Town of Pittsford, Vermont

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Annual Meeting Minutes

March 3, 2008 ~ Lothrop School Gymnasium



Selectmen Present:                                               Also Present:


Thomas, (Hank) Pelkey, Chairman                      Matthew Harvey, Moderator

Allen Hitchcock, Vice Chairman                        Kathleen Ramsay, Town Manager

W. Joseph Gagnon                                               Helen McKinlay, Town Clerk

David Markowski                                                Jean Parker, Recording Secretary           

Thomas Hooker                                              Linda Drummond, Administrative Assistant       

Approximately 150 guests


Moderator Matthew Harvey called the meeting to order at 7:50 PM and read the following warning.


The legal voters of the Town of Pittsford are hereby notified and warned to meet at the Lothrop School Gymnasium in the Town of Pittsford, on Monday, March 3, 2008 at 6:30 PM to transact the following business not involving voting by Australian ballot:


Article 1:  To hear the reports of the Town Officers and take appropriate action thereon.


A motion was made by Denise Mahoney and seconded by Peg Flory to accept Article l.

The motion passed unanimously.


The Board of Selectmen and Town Manager Kathleen Ramsay were then introduced and Chairman Thomas "Hank" Pelkey read the dedication of the Annual Report to Joseph W. Sposta.


Matthew Harvey then referred to the handout "Town of Pittsford - Annual Town Meeting Guidelines" that set forth the rules by which the meeting would be conducted. 


Kathleen Ramsay was then called on to note corrections to the Town Report.  She noted that on page 23 the Certified Copy Fees and the Recording Fees were inverted and on page 25 the Listers' Services for fiscal year 07 were misstated.  The Listers' Services were actually $25,161.  The Listers' Secretary was actually $10,677.  Ms. Ramsay also noted that page 82 of the Report should indicate that #1 plastic is also accepted at the Recycling Center.


The Moderator noted that members of the Select Board would be making presentations on various portions of the Report and asked questions to be held to the end. He then asked if there were any other questions.  Dr. Rademacher pointed out that there was an error on page 13 of the Treasurers Report.  The numbers on the Bowen Walker Fund do not add up.  Helen McKinlay said that she would verify the figure to the bank statement.


Article II:  To see if the voters of the Town of Pittsford will appropriate the sum of $1,137,083 (One Million, One Hundred Thirty-seven Thousand, Eighty-three Dollars) to defray the General Expenses of the Town for the 20087-2009 fiscal year, of which the sum of $904,483 (Nine Hundred Four Thousand, Four Hundred Eighty-three and no/100ths Dollars is to be raised by property taxes.


Motion was made to move on Article II by Patrick Eugair and seconded by Ernie Brod.


Chairman Hank Pelkey gave a brief overview of the proposed budget.  He explained that nearly half of the 5.74% increase was to cover inflation in the cost of wages and benefits and property, casualty, and liability insurance.  He also noted the $10,000 increase in the building maintenance expense for the Fire Department, which is to make the bathroom handicap accessible as dictated by the Americans Disability Act.  A grant of $1,000 was awarded by General Electric for this project.


A new line item, Fire Hydrant Expense, has been added to the budget.  This $22,360 is a transfer of funds to the Water Department to offset the cost of water storage capacity and for water used in hydrant maintenance to support fire fighting.  The Board felt that the availability of fire hydrants was a benefit to all of the Town residents, not just the water system users.  The fee was based on 86 hydrants at $260 per hydrant.


Following the overview of the budget the Moderator entertained questions on Article II.


Robin Rowe asked which came first, the upgrade of the hydrants or new water lines.  It was explained the new line item was not an upgrade to fire hydrants but only a transfer of funds to spread the cost of hydrants to all residents.


Kathy Rider asked how that affects those people who live in areas that do not have fire hydrants.  The Fire department uses the closest fire hydrants to fill the tankers to fight fires in the areas that don't have hydrants.  All residents share in the benefit of hydrants so all should share the cost.


Sally Eugair questioned if the money from the Haunted House goes for equipment.  The first ladder truck, the first accessory truck, and a lot of other equipment were purchased with the Haunted House funds.  Over the past 27 years the Haunted House has raised approximately $1,000,000.  The Fire House was built with funds from the Haunted House alone.  No tax dollars were used.


Jamie Stewart asked for clarification on the Rutland County Tax assessment and if it was for the Sheriffs Department.  Mr. Pelkey explained that it was for the Court system.


There was discussion on the accounting, the balance sheet, and funding between departments.  Ms. Ramsay explained that we only have one checking account so ultimately all of the "due to" and "due from" accounts clear through that account.


Barbara Pierce noted that on page 25 the budgeted amount for the Listers was $21,600 which was the amount that was voted by the taxpayers.  She stated that amount was slashed to $15,000 in June without discussion with the Listers.  She also commented that the amount budgeted for Town Clerk for fiscal year 08 is not fair. The amount budgeted in prior years when her husband was in that position included a lot of training and experience.


Mr. Pelkey stated that a few years ago the Listers asked for a substantial increase in their budget for both their salaries and their Secretary's compensation.  They indicated that if the Board would give their approval for new hardware and software that a substantial amount of time would be saved after the reappraisal was completed because everything would be computerized.  The Select Board approved the request and spent between $38,000 and $40,000 on equipment.  The Board questioned why the had not seen a substantial savings an the budget for fiscal year 2008 and the Listers said that the savings would not occur the year after the reappraisal was finished but would occur some time in the future. The Board was never told when the savings would come.


Nancy Gaudreau stated that some of Mr. Pelkey's explanation was not accurate.


Jim Rademacher questioned if the amount budgeted for the Listers' is sufficient to adequately service the Town.   Allen Hitchcock replied that they do not know.  They need to look at the recreation of the Listers Office either by hiring new Listers or going outside to hire professional appraisers. 


Robin Rowe questioned if the Board thought that it would be more expensive to hire outside listers and Sally Eugair wondered if any of the estimates from outside appraisals had come in. Ms. Ramsay replied that they had four or five responses but that without knowing how many hours would be needed to do the job you can't annualize the cost.

When questioned about the hourly rate of those responders Ms. Ramsay replied that the only hourly she could remember was $40.00 per hour.


Joseph Gagnon then explained that the Board compared the price per parcel for Pittsford to six or eight other comparable towns. Using the information they were able to get they determined that a lot of other towns came in with a cheaper per parcel cost.  John Eugair stated that the comparables that the listers and the town manager presented to the Board showed Pittsford as being equal.  Hank Pelkey then elaborated on the spreadsheet and added population and median income information for Jericho and Pittsford from the 2000 census. 


Bob Webster commented that the listers have started a practice of reassessing all of the properties each year instead of every five or ten years which results in increase listing costs and ultimately higher taxes.


John Eugair stated that it is the responsibility of the listers to review every property every year.


Barb Pierce offered that she had prepared and would make available to the people a chronological account of the issues that transpired with the listers office for the last few months.


Tom Carrara questioned if an annual reassessment of all properties was mandated by the State.  Peg Armitage stated that  she thought  John Eugair was correct in saying that  the properties needed to be reappraised each year if there had been any changes made but there was no need to reassess those properties where there were no changes made.


Article II was restated by the Moderator.  Barb Pierce requested that a vote be taken by paper ballot.  The Moderator advised that a show of hands or division of the house could be requested by a single voter but at least seven voters needed to request a paper ballot.  A show of hands indicated enough support for a paper ballot and at 8:50 PM the Board of Civil Authority presided over the vote.  The meeting was called back to order at 9:12 PM and the vote results of ninety-five (95) Yes votes and twenty-one (21) No votes. 


Article III:  To see if the voters of the Town of Pittsford will appropriate the sum of $934,613 (Nine Hundred Thirty-four Thousand, Six Hundred Thirteen Dollars) to defray the Highway Expenses of the Town for the 2008-2009 fiscal year, of which the sum of $813,663.00 (Eight Hundred Thirteen Thousand, Six Hundred Sixty-three and no/100ths Dollars) to be raised by property taxes.


A motion was made by Peg Flory and seconded by Chuk Pitts to accept Article III .


Selectman Joseph Gagnon gave a brief overview of the proposed Highway Budget for fiscal year 09.  He reported a total increase of 9.15% or $78,185 and the need to establish a bridge replacement fund.  This reserve of funds would be used for future bridge repairs or replacements.  The Highway Budget for 09 includes $25,000 for this fund.  Mr. Gagnon also spoke of the increase for paving which includes paving on the West Creek Road and 1.5 miles of Hitchcock Road.


Discussion followed on the Equipment Rental Expense and New Equipment Purchases.  There were questions on what equipment the Town might be purchasing.  Ms Ramsay explained how the equipment rental fund works to set aside funds for the purchase of new equipment.


Article III was restated and passed by the voters.


Article IV:  To see if the voters of the Town of Pittsford will appropriate the sum of  $19,000 (Nineteen Thousand and no/100ths Dollars) to defray the Village District's Expenses for the 2008-2009 fiscal year, of which the sum  of $19,000 (Nineteen Thousand and no/100ths Dollars) is to be raised by taxes.


A motion was made by Emerson Frost and seconded by Gordon DeLong to move on Article IV.  


Discussion followed on the funding of street lights and sidewalk plowing.  Ms. Ramsay stated that those were village expenses.


Article IV was reread and a vote taken.  The Article passed.


Article V:  To see if the voters of the Town of Pittsford will authorize collection of taxes on real and personal property by its treasurer in three equal installments, due on or before August 11, September 10, and November 12, 2008.


A motion to accept Article V was made by Ernie Brod and seconded by Jaime Stewart.

There was no discussion and the Article was passed.


Article VI:  To see if the Town will appropriate and authorize to be raised by taxation an additional Five Thousand and no/100ths Dollars ($5,000) in excess of the sum set forth  in the General Fund Budget to be used by the Maclure Library. 


A motion was made by Peg Flory and seconded by Shirlee Nickless to move Article VI.


Peg Armitage noted that this was an increase to the previous year allocation of $45,000 for a total of $50,000. The Article was reread and passed by unanimous vote.


Article VII:  To see if the Town will appropriate and authorize to be raised by taxation One Thousand Five Hundred and no/100ths Dollars ($1,500) to be used by the Bowen Walker Fund.


Motion to move was made by Jocelyn Frost and seconded by Barb Pierce. 


Bruce Rowe asked what the Bowen Walker Fund was and Allen Hitchcock explained that it was a charitable fund set up to help people in need. 


The Moderator reread the article and it was passed.


Article VIII:  To see if the Town will appropriate and authorize to be raised by taxation an additional Four Hundred Thirty-five and no/100ths dollars ($435.) in excess of the sums set forth in the General Budget to be used by the following social service agencies:


-George D Aiken Resource Conservation & Development Council, an additional $50;

-The Rutland Association of Retarded Citizens, and additional $40;

-Rutland County Women's Network & Shelter, an additional $20;

-The Bennington-Rutland Opportunity Council, an additional $93;

-Vermont Center for Independent Living, an additional $32.


A motion was made by Alan Betts and seconded by Dave Lacey to move Article VIII.  There was no discussion.  The Article passed unanimously.


Article IX:  To see if the Town will establish a reserve fund under 24VSA 2804, to be expended for planning and construction of bridge repairs and/or replacements, and other related expenses.


Motion was made by Bruce Rowe and seconded by Baird Morgan. 


Discussion followed on the fund and Ms. Ramsay explained that $25,000 for this fund is already included in the 09 Highway Department budget.  More discussion centered on the West Creek Road Project and it was explained that $175,000 for that project was coming from the fiscal year 08 balance.


Article IX was restated and was passed.


Article X:  To transact such other non-binding business as legally may come before said meeting at this time.


Before any action was taken the Peg Flory addressed the meeting.  She reported that an increase in Pilot Funding was anticipated.  She reported that there has been a move by VTC to move some of the Fire Training Services from the Police Academy to VTC.  VTC received a $400,000 grant for a burn building.  The counties of Rutland, Bennington, Addison, and Lamoille have banded together to say that the fire training service should stay in Pittsford. 


The Route 7 project has had money funded to start this summer with land and right of way acquisitions as well as pole replacements.  Segment 5, on the south end of Brandon is ready to go and Segment 3 is in Act 250.


The ban that the State put on School construction last year is still on.  It will take the State nine years to fulfill past promises.


Ms. Flory also said that there would be a poster at the Municipal Office on the Catamount Health Program.  This State health insurance program went into effect last October.


Hank Pelkey advised us of the Food Shelf Challenge between Pittsford and Proctor.  He cited statistics that backed the need of this service not only in Pittsford but across the State.  He was followed by Robin Rowe who reported that in 2007 the Food Shelf serviced 1,061 families. 


Don Nickless, Planning Commission Chairman, gave a summary on the work of the Planning Commission.  The principal role of the Planning Commission is to develop a Town Plan, which has to be renewed every five years.  The last Town Plan adopted was in 2000.  The Commission tried to renew it as it was and it was rejected by the RRPC.  An interim Town Plan was negotiated and is in effect. 


The Commissioners attended VLCT seminars and spent a lot of time reading to learn as much as they could about land use planning and their role and responsibilities.  They developed rules and procedures for the Planning Commission.  Other accomplishments of the Commission include gaining Village Designation, getting a Junk and Junk Vehicle Ordinance approved, and the drafting of subdivision regulations.


Dave Markowski reported on the development of the Water & Sewer Commission.  The Select Board appointed the Commission in November 2007.  Its members are, Chairman Dave Markowski, Hope Rantanen, John Lapre, Helen McKinlay, and Allen Hitchcock.  All of the members are users of either the water or sewer system or both. 


Some of the projects that the Commission is working on are the preliminary engineering study for water system upgrades, final design of contact chlorine and sludge handling improvements at the wastewater treatment facility, and balancing the sewer budget.  A rate increase will be needed to keep up with the cost of operating the wastewater treatment facility.


Joe Gagnon reported that a Forest Plan has been put together with the help of the County Foresters.  There are some access right-of-way issues that are in the process of being resolved.  The Town should eventually reap the benefits of some timber harvesting.


Discussion followed on the Monahan property on Route 7 south of the village.  The property is flooded and there is concern that it poses a danger or health hazard.  The culvert on the property has been plugged.  Beavers have been removed but the problem remains.  The Town has no jurisdiction over the situation.  The property is in litigation.


At the close of the above business, the meeting shall be recessed until Tuesday, March 4, 2008 at 10:00 AM at the Municipal Office Building, Plains Road, Pittsford to vote by Australian Ballot on the following matters, to wit:


Article XI:  To elect the following officers of the Town:


a.      A Town and School Moderator for a term of one (1) year

b.      A Selectman for a term of three (3) years

c.      A Selectman for a term of two (2) years

d.      A Town Clerk for a term of three (3) years

e.      A Town Treasurer for a term of three (3) years

f.        A Lister for a term of three (3) years

g.      A Lister to fill an unexpired term of two (2) years

h.     A Town Agent for a term of one (1) year

i.        A Trustee of Public Funds for a term of there (3) years

j.         A Library Trustee for a term of one (1) year

k.      A Grand Juror for a term of one (1) year


A motion was made by Emerson Frost and seconded by Robin Rowe to recess the meeting to Tuesday, March 4, 2008in order to vote on Article XI by Australian ballot.  The polls will be open from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM in the Municipal Office Building.  The motion passed unanimously and the meeting was adjourned at 10:45 PM.


Respectfully submitted:                              Attest:


Jean Parker, Recording Secretary                        Helen McKinlay, Town Clerk



Matthew Harvey, Moderator                                                                                                             

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