The Water Bill Increase
So I begin with an update of the Select-Board meeting of November 12, 2015 5:30 PM at Newport Town hall…This is the first Select Board meeting I have ever attended.. Recently as most reading know that out water bill was doubled… included on the bill increase notice was this explanation:
“This letter to inform you that beginning with November 2015 water bills the quarterly charge for water will be now $240 per unit.
This is due to the expenses related to the water system.”
So, we just got an increase a year ago and now, we have another increase, doubling the 140.00 to 240 per quarter. WHAT’S GOING ON? .. I would expect a detailed explanation as most would for this type of increase…I spoke to the clerk, Denise Daigle on this issue. She had little in the way of explaining this increase and suggested I attend the town Select-Board meeting to get more information on this…
I put this on my calendar.
Before I attended the meeting I browsed around the internet to find any relevant laws and statues that might help me should I need to quote on any issues using legal statues… I found a law called “Open Meeting” that includes a lot of State and Federal regulation on Town/Select Board meetings.
I arrived at the meeting at 5:30 sharp. There were the 3 selectmen, Denise Daigle (town manager) and 4 others at the meeting. I recognized two of them as residents. One of them was there for an issue of a drain ditch the town put on his property that he was unhappy with. He discussed his issue with the board, it seemed to resolved and he left the meeting.
Left were myself, my wife and Ernest Choquette who owns several housing units. He whispered to me his water bill is excessive taking into consideration of his many housing units and property tax bill he pays to the Town. At one point he tried to get a word in to the selectmen in the Water Bill issue and was told to SHUT UP in a loud angry tone by one of the selectmen, which led me to believe that they had words previously.
So, the Board then turned their attention to the last unidentified person in the room… He was right in front of us facing the 3 selectmen and Denise. He was speaking in low tone almost inaudible. It was clear Ernest my wife and I were not included in this conversation….I interjected, pointed a finger at the man and asked the Board “who is this?” I thought this was an Open Meeting but clearly we were not included… The man identified himself as an engineer consultant on the water issue. But clearly he was not there just as a consultant but also a liaison to close some contract deals on the issues because several times the Board confronted each other seemed to agree and sign off on something mentioned by the engineer in his subtle whispers to the Board out of hearing range of the attendees…. when I asked for more information, I was told since they were paying this man 250. per hour they could not take take the time to explain anything about the water issue to us that was being discussed. The Board promised to go into more detail about the issue after the engineer was though with his very expensive hourly rate of 250,00 per hour.
This Engineer was on the agenda to speak at the (Open Meeting) which resembled a small group talking amongst themselves out of the way from the attendees.
The proper way to do this is for the engineer to face the audience and either he or the selectman introduce the name of the speaker. The speaker should speak directly to the entire audience in a clear articulate manner. He is being paid 250.00 per hour and you would expect a more professional attitude..I hope his work is not as shoddy.
After the consultant had finished I was asked to take the floor was told that they would explain some of the details of this water issue.
I told them I was building this website so the town could have better transparencies on issues and would be video taping all of the meetings from here on and publishing them on this website. At this point I asked the selectmen if they would not mind if one of them could take me out to the site of the water reservoir to videotape a segment to explain the difficulties and remedies of the water …. one of the the town workers exclaimed when asked to do this “NO I do not want to get in the middle this”…Middle of what? What going on?
At this point selectman Steve Barrup volunteered to do this. He told me to just call him in the morning and he would find a time we could get together to do this. I called him on the following day, Nov 13th, 2015 and left a message, I have not heard back from him as of yet…
Also at these meetings required by law (Open Meeting State and local statues VSA #313 – 315), minutes must be recorded of events at the meeting. Minutes are brief descriptions on written log filed by the clerk within 5 days for the public viewing… I will obtain this and post it here to compare my version to theirs.
SO,, from here on out I will be at every meeting with video recording the meeting exercising my rights VSA 313 to record and publish these meetings .. if you can not attend the monthly SelectBoard meetings please come back here check out the video recording. Keep informed.. in the least.
They will appear on this blog the following day.