By TS Targos

Staff writer

At a special meeting scheduled to focus on a personnel matter, the Salem Town Board discussed the hiring of a contractor to screen and select the cellular companies that could rent spaces atop the town’s new water tower.

Salem Town Administrator Patrick Casey explained to the board that with the new water tower now up and running, the town has received on a few inquiries from cellular companies looking rent space on the tower. Of the few inquiries to fill the six slots available on the tower, Casey said that cellular companies were looking for long-term (20 year) contracts at relatively low monthly rents – in one case only $700/month.

Casey said that other towns were renting similar slots on their towers at rates of $1,700/month or more. He believed that the tower should attract many more bidders for the spots, and, if properly negotiated, the town should be able to obtain a contract with cellular companies for $2,000 or more a month per space.

To best recruit companies to rent spaces on the tower and to negotiate ideal rental rates with cellular companies, Casey said that the town should contract a rental agent. He proposed that the town hire SAC Wireless to act as the rental agent.

In the proposed agreement, in return for identifying and negotiating contracts with cellular companies, SAC Wireless would receive a commission of 10 percent of the first five years rent to be received. The company would receive the entire commission payment upfront. It means that if SAC arranged for a cellular company to pay $2,000 per month for a spot, SAC would immediately receive its $12,000 commission.

While the board agreed with Casey on hiring an agent, a concern was raised about the large upfront payment. For example, there were concerns if a cellular company renting a slot went out of business early in the lease.

Interim town supervisor Ted Kmiec asked if SAC Wireless would accept payments on a yearly basis during the first five years of the lease versus receiving the entire commission upfront. Casey agreed to approach SAC Wireless with the idea and agreed to return with a proposal for the board to consider at the Feb. 13 regularly scheduled town board meeting.

Other business

The primary focus of the special meeting was to discuss synching up the town clerk’s job description with the requirements for the position listed in the state’s statutes for the position. It is an issue that Town Clerk Cyndi Ernst said that the town “had been trying to resolve for years.”

Supervisor Dennis Faber proposed developing a process to put the job description “in synch with state statutes.” He added, “We need to give the clerk the responsibilities that she is authorized to do.”

Later after, the board emerged from a nearly hour long closed session, the board announced that it authorized the town administrator to present and prepare new job descriptions for all of the town’s employees. According Tesar, Casey would start with the description for the town clerk, followed by the town treasurer, and finally all the other town employees. Tesar hoped that the process would be completed before April.

At the recommendation of the town clerk, the board also decided to purchase the refurbished voting machines it had been renting for elections. The approximately $11,000 purchase price is equal to one year’s rent for the same machines.

To finance the purchase, the town will use  $10,000 already in the budget for renting the machines plus just over $1,000 from the town’s contingency fund.


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