City Council Minutes 01-23-18


January 23, 2018


Mayor Michael Daniels called the regular meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. at the Vergennes Fire Station. The original agenda was amended to include item 5a – Resolution for Proposed Bond Vote for a New Fire Truck and 5f – Certificate of Highway Mileage. Those in attendance were:


Mayor Michael Daniels                                   Alderman Jeffrey Fritz

Senior Alderman Renny Perry                    Alderman Lowell Bertrand

Alderman Lynn Donnelly                               City Manager Mel Hawley

Alderman Mathew Chabot                           City Clerk Joan Devine

Alderman Mark Koenig


MINUTES: Alderman Fritz moved to approve the minutes of the regular meeting held January 9, 2018. The motion was seconded by Alderman Koenig. On the first page under Addison County Regional Plan, Transportation Section, the second to the last sentence was corrected to read, “Mayor Daniels added that the document refers to a truck route in some areas yet calls it a bypass in other areas and would like clarity that the City is looking for a truck route.” On the third page under Mayor’s Report, the second sentence was corrected to state the Mayor is scheduling a Cracker Barrel in February. A vote on the motion with corrections showed all voting in favor.

WARRANT: The Warrant, totaling $66,650.44, was circulated for review and signatures of approval. City Manager Hawley advised recent bills for salt received after the agenda packet was sent out are included in the Warrant.

RESOLUTION – PROPOSED BOND VOTE FOR NEW FIRE TRUCK: Mayor Daniels advised he is a firefighter with Vergennes Fire Department so he is turning the meeting over to Senior Alderman Perry for this item of business. Senior Alderman Perry read the draft Resolution and Alderman Bertrand moved for its adoption. The motion was seconded by Alderman Donnelly with all voting in favor except Mayor Daniels who abstained. The document was circulated for signatures.

ANNUAL CITY MEETING WARNING: A draft Warning for the 2018 Annual City Meeting was submitted to the City Council for adoption. Alderman Bertrand moved to adopt the Annual City Meeting Warning as presented, seconded by Senior Alderman Perry, with all voting in favor. The document was circulated for signatures.

SET DATE FOR BOND VOTE INFORMATIONAL MEETING – City Manager Hawley reported a public informational hearing regarding the fire truck bond vote is required by law and a date needs to be set. Alderman Bertrand moved the public informational hearing be held on Tuesday, February 27, 2018, at 6:00 p.m. at the Vergennes Fire Station meeting room. Senior Alderman Perry seconded the motion with all voting in favor.

ADDISON COUNTY REGIONAL PLAN – TRANSPORTATION SECTION: City Manager Hawley reported he delivered the document incorporating the changes suggested by the City Council and typographical errors he had discovered to the Addison County Regional Planning Commission office on January 14, 2018. He advised he believes all the changes have been incorporated but recommended the City Council verify. The next public hearing on this section of their plan is scheduled for February 14, 2018.

PART-TIME TEMPORARY ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT – POLICE DEPARTMENT: City Manager Hawley advised Police Chief George Merkel says they are back-logged with paperwork and need temporary administrative assistance to get caught up. Stephanie Taylor, an administrative assistant with the Vermont State Police, has agreed to help Chief Merkel on a part-time temporary basis, he advised. City Manager Hawley stated they could use 80 hours of her time at a cost of approximately $1,600 which includes wages, workers compensation, and social security. He advised he does not amend the budget once adopted without City Council authorization and is seeking authorization of a new line item; part-time administrative assistant. The total budget would stay the same, he advised, and they would have to cut back on other line items. In this instance, advised City Manager Hawley, he supports the request. Senior Alderman Perry moved to authorize a part-time temporary administrative assistant and amend the budget to allow a line item for a part-time temporary administrative assistant with the understanding that not more than $1,600 would be spent through June 30, 2018. Alderman Bertrand seconded the motion. City Manager Hawley reported we are at about 55% into the fiscal year and it will be a challenge to stay within budget but his expectation has been made clear to Chief Merkel. Alderman Chabot questioned if this position and corresponding line item would be expected next year. City Manager Hawley advised this would be considered at budget time. Senior Alderman Perry has always predicted that the police department will have to do its own dispatching at some time in the near future and felt the dispatcher could also do administrative work. City Manager Hawley advised the police officers have computers and clerical skills but the administrative work is keeping them in the office for extended periods. A vote on the motion showed all voting in favor.

CERTIFICATE OF HIGHWAY MILEAGE: City Manager Hawley reported there are no changes from last year’s report. Last year, he advised, Commodore Drive was added but due to legal issues involving an abutting shed, the first phase of the street has not yet been deeded to the City. The document was passed for signatures of approval.

CITY MANAGER/CITY CLERK PERFORMANCE EVALUATION PROCESS: City Manager and City Clerk job evaluation forms and the City Manager job description drafted by Alderman Fritz and Alderman Koenig were distributed to the City Council. Comments or corrections are to be sent to Alderman Fritz and Alderman Koenig. Alderman Fritz advised the evaluation document and the job description goes hand-in-hand. Input from everyone is the next step, advised Alderman Fritz. City Manager Hawley advised he wears several hats and suggested they be incorporated in the job description. He advised, once he retires, he is open to staying on as the zoning administrator and provide continued administrative support to the Board of Listers should the next City Manager not be interested in those particular duties. Alderman Fritz felt City Manager Hawley brought up a good point and perhaps we need to look at positions at City Hall. He advised he was looking for input in the next two weeks.

STRATEGIC FORMAL HIRING INTERVIEW PROCESS: Mayor Daniels advised the document included in the agenda packet is only a recommendation for an interview process. Other options are available online, he advised, and Vermont League of Cities and Towns would also assist with this task for a cost. The International City Manager’s Association is another resource available, he advised. Alderman Donnelly advised she prefers ‘selection panel’ instead of ‘hiring panel’ as the City Council does the hiring.

CITY MANAGER’S REPORT: City Manager Hawley advised we are halfway through winter and the public works department’s line item for salt is at 57% compared to the State that has already spent their entire budget for salt. Alderman Bertrand questioned the line item for heating fuel at the public works garage. City Manager Hawley reported the wastewater treatment plant has a new propane-fired furnace so they will not be using the fuel oil remaining in the tank. That fuel oil is being transferred to the public works garage as needed, he advised, and a journal entry will be made to the public works heating fuel line item from the wastewater treatment plant heating fuel line item for the estimated 700 gallons of fuel oil valued at $1.90 per gallon. City Manger Hawley also reported the fire station has temporary propane tanks but will convert to natural gas soon. He also reminded everyone that the City pre-buys 1,300 gallons of fuel oil for City Hall and all gallons used above that are paid by Friends of Vergennes Opera House. Alderman Donnelly questioned how we are balancing the expenditures at 187% for sewer line maintenance/repairs. City Manager Hawley reported we have spent a lot of money this year on sewer line cleaning and use of the video camera by Hartigan Company.

CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS AND SPECIAL FUNDS REPORT: City Manager Hawley reported he could not provide details from memory on the expenses that have been made this year from the Water Tower Reserve Fund but will provide a report at the next meeting. A loan in the amount of $60,000 was made from the Water Tower Continuation Fund towards the purchase of two police cruisers which is being paid back through the Police Department budget.

PROCESS FOR AMENDING THE CITY CHARTER: State law suggests that it can take up to 80 days to amend the City Charter with warnings, notices and the actual vote followed by approval from the Legislature. No changes to the City Charter can happen in time for the annual meeting in March, advised City Manager Hawley and City Clerk Devine.

CITY HALL CONFERENCE ROOM: City Manager Hawley advised removing the lobby wall to the conference room is considered construction and a State Construction Permit is being required. No plumbing permits are needed. J.W. & D.E. Ryan, Inc. has advised that the baseboard heating unit along the wall that will be torn down can be eliminated.

ENCORE VERGENNES SOLAR-2017 GENERATION REPORT: Originally the solar panels at the wastewater treatment plant were estimated to produce 200,000 kW per year and save the City about $4,100 annually. In 2017, the panels generated 166,000 kW and saved us only $3,100.

AUDIT REPORT AND FINANCIAL STATEMENTS: The Audit Report and Financial Statements have not arrived. Fothergill Segale & Valley confirmed they mailed them last Thursday. Manager Hawley said he will deliver the reports to the City Council upon their arrival.

MAYOR’S REPORT: Mayor Daniels reported the Mayors Coalition has updated their five common issues that they are looking for support from the State. The document has been submitted for the 2018 legislative session.

Prepared packets for each Alderman were distributed by the Mayor involving the written complaint by Shannon Mahoney. He advised the documents enclosed are being distributed to the Aldermen and the matter will be discussed at the next meeting.

ADJOURNMENT: At 6:45 p.m. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to adjourn the meeting. The motion was seconded by Senior Alderman Renny Perry with all voting in favor.

Respectfully submitted,

Vergennes City Clerk