VERGENNES CITY COUNCIL
January 9, 2018
Mayor Michael Daniels called the regular meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. at the Vergennes Fire Station. The agenda was amended to include item 5j – Polling Hours. Those in attendance were:
Mayor Michael Daniels City Clerk Joan Devine
Senior Alderman Renny Perry Andy Kirkaldy
Alderman Lynn Donnelly (6:10 p.m.) Robert Trepanier
Alderman Mathew Chabot Alicia Grangent
Alderman Jeffrey Fritz Logan Barbosa
Alderman Mark Koenig Shannon Haggett
City Manager Mel Hawley
VISITORS: Mayor Daniels introduced Alicia Grangent, Director of Northlands Job Corps, and Logan Barbosa, Business Community Liaison at Northlands Job Corps. Alicia Grangent advised they were present to familiarize themselves with local government affairs.
MINUTES: Senior Alderman Renny Perry moved to approve the minutes of the regular meeting held on December 19, 2017. The motion was seconded by Alderman Jeff Fritz. On the second page in the first paragraph, the fifth sentence was amended to read, “Shannon Mahoney stated she felt the City Council has been negative towards all of her interactions…” In the same paragraph the seventh sentence was amended to read, “The Public Works Department put up the lights for several years and the Vergennes Partnership organized the Holiday Stroll last year, he stated.” A vote on the motion with corrections showed all voting in favor. Senior Alderman Perry advised he would like the minutes to reflect that although Shannon Mahoney stated that the effort (Lighting of the City Green) was handed to her at the last minute, that was not the case. He stated she took it upon herself to purchase and coordinate putting up the lights and organizing the event.
WARRANT: The Warrant, totaling $97,847.22, was circulated for review and signatures of approval. City Manager Hawley advised recent bills for salt are included in this amount.
ADDISON COUNTY REGIONAL PLAN – TRANSPORTATION SECTION: City Manager Hawley reported he has reviewed the proposed amendments to the Transportation Section of the Addison County Regional Plan and made changes and corrections he would like considered. He advised he feels it is important the City Council participates in this and has a voice. Senior Alderman Perry suggested some changes he had marked on his copy that he would like included if the City Council agrees with them. Alderman Koenig pointed out the population of impacts on Main Street compared to Route 17 is not a one-to-one comparison. Mayor Daniels added that the document refers to a truck route and calls it a by-pass in other areas so he would like clarity that the City is looking for a truck by-pass. There were no objections to Manager Hawley submitting the changes.
SETH WARNER – RHONDA FARRAND CHAPTER OF THE DAR: A request has been made to install another bench, this one honoring the Korean War Veterans, at Macdonough Park. City Manager Hawley advised the bench would be similar to the one installed in the spring honoring the Vietnam War Veterans. Senior Alderman Perry moved to approve the request, seconded by Alderman Jeff Fritz, with all voting in favor.
REMOVAL OF LIGHTS ON THE CITY GREEN: City Manager Hawley reported we customarily shut off the holiday lights on the City Green on January 2nd. This year that did not happen until last Tuesday. Senior Alderman Perry advised volunteers from Vergennes Partnership will take down the lights on the lower levels of the trees and leave the lights up on the higher levels. Alderman Fritz inquired who was going to store the lights that the City did not own. Manager Hawley advised he will notify the Public Works Department that it will not be their responsibility to take down the lights this year but they can certainly help if needed. Alderman Koenig questioned the electrical costs this year for the display. Manager Hawley reported we paid $290 for 2015; $320 for 2016; and $340 for 2017. Alderman Koenig suggested checking with Shannon Mahoney to see if she wanted all or some of the lights left up seeing as how they are hers; he would be willing to do that. Alderman Jeff Fritz advised he would like all the lights to come down. Alderman Chabot agreed. They are seasonal and not so special when lit year-round, he stated. Senior Alderman Perry also agreed with the exception of the taller trees. He favored leaving the lights up at the top and hopefully they will work next year.
CITY HALL CONFERENCE ROOM: City Manager Hawley reported Christopher Pettibon prepared drawings a few years ago for possible renovations to City Hall’s layout to better utilize the space. One of the drawings proposed removing the lobby wall to the City Clerk’s office which would have people directly accessing the City Clerk’s office once they go through the double doors in the lobby. Instead, advised Manager Hawley, he was looking for City Council permission to remove the lobby wall to the conference room which will be used predominately at night thus keeping the City Clerk’s office secured. All the demolition in the conference room has been done by Mayor Daniels, he advised, and we are at the next stage which will require moving some electrical lines and a heating unit. Senior Alderman Perry agreed the clerk’s office needs to be secured and felt the conference room would be large enough for City Council meetings but he did not support leaving it totally open. He suggested a folding wall that could be opened when additional space was needed. City Manager Hawley advised he would not have a problem with that but it would add to the cost. Most members did not support a folding wall at this time but noted it could be added in the future if deemed necessary. The next step would be to acquire the necessary permits to begin the work, advised Manager Hawley. He advised when discussion was held previously on this project it was determined this is a capital improvement and would qualify for Water Tower Fund funding. Mayor Daniels stated he estimated the project originally at under $15,000.
RECTANGULAR RAPID FLASHING BEACON OPTIONS: City Manager Hawley reported there are two options for the pedestrian crosswalk flashing beacons. Option one has small lights around the perimeter of the sign and the other has a beacon above. Both options have space on the pole for installation of a flashing light bar. He advised the grant for these signs and beacons was briefly suspended due to patent issues regarding the light bar which cannot be installed on the pole in accordance with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. It was his recommendation to go with option two; all members expressed a preference for option two.
MEMBERSHIP TO ADDISON COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: The Addison County Chamber of Commerce (ACCC) used to do a lot more for the City as it relates to events, advised Manager Hawley, but recommended to continue membership at a cost of $175. Senior Alderman Perry, who is also the President of Vergennes Partnership, reported he and Amy Bodette-Barr met with representatives of ACCC and were advised of their desire to create a position as an event planner for the towns. Alderman Matt Chabot moved to continue membership with ACCC, seconded by Senior Alderman Renny Perry, with all voting in favor except Alderman Fritz who was opposed.
SANDWICH BOARD AND TEMPORARY SIGNS IN STREET RIGHT OF WAY POLICY: Senior Alderman Perry submitted his second draft with corrections incorporated from the first review. City Manager Hawley advised the Planning Commission offered their assistance in this regard. Senior Alderman Perry very much appreciated the offer and Shannon Haggett, Chair of the Planning Commission, confirmed they would return a draft policy to the City Council.
APPOINTMENTS TO THE REVOLVING LOAN FUND COMMITTEE: City Manager Hawley reported, according to the policy, Alderman Lynn Donnelly’s appointment to the Revolving Loan Committee expired March 1, 2016 since the term of her appointment runs concurrent with her term of office as a City Council member. City Manager Hawley suggested she be appointed to the Revolving Loan Fund Committee until March 6, 2018 when her term as a City Council member expires. If she seeks reelection in March 2018, and is elected to the City Council, she will need to be re-appointed to the Committee for a two-year term. Mayor Daniels advised Patricia Ganson has agreed to serve on the Committee as the citizen at-large. Senior Alderman Perry moved to appoint Lynn Donnelly to the Committee until March 6, 2018 and Patricia Ganson for a two-year term. The motion was seconded by Alderman Chabot with all voting in favor.
CITY MANAGER/CITY CLERK PERFORMANCE EVALUATION PROCESS: Deferred.
POLLING HOURS: Alderman Chabot requested an update on when the Board of Civil Authority (BCA) will be meeting to discuss the polling hours. City Clerk Devine advised a BCA meeting has been scheduled for January 31st and hours of the polls will be discussed regarding the upcoming Primary and General elections. Changing the polling hours for the Annual City Meeting will require an amendment to the City Charter which is a lengthier process. City Manager Hawley was asked to create a calendar to see if it was possible to have this as an article on the Warning for March.
CITY MANAGER’S REPORT: City Manager Hawley advised the swimming pool budget ended the season with a fund balance of $9,824. Members of the Fishman family have historically donated $2,000 a year towards the operation of the pool. He reported speaking to Audrey Fishman Franklin this summer and expressed appreciation for their financial support of the Sam Fishman Memorial Swimming Pool. A donation of $4,000 was received in December. He advised they read the Addison Independent and are aware of the various challenges at the pool. As a result of consolidating positions at the pool with Jennifer Kingsley as Pool Director and Lessons Director, and Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Rick Chaput managing chemical use and water quality, payroll expenses were substantially reduced. There was an increase in revenues resulting from more members on the swim team which also contributed to the fund balance. He reported hot water is needed at the pool, baby changing stations, and the roof needs to be replaced but feels much more confident starting off with such a favorable fund balance.
The Planning Commission has a public hearing scheduled for February 5, 2018 regarding their proposed amendments to the zoning and subdivision regulations, advised City Manager Hawley. It is expected that the proposed amendments will be submitted to the City Council sometime in February.
The City’s 2017 common level of appraisal (CLA) has been certified at 101.82 percent which is slightly higher than 2016.
MAYOR’S REPORT: Mayor Daniels reported he has received the information from Vergennes Partnership that he has been waiting for and will move forward with discussions on local option taxes. He is scheduling a Cracker Barrel in January, he advised, where he plans to discuss local option taxes and truck traffic in the city. Robert Trepanier questioned the parameters for turning the local option taxes on and off that was mentioned a few meetings prior. City Manager Hawley explained that legislative approval is needed for local option taxes which would be accomplished by an amendment to the City Charter. Once there is language in the Charter to allow this tax, a specific tax would be proposed to the voters for approval before it would go into effect. Senior Alderman Perry pointed out that the City Charter could be amended but take no immediate action to implement a local tax. Mayor Daniels advised this is not happening this year as the City Council is not rushing into anything.
Speaking on the City Manager position, Mayor Daniels advised City Manager Hawley will likely retire this year. Manager Hawley advised he does not have a contract with the City, nor has he ever felt a need for one, but generally, if there was a contract, it would address what is called a non-renewable clause which calls for three months notice prior to departure. He advised he would give at least that much notice when he does decided to retire. He also suggested the City Council commence work immediately upon notice as it can involve a lengthy process. Mayor Daniels advised he has already been reaching out to department members for their input.
Mayor Daniels congratulated Alderman Jeff Fritz for his recent appointment as the secretary of Addison County Economic Development Corporation for 2018.
ADJOURNMENT: At 7:15 p.m. Senior Alderman Renny Perry moved to adjourn the meeting. The motion was seconded by Alderman Matt Chabot with all voting in favor.
Vergennes City Clerk