 7 different ways. NCFD has offered tours of the building under construction. We are in the process of evaluating participation in a self-insurance health pool and are moving forward with a draft contract. It will be coming before the Council soon. The main advantage is it reduces premiums by approximately 7% (which could be a reduction in the increase). We saved 18% last year but our early experience this year was not good, so we are anticipating an increase of approximately 16%-19%. Lisa Thomas asked if we will have the numbers before budget. John replied we never know until June. Lisa replied we need to make this clear to voters. It caused a lot of distrust last year. Beth Bauer said we will not know, but based on what we know today we would say a conservative estimate would be a 19% increase. Optimistic would be 16%. This timing is not a new situation. Last year we changed carriers with approval from all employee groups. That will not be required this time. We will still be with CIGNA. Dates to remember: Consortium meeting, February 23, 7 PM, Patriots Park Lodge. Public Works Open House, February 18, 10 AM-2PM, 100 Olsen Farm Rd. We had another CPM 101 Performance Measurement meeting this week. The Capital Budget was distributed to Council members tonight. There will be a formal presentation at the next meeting. The Annual Report for FY 2010/2011 is available on the website. If you want a printed copy let Laura Stone know. Interviews are starting for the Council Clerk position. 2. Minutes, 1/18/12 Staff Meeting: Lisa Thomas asked for this item to be removed from the Consent Agenda to note that she finds receiving these minutes helpful. She learns more about Town staff and sees some of the follow-through the Council has set forth Town Council February 6, 2012 Minutes 6. as tasks. She appreciates receiving these minutes. 4. 2011 Grand List Totals: John Elsesser said that Beth Bauer revised the revenue assumptions for this year. This would be a decrease of 1/3 mill. Please add this document to your budget notebook. Steve Hall said he has the perception that Coventry is doing better than surrounding communities. We are doing something right. People are still interested in moving to Coventry. This reflects as a sign of approval for how we’ve managed town government. 5. CIRMA Achievement Award: Congratulations to Wendy Rubin and the Parks & Recreation Department, who spent a lot of time training summer staff and received this award for their online training and Camp College. We will receive the award in May. It is the 3rd CIRMA award we’ve gotten. Unfinished Business: Item: 11/12-54: Tentative Agreement for Police Contract: John Elsesser said we will review a tentative draft in Executive Session. Motion #11/11/345: Julie Blanchard moved, Jeff Shorts seconded to postpone discussion of the agreement for the Police Contract to the next meeting. The motion carried on unanimous vote. 11/12-58: Consideration of Town Council Goals for 2012-14: Motion #11/11/346: Joan Lewis moved, Steve Hall seconded to accept the Town Council Goals for 2012-2014 as amended. Liz Woolf noted that the modifications included the Open Space Working Group and Consortium language. Jeff Shorts asked about the Agricultural Committee, which is not listed and has a conflict with the consortium meeting date. John Elsesser replied that this is not a Council-appointed committee and has no official relationship with the Town. Joan Lewis said she is on that committee and she is recommending they change their meeting date. John Elsesser noted that the Economic Development Commission is giving up a meeting for the consortium – it is hard to plan. There is no other night available at the Lodge. Joan Lewis noted that generally the Agricultural Committee meets the 4th Thursday and usually has speakers so it is difficult for them to reschedule. John Elsesser said we apologize if the date is inconvenient, but if we don’t meet on 2/23 we would have to wait until March. The motion to accept the Council goals as amended carried on unanimous vote. New Business: 11/12-63: Acceptance: Agreement and Declaration of Trust Under the Town of Coventry Pension Plan: John Elsesser said that the Federal Government has changed the pension rules. We submitted our plan for guidance. The new document will name trustees and the Pension Committee. We need to formally adopt the pension trust. Beth Bauer added that this formalizes the working practices we have now. John Elsesser said that the Pension Committee has reviewed this and recommends its acceptance. Town Council February 6, 2012 Minutes 7. Motion #11/11/347: Joan Lewis moved to approve the Agreement and Declaration of Trust under the Town of Coventry Pension Plan as submitted. The motion was seconded by Steve Hall and carried on unanimous vote. 11/12-64: FY 12-13 Capital Improvement Budget: The CIP budget was distributed to Council members at the meeting. John Elsesser noted that when they start looking at it to keep in mind that things get pushed off but big price tags don’t go away. 11/12-65: Consideration: Letter of Agreement for Joint Purchase of Development Rights – State of CT Dept. of Agriculture and Town of Coventry, and Authorization of Town Manager to Execute: Motion #11/11/348: Joan Lewis moved to approve the Agreement for Joint Purchase of Development Rights – State of CT Dept. of Agriculture and Town of Coventry as amended, and to authorize the Town Manager to Execute. The motion was seconded by Lisa Thomas and carried on unanimous vote. Executive Session: Motion #11/11/331: Joan Lewis moved, Julie Blanchard seconded the Town Council enter into Executive Session at 9:37 p.m. pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes 1-200(6) )(B)-discussion of strategy and negotiation with respect to pending claims and litigation to which the public agency or a member thereof, because of his conduct as a member of such agency is a party until such litigation claim has been finally adjudicated or otherwise settled; and 1-200(6)(D)-discussion of the selection of a site or the lease, sale or purchase of real estate by a political subdivision of the state when publicity regarding such a site, lease, sale, purchase or construction would cause a likelihood of an increased price until such time as all of the property has been acquired or all proceedings or transactions concerning same have been terminated or abandoned; and 1-200(6)(E)-discussion of any matter which would result in the disclosure of public records or the information therein contained described in sub-section (b) of Section 1-210 with the following people in attendance: Town Council members, John Elsesser, and Beth Bauer. The motion carried unanimously. Motion #11/11/ 349: Julie Blanchard moved, Jeff Shorts seconded the Council leave Executive Session at 10:35 p.m. The motion carried unanimously. Adjournment: Motion #11/11/350: Julie Blanchard moved, Jeff Shorts seconded the meeting be adjourned at 10:36 p.m. The motion carried unanimously. Respectfully submitted, Laura Stone Note: These minutes are not official until acted on by the Town Council at its next regular meeting. Those meeting minutes will reflect approval or changes to these minutes. Town Council February 6, 2012 Minutes 8.
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