City Council Minutes 01-10-2017


JANUARY 10, 2017


Mayor William Benton called the regular meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. at the Vergennes Fire Station meeting room located at 50 Green Street. Those in attendance were:

Mayor William Benton City Manager Mel Hawley Senior Alderman Renny Perry City Clerk Joan Devine

Alderman Mathew Chabot Shannon Haggett

Alderman Lowell Bertrand Reporter Andy Kirkaldy

Alderman Mark Koenig Police Chief George Merkel

Alderman Lynn Donnelly Shirma Ferguson, NJCC Director

Alderman Jeff Fritz Mike Donnelly, FVFD

VISITOR: Shirma Ferguson, the new Center Director at Northlands Job Corps Center, introduced herself and stated she feels very welcomed by our community. She advised Chugach Alaska Corporation was awarded a one-year contract by the U.S. Department of Labor beginning December 1, 2016 with a 6-month renewal option to operate Northlands Job Corps Center. Currently there are 135 students at the center but they are contracted to accommodate up to 220 students, she advised. They are also short staffed; currently having 17 open positions. Her goal for Northlands is to obtain a higher ranking from the U.S. Department of Labor which is based on center performance. She reported the center has been rated in the bottom tier of the 127 Job Corps Centers and they are working towards being in the top 50. The school has strong academic and career education programs so she feels their goal is attainable. They will be seeking a five-year contract. Mike Donnelly, a trustee of the Ferrisburgh Volunteer Fire Department, questioned Shirma Ferguson on their policy as it relates to employees who are members in local volunteer fire departments or rescue squads. He advised one of their members was employed at Northlands Job Corps and allegedly lost his job because he responded to a fire call while on duty at the center. She advised she was aware of the incident that occurred and spoke with the employee about his responsibility to the center and the students’ needs that come first. She advised the employee responded to another call after their discussion and they met again when the employee chose to terminate his employment at the center. At that time, she reported, they were short-staffed and when the employee left the grounds, it left the center and students at risk. This volunteer work is new to her, she advised, and she will be working through this in hopes of establishing a clear policy. She noted they have already signed an updated law enforcement agreement for protocol with the Vergennes Police Department.

MINUTES: The minutes to the December 20, 2016 meeting were reviewed and corrected. On the third page under ‘Audit Report and Financial Statements’, the fourth sentence was corrected to read, “City Manager Hawley said he did not take the professional auditors’ management letter personally but felt their repeated recommendations to implement certain Government Auditing Standards were very negative.” Alderman Bertrand moved to accept the minutes as corrected. The motion was seconded by Alderman Fritz with all voting in favor.

WARRANT: The Warrant totaling $90,209.22 was circulated for review and signatures of approval.

MUNICIPAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN – PROPOSED AMENDMENTS: Proposed amendments to the municipal development plan which was adopted September 30, 2014 were made available to the City Council. City Manager Hawley advised the Planning Commission held their public hearing on the proposed amendments on January 9, 2017 and approved them for submission to the City Council. He advised the City Council needs to hold at least two public hearings before they can adopt the amendments. He explained the timetable that needs to be followed for warning public hearings. Senior Alderman Perry advised Vergennes Partnership submitted their pre-application for renewal of the City’s current Downtown Development District designation to the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development. The State Downtown Program Director notified the City that the current municipal development plan does not include a boundary map of the district so their application was determined to be incomplete. Alderman Perry, who is also the President of Vergennes Partnership, said they hope the proposed amendments to the plan can be adopted quickly as their final renewal application needs to be submitted in February. Senior Alderman Perry moved to authorize scheduling the two public hearings for February 14th and 28th on the proposed amendments to the municipal development plan. The motion was seconded by Alderman Bertrand with all voting in favor. Senior Alderman Perry also presented their Downtown Capital Improvements Plan which does not require the formal endorsement of the City Council; it only needs to be in their renewal application and does not obligate the City Council to the projects in the plan.

CORRESPONDENCE FROM CONGRESSMAN PETER WELCH: A letter from Congressman Peter Welch, requesting assistance in identifying needed public infrastructure projects in Vergennes, was distributed to the City Council. The letter advised the new Congress will be pushing for investments in rebuilding the nation’s crumbling infrastructure that will create good jobs and boost economic productivity. City Manager Hawley stated the Vergennes Panton Water District desperately needs to replace the water main on Macdonough Drive and the City must comply with the policy recently adopted by the State relative to combined sewer overflows. There are definitely other projects including those identified in the Downton Capital Improvements Plan, advised Manager Hawley, who volunteered to draft a letter for the City Council to review at the next meeting. Planning Commission Chair Shannon Haggett suggested projects listed in the Downtown-Basin Master Plan be included in the letter.

CITY MANAGER’S REPORT: Manager Hawley reported he did a line-by-line review of the budget today and feels very good about it. The City received the CLA (common level of appraisal) study and the housing market in Vergennes is coming back some. He advised the CLA last year was 103.35 percent and this year is 100.48 percent which will result in an upwards adjustment when calculating the education tax rates.

Manager Hawley reported he has heard nothing new regarding the appeal to the State by VV II Housing Associates, LP of the determination of value set by the Board of Civil Authority or the appeal to Environmental Court by Mahaiwe, LLC involving a recent decision of the Development Review Board.

ADJOURNMENT: The regular meeting adjourned at 6:40 p.m. by motion of Alderman Lowell Bertrand. The motion was seconded by Senior Alderman Perry with all voting in favor.

Respectfully submitted,

Vergennes City Clerk