City Council Meeting 06-11-2019



JUNE 11, 2019


Deputy Mayor Lynn Donnelly called the regular meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall in the conference room. The agenda was amended to include item 6m – Vergennes Partnership Blender. Those in attendance were:

Deputy Mayor Lynn Donnelly                               Shannon Haggett

Alderman David Austin                                             Peter Garon

Alderman David Small                                               Reporter Andy Kirkaldy

Alderman Mark Koenig                                            Lynne Rapoport

Alderman William Benton                                     Tim Cook (5:50 P.M.)

Alderman Lowell Bertrand                                    Isaac Wagner

City Manager Matt Chabot                                   Barb Saunders

City Clerk Joan Devine                                            Erin Roche

WARRANTS: The Warrant totaling $885,955.85 was presented for review and signatures of approval. The Warrant included the final quarterly education tax payment in the amount of $681,766.10 and a partial payment in the amount of $59,300 towards the purchase of the new 2019 dump truck.

MINUTES: Alderman Bertrand moved to approve minutes of the May 7, 2019 meeting. That motion was seconded by Alderman David Austin. The minutes were amended on the last page under ‘GREEN-UP DAY’ to reflect the cigarette butts were found on South Maple Street. Alderman Bertrand also requested that a notation be included that indicates two events were going that day; Green-Up Day and a Veteran’s Park Community Work Day. Under “CITY COUNCIL GOALS” Maritime Museum was replaced with Lake Champlain Basin Program. A vote on the amended minutes showed all voting in favor.

LISTER POSITION VACANCY: City Manager Chabot advised we still have a lister position vacant that needs to be appointed forthwith. This item of business will remain on the agenda until the position is filled.

STATE REVOLVING LOAN FUND: City Manager Chabot advised the City is applying for a $153,000 loan from the State Revolving Loan Fund for an evaluation and report of the wastewater treatment plant so we can comply with the 1272 Order from the State. The loan is an interest free 5-year loan. As a result of the engineering and planning study done earlier this spring we installed five flow meters in various locations for 6 weeks attempting to determine where water infiltration is coming from. That exercise was inconclusive, he advised. We are being challenged with incremental flow increases in a period of one-hour; our focus is on the MacDonough Drive pump station. The loan application was passed for signatures of approval from the Board.

PROCEDURE FOR FILLING BIXBY BOARD OF TRUSTEE VACANCIES: City Manager Chabot prepared a document that outlines a procedure to follow when the City Council needs to appoint a trustee to the Bixby Memorial Library Board of Trustees. He reported Martha Mack has resigned from her appointed seat. Alderman Bill Benton moved to accept the document dated 06-05-19 as presented, seconded by Alderman David Austin, with all voting in favor. The Bixby Board of Trustees is recommending the appointment of Laura Mack to fill that vacancy. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to appoint Laura Mack as recommended, seconded by Alderman Koenig, with all voting in favor.

APPOINTMENT OF THE ZONING ADMINISTRATOR: Planning Commission Chair Shannon Haggett reported the Planning Commission is recommending the reappointment of Peter Garon for a 3-year term. Alderman Austin moved to make that appointment, seconded by Alderman Bertrand, with all voting in favor. Peter Garon advised he recently sent out six letters to property owners who had unregistered vehicles on their property; he has 15 more letters to go out. If he does not get results by the second letter the third letter starts fining them $100 a day. City Manager Chabot advised there are not a lot of tools in the zoning regulations to help us keep our community clean.

TAI CHI ON THE CITY GREEN: A letter was received from Lee Francis, a volunteer with Age Well, requesting use of the City Green to hold Tai Chi classes on Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. during the months of July and August. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to approve the request, seconded by Alderman David Small, with all voting in favor.

AUTHORIZATION FOR CITY MANAGER TO SECURE GRANTS: City Manager Chabot reported the Basin Task Force has been working on ways to get pedestrians to the basin including the installation of wayfinding signs. He would like to apply for a $1,130 grant, which also requires a City match of the same, to have a study conducted on this effort. The second grant, for $250,000 with a $50,000 local match, would extend the sidewalk on the north side of Main Street from Macdonough Drive to the Otter Creek Bridge and stairway. The sidewalk project will not be accomplished immediately but would allow us to set aside $12,500 annually for the actual project.

Manager Chabot encouraged the grant opportunities to be utilized and advised he would be the administrator. Mike Winslow needs authorization from the City Council to proceed forward. Alderman Bill Benton advised he will abstain from this action as he most likely will have to give an easement for the project. The documentation was passed for signatures of approval.

FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT QUESTIONNAIRE: City Treasurer Joan Devine reported this is the fifth year she has provided this document to the City Council as required by law. The intent of the form is to provide disclosure on operating procedures in the treasurer’s office. Deputy Mayor Lynn Donnelly signed the document attesting to its submission.

DOG WARRANT: City Clerk Devine prepared a dog warrant for the remaining 21 unlicensed dogs in the city. Each dog owner has been sent two letters after the April 1st deadline that quotes State law regarding the requirement that their dog be licensed. The warrant was circulated for signatures from the City Council and will be given to Police Chief George Merkel for enforcement. Alderman Mark Koenig announced he will not sign the warrant again this year due to its language calling for the elimination of the dog when it is not the dog’s fault the owner did not register him.

2020 BUDGET WORK SESSION: A reminder was given that a city budget work session is scheduled for June 18th at 5:30 p.m. Deputy Mayor Lynn Donnelly advised she has received quite a bit of feedback on her social media postings and will bring that information to the meeting.

VERGENNES PARTNERSHIP BLENDER: Vergennes Partnership requested permission to have alcohol on premise downstairs at City Hall on June 26th for their monthly Vergennes Blender. She was aware of the ordinance prohibiting alcohol on City property. Alderman Bertrand moved to allow alcohol at City Hall as requested. Alderman David Small seconded the motion with all voting in favor. The meeting recessed at this point for the scheduled public hearing.


Deputy Mayor Lynn Donnelly called the public hearing to order at 6 p.m. The purpose of the hearing is to obtain the views of citizens on community development, to furnish information concerning the range of community development activities, and to answer any questions from the public. Isaac Wagner, Principal for Mary Johnson Children’s Center, advised they have completed a feasibility study for the development of a childcare center on Armory Lane. Their proposed facility will serve up to 46 children from infant stage to toddlers. He reported multiple architectural and site design options, as well as financing option, were all looked at. A draft design of the proposed facility was circulated. Mr. Wagner advised they have site control at this time and are looking for creative financing for this project to happen. An implementation grant through the City will be needed next year in addition to other small grants. They will be closing out the Community Development Block Grant soon. Reporter Andy Kirkaldy inquired how optimistic were they that the project was going to happen. Barb Saunders, Director of the Mary Johnson Children’s Center, responded and said getting through this level is real progress; knowing the number of kids they can serve helps too. They will be serving infants and toddlers because that need exists, she stated. Mr. Wagner reported this was a 3.2 million dollar inclusive project; 2.5 million dollar project cost for the 7,500 square foot building.

Erin Roche inquired if a qualified workforce is available and wondered if they have looked at employer assisted childcare. Barb Saunders advised staffing is hard to attract and it is hard to retain employees. They will have licensed teachers at this site and to make it an attractive job, they are trying to weave a benefit package and offer professional advancement. Some staff will be moving to this site once built, she reported. The public hearing closed at 6:15 p.m.

RECREATION COMMITTEE REQUEST: Tim Cook reported the Recreation Committee has set goals for the ensuing year and will have financial needs. City Manager Matt Chabot advised the recreation budget was $10,000; he raised that amount to $15,000 in the proposed budget. Mr. Cook advised they would like to rebuild and resurface the basketball/ice rink at a cost of $25,000 – $35,000; the elementary school has $6,000 to go towards that cost. Mr. Cook reported their general goal is to preserve what we have and that grants for maintenance are hard to find. They would also like to hire a part-time coordinator who will attend a lot of meetings and get a handle on what’s already out there in the first year. They are asking for $15,000 that will cover 11.25 hour work-week at $25 an hour. A professionally designed sign for Veterans Park is also needed estimated at $2,500. Erin Roche reported the community work day down at the pool area was evidence of people investing time and energy into our recreation resources. Deputy Mayor Lynn Donnelly advised the community worked very hard that weekend and deserve something from us. The Committee is trying to get the facilities up to acceptable levels (does not include the pool) and keep them there, she stated. Manager Chabot advised we have a Pool Advisory Committee and a Swim Team Committee that deal with the pool.

VERGENNES ECONOMIC CORRIDOR (VEC) UPDATE: City Manager Chabot reported the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) at Addison County Regional Planning Commission (ACRPC) voted to recommend support of the Vergennes Economic Corridor (VEC); ACRPC will vote tomorrow based on their recommendation. He advised he and the Mayor have met with Panton, Waltham, Addison and Ferrisburgh who all support the VEC. By mid July they will have documentation for regional consensus in support of the VEC and will get that to Secretary Flynn’s office. Hopefully our project will change from 15 years away to 10.

JOB CORPS UPDATE: City Manager Chabot advised a changed dynamic with Job Corps is occurring. They have a new interim Center Director, have had a comprehensive audit that resulted in positive change, and he is working with them on establishing work projects to assist us.

LIGHTING OF THE FALLS: Installation of colored lights at the falls will occur June 16. The estimated cost for long-term installation, with no guarantees, is $22,000. City Manager Chabot announced the Vergennes Junior Fishing Derby has been cancelled this year due to high water levels. This was to be Martha DeGraaf’s last year coordinating the derby so he wanted to thank her for all her hard work and time being the point person for over 10 years.

ADJOURNMENT: Alderman Bill Benton moved to adjourn the meeting at 6:50 P.M. Alderman Lowell Bertrand seconded the motion with all voting in favor.

Respectfully submitted,

Vergennes City Clerk