Pittsford Select Board Meeting
July 1, 2020
Board Members In Attendance: Thomas Hooker, Thomas “Hank” Pelkey, David Mills, W. Joseph Gagnon, Alicia Malay
Others In Attendance: John Haverstock, Chief Warfle, Lee Kahrs, Keith Whitcomb (Conference call), Butch Shaw (Conference call)
The meeting was called to order by Hank Pelkey – Chair at 6:30PM.
a) Discuss Possible Need for Executive Session
John Haverstock suggested the following items for executive session: 1) update on Rec Department-personnel matter, 2) discussion with Chief Warfle – personnel matter, 3) BLSG Mosquito District-personnel matter, 4) COPS grant discussion -contracts, 5) Village Sidewalk discussion-contracts.
Motion by Tom Hooker and seconded by Joe Gagnon to approve the executive session topics. The motion passed unanimously.
b) Discuss Possible Need to Amend Agenda
No amendments to the agenda.
c) Agenda Adoption
Motion by Dave Mills and seconded by Tom Hooker to accept the agenda as presented. The motion passed unanimously.
d) Approval of Minutes – Select Board Meeting – June 17, 2020
The minutes were approved and signed.
e. Approval of Orders
Alicia Malay questioned the camera and West Creek culvert warrants. John Haverstock reported the Safety Committee decided how to make use of VLCT grant monies. There is a need to replace the camera to monitor the highway garage. The magnesium is what is used for dust control. The Town previously used calcium chloride but changed to magnesium and is spending roughly the same. There will be multiple purchases, but it is mostly used in the summer after road work.
The orders in the amount of $25,658.01; $240.00 and $5,909.49 and $26,787.87 (payroll) were approved and signed.
f. Town Manager’s Report
John Haverstock reported that, as of today, Pittsford First Response is a Town Department of government. The Town Offices will be closed Friday, July 3rd and the Transfer Station will be closed Saturday, July 4th in observance of Independence Day. There will be two police officers patrolling Saturday night, but this will not result in any additional cost to the Town. Chief Warfle and David Soulia, Jr. – trainee will be doing the patrols. A letter was received from the Town of Chittenden advising they will be reclassifying three Class 4 highways to trails due to new State stormwater management requirements. There will be a site meeting on August 1st and an August 10th Select Board meeting to further discuss the plans. This would not normally be of concern; however, the West Road Extension is the access road to Pittsford’s water sources. Mr. Haverstock will be researching Pittsford’s continued access to its water sources and will update the Select Board. Anyone is welcome to attend the site visit and meeting and Mr. Haverstock will provide further information to the Select Board. Joe Gagnon asked if Chittenden has been maintaining the road to the water source. Mr. Haverstock noted the road remains open and usable, and in the past the Town of Pittsford has dumped gravel on the road as a cooperative venture. Mr. Haverstock will confirm there will not an issue with the continued public access and usage of the road.
2. Public Comment
Dave Mills was invited by the Pittsford Village Farm to be on a panel, as they are looking for new ideas. He noted there was a good discussion and asked if the Select Board had suggestions for someone to sit on the panel, as he is unable to do so.
Representative Butch Shaw reported that the legislature appropriated $1.1 billion of funds for a variety of entities. There is $219 million in grants available for businesses and information on how to apply for the grants will be available tomorrow. The funds will be on a “first come first served” basis with applications to be made through the State. There is an economic stabilization grant available through the Agency of Agriculture and $5 million available for the forest economy. The legislature has recessed until August 2nd and has passed a one quarter budget. It is hoped that, by the end of August, they will have a better idea of the tax revenues to adjust the budget for the remainder of the year.
Mr. Shaw, speaking on behalf of the Board of Civil Authority, advised there are two elections to be held this year with one in August and one in November. It is encouraged that people vote by mail with absentee ballots available, but there will also be in-person voting. The Town Clerk and he are waiting for guidance from the Secretary of State regarding the safety requirements for such things as how many can be in the building, six-foot spacing, limited contact, etc. The legislature passed a law that towns can recover funds for the voting process due to the COVID19 pandemic. The Board of Civil Authority will expend funds beyond the budget to comply with the necessary measures such as sanitizing voting booths and drive-by voting. Another expense incurred will be the purchase of a Zoom account to assure a secure site for the Board to meet in public. The Town Clerk will keep track of the expenses to enable the Town Manager to apply for the funding.
3. Old Business
a) Discussion of COVID-19 Coronavirus Response
John Haverstock reported the Town remains under the guidance of the State concerning washing hands frequently, social distancing and use of masks to stay safe. The Town Offices have been closed to the public since March 16th. Over time, office hour access to staff has been increased and full Town Office hours will be resumed effective July 6th. The building will reopen to the public the following Monday, July 13th with established protocols. Mr. Haverstock will work with the Town Clerk on how to handle the reopening. Additional precautions will include doubling up on office cleaning, gloves and masks to be supplied, handheld forehead thermometers for checking temperatures and a series of questions that will be asked by the appointed health officers. Each department head will do the same for their locations and the Town Clerk will oversee her staff. All Rec events have been cancelled and the Town Manager and Rec Director have had a discussion regarding the Rec Area. Additional signage will be posted with COVID19 information and signs around the swimming area will indicate it is open, but swimmers will swim at their own risk. The basketball and tennis courts can be used in accordance with State guidelines. VOSHA training has been taken by all Town staff. Events will be closely monitored, and Mr. Haverstock will be in touch with the Select Board with any issues. Mr. Haverstock stated there will need to be a decision on the issue of facemask wearing. Some individuals have issues with wearing masks, but all guidance provided by the State and federal experts indicated that with indoor spaces, social distancing is good, but masks are better. Mr. Haverstock recommended the Town adopt a policy for visitors to the Town Offices to require masks.
Motion by Tom Hooker and seconded by Joe Gagnon to require the general public to wear masks while in the Town Office building. The motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Haverstock noted the issue of restrooms is tough because most businesses are restricting public access as it is expensive to sanitize bathrooms after every use. It was suggested that due to the Town Office having two bathrooms that one bathroom be restricted to staff only and the other be designated as the public bathroom.
b) Continued Discussion of Anticipated COVID-19 Repercussions with Municipal Finances
John Haverstock advised the Town is waiting for more information from the Vermont legislature and also the Federal government on a possible additional Stimulus bill, which may provide aid to cities and towns.
c) Continued Discussion with Brandon Reporter Regarding Community Forum
Lee Kahrs stated in the previous discussion of a Community Forum, that the Select Board was going to discuss transferring the Pittsford quarterly newsletter to The Reporter. John Haverstock stated the cost of each quarterly newsletter is about $1,200.00. Linda Drummond had asked what The Reporter had in mind as a good substitute that would end up in everyone’s mailbox and on the Town’s website. Ms. Kahrs stated The Reporter’s circulation would not reach all residents in Pittsford but was not aware of the current circulation numbers. The overall circulation of the newspaper is about 1000, including the store drops. There are about 1500 newsletter mailings done by the Town and the report usually has 8 pages. Alicia Malay confirmed that the $1,200.00 cost was for printing and bulk mailing. Ms. Kahrs stated it would not help the Town unless there is a mailing to all of the households and noted a mailing is key and from a sponsorship standpoint, ideally $200.00 to $300.00 per month is what she was seeking, which would be about $3,600.00 per year. Dave Mills stated many low-tech people are more apt to read a paper. Ms. Kahrs said the quarterly newsletter is information the residents need to know, but it is not the only things she would print in the Community Corner, as this would include a potpourri of information. Mr. Haverstock stated half the newsletter related to recreation. Ms. Kahrs advised that Brandon Rec has been placing their information in an ad but noted recreation information is important. If running the newsletter doesn’t work out, there is other content that Ms. Kahrs wants to put in the Community Corner. Mr. Haverstock provided Ms. Kahrs a copy of the last newsletter and advised that every year the Town goes through a budgeting process and there may be a discussion of whether the Town wants to support local journalism as a Special Appropriation. Ms. Kahrs stated that it could start as a monthly thing but potentially be expanded to weekly in providing information that is important to the community. Mr. Haverstock suggested the readership in the next newsletter could be asked whether they would be receptive to a change in the way the information is provided. Ms. Kahrs is waiting to hear from the Town of Brandon and the RNESU school district on this concept, with Goshen and Compass Center for the Arts having expressed interest. Ms. Kahrs stated there are a lot of good ideas, but there is a need to bring it all together and she has about 1/3 of the needed funding so far. There will be a launch date potentially in a couple of weeks. Mr. Haverstock stated the Town will have more discussion that will include a budget discussion and will put something in the next newsletter to determine if the community is in favor of a change. The next newsletter will be go to print around mid-July.
d) Discussion of COPS Grant Status and Possible Police Relationship with the Town of Proctor
John Haverstock reported the COPS grant has been approved and the Town can accept or reject it. The likely result would be a full-time officer for the Town of Proctor if they are interested in an alternative to the Sheriff’s Department. It was noted it appears the Town of Proctor renewed their contract with the Sheriff’s Department for $80,000. It was suggested to reach out to the Chair of the Proctor Select Board to discuss this matter, as they need to confirm whether they are interested in receiving a proposal from the Town of Pittsford. Mr. Haverstock will contact the Board Chair to determine if they will entertain a proposal. Dave Mills stated if they have renewed for a year, by the time the officer is trained, it would be close to a year. Mr. Haverstock stated the Town does not want to commit to a COPS grant if there is not a plan in place. Alicia Malay asked the timeframe for committing to COPS grant acceptance. Chief Warfle advised the deadline is September. If Proctor is on board with the proposal, Chief Warfle stated the August Academy class is filled and they would possibly be looking at February for a full-time Academy class, but it may not be until next August, with the Academy class being 16 weeks long. The Town would have to cover this detail with other officers while Antje is out, with the other hurdle also being the timeframe on obtaining a fully-equipped cruiser, as it can be 8 to 14 weeks for delivery on a car. Mr. Haverstock questioned if the start date for the grant can be in the future and Chief Warfle confirmed it can be, but Proctor needs to advise the Town of their intention.
4. New Business
a) Review Village Sidewalk Bids
John Haverstock reported the bidding for the Village Sidewalk Construction project was advertised with only two contractors attending the pre-bid meeting and ultimately only one bid submitted by Weaver Excavating. The bid amount is $204,000. The figures are not too far off the rough estimate that was obtained from Wilk Paving. Mr. Haverstock requested a discussion during executive session concerning the project. Mr. Haverstock has been in contact with an engineer and there are 220 feet at the south end that is elevated higher than the curbing needs to be and elimination from the project scope could result in savings. VTrans has initially indicated there cannot be a change of scope, but perhaps information could be obtained from the contractor and provided to the State. Dave Mills thought the cost is alot, but if the Town decided to just repave the existing sidewalk, would the State have a say in that? Mr. Haverstock stated this would be work within the State’s right of way and they would have to approve this. Mr. Mills suggested repaving it to provide a differentiation between the road and the sidewalk and place a line separating the road from the sidewalk. Mr. Haverstock will submit the suggestions to the State. Mr. Haverstock suggested having the contractor provide some alternative scenario figures to determine if the State will accept any of the changes.
b) Discussion of Town Office’s HVAC Systems
John Haverstock provided an update on the Town’s HVaC system, noting that during the hottest week of the year to date, the AC went down. While the repairs have been made and new compressor installed, given that building is 35 years old and there is little ventilation in the roof, the Town may want to consider upgrading the cooling system. The building has had problems with the AC in the Police office and the change might be something as easy as ventilation or possible heat pumps. New England Air provided suggestions of people who could assist the Town in writing a request for proposal. Mr. Haverstock suggested hiring an engineer to do an exploratory assessment if it would be a reasonable amount of money. Dave Mills suggested contacting Efficiency Vermont for possible assistance. He stated heat pumps do not use much power and are more efficient than air conditioners. Mr. Haverstock will contact Efficiency Vermont. Mr. Haverstock stated there are two zones and one thing that New England Air noticed is the number of dials in the building and they advised that programmable controls are the way to go.
c) Discussion of Recreation Department and Recreation Area
John Haverstock reported Randy Adams is no longer serving as the Rec Director. An ad has been placed in the newspaper and it is hoped to have the Rec Committee and Mr. Adams assist in the hiring of a new Rec Director. The swimming area will be open this weekend and it will be posted as “swim at your own risk,” per VLCT guidance.
Hank Pelkey adjourned the open session of the Select Board meeting at 7:45PM.
5. Next Meeting – July 15, 2020
Motion by Hank Pelkey and seconded by Tom Hooker to go into executive session for personnel and contract matters where premature knowledge would be damaging to the Town and may be jeopardized by public disclosure. The motion passed unanimously.
6. Executive Session
Chief Warfle exited the executive session at 7:57PM.
The Select Board came out of executive session at 8:30PM.
Motion by Dave Mills and seconded by Tom Hooker to promote Office Antje Schermerhorn to the rank of Sergeant, with a $1.00 per hour raise in pay. The motion passed unanimously.
The meeting adjourned at 8:31PM.
The next regular meeting of the Select Board will be held on July 15, 2020.
Thomas “Hank” Pelkey, Chairman
Alicia Malay, Vice Chairman
Thomas Hooker, Selectman
W. Joseph Gagnon, Selectman
David Mills, Selectman