Town of Pittsford Select Board Meeting
Thomas “Hank” Pelkey, Chairman opened the meeting at 6:30 p.m. Select Board members present were: Thomas “Hank” Pelkey, Allen Hitchcock, Joseph Gagnon, David Markowski, and Thomas Hooker. Also present were Michael Balch, Linda Drummond, Senator Kevin Mullin, Senator Wendy Wilton, Senator Hull Maynard, and Chuk Pitts. Gary Gallipo and Ralph Reynolds arrived at 6:55 PM. Tom Carrara arrived at 7:00 PM.
The Select Board minutes of October 4, 2006 were reviewed, discussed, and approved.
The orders of October 18, 2006 were reviewed, discussed and approved in the amount of $433,497.91.
TOWN MANAGER’S REPORT
Mike Balch reported on the following:
Delinquent sewer & water accounts that were due for shut off this week have either been paid in full or have signed agreements with payment schedules and gave a payment towards the agreement. There will not be any water shutoffs this week.
Vermont League of Cities and Towns sent an announcement letter in regards to the VLCT Health Trust, Inc. stating that they are seeing a shocking increase in charges from Blue Cross and Blue Shield this year with this leading to rates in 2007 headed up, up, and up. M. Balch will report on the increase amount yet as soon as he has receives it. This year the employee contribution goes from 17 ½ to 20 %.
M. Balch included in the packet a letter from the Town of Proctor in regards to the Goodnough District Water Line leak. Each Goodnough District Water Line owner received the letter stating “if the water leak is not repaired by October 23, 2006, water service to the Goodnough District Water Line will be shut off and remain off until the leak has been repaired.” M. Balch has received 3 phone calls from owners wanting to know how to set up a fire district. He has gathered information on forming a fire district and is waiting for the owners to pick up the copies.
The Town of Pittsford has zero responsibility but owners have been turning to Pittsford for assistance as they are residents of Pittsford. Discussion was held on the history of the Goodnough District Water Line.
M. Balch met with Steve Schild from the Rutland Regional Planning Commission and Lister John Eugair to review the mapping project. S. Schild wrote down J. Eugair’s concerns and took the documents back to his office to review. S. Schild mentioned that some of the documents were not standard and that he would call and talk with Cartographics. The Purchase Order with Cartographics for parcel mapping referred to the bid documents and included an amendment. The total cost for mapping is approximately $13,000 over 3 years.
M. Balch met with Bruce Babcock and Bob Berardo in regards to installing water meters and they agreed that they could install at least 2 water meters a week starting next week. Some weeks they may be able to do more depending on their regularly scheduled work. Linda Drummond will schedule the appointments for them. Discussion was held in regards to the past Water Board looking into an outside contractor replacing all the water meters in town which was not feasible to do two years ago or now unless there was a bond to purchase all new water meters and to install all of them. M. Balch will look into the cost that was quoted at that time.
Shawn Erickson submitted an estimate on the cost to refurbish Goat Farm Road: $55.00 per linear foot which includes some areas that would be dug out and other areas to be filled in to bring the road up to level. M. Balch clarified that the 1300 linear feet cost was $73,399 and to do the entire road area for Class 4 was 3440 linear feet and the cost is $189,843. M. Balch will get a list of abutters on Goat Farm Road and J. Gagnon suggested the Select Board and the property owners meet to review the proposed project.
Janet Mondlak has agreed to provide the same support and assistance with the Annual Town Report production under the same conditions as last year. J. Mondlak and L. Drummond will coordinate and facilitate. A. Hitchcock asked about the auditors’ responsibilities in preparing the Town Report. M. Balch stated that the statute provides that they have the authority to write an analysis of the operations for the year and they have a right to cite any issues that they think are inappropriate. This year the bid specification for the town report will require more time for the Town auditors to review the proof of the report than last year to avoid errors and omissions.
M. Balch has sent the requested boundary information for the Town property on Depot Road to Eric Hansen.
M. Balch checked the Town flood map and a small part of the lot Mr. Roberge is purchasing is in the flood plain. The Pittsford Town Flood Map is correct. M. Balch checked with Rutland Regional Planning Commission to check the Town flood plain overlay which was straight from FEMA.
A. Hitchcock expressed his concern on the proposed Blittersdorf sewer project and the potential to extend the sewer line farther on the west side which will need site engineers. M. Balch is working on a rough draft letter of intent for Jim Carroll to review on extending the sewer all the way to the top of the hill. The letter would be sent to all the abutters and we would be looking for a response from the abutters with an initial indication that they are willing to work with the Town. Benefits to the property owners will be expressed in the letter. CLD engineers stated that it would be feasible to have the sewer line go all the way up the hill.
M. Balch wrote a draft letter to OMYA offering Town help to locate related businesses in Pittsford.
The Board’s consensus was to send the letter.
Chuk Pitts is attending the meeting as a representative of the Lothrop School Board. The School Board is interested in keeping communications open between the Boards. A representative from the School Board will try to attend each Select Board meeting and the Select Board was invited to attend the Lothrop School Board meeting as well. The Select Board extended an invitation to the School Board to all the meetings and welcomed their participation in the meetings.
Senator Wendy Wilton, Senator Kevin Mullin, and Senator Hull Maynard addressed the Select Board to answer questions and share their views on how they see things shaping up in the State Legislature. Senator Maynard is on the Transportation Committee and Pittsford stands out in the Committee as the most organized in the Route 7 Project. Pittsford has taken a leadership role by going to neighbors and taking initiatives to solve problems on this project. Pittsford stands out in the Transportation Committee as the Town with the best organization and the most initiative on any project.
Senator Wilton stated that most of the Select Board meetings that they have attended have had issues with property taxes. Senator Wilton and Senator Mullin spent the summer on a state tour visiting nearly every county presenting a PowerPoint presentation and speaking to towns about the affordability factor of Vermont and how we compare to other states, how did we get to where we are, and how do we fix it. Rutland County has done very well on affordability. Peg Flory is doing a great job. One of the major issues has been property taxes and another issue is the Workmen’s Compensation rate, especially for small businesses. The Senators would like to see the following happen in the Legislature to move the bills: Start the discussion, get the testimony, and move the bill. Senator Mullin has had complaints from Select Boards about the new way the prebates checks will be handled next year and how people will be able to calculate someone’s income. A lot of work will be put on the municipal levels with looking up parcel numbers to coordinate with the checks that will come directly to the town offices.
M. Balch stated that there are two overarching issues over and above the property tax which is an issue in Pittsford. With the recent property revaluation, a few peoples’ taxes have doubled. The CLA was just under 80% before the revaluation. The commercial/industrial went down with the residential going up and shifting about $400,000 to the residential owners. The school population hasn’t increased and their support from other areas has gone down creating a terrible tax burden on the property owner. M. Balch presented these two issues to the Senators:
1. Senator Wilton was the only Legislator who responded to a letter from the Pittsford Select Board that was sent to all the Vermont legislators. The letter was about OMYA being the only company in Vermont which a new law was passed that OMYA must prove that its industrial process is safe. No other industry must prove that their industrial process is safe. Senator Mullin stated that OMYA agreed to the law. M. Balch said it can’t be done. The law means that every known disease known to man would have to be correlated against every person that was exposed to the process. It is impossible. Senator Mullin responded that there was a very simple exemption for the OMYA tailings that was out of the Senate Economic Development Committee but OMYA after meeting with the Senate Leadership agreed to a different version. M. Balch expressed the Select Board’s concern that any one industry would be singled out and subjected to a different standard than other industry and does not believe it is appropriate. It sets a standard that may be applied by others who may not like an industry for one reason or another. Also the Board was not consulted about the largest tax payer in Town going through a very major issue when the statute passed. Senator Mullin stated that there are anti OMYA meetings being held in Pittsford which legislators from outside Rutland County are being invited to attend. The Senators expressed their concerns about the process that was put in place by the Legislature which does not seem to be adhered to. There was a process that was outlined in the statute that was to be followed and it was outlined how the community was going to be involved. If the process that was set forth by the Legislature is not being followed, then that issue needs to be addressed in statute or the statute needs enforcing. Senator Wilton will follow up on the process set forth in the statute for OMYA.
2. The second issue is the US Route 7 project. Pittsford is entirely responsible for the water and sewer portions. CLD Engineering came back with Pittsford’s responsibility of approximately $4 million for the water and sewer. Senator Wilton stated that Jeff Wennberg may be able to help. The Dept. of Environmental Conservation has low and/or no interest loans or grants towards town improvements through USDA Rural Development. Also through USDA there are the Community Facilities Block Grant opportunities. Also there may be an opportunity through the Capitol Bill which would require a Town letter requesting financial help for the US Rte. 7 project.
Discussion was held in regards to the Pittsford Post Office location decision which the Town has been waiting over a year for from the Supreme Court. A letter was sent to the Environmental Board in 2004 and again to the Supreme Court in Aug. 2006 asking for an immediate decision on the post office location. There has been no response from either court. Senator Maynard would like copies of the letters the Board sent to the two courts. He will look into this issue.
The Board thanked the Senators for attending the meeting. Senators Wilton, Mullin, and Maynard and Chuk Pitts departed at 7:25PM.
The Select Board recessed as the Select Board and convened as the Water Board at 7:26 PM. The Select Board reconvened 7:37 PM.
The Select Board recessed as the Select Board and convened as the Sewer Board 7:38 PM.
The Select Board reconvened at 7:47 PM.
Consider cost estimate re: Goat Farm Road Improvement
Shawn Erickson submitted an estimate for the Board to review which was mentioned earlier in this meeting in the Town Manager’s Report. M. Balch will get the abutters list for the section of Goat Farm Road that is being considered for upgrading. The next step will be to meet with the abutters and review the request.
Consider Bid on engineering support for reconstruction of 0.70 miles of West Creek Road
There was one bid from Infrastructure Engineering for $6600. Discussion was held to be sure that the bid includes all the permit work that must be done. D. Markowski made a motion to accept the bid from Infrastructure Engineering for the amount of $6600 for the engineering support for reconstruction of 0.70 miles of West Creek Road. A. Hitchcock seconded the motion. Discussion was held in regards to the grant money which was received after three years of submitting grants. There is $150,000 in grant money to go towards this project. The motion was approved unanimously.
Consider Bid on Reconstructing erosion protection for footing to eastern buttress of Depot Hill Road Bridge
M. Balch reported that the stream alteration permit has been received for June 2007. If the river is down this fall, a review of the location would need to be done for work to be done this fall. There was one bid from Gecha Bros. Excavation for $6,650. D. Markowski recused himself from the vote. A. Hitchcock made a motion to accept Gecha Bros. bid for $6,650. T. Hooker seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously carried with D. Markowski recusing himself.
Consider Application for Access/Right of Way permit Edward & Dorothy Wheeler
A. Hitchcock made a motion to accept the application for access/right of way permit for Edward & Dorothy Wheeler on Sangamon Road with conditions noted by S. Erickson. D. Markowski seconded the motion. The permit is for forestry access. The motion was passed unanimously.
Gary Gallipo and Ralph Reynolds expressed their concerns in regards to the two mobile homes on Lawrence Gallipo’s property on a less than ½ acre lot. M. Balch responded that Aria Brissette, the Town code enforcement officer, sent all the information to the Town attorney for an opinion on what should be done. A. Brissette had put together a compendium of all the facts going back a number of years, sent them to the Town attorney, and requested advice on what should be done. When the answer comes back, that’s what she will do. The document went to the attorney approximately two weeks ago. R. Reynolds stated that issues about the mobile homes have gone on for two years. He stated there was no permit for the extra mobile home and that even a porch permit was given to the home which did not have a permit. The Town’s attorney will review the facts and circumstances and he will tell the Town code enforcement officer what the law is which she will follow. G. Gallipo and R. Reynolds are frustrated with the time taken to resolve this issue and state that the Select Board is setting a precedent in letting this go on. M. Balch responded that the Select Board is not setting anything and the Board has no say over code enforcement. The code enforcement is the code enforcement officer’s conclusions. The law says specifically that the Select Board and the Town Manager are not allowed to influence what the code enforcement officer decides. When the Town attorney tells the code enforcement officer what is legal and what is not, then action will be taken. If there are changes to be made, the Town will take action. The Board expressed their understanding of G. Gallipo and Ralph Reynolds’ frustration but there is nothing they can do about it as they do not have the statutory authority. However, the Zoning Administrator has the authority and once she knows what the law says is right or wrong, she will enforce it.
The Board recessed at 8:08 PM to convene as the Liquor Board. The Board reconvened at 8:10 PM.
T. Hooker made a motion to go into Executive Session for Pending Litigation at 8:10 PM. J. Gagnon seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
In accordance with 1VSA 312(b) where premature general public knowledge would clearly place the Municipality or person involved at a substantial disadvantage, the Board unanimously agreed to go into Executive Session for Pending Litigation at 8:10 PM. M. Balch was asked to stay and all others departed. The Board came out of Executive Session at 8:27 PM.
It was agreed that D. Markowski and M. Balch will attend the Mumley arbitration.
Without any further business, the meeting was adjourned at 8:28PM.
Thomas “Hank” Pelkey, Chair
Allen Hitchcock, Vice-Chair
Dave Markowski, Selectman
W. Joseph Gagnon, Selectman
Thomas Hooker, Selectman