Londonderry to join state’s opioid lawsuit

By Bruce Frauman
©2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The Londonderry Select Board at its meeting Monday night chose to join a Vermont lawsuit that is part of the nationwide multi-district litigation against manufacturers and distributors that created or contributed to the nationwide opioid crisis.

Select Board member George Mora, left, and Town Administrator Shane O’Keefe. All photos by Bruce Frauman.

Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan said in a letter to all Vermont towns that they will be included in the suit unless they formally opt out. You can read that letter here.

The Londonderry board decided not to opt out.

Towns have the option of opting out of the state suit and hiring their own attorneys, but while they would receive payment directly, they would still have to pay their attorneys. Or, as Donovan suggested in his letter, they can be represented by the state. Payments then would go to the state legislature, which would make the distributions.

Donovan told VPR that there are 2,500 counties and towns nationwide involved in the lawsuit.

In other news, the town has two job openings, one on the road crew with the resignation of Road Foreman Mathew Rawson and the second at the Transfer Station,  a five-hour a week Sunday position. Both jobs are listed on the town website.

Board chair Jim Ameden said the town’s new chipper will get plenty of use after the recent windstorm. He also said the new truck will be delivered late this week or early next week. Ameden said a few roads are left to be graded before the snow flies.

Board member Tom Cavanagh also said that Solid Waste Coordinator Esther Fishman expects there will be an increase in the rates for trash hauling from Casella once the current contract with TAM runs out in 2021. Casella recently purchased TAM, the company that had been picking up at the Transfer Station.

Board member Bob Forbes agrees to join effort to redo the town office space.

Board member Bob Forbes agreed to be part of an effort, with members of the Planning Commission and town office staff, to develop a space utilization plan for  town offices with the town’s design consultant. Town Administrator Shane O’Keefe said he wants board participation to avoid a situation where the staff and consultants come up with a design plan that the board rejects. The renovation of the town office building is Phase 2 of the Town Office Planning Project that has been moved along by the Planning Commission. Chris Cole has been hired as the design consultant and drew up rough plans in 2015, which, according to O’Keefe, need to be revisited.

The board voted to increase spending thresholds in the town’s Purchasing Policy. O’Keefe said he sought the increases after reviewing the Purchasing Policy in late October. Under the new policy any town officer or employee may purchase items or material up to $1,000 as long as the purchase necessary and in the town’s best interest. For purchases between $1,000 and $2,500 the officer or employee must contact Select Board and the town administrator prior to purchase. From $2,500 to  $7,500 at least three quotes must be obtained and purchases above $7,500 are subject to a bid process.

With the changes – and in a significant public emergency – either a single select board member or, in their absence, the town administrator can approve an “immediate purchase” requested by the emergency management director.

Treasurer Tina Labeau said she may try to reconcile the Public Funds fund and the Cemetery Trust fund quarterly after the auditing firm cited these as a “material weakness” in their annual financial audit. Labeau said she does receive quarterly statements from each but may need to do more research to truly reconcile both funds. Board member Bob Forbes said this is a ridiculous amount of money that “we don’t control.” Labeau said the trustees do control the funds. Overall, Labeau said “there were not a lot of things (in the audit) to respond to this year.”

The board decided not to initiate a policy on whether non-Londonderry residents could serve on Londonderry committees. Ameden said that once a committee member has been appointed by the board, they can stay on until they resign. Energy Committee member Bruce Frauman had asked the board to make a decision since the EC chair, Will Reed, was in the process of moving to Landgrove and thought he might have to resign.

The board took note of the Windham County Sheriff’s Office rates for fiscal year 2020 while acknowledging that the State Police have been very present in Londonderry recently. Ameden said they twice beat the Phoenix Fire Company to an accident scene. The sheriff’s rates are $52 per hour for contracts up to 2,000 hours and $41 per hour above 2,000 hours.

And finally, the Champion Fire Company was appointed as 2020 Green Up Day coordinator as in 2019.

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