Members Present – Thomas “Hank” Pelkey, Alicia Malay, David Mills, Thomas Hooker and W. Joseph Gagnon. Others Present: Charles “Butch” Shaw (via Zoom), Terry Poor (via Zoom), Myra Poor (via Zoom), Eric Phaneuf (via Zoom), Leslie Cadwell (via Zoom), Doug Casella (7:14 PM via Zoom) Town Manager John Haverstock, Kelly Giard – Recording Secretary.
The meeting was called to order at 6:30 PM by Town Manager John Haverstock who stated that this meeting was a reorganizational meeting. Motion by T. Pelkey and seconded by D. Mills to nominate Alicia Malay as Chairman. Motion passed 4 – 0 – 1 (Malay abstains). Motion by A. Malay and seconded by J. Gagnon to nominate David Mills as Vice Chairman. Motion passed 4 – 0 – 1(Mills abstains).
J. Haverstock stated that there was a need to enter into Executive Session for Personnel (Police Department); Contracts (new highway truck). J. Gagnon stated that he had a Personnel concern (Transfer Station). T. Hooker stated that he had a Contractual concern (sale of Fire Department ladder truck). Motion by T. Pelkey and seconded by T. Hooker to enter into Executive Session for Personnel and Contracts. Motion passed 5 – 0.
J. Haverstock stated that there was a need to amend the agenda to add the discussion of Planning Commission member David Soulia and to discuss the Depot Hill construction loan documents. Motion by D. Mills and seconded by T. Pelkey to accept the agenda, as amended. Motion passed 5 – 0.
The minutes of the November 18, 2020 meeting were signed, with no corrections.
The orders in the amount of $2,103,990.44, Payroll in the amount of $ 10,597.78 and Fire Department Payroll in the amount of $37,763.88 were signed, with the following discussion:
D. Mills stated that the residents should be aware that the Town paid $2,000,000 to the School District in this check run. J. Gagnon inquired about the payment to NEMRC for “disaster recovery”. J. Haverstock explained that this is an annual fee for computer “insurance” with NEMRC in the event that there is a major issue. J. Gagnon inquired about the expense for Wonderfeet. J. Haverstock explained that this was a Special Appropriation that was approved by the voters at Town Meeting. D. Mills inquired if the expenses for Zoom equipment would be reimbursed. J. Haverstock stated that this is part of the LGR grant.
Town Manager’s Report:
J. Haverstock reported the following:
- There will be a holiday staff meeting on December 10, 2020 at 9:00 AM. There will be light refreshments and holiday gifts given. COVID-19 measures will be followed. The Select Board members are invited to attend.
- Nelson Brown will begin his work as the Recreation Director on December 14, 2020. Jeff Biasuzzi is currently moving into the Assessor’s Office and this will now become the Land Use Office. There is a possibility that hours will be adjusted to maintain social distancing.
- The blocks for the salt/sand shed project have been delivered and are stacked at the Transfer Station. It is anticipated that these will be placed during the last 2 weeks of December with the structure being delivered in mid-January.
- The developer for the proposed Plains Road solar project will be attending the December 16, 2020 meeting to update the Select Board on the project. The developer for the proposed Kendall Hill Road solar project will also be attending that meeting.
- There have been several property tax abatement requests received. Town policy will be discussed at the December 16, 2020 meeting.
D. Mills inquired if the blocks would be on the asphalt edge or if they would be set in. J. Haverstock stated that they would be on the asphalt with an apron around the structure. D. Mills expressed concern about the weight on the asphalt. J. Haverstock explained that the project was engineered before any construction began.
- J. Haverstock said thank you to Selectman Pelkey for his many years of service as Chair on the Select Board.
Select Board Comments:
D. Mills stated that he has spoken with Mark Winslow, Chairman of the Planning Commission, who stated that there has been no communication with this newest solar project developers.
Rep. Shaw stated that Act 102 has allowed for the abatement of property tax penalty and interest. This topic will be discussed at the December 16, 2020 meeting.
Discussion of Highway Department Truck Order:
J. Haverstock reported that Selectmen Hooker and Mills went to inspect the new Highway truck on November 30, 2020. Further discussion was deferred to Executive Session.
Approve Terms of Lease to Purchase Agreement for New Ladder Truck:
J. Haverstock stated that Atty. Kupferer would like a resolution specifying the terms of financing for the lease-to-purchase of the new Fire Department ladder truck. Motion by T. Hooker and seconded by T. Pelkey to lease-to-purchase the new ladder truck for the price of $744,000 through the Lease/Purchase Agreement provided by Municipal Leasing Credit Corporation, with the Town making a $400,000 down payment from the Fire Department’s Capital Account, upon taking possession in January, 2021 and thereafter making 10 annual payments of $40,533 beginning in December 2021. Motion passed 5 – 0.
Review Third Draft of FY 2021-2022 Budgets:
J. Haverstock explained that there was not much change from the second draft. The changes include inclusion of VLCT insurance quotes and the cost savings in printing and mailing the Town Report. The General Fund budget currently features a $7,899 deficit; the Highway Department budget currently features a $420 deficit; the Water Fund budget currently features at a $8,360 surplus; and the Sewer budget features a $16,178 deficit. There was discussion regarding the need to adjust water and sewer rates to lower additional sewer fund debt service included in the budget, to stop deficit spending and to begin repaying the General Fund. D. Mills inquired how many customers were on the sewer system. J. Haverstock explained that there are approximately 250 customers, or about one-half of the number of customers on the water system. J. Haverstock also explained that there is a much higher overhead in the Sewer Department as opposed to the Water Department. J. Haverstock stated that he has discussed with the external auditor the possibility of the Sewer fund not repaying the General Fund. There was discussion regarding the State Police Academy connecting to the sewer system. Rep Shaw explained that there is currently a septic system on their property, however, if there is a need to construct more beds, there may be a need to connect to the Town system.
Execute 30-Day Notice Letters to Owners of Properties with Junk Ordinance Violations:
J. Haverstock explained that he has reviewed the ordinance and there needs to be letters sent by the Select Board to the property owners. These letters will be signed at the next meeting.
Remarks from Developers of Proposed Solar Project off Parker Road:
Eric Phaneuf, the site developer that is working with Doug Casella on the project off of Parker Road was present via Zoom to explain the project. Mr. Phaneuf explained that this is a 500 kW project that will be on about 3 acres of the existing pit. This is a 2 month construction timeframe. J. Haverstock inquired about the visibility. Mr. Phaneuf stated that here would be no visibility. J. Haverstock inquired if there has been contact with the Planning Commission. Ms. Cadwell, attorney representing the project, stated that there was a misunderstanding in the communication and she will be reaching out to the Planning Commission. D. Mills and A. Malay would like to tour the area, which will be facilitated by Mr. Casella.
Assessor’s Office Error & Omission for 2020 Grand List (Parcel #0775):
The property was sold by Alex Poirier to Charissa LaPlant and Christopher Wright for $20,000. This property is located at 76 Phelps Lane and there was no value change, just an ownership name change on the Grand List. Motion by T. Pelkey and seconded by D. Mills to accept the change. Motion passed 5 – 0.
Discussion of Planning Commission Membership:
J. Haverstock stated that David Soulia was stepping down from the Planning Commission. Motion by D. Mills and seconded by T. Pelkey to appoint Mark Pape, current alternate member, to full membership. Motion passed 5 – 0.
Execute Depot Hill Pump Station Project Loan Documentation:
J. Haverstock stated that the delay in the project allowed for a rebid, bringing the project to the next State budget year, thus more state funding was available. The current grant is for 40% of construction costs and 50% of planning costs. The loan documents were signed by the Select Board members.
The Select Board recessed to Executive Session at 7:31 PM.
T. Pelkey made the motion and seconded by T. Hooker to go into Executive Session for contracts and personnel where premature knowledge would be damaging to the Town and may be jeopardized by public disclosure.
In accordance with 1 VSA 312 (b), where premature general public knowledge would clearly place the
Municipality or person involved at a substantial disadvantage, the Board unanimously agreed to enter into Executive Session for the purpose of contracts and personnel at 7:31 PM. Town Manager Haverstock was invited to remain for Executive Session.
The Select Board exited Executive Session at 8:005 PM with no action taken.
The Select Board meeting was adjourned at 8:00 PM.
The next regular meeting of the Select Board will be held on December 16, 2020.
Alicia Malay, Chairman
David Mills, Vice Chairman
Thomas Hooker, Selectman
W. Joseph Gagnon, Selectman
Thomas “Hank” Pelkey, Selectman