ENFIELD TOWN COUNCIL
MINUTES OF A SPECIAL MEETING
DECEMBER 5, 2005
A Special Meeting of the Enfield Town Council was called to order by Chairman Tallarita in the Enfield Room of the Enfield Town Hall, 820 Enfield Street, Enfield, Connecticut on Monday, December 5, 2005. The meeting was called to order at 6:06 p.m.
ROLL-CALL – Present from the Enfield Town Council were Councilmen Edgar, Hilinski, Kaupin, Lee, Maxellon, Nelson, Peruta, Ragno and Tallarita. Councilman Crowley entered at 6:15 p.m. Councilman Mangini was absent. Also present were Acting Town Manager and Town Attorney, Christopher Bromson; Assistant Town Manager, Daniel Vindigni; Director of Public Works, John Kazmarski; Director of Finance, Gregory Simmons; Director of Libraries, Henry Dutcher and Town Clerk, Suzanne Olechnicki.
There was no Executive Session.
DISCUSSION RE: POWDER HOLLOW BRIDGE PLAN
Present for this discussion was Director of Public Works, John Kazmarski.
Mr. Kazmarski displayed a picture of the existing bridge. He noted this bridge has received some remedial work over the years. He then displayed a picture of the proposed replacement bridge. He noted this low profile bridge was recommended by the design consultant and was accepted by the Town Council at that time. He stated this would be a two-lane bridge with sidewalks on both side to provide access to the fishing area and the Scantic rapids park.
As concerns funding, Mr. Kazmarski stated a U.S. transportation bill was signed and provides $3,528,000 as the federal share for this project. He noted in order to utilize this federal share, which represents 80% of the total cost of the project, the Town would have to come up with an $882,000 local share, which makes the total project cost $4,410,000.
Councilman Kaupin questioned how much of the $882,000 Town share is already available. Mr. Kazmarski stated he does not have that exact figure. Mr. Simmons indicated he would provide that figure.
Councilman Kaupin requested an itemized breakdown showing exactly what the Town is responsible for and how much is already allocated in CIP and whether additional funding will be required in the next budget.
Councilman Ragno stated he travels this route everyday and is enthused about this project. He questioned what’s being done to provide more parking in the area of the bridge, and Mr. Kazmarski stated proposed parking is intended to augment already limited parking in this area. He added they could talk to DEP about their Scantic rapids park, but DEP informed the Town that what was believed to be an old Town right-of-way was actually owned by the State, and that is why they’ve built the Scantic rapids park without any specific approval from the Town. He noted they could look into the possibility of expanding the parking in this area.
Councilman Maxellon questioned if the load capacity of the new bridge is being increased to accommodate fire trucks. Mr. Kazmarski stated the Town is required to build this bridge according to federal highway administration standards, which encompasses large fire trucks.
Chairman Tallarita questioned the lighting plan for this bridge. Mr. Kazmarski stated they’re considering period-type lighting for safety purposes and to enhance the appearance of the bridge.
Mr. Kazmarski stated the 90 degree bend which the Council wants could be a difficulty with the State because it may not comply with FHWA criteria. He noted they could ask for a waiver of that criteria. He stated they are proceeding with the final design with the 90 degree bend included.
Chairman Tallarita questioned the time line for this project. Mr. Kazmarski stated at this point it’s being targeted for 2007 construction. He noted all of the funds won’t become available to the Town until fiscal year 2009. He stated it’s his understanding that there’s a proviso with a firm commitment from the federal government to provide the Town with the funds so that they can go forward with the project.
Chairman Tallarita stated his understanding some of the transportation reauthorization dollars for some district projects around the country were in jeopardy because of the FEMA dollars required as a result of the disaster in the South. He stated he wants to be sure that if Enfield makes a commitment to do this project, the monies will be available to the Town at some point. Mr. Kazmarski stated in speaking to the representative from CRCOG, it’s his understanding the monies are committed.
Chairman Tallarita questioned how long the project will take to complete, and Mr. Kazmarski responded one year.
Chairman Tallarita questioned whether the Town has to first put forth its share of this funding. Mr. Simmons responded the Town does not have to put the money in up front.Councilman Crowley questioned whether recreation (fishing, kayaking, the canoe race) will be impacted while this project is underway. Mr. Kazmarski noted it could be written into the specifications that no work will take place during the Spring Splash. He noted at other times, there might be some disruption to recreational activities since the road in this area has to be closed down and the traffic detoured. He pointed out this project does not involve going into the Scantic River itself.
Councilman Lee questioned whether the new bridge will have the same traffic signs, and Mr. Kazmarski responded yes.
Councilman Ragno questioned whether there will be any temporary bridge for emergency vehicles. Mr. Kazmarski responded no.
Councilman Peruta stated if the 90 degree design has to be redesigned, will that effect the time line for this project, and Mr. Kazmarski responded no.
Chairman Tallarita questioned when it will be known whether or not the 90 degree design is acceptable at the federal level, and Mr. Kazmarski estimated March or April of 2006.
Councilman Nelson questioned whether the Town owns the right-of-way to the Scantic River, and Mr. Kazmarski responded no.
DISCUSSION RE: LONG-RANGE LIBRARY PLAN
Present for this discussion were Library Long Range Planning Committee members, Peter Falk, Marie O’Hara, Robert Gibson, Chris Casey, Anita Grimes, Karen Jarmoc, Library Director, Henry Dutcher and Assistant Library Director, Mary Palomba.
Mr. Falk shared the mission of the Library Long Range Planning Committee which is to support the public schools, the public and businesses. He described how modern libraries are evolving to provide useful services and relevant programming. He pointed out libraries are much more than books. He noted they are also learning centers.
He stated the Committee is present this evening asking for Council support of their plan. He stressed approval does not commit the Council to any specific level of funding. He noted there are a number of initiatives in the plan that do not require additional money. He pointed out some of the goals merely require a shuffling of existing funds and staff.
Mr. Falk stated it’s the intent of this plan to establish a Space Planning Committee to look into what space requirements would be needed if all the identified community needs were addressed. He noted based on the result of the Space Planning Committee’s recommendations, the Council may be asked to initiate a referendum to satisfy those needs. He stated if they get to that point, they would also be recommending numerous funding sources, i.e., grants, public donations, private donations.
He stated by approving this plan, the Council will be providing direction to the library over the next five years so that they can be focused in providing services to the community.
Councilman Hilinski requested some elaboration on the building expansion plan itself for the library building. Mr. Falk stated there is no specific plan at this point in time. He noted if they wished to expand and get state grants, a certain square footage is required based on population. He noted they still need to do a detailed investigation. He stated they also discussed the possibility of making the library more of a community center, however, that would require more space. He pointed out there are no firm plans.
Councilman Crowley questioned the possibility of utilizing school libraries. Mr. Dutcher stated the school and public libraries have different priorities as to how they function. Mr. Falk stated school libraries are very focused on their students.
Councilman Edgar stated his understanding that part of the school expansion plan was to have access to the school libraries. He went on to question how much land is owned behind the Enfield Public Library, and Mr. Falk indicated there isn’t much land available behind the library. Councilman Edgar stated his belief any expansion of the current library would have to take into consideration the wetlands in that area.
Mr. Dutcher stated he had no involvement with the decision-making process regarding the school expansion plan and the idea of using school libraries. Mr. Falk stated he was present during the discussions regarding school expansion and use of school libraries, and at the time they discussed placing gates in the hallways, however, gates would not be allowed because of fire code issues. He noted they then would not be able to isolate the school libraries from the remainder of the school, therefore, there would be concerns about vandalism and security. Councilman Edgar stated his understanding there would need to be staffing to prevent vandalism.
Councilman Peruta questioned the history of getting sizeable grants for projects of this size. Mr. Falk stated his belief the Chicopee Library cost about $9 million dollars, but actually cost the taxpayers about $2 million dollars. He noted at least $2 to $3 million came in through private and corporate donations and the balance came from grants from the state and federal government. He pointed out most of the money came from the grants. He stated it’s possible to get sizeable grants. Mr. Dutcher pointed out Massachusetts granting is different than Connecticut. He noted things are trying to be changed, but at this time, Connecticut maxes out at a half a million dollars. He stated he visits a lot of libraries and has seen a lot of models. He noted they vary everywhere from the municipal agent picking up the entire tab to Southwick, Massachusetts where the library was built by the private community.
Councilman Peruta stated using school libraries should be a consideration although he recognizes there are issues involved.
Councilman Kaupin voiced his appreciation and support for this plan. He noted after reading the report and listening to the community, it’s evident there’s a desire for a full-fledged community center. He acknowledged all the implications of referendum and costs. He noted this plan can help them move forward so that in a few years they will know what’s needed to meet the community’s needs if they’re to build a new library.
Councilman Maxellon noted he was on the building committee for the school expansions. He stated one of the criteria for the elementary and middle school projects was to make the libraries accessible from the outside so that they didn’t have to enter the school itself. He stated his belief they succeeded in most of the buildings, however, staffing is an issue.
Mr. Dutcher stated if the school libraries were to be opened as a branch of the public library from a collections point of view, they would be opening them up to all age groups. He noted as an example, if the Enfield High School library was opened to anyone in the community, they would have to serve pre-schoolers and adults.
Councilman Hilinski stated the layouts of the eight elementary schools that were remodeled were built exactly to allow access to the libraries and the gymnasiums, and in some cases even the computer rooms. He explained the whole idea behind that is to allow evening access by the community. He noted children could use the elementary school libraries, and adults could use the high school libraries. He stated they wouldn’t necessarily change the collections, but rather use the facilities as they are. He noted this would allow students to work on homework projects and things of that nature. He went on to explain that over the last three tight budget years, funding additional staffing at night for those libraries wasn’t a priority for the Board of Education. He stated it is feasible to do this.
Chairman Tallarita questioned what collaboration takes place between the public and school libraries at this time. Mr. Dutcher stated they do meet occasionally and there is a Council of Enfield Librarians. He noted they try to do joint projects, i.e., poetry program, grant opportunities, a website put out by the public library called the “Teacher Connection” through which teachers can notify the public library ahead of time of assignments so they can be prepared for the children when they come to the library to do those assignments, and the library provided an in-service day for teachers.
Chairman Tallarita stated in the short term he would like to see more collaboration between the public librarians and the school librarians from a program standpoint.
Chairman Tallarita requested Mr. Dutcher explain the current grant application. Mr. Dutcher explained this is a one-year grant that was funded as of January 1, 2005 and is supposed to be finished by December 31, 2005. He noted they are looking for the Council’s agreement that this is a good long-range plan for the library.
Chairman Tallarita stated he is very impressed with this committee, the amount of work they do, and their vision.
DISCUSSION RE: FINANCIAL STATUS REPORT
Mr. Simmons distributed a financial status report (Revenues and Expenditures-Year-to-Date).
He noted the Town recently went through its financial audit for the year ending June 30, 2005, however, the audit report isn’t available yet, but it will be by the end of this calendar year. He stated the auditors will come back and do a more detailed presentation to the Council in January or February.
Mr. Simmons stated there is an undesignated fund balance of $10,700,000 and with the Town’s operating budget of $107 million dollars, that’s exactly 10%. He pointed out the Government Finance Officers’ Association (GFOA) recommends a town have between 5% and 15%, therefore, Enfield is in a good place with 10%. He stated that is an increase over the prior year. He noted for the past two years, the Town had losses and they utilized Fund Balance because they were having bad years. He noted this is the best increase in three years.
Mr. Simmons stated a couple items which will tap into that increase are Heart & Hypertension claims which can be huge. He added the police contract has been settled, and they did not plan on 4% in the first year, therefore, they will be looking for a transfer for a contingency. He estimated that figure will be at least $150,000. He went on to note they have to pay for accumulated sick and vacation time for retirees as they leave and this is based on contracts. He pointed out if they get a couple of long-term employees leaving, this can be very costly. He noted they only budget $25,000 per year in a line item to cover this. He stated the fuel cost issue that everyone is experiencing will have a large impact on the Town. He noted they will be discussing the fuel cost issue with department heads and the Board of Education. Mr. Vindigni stated the department and division heads were e-mailed today about a December 12th meeting to discuss an energy conservation plan.
Mr. Simmons distributed documentation showing the flood costs which amount to $188,000. Mr. Vindigni stated this figure does not cover the estimated damages to the Scantic River behind JFK Middle School. He noted this figure is what has been expended so far on overtime, drainage, washout repairs, and debris removal. He noted there’s a breakdown between the police and other divisions of Public Works (Highway, Building & Grounds, outside contractor and the Solid Waste Division and the Water Pollution Control Division). Chairman Tallarita questioned whether this takes into consideration the lost revenue as a result of the transfer station being open. Mr. Vindigni responded no and noted that’s what the cost will be with the tonnage collected.
Mr. Vindigni stated these figures don’t reflect the fire service or the Housing Authority. He noted if they get FEMA approval, they can apply directly to FEMA. He noted he checked with the State Office of Homeland Security on Friday, and they had not heard anything as yet. He added he also checked with the Congressman’s office. Chairman Tallarita stated he spoke with the Congressman’s office on Friday and requested an update on this process.
Mr. Simmons stated revaluation is coming up in 2006, and they have to keep cognizant of that and what impact that will have on the Fund Balance.
Mr. Simmons stated if the sale of Asnuntuck goes through, that money is earmarked for the athletic fields and it’s unlikely they’ll need the full $2 million dollars for that.
Chairman Tallarita stated another positive item is that they have the money bonded last Friday for Water Pollution Control for the D.O.C. settlement. He stated his belief that amount is $2.8 million dollars, and that money goes back into the WPC fund balance.
Referring to Page 17 of the expenditure status report, Mr. Simmons noted there’s a huge overage for medical and dental insurance. He noted the Council shouldn’t be alarmed because this is an over-encumbrance, and this is something they do at the beginning of the year to be sure they have all the funding in place for everything.
Chairman Tallarita questioned if the Town is in good shape, and Mr. Simmons responded yes.
Councilman Maxellon referred to the flood expenditures and questioned if the fire service was requested to supply their figures, and Mr. Vindigni responded yes, and that was forwarded to FEMA.
DISCUSSION RE: TOE BIDDING PROCEDURES
Mr. Simmons distributed documentation showing the process the Town goes through for bids and RFP’s. He noted the first section is an excerpt from the Charter that tells how they determine the amount that has to be put out to bid which is $10,200, and this is based on a percentage of the grand list. He stated the next section is the Town’s bid procedures which are found on the intranet, and all departments have access to this. He noted the third section is the standard instructions to bidders. He noted they always require a bid bond. He explained the bid bond is where a contractor puts in his bid at the time of making a submission and it holds the contractor to their commitment. He stated contractors are required to submit a performance and labor bond which means they will fulfill their commitment and pay any subcontractors that they hire.
Councilman Peruta questioned how they get this information out to prospective bidders. Mr. Simmons stated they are required by Charter to advertise in the local newspaper. He noted they also put it on the State’s website under Administrative Services, and they put it on the Town’s website.
Councilman Maxellon suggested advertising with Dodge Reports as well. Mr. Vindigni stated his belief Dodge Reports often contacts the Town, therefore, he believes they have some type of monitoring mechanism in place. Councilman Maxellon suggested e-mailing Dodge Reports directly to keep them in the loop.
Councilman Maxellon referred to the Davis Bacon wages and questioned the requirement, and Mr. Simmons responded it’s $100,000 and $400,000. He stated his belief it’s $100,000 for repair and $400,000 for new construction. He added he can double-check this. Councilman Maxellon questioned if it’s under those amounts, does the Town usually not require prevailing wage. Mr. Simmons stated the Town doesn’t usually require it when they don’t have to because it definitely increases the cost of the project.
Councilman Kaupin questioned the procedure when only one bidder comes in. Mr. Simmons stated Public Works has a good idea what the bid is supposed to be, and if they get one bid, and Public Works feels it’s outside of the acceptable range, they can reject it and go back out to bid. He pointed out the Town has the right to accept or reject a bid.
Councilman Nelson stated if the replacement of the roof is classified as a repair, then it would have to be union scale, and Mr. Simmons responded yes. Councilman Nelson stated his recollection Colleen Brand stated it would not be prevailing wage for the replacement of the Town Hall roof. Mr. Simmons stated he will look into that.
MOTION #8112 by Councilman Kaupin, seconded by Councilman Hilinski to adjourn.
Upon a SHOW-OF-HANDS vote being taken, the Chair declared MOTION #8112 adopted 10-0-0, and the meeting stood adjourned at 7:30 p.m.