Under public comment, Chris Helmstetter once again made his oft-repeated request for website data related to the town’s $100,000 marketing campaign initiated last fall in response to a drop in business levels after Tropical Storm Irene. At a meeting several months ago, Mount Snow General Manager Kelly Pawlak indicated that she had given some data to Dover Economic Development Specialist Ken Black.
This week Black told Helmstetter he doesn’t have the information.
“So she’s not telling the truth?” asked Helmstetter.
“She might have said that, but I don’t have it,” Black said. “I called her six weeks ago, and she said she would be happy to consider a request from the majority of the selectboard. That’s what I put in my report six weeks ago.”
“And we’ve decided not to deal with the issue any further,” said selectboard chair Linda Holland.
“Who voted against it?” asked Helmstetter.
“We’ve decided not to discuss this situation any more,” said board member Vicki Capitani. “We voted not to engage in this conversation.”
“But as a taxpayer, the money should have some reporting on it,” Helmstetter protested. “You just spent $100,000 with no reporting on how it worked?”
Noting that the board was satisfied with the marketing effort as indicated by the increase in 1% local option tax revenue, Holland said “We’re done with the deal. It’s useless to keep asking.”
In economic development discussions, Black reported that nine businesses have participated in the Dover Advertising Support Program (DASP), but six more still haven’t turned in the necessary paperwork to receive their advertising rebates. “We’ve found that we had to chase most people to submit their invoices. We still don’t have some of them. Some people were very judicious, others were not.”
“I appreciate that you do that, but it’s really not your job to go after these people,” said board member Vicki Capitani. “Your efforts are commendable, but it’s their money. For you to chase them doesn’t seem right.”
Black also noted that almost $1,000 of DASP money was carried over into the next quarter, allowing Mount Snow to participate. “Mount Snow wanted to do an advertising campaign, but we didn’t have the money until folks turned in their invoices, and we had some (money) left over.”
Black also reported problems with equipment for the WiFi hotspots that had been installed along Route 100. The chief problem is with the “splash” page, Black said. But the company that makes the equipment that provides the interface hasn’t been responsive to Black’s requests for support. “We, basically, cannot contact this company,” he said.
“Well, you get what you pay for,” quipped board member Randy Terk. Most of the hardware needed for the WiFi hotspots was provided free as part of the town’s E-Vermont grant.
“Have you been in contact with E-Vermont? Have they had any other issues?” asked Capitani.
“E-Vermont has tried to contact these guys, and they can’t get hold of them either,” Black said. “But the wireless zone works fine. The only thing that doesn’t work is the splash page. Beyond that it’s a question of the portal, which is not (the hardware manufacturer’s) anyway.”
Board member William “Buzzy” Buswell said he was “disturbed to see that FairPoint is bringing service to Stratton and Halifax for no cost.” He asked if Dover could negotiate any cost break.
“I did speak with them about that,” said Black. “That’s going to be a three-year installation. The bottom line, I guess, is that you pay the money to move to the top of the list. There is a cost to not having this service available to you for three years.”
West Dover Fire Chief Rich Werner told board members that specifications had been sent out for bids to refurbish the department’s tanker. He said the bids will be due in time for a recommendation at the board’s first meeting in September. Buswell asked if Werner was concerned about getting the tanker back before the holiday season. “I would be more concerned if it was the ladder,” he said. “East Dover has a tanker, lots of places have tankers. And I’m looking into getting a loaner while ours is out, but that may not happen.”
The department’s ladder truck, which was damaged during Tropical Storm Irene, was recently refurbished. Werner said he was disappointed with the work. “When it came back, there were a lot of things wrong with it,” he said. “The truck went out to Nebraska and back, and when it came back there was a power steering leak and some of the gauges didn’t work. Functionally, we’ve used it a couple of times and it’s good to have back.”
Werner complained that the company that refurbished it told the town’s insurance company that the truck was worth $450,000, making it worthwhile to put $200,000 worth of work into the truck. Werner said similar used trucks sell for substantially less than the company’s valuation, suggesting it was inflated to justify the repairs.
“I asked them if they thought it was worth $450,000, why don’t they write us a check for it,” Werner said. “They said ‘Oh, we didn’t mean we’d pay that.’”
In other matters the board approved a bid of $2,951 to refinish the wood floors at the Town Hall, and a $14,050 bid for weekly, monthly, and annual cleaning of town buildings. The cleaning bid board members approved was well above the lowest bid of $5,280, and even the next lowest bid of $9,700. Another company bid $37,425.
The winning bid, by Home Sweet Home cleaners, was approved pending a security check.