Town of Pittsford, Vermont

Website Archive

Click here to return to site.


Town of Pittsford
Select Board Minutes
May 18, 2005

Thomas “Hank” Pelkey opened the meeting at 6:31 p.m.  Select Board members present were: Thomas “Hank” Pelkey, Joe Gagnon, and Allen Hitchcock.  Also in attendance were Mike Balch, Roy Newton, Tom Hooker, Butch Shaw, Ralph Reynolds, Michael Leehy, Denise Mahoney, John Eugair, Jean Harvie, Nancy Gaudreau, Jim O’Gorman came at 8:15 p.m.



The minutes of April 27, 2005 were reviewed, discussed and approved.

The minutes of May 4, 2005 were reviewed, discussed and approved.



The orders of May 14, 2005 for Payroll, and general fund orders of May 18, 2005 reviewed, discussed and approved. M. Balch noted the report for payment orders include subtotals by fund. A. Hitchcock questioned why there was an invoice from Gilmore Home Center as it is so far away. M. Balch will look into it. There was brief discussion about the use of digital cameras and M. Balch noted that police could not use them for court cases.



M. Balch reported on behalf of Randy Adams that he had an agreement with the Lothrop School for the integration of summer school with the summer camp.  The fee paid by the School for 30 student’s participation, will be $2100 and which will cover the additional cost for the longer camp season this year.

An employee/officials benefits report was included with the Board packet.  Mr. Balch also distributed a report covering workers comp and unemployment compensation, because that information wasn’t available until after the Board packets were distributed.


It was noted that Pittsford has been turned down for a Class 2 Road Grant again this year.  He proposed that grinding the road and putting down gravel would be advisable until it can be rehabilitated. He noted that these expenses would not be eligible for reimbursement when the paving is finally done.


M . Balch noted that he had received two quotes for grinding on West Creek Road. M. Balch said the total work costs, including gravel, equipment and fabric would be in the range of $12,000-$15,000.  He received quotes not bids for $.80 and $.71 per square yard. This would be to grind and make passable for travel until we are able to do a better job. There was discussion that the benefits of this work outweigh the cost of getting the road ground and reshaped. Motion by J. Gagnon, seconded H. Pelkey to accept the bid from Allstates for $0.71 per square yard and to temporarily convert the northern 7/10 of a mile of West Creek Road into a gravel road.  The motion was unanimously approved.

M Balch stated that he had been analyzing the shaping of gravel roads. He used the Federal Highway Administration’s publication “Problems Associated with Gravel Roads” to establish the appropriate standards. He noted that they should have a crown to shoulder slope of 2.75% to .4% and extend that slope to the outside of a curve. On a 20’ wide gravel road this would translate to a 9.6” elevation of the outside of the road. He noted that he had only checked a few roads so far, but he hasn’t found many concerns on the ones he has checked.  He asked the Board to identify any roads that caused concern. A. Hitchcock said to check the bottom of Plains Road.

M. Balch said that from the April 27th meeting the Board discussed the need for an ordinance for burning.  He has been working with the Fire Chief and is in the process of drafting one.

M. Balch said included with the Board packet, was the State document needed appoint Billy Bowman as Assistant Fire Warden.

An appraisal has been ordered from Nancy Brooks from the First Brandon National Bank on the Water building on Mechanic St; it is to be done tomorrow morning.

M. Balch noted that he has given the Board a letter that Tom Hooker dictated regarding Fire Dept. questions.

A detailed history of the last three years expenditures from all Town Fire Dept. funds was sent to Mr. Carrara and is in the Board reading file.   

M. Balch sent Mr. Carrara a copy of the Highway Dept. work plans (FY 2005 and FY 2006) per his request.

The Town seal is now adorning the meeting room wall.

Applied for a permit to erect the pole at the Town office site which was rejected and he will file an appeal.

Asked the Fire Dept. to reconsider connecting the emergency horn to the Town Office generator for backup and it has been agreed to. It will be connected when the proposed garage is built.  

M. Balch spoke with the two people interested in the auditor position about possibly serving on the Planning Commission. Linda Drummond isn’t presently available for evening meetings but Kathryn Brown is interested and is aware that it is a volunteer position.


A. Hitchcock asked about the burning permit ordinance enforcement as to whether it would it be a town or state permit? M. Balch said it will be a solid waste disposal ordinance which will make it a civil, non-criminal fine and this can be more easily enforced.  There are other state laws that exist but are extremely difficult to enforce. A. Hitchcock asked who would enforce this ordinance.  M. Balch said that the Select Board can appoint whomever they choose. J. Gagnon asked if there was a violation procedure that is normally followed. M. Balch noted that generally the first is a warning, then a small fine, then they graduate to bigger fines.  He also said that there can be a no contest fee and if it is paid immediately. and it is automatically cut in half, but it is up to enforcement officer whether to give just a warning or a fine.


Roy Newton asked if the money was coming from the current year budget for West Creek Road and M. Balch noted that it was.

Roy Newton also asked about the garage at the Town Office. M. Balch said this was brought up during budget session last year, and noted that there is not quite enough money for this as yet but if the property is sold on Mechanic St. it might bring enough to finance this. It was explained that it was to be a three car garage. J. Gagnon said that no time has been set on this as yet, they are just discussing it and it is being worked on.




Mr. Ralph Reynolds asked what the town has to do with septic systems in regards to previous trailer spots. He has heard if a trailer is replaced as long as it uses the existing sanitary hookup it is ok but if it is a new system a new permit is required.  He asked what the requirements are for that situation. He said he knows that you have to have a minimum for a leach field has to be designed by an engineer, but who enforces this? Is there anyway to find out where the previous septic system was? M. Balch said that Mr. Dean at Rutland ANR office will investigate if a problem is reported. Mr. Reynolds asked if there are records in the Town as to where the system was before.  M. Balch told him to talk to Anthony Tennien or Bruce Babcock here at the Town Office about those questions. J. Gagnon said that he believes that if you have an existing system you can make repairs but there are new rules so that may not be  correct.

Mr. Reynolds said he went through a lot previously with no satisfaction from the State and asked what is the sense of having laws if they aren’t used?  The Board agreed but stated that it was subject to State not Town laws and told him to complain to the State regarding the septic system in question as it is a State ordinance. There may be violating a State law. M. Balch advised him to put his complaint in writing in and mail it to ensure a paper trail. A. Hitchcock suggested send it with return receipt requested.



Motion by A. Hitchcock, seconded by J. Gagnon to appoint Linda Drummond as auditor until next election. The vote was unanimous.


Lister’s Software for Reappraisal

M. Balch said that the Listers had proposed a new assessment system. Their recommendation was presented in a memo included in the Board packet.  John Eugair, Lister, made the presentation regarding the CAMA software selection and requested that the Town negotiate with Vision Appraisal Technology for software and services as outlined in the proposal. The Listers also requested the Select Board authorize the expenditure of approximately $38,000 from the reappraisal fund for the acquisition of the software and services.  A. Hitchcock asked if this system is compatible with the current computer system.


J. Eugair said that the current NEMRC software is nothing but an accounting system. The information from this system is dumped into the NEMRC system to comply with the State needs.  Newport has been using Visions for 10 years. Bridgewater and Stratton also use it.  Rutland Town may be selecting this as well as they are leaning strongly towards the Vision package. M. Balch noted that the Listers have done a good job and he thinks they have made a good selection.  This should reduce their work load.  A. Hitchcock asked about the timing of the transition re: tax bills and how long it will take?  John Eugair said they will be responsible for converting our current system to theirs.  It is a very large company with 80 appraisers.  The timing concerns will be the Listers making copies of the records.  They said they could send someone here but it would be more expensive.  He noted that it will be a major coping job.  It looks like it was only going to take them about 2 weeks to put the cards onto the system. A. Hitchcock asked when they would start. John Eugair said the tentative date to start was by 7/1/05 and they propose to be done with training by 9/1/05, but he noted this system wouldn’t be used to define the Grand List until next year.  He also said that the other thing that this software will allow is reloading cost tables and they could redevelop a land schedules.  CLA’s are most important now and could be done once a year. Maintaining our CLA is our main job now for the State.  J. Eugair said they have also they run a quick grand list and it is pretty well set and is up about 4 ˝ to 5 million (approximately 1.7%).  J. Gagnon asked if this system will last a long time and J. Eugair said yes unless the State does something differently. M. Balch asked how compatible is it with the current town network? J. Eugair said very and noted that it could also be a network host.  Anyone with web access could look up and have access in the future, but this was not included in the current cost. M. Balch asked if it will it run on current network?  J. Eugair said yes it was a comfortable fit we are on the high end of optimum.  J. Gagnon clarified that the funds would be withdrawn from the money set aside for the reappraisal and J. Eugair said that this is essential and is part of the reappraisal process and plan.  The costs would be for year one is $21,000 and it is a five year contract.  J. Gagnon noted that within 5 years we are going to be doing a town wide reappraisal.  J. Eugair said it looks like it will end up at about $75 per parcel and is still within the range.  This is all been planned for in the reappraisal fund. Motion by A. Hitchcock; seconded by J. Gagnon to allow the Town Manager to enter into negotiations with Visions Appraisal Technology for the amount of approximately $38,000 for software and services.  The vote was unanimous.



Consider expansion of the Planning Commission

There was discussion about expansion of the Planning Commission which is currently 3 members to 5 members. A. Hitchcock made a motion; H. Pelkey seconded it to expand the Planning Commission from 3 to 5 members. The vote was unanimous. 


Consider Michael Leehy Appointment to Planning Commission Vacancy

Michael Leehy said that he has spent 30 years in the real estate business and was also a developer. He was on the Zoning Board of Appeals in West Hampton Beach NY and has appeared as an expert witness for Zoning Board. He stated that if you work in Long Island you get to know your way around the Planning and Zoning laws. He said that he has free time now and thought he might be able to help the town though he admitted he does not know Vermont State laws but is sure he can pick that up.  A. Hitchcock noted that Pittsford needs to redo the Town Plan. The Zoning regulations have been worked on and are in the process of being revised. The Board asked why Michael Leehy is here and what he thought Pittsford needs to change. M. Leehy said that he and his wife have moved here as they found a perfect house and he is not sure there is a lot to change.  He stated that he needs to read the information. He said that they lived in Killington and his wife fell in love with a house and that is why we moved here.  M. Balch noted that the vacancy is for a term that expires in March 2007.  Roy Newton asked for clarification about the revision of the Town Plan and that he thought it hasn’t been done, but the Zoning was.  He said he thought it was the other way around. A. Hitchcock noted that is the way it should have been done but it wasn’t done that way. Most of the changes in Zoning were relatively minor.  In his opinion the Town Plan needs more intensive work. M. Balch noted that there have been a lot of Legislative changes made that affect the Town Plan. Motion by A. Hitchcock, seconded by H. Pelkey to appoint Michel Leehy to the Planning Commission for a term to expire in March 2007.  The vote was unanimous.


Planning Commission Appointment of Kathryn Brown

After brief discussion, a motion was made by A. Hitchcock, seconded by J. Gagnon to appoint Kathryn Brown to the Planning Commission for a term to expire in March 2008.  The vote was unanimous.


Consider Equipment Rental Bids

M. Balch noted that the Town received two bids on heavy equipment hourly rates from Gecha Brothers and Markowski Excavating, Inc. who was low bidder and he is recommending that the Board accept the low bidder. J. Gagnon asked why with all the equipment that the town owns is it still necessary to hire outside assistance and shouldn’t we try to use our own stuff more? When we own the equipment we should use that and only hire equipment if we don’t own it. M. Balch said the intent was that we would hire equipment only when needed.  Having the right piece of equipment to do the right job is important.  J. Gagnon made a motion; A. Hitchcock seconded it to accept the bid from Markowski Excavating, Inc.  The motion was unanimous.


Roy Newton asked what is happening on Sugar Hollow Road. M. Balch said that it is part of the current year work plan and more detailed information is on the web site for further information.


Fire Warden Stipend

M. Balch noted that Bud Parker came in and was concerned about the time he was spending and the lack of reimbursement.  He wasn’t even getting $0.15 per permit he used to receive.  M. Balch told him he was entitled to reimbursement for travel on Town business. B. Parker said he can’t afford to do the work. M. Balch said that 497 permits have been issued and it was costing him (Mr. Parker) to do it. M. Balch said Mr. Parker came up with a cost of approximately $1 per permit.  M. Balch said if we are to attract Fire Wardens to doing the work we can’t expect them to cover the related Town costs. A. Hitchcock said that just half the towns he talked with don’t pay anything then the other half pay a substantial amount but they require the fire warden to inspect every burn site.  If we are going to require the permit, it ought to be issued here in the office.  He said that in the last 5 to 7 years he has gotten more than 7 permits and no one has ever come in to inspect the burn site.  He said his point is if we are going to have a stipend then we ought to expect more. M. Balch noted that whenever there is a question or issue an inspection is done but if someone burns regularly every year it is not generally re-inspected yearly.  A. Hitchcock asked of the 497 permits, how many did Bud issue and how many did Eddy Keith issue?  M. Balch did not have the breakdown of who issued how many permits. There was discussion that when the Fire Chief is called he doesn’t have the authority to fine people and there were several unpermitted burns that the people should have been billed for Fire Fighter services.  A. Hitchcock said he was reluctant to compensate with out more service from the Fire Warden. T. Hooker noted that most of the time the issuing officer calls dispatch as well. He has to take the time to inspect it and has to take time off work, fills out the paper work and calls dispatch.  It is more than just a phone call.  M. Balch noted that the Town employees in the Town Office, we are not qualified to decide if it is safe to issue a burning permit.  T. Hooker said he is comfortable when he knows the situation but someone needs to check many sites; they also need someone to check when it is safe if it is dry. A. Hitchcock said he has no problem if we have a stipend based on issuing per ticket but he doesn’t know how to work the judgment factor in. M. Balch noted that they need to write a policy. J. Gagnon said it was too bad to lose the historical approach of calling Eddy Keith. He said he has no problem with having a charge as he should be reimbursed for his time but only if it is needed. A. Hitchcock said that we need stronger enforcement.  T. Hooker and M. Balch will work on an ordinance.

This issue was tabled for future meeting.



Fire Department

M. Balch related that there was a letter from Tom Hooker, Fire Chief, in the Board packet regarding issues raised at a previous meeting. H. Pelkey said that he appreciated the effort that Tom put into the letter and thinks that it explains their budget and everything.  T. Hooker said that if the Board needs more information he is going to need an administrative assistant as his plate is very full running the Fire Department, he can’t take on more administrative work.  Butch Shaw spoke and listed Nickwackett Hose Co. expenditures not paid by Pittsford Taxpayers: $14,000 to OVUHS scholarships; $75,000 spent on down payments for fire trucks; payments on two trucks (their share was $7,000 per year), for total  payments of $100,000; purchased the ladder truck outright, as well as the original equipment van and the 4 wheel drive utility truck; purchase dress and work uniforms for all members which is about $6,000 a year; fund the annual banquet for members and guests at about $2,000 per year; they buy meals for all fire calls; the alarm and alert system which was in excess of $35,000; flower and  bereavement expenses of $1,000 to $1,200 per year; they furnished the Fire Building and all its computer systems; they built the 7 bay Fire Station at about $500,000 at no cost to Pittsford taxpayers; the building was resided for about $12,000, a new roof was put on for $7,000, They do all the general building maintenance in excess of the $2,000 in annual maintenance funds given to them by the town.  They also pave and maintain their own parking lot.  T. Hooker said that they try to use funds prudently and that the Nickwackett Hose Co. is a private non-profit corporation. B. Shaw said that he completely supports Chief Hooker. J. Gagnon said that since he has been on the Board he thinks they have worked with Fire Dept. well and questions that come up have much to do with grant money. He said he thinks that when people hear about grant money they automatically think they shouldn’t get any other money if they get grant money. But generally grant money has a lot of strings and is only for specific uses.  T. Hooker agreed stating that they must purchase what was applied for. J. Gagnon said he feels that this board has good communication with the Fire Dept. and that they should be able to work together and they have been. T. Hooker noted that within their budget the things that he has control over are very very small. He tries to tell the Board about major repair bills before hand when they know about them.  Fire Dept. equipment is expensive to repair and service. It cost $40,000 to replace a pump alone.  Fire often damages equipment. B. Shaw said that they are a private not for profit corporation and are audited by a CPA every year.  There was discussion about protective equipment. T. Hooker noted that they had answered many question in their town report and said that for their last major purchase for gear they had to go to the Board and had to have special meeting. He said that the protective gear is extremely expensive and they can go into a fire much more safely now.  They wouldn’t have bought this type of gear “top of the line” if it was coming out of town funds so they used grant funds instead. The grant was in the amount of $159,000 and only $15,000 of the town’s funds were used as a match. It was an ideal use of funds. M. Balch noted that they really should have diesel fume evacuation equipment which will be done now with the grant funds as this is an OSHA requirement.  B. Shaw said that this grant will help us budget wise for years. T. Hooker said that it also allowed them to purchase an $8,000 base station and they can now talk to every public safety unit in Rutland County all thanks to the grant. They are now a satellite station for the State Police if it is needed. This is all homeland security money. All officers will have mobile radios in their vehicles and he said he doesn’t think one dollar has been spent foolishly.  He said he is generally a conservative man when spending money.  H. Pelkey said that he appreciated the effort in the letter and their attendance.


Jim O’Gorman of the Rutland County Solid Waste District (RCSWD) came at 8:15 p.m.


T. Hooker said that he hopes to be able to bring a lot of Fire equipment to the Fourth of July celebration in Pittsford at the Recreation Area this year.  Safety is our number one concern. 



A. Hitchcock said that Syndicate Road is an awful mess and is beyond green up capabilities. He suggested making an accommodation with Brandon and having our road crews clean it up. M. Balch noted that we have already done some work but it needs quite a bit more. A. Hitchcock wonders if we should let State know the problem is a health hazard.  He noted that it was mostly on both sides of the bridge. 


A. Hitchcock asked about the Fourth of July Celebration in Pittsford. M. Balch said that in speaking with Randy reported he believes it will still come off as planned. Just the Chairmanship has changed.



Rutland County Solid Waste

Mr. O’Gorman wanted to give an update with regard to the RCSWD.  He related some of the programs offered in dealing with the district communities.  

In the spring and fall they are accepting leaves and brush in April through May and then in October through November.  This has already been expanded to 3 weeks.  It helps town transfer stations and they use it to make mulch and gives mulch away for free.

Hazardous waste pickup generally happens in each town 3 times a year and the pick up is free.  In general there has been some decrease in household participation but a small increase in businesses. The big collection process is computers and televisions and we fill 10-16 gaylords.  The cost is usually $10 for a complete unit.

They have discontinued the food waste program to divert waste from landfill. Price Chopper, Grand Union, Hannaford’s, and Black river Produce were sending their food waste to a farmer in Tinmouth but he is no long able to accept it.  Last year we did it 800,000 lbs of food waste but we can’t find another farmer to use it. It was a break even program. They may pick it up again in the near future.

They have also discontinued recycling of asphalt and concrete which was done next to the Vicon plant. The Property landlord had some minor disagreements and no other site is available at this time, which is unfortunate because we made money on this program.  They can still take it to Markowski's.  Casella and Elnicki are trying to do something along this line as well. 

The Transfer Station is still accepting free metal products, and clean demo products (wood).  The amount of activity at the Transfer Station is going like gang busters. 

The Educational program has received some grants in dealing with Household Hazardous Waste.  Something that hasn’t been done in the past is the collection of pharmaceuticals. Currently disposal is causing havoc in streams and wastewater systems. Because of the nature, we need to include law enforcement as well. The average person will bring in 1 to3 gallons of medicine. Controlled substances law enforcement will collect on site. 

The big issue the District has been dealing with is Casella and the renewal of the contract. They have been trying to straighten out what has been happening.  It was originally a 10 year contract with a 5 year renewal.  They are in negotiations with Casella, and organization is difficult as there have been many amendments.  They have narrowed it down to 3 main points. Casella’s also wants district towns to sign off as well.

H. Pelkey thanked him and suggested they set up a meeting in the future.



In accordance with 1VSA 312(b) where premature general public knowledge would clearly place the Municipality or person involved at a substantial disadvantage, H. Pelkey made a motion, seconded by J. Gagnon to enter into Executive Session.  The Board unanimously agreed to go into executive session for Contracts at 8:38 P.M.   M. Balch was invited to stay.  All others were excused.  The Board came out of executive session at 9:21 P.M.  The Board took no action at this time. 


With no further business, the meeting adjourned at 9:23 p.m.



Respectfully submitted:                                  

Denise Mahoney, Recording Secretary      


Thomas “Hank” Pelkey, Chair

Allen Hitchcock, Vice-Chair  

Dave Markowski, Selectman 

W. Joseph Gagnon, Selectman 

Larry Pomainville, Selectman





Back to Town of Pittsford Home Page