City Council Minutes 02-12-2019


FEBRUARY 12, 2019


Mayor Renny Perry called the regular meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. at the Vergennes Fire Station meeting room. Those in attendance were:

Mayor Renny Perry                                     City Manager Mathew Chabot

Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz                           City Clerk Joan Devine

Alderman David Small                                Michael Winslow

Alderman David Austin                             Shannon Haggett

Alderman Lowell Bertrand                     John Stroup

Alderman Mark Koenig                            Brent Rakowski

Alderman Lynn Donnelly                        Susan Rakowski

VISITORS: John Stroup, our representative on the Addison Northwest School District (ANWSD) Board of Directors, was present with their 2018 Annual Report that included the audit and FY20 budget information. He advised he supports the proposed budget; an increase of 4.9 percent requiring a school tax rate increase of $ .0923. Mr. Stroup reported they are presenting 6 ballots to the voters in March that will allow ANWSD to vote some of the articles from the floor at their future annual meetings rather than Australian ballot at Town Meeting. He went on to advise it was hard to put on all school programs mandated by the State and be uncertain at the same time about exactly what funding they are going to provide. Alderman David Austin advised people want relief from property taxes and the implementation of Acts 60 and 68 did us no favor. Unfortunately, the voters begin to vote the budgets down and that’s not beneficial to anyone. He suggested characterizing how we fund education and let the chips fall where they do. Susan Rakowski, Chair of the ANWSD Board of Directors, pointed out on page 51 of their Annual Report there is only one figure used in calculating the union tax rate that they have any control over. The other components in the formula, she advised, are estimated numbers supplied by the State of Vermont; they will not have final numbers until the fall.

WARRANTS: The Warrant totaling $170,439.28 was presented for review and signatures of approval.

MINUTES: Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to approve minutes to the meeting held January 22, 2019. That motion was seconded by Alderman David Austin. On the first page “Block” was added to ‘Vermont Community Development Block Grant’ at the bottom of the page. On the last page, in the first paragraph, the second to the last sentence was corrected to read, “Mayor Perry advised that, unless there were objections, we will proceed from here.” In the next paragraph on the last page, under the Mayor’s Report, ‘. . specific to Vergennes Opportunities Zone’ was corrected to read ‘. . . specific to the Vergennes Opportunity Zone’. The minutes were approved as amended with all voting in favor.

CITIZENS COMMENTS: John Stroup advised he lives here and he and his family love it; they are not leaving. How can we make a stronger statement that Vergennes is a place where families thrive and by doing so, change the declining student numbers, he inquired. He supports and encourages the City Council to continue to do what they do to make Vergennes family friendly.

ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION PROGRAM (ERP) GRANT: Mike Winslow reported the planning commission has been looking at the June 2018 Stormwater Master Plan that recommends gravel wetlands at three sites; the Wastewater Treatment Plant facility, Vergennes Union High School and Settler’s Parks. They have been focused on the Wastewater Treatment Plant site. Planning Commission Chair Shannon Haggett advised the Stormwater Master Plan started with 50 project sites and whittled it down to those three recommended sites. The Department of Environmental Conservation has Clean Water Initiative Program (CWIP) grants available to accomplish this, advised Mike Winslow. Some of the grants available require a 20 percent local match and others require none. The deadline for the Ecosystem Restoration Program (ERP) grant application, which does not require a match, is March 18th, he reported. They were looking for guidance from the City Council. City Manager Chabot advised the objective of the Macdonough Drive pump station is to work at 100 percent and to do so will require a lagoon oversized. Mayor Renny Perry asked if we can do anything with the engineers we have already hired to lead this project. Who can we consult to see if we have space to expand? We could apply for a Project Development Block Grant, which requires a 20 percent match, to design a solution or possibly wastewater pipe replacement that would then qualify for an ERP grant further down the road, advised Mike Winslow. City Manager Chabot stated it would be a significant assist if we can understand the piping and infiltration. Mike Winslow advised they would need a minimum of $20,000 for other CWI grants; they can come back in February to discuss further action.

22A TRUCK TRAFFIC SAFETY COMMITTEE UPDATE: Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz announced at their second meeting they discussed mitigation procedures that will help while we wait for the development of the truck route. An update on this State project from Stantec, Inc. should be forthcoming. The Truck Traffic Safety Committee will be meeting again on Thursday at 9 a.m., he advised. Mayor Perry advised people should contact City Manager Chabot with any input. Deputy Mayor Fritz advised they are checking into angle parking on Greet Street to North Maple Street. Mayor Renny Perry advised he has seen old pictures of the north side of Main Street with angled parking. Mike Winslow reported a study concluded the green space between the sidewalk and road would have to be removed to do this and it would not be compatible with a bike path.

3-HOUR PARKING ORDINANCE READOPTION: City Manager Chabot reported the amendment to the 2-hour parking ordinance, changing it to a 3-hour parking ordinance, needs to be re-adopted because we thought a public hearing was required but it does not. We now need to restart the clock to meet required posting and advertising schedules. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to re-adopt the proposed amendment to Chapter II, Section 8 (Parking Ordinance, 3-hour). The motion was seconded by Alderman Koenig with all voting in favor.

CERTIFICATE OF HIGHWAY MILEAGE: The annual Certificate of Highway Mileage, ending February 2019, was passed for signatures stating there are no changes in mileage this year.

CITY MANAGER’S REPORT: City Manager Chabot advised he wanted to reassure the City Council and the public that the City is not at risk with our New England Municipal Resource Center (NEMRC) accounting system as recently reported in newspapers and on television. He has spoken with Ernie Saunders, owner and developer of NEMRC, who has assured him no hacking or malicious attempts occurred and our data is safe. Any potential for future exposure has been eliminated through updates which they put in place, he advised. Mayor Perry acknowledged a significant amount of towns use the NEMRC system.

MAYOR’S REPORT: Mayor Renny Perry stated the Vergennes City Ordinances review may not get accomplished during his term but should be done as well as updating the Vergennes City Charter.

Mayor Renny Perry reported the meeting at the Bixby Library regarding the Vergennes Opportunity Zone had a really good attendance and we may have some projects as a result. He thanked Addison County Economic Development Corporation (ACEDC) for putting this on with such knowledgeable speakers.

ADJOURNMENT: At 615 p.m. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to adjourn the meeting. Alderman Mark Koenig seconded the motion with all voting in favor.

Respectfully submitted,

Vergennes City Clerk