By Ed Munster.
Editors Note: When official minutes become available, they can be found at www.haddam.org. Video of the meeting can also be found on Valley Shore Community Television and its website, vsctv.com.
During the discussion for the approval of the minutes of the April 23, 2018 BOS meeting, Selectman Schlag commented that she wished to have more of her comments detailed in the minutes. First Selectman Lizz Milardo said that review of the minutes during the time when Selectman Melissa Schlag was First Selectman showed that those minutes were quite limited in scope. Milardo felt that FS Assistant Joanne Riccardelli does a fine job in writing up the minutes of BOS meetings. Milardo said that she did not understand why the process used during the Schlag administration was fine at the time but is not now. Selectman Schlag stated that the minutes as written by Riccardelli are perfectly legal but she would like to have her comments recorded in more detail. Milardo pointed out that all minutes are audio-recorded and are available for anyone to listen to in full detail at the Town Hall. The minutes for the April 23, 2018 meeting were approved.
During public comment period Ed Schwing, who identified himself as editor of the Haddam Bulletin, asked whether the properties being offered for sale on Silver Spring Road had been appraised because he felt that the starting bids listed in the auction notice were quite low. First Selectman Milardo responded that the appraisals were done with the assessed value and are on file at the Town Assessor’s Office. Schwing said that he would go check on that. Schwing’s second comment was regarding the First Selectman’s authority to fire the Town Assessor. The matter was referred to the Town’s labor attorney.
Neal Perron asked why the Assessor Jennifer Gauthier had been fired. First Selectman Milardo responded that she was fired for willful misconduct and that is all that Milardo would say. Schlag then entered the conversation to say that this was a public meeting and Schlag demanded to know the specific incident that resulted in the firing to which the Town labor attorney, who was present, responded that attorneys will recommend that details not be discussed in open forum because of exposure to future claims. Schlag then asked that if she were to come to the Town Hall could she see the employee file for the Assessor. Milardo responded that JoAnn Riccardelli who is the HR Director could provide her with the file.
Resident Dave Goodwin asked if the current meeting was being recorded and Milardo pointed out the recording device on the table was recording all that was being said.
Resident Sharon Challenger commented that if she were a town employee she would not like to have her employee file available to the public and discussed at a public meeting to which Selectman Schlag injected “not in public government.” The attorney said there is a concern about balancing the right of the public and whether there is an invasion of privacy. Resident Ed Munster, who video recorded this meeting, commented that it seems like common sense to make only a general statement and not go into details which could put the town into jeopardy if a lawsuit were filed.
Ed Schwing then offered his opinion to say that if you work for the town the people are the last supervisor of those employees and we have the right to know why they are hired and why they are fired, not something that can be kept secret. Milardo then commented that she has already said that the file is free to be seen.
The BOS then approved tax refunds of $430.35.
Tammy Anderson, the former assistant assessor, was present at the meeting. FS Milardo made a motion to appoint her as Assessor and pointed out that Anderson has been doing the job in the meantime. Selectman Schlag stated she supported Anderson for the position but went on to state that this seemed to be another rubber stamp of the wishes of the FS Milardo. Milardo responded that Tammy Anderson was interviewed by a panel of three persons just a year and a half ago, and she had come in second at the time, she has been doing the job well and is more than qualified for the position and Milardo felt it was not necessary to go through that same process again. This was just a recommendation for the BOS to vote on. The motion passed.
At a special meeting of the BOS, the consensus was to raise the transfer station permit fee to $75, but keep it at $50 for senior citizens. There was discussion about the abuse of bulky waste by some individuals who might be bringing in waste from jobs in other towns. Selectman Schlag wanted to re-appoint a Transfer Station Task Force to study the issue more generally. FS Milardo stated that we are benefitting from the research done by other area towns. She further stated that the Transfer Station Task Force does not set the fees; the BOS sets the fees. Selectman Maggi stated that we charge considerably less than other towns and that this fee is not large. Seniors 65 or over will not receive a fee increase. Training of personnel will include checking on permits to make sure that they are up to date and that they are adhered to the vehicle. There will be limits on the size of trailers hauling bulky waste and a requirement that building permits must be shown to deposit construction debris. The motion to increase the fees was passed by a 2-1 vote.
Larry Wagner and Associates was the only bidder on the construction project to complete work and administer the Small Cities Grant at the senior center which would include paving of the driveway and reworking the ramp, railing and doorway to the senior center. Wagner has done other work for the Town in a satisfactory manner. The motion to approve Wagner and Associates was approved unanimously.