City Council Minutes 04-09-2019


APRIL 09, 2019


Mayor Jeff Fritz 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 Jeff Fritz                                                 Alderman David Austin

Deputy Mayor Lynn Donnelly                  City Manager Mathew Chabot

Alderman David Small                                   Ass’t Clerk Melissa Wright

Alderman Mark Koenig                                Andy Kirkaldy

Alderman William Benton                          Robert Jewett

Alderman Lowell Bertrand                         Tyler Jewett

VISITORS: Doug Lazarus (Arrived 5:42 p.m.)

WARRANTS:  The Warrant totaling $66,692.86 was presented for review and signatures of approval.

MINUTES:  Alderman Bertrand moved to approve minutes of the March 26, 2019 meeting. That motion was seconded by Deputy Mayor Donnelly. The minutes were approved with all voting in favor except Alderman Koenig who abstained due to absence.

RT 22A ALTERNATE TRUCK ROUTE:  City Manager Chabot reported that the Stantec presentation that took place in the Opera House on April 02, 2019 was very robust with over 100 people in attendance. He is looking for approval from the City Council to draft a recommendation to VTrans in support of Option B which would run from Route 22A on West Main Street near the city line, cross Otter Creek and rejoin Route 22A on Main Street between the police station and the Velco property. Alderman Benton made a motion authorizing City Manager Chabot to construct that recommendation to VTrans, seconded by Alderman Bertrand, with all voting in favor.

TRANSPORTATION ALTERNATIVES PROGRAM GRANT (TAP) AWARD:  City Manager Chabot announced the City of Vergennes received a grant in the amount of $267,026 to purchase and install a new salt shed. We received this grant due to the close proximity of our salt supply and the possible leeching that can occur and end up in Otter Creek. The City’s share would be $64,281. He would like permission to take $62,500 from the West Main Street Restoration Fund and proceed with the grant. Alderman Koenig asked where the remaining balance would come from and City Manager Chabot advised it would be taken from the Public Works budget. Alderman Small wanted to know the possible timetable; City Manager Chabot was not sure. Alderman Bertrand made a motion to proceed with the grant, seconded by Deputy Mayor Donnelly, with all voting in favor.

OUTSIDE SEATING LICENSE AGREEMENTS:  City Manager Chabot sought approval to provide Outside Seating Agreements with Black Sheep Bistro, Three Squares Café, Pork Squid (Park Squeeze), Vergennes Laundry by C.K. and Northern Daughters. Deputy Mayor Donnelly inquired about Hired Hand. City Manager Chabot advised after reviewing past minutes they were not included in the agreements but he will double check. Alderman Bertrand made a motion to proceed with Outside Seating Agreements, seconded by Alderman Koenig, with all voting in favor.

T-MOBILE LEASE PROPOSAL: City Manager Chabot was looking for approval to allow T-Mobile to add antennas on to the cell tower. This would generate revenue of $2,000 per month the first year and annual bumps after that for the next five years. Verizon and AT&T currently are the providers available on the tower. No motion was made but all Aldermen were in agreement.

EVALUATION DOCUMENTS AND GOAL SETTING FOR THE CITY MANAGER AND CITY CLERK: Mayor Fritz is seeking input and comments from the Aldermen by April 21st regarding evaluation and goal setting for the City Manager and the City Clerk. He is looking at a deadline of June 1st to complete those evaluations.

Mayor Fritz stopped business at this point to welcome visitor Doug Lazarus. Mr. Lazarus is seeking a donation from the City of $1,000 to go towards the printing and publication cost of a pamphlet that would showcase the city of Vergennes. The pamphlet would have restaurants, lodging, businesses, farm stands and include a new addition which would be a calendar of events. He advised he has spoken with the Basin Harbor Club and they were willing to cover one third of the cost and would give those pamphlets to each guest at check in. In addition to the pamphlet he would provide a PDF of 6 pages for the City to place on our website. Alderman Austin expressed concerns about approaching a municipality for this type of request and that Vergennes Partnership might be a more appropriate place to request funds. He also added that the publication amount of 5000 for an area within 45 minutes of Vergennes was too small to be effective. Alderman Small asked Mr. Lazarus if he had contacted the Vergennes Partnership and Mr. Lazarus advised he did but they do not have funds available. Mayor Fritz advised the City Council would not be making a decision on the floor and instructed City Manager Chabot to follow up with Mr. Lazarus on his donation request.

2019 CITY COUNCIL GOALS: Mayor Fritz asked the City Council to think about goals they would each like to accomplish. His three goals would be fully funding all of our assets such as the pool and the basin, forming a committee to investigate a local option tax and amending the City Charter to extend polling hours. Alderman Koenig advised his goals would be completing the Charter change to extend the polling hours along with other changes needed including changing the voting age from 21 to 18 and completing an evaluation of all the City’s ordinances that could be accomplished by doing at least one per meeting starting with the first meeting in June. Alderman Austin advised his goals would involve the Basin, development of all unused city property to provide the best usage and financial return and starting conservations with Northlands Job Corp about providing funds for services provided by the City like they did in the past but was stopped years ago. Deputy Mayor Donnelly advised she too would like to have conversations with Northlands Job Corp, complete the bike path and focus on activities geared toward our adult residents. Alderman Benton advised there is not a lot of growth potential for our grand list and would be in support of a local option tax. Alderman Austin advised the economic reality to do business is at risk due to the state’s taxes and budget and for change to occur pressure would need to be at the state level. Alderman Small is interested getting an assessment of the combined wastewater overflows that focuses on the impact to the river and lake and developing a plan for the future.

Mayor Fritz advised there will be no City Council meeting on May 21, 2019. He and the City Manager will be attending a meeting in Ferrisburgh and New Haven with the hope of getting regional support for the alternate truck route.

SAM FISHMAN POOL ADVISORY COMMITTEE NOTICE: City Manager Chabot struck this from the agenda. He was able to resolve this situation prior to the City Council meeting.

CITY MANAGER’S REPORT: City Manager Chabot provided a budget update. He reported the Governor’s Highway Safety money has started to come in. He advised we do not have a spending problem. We have a revenue problem and economic growth should be a top priority. He also advised the City Council will need to start thinking of the budget. Alderman Benton asked about the overage for the administrative building maintenance line. City Manager Chabot advised that was due to the renovations in the Conference Room and at the City Manager’s and City Clerk’s offices.

STEVENS HOUSE FLOWER BEDS: City Manager Chabot advised he was 8 hours late in advising the City Council that Burchfield Management has requested to add two flower beds in the city right-of-way and the project had already started. They would take responsibility for the maintenance of those beds. He reported he advised Burchfield Management he would want them to try to be consistent with the other plants that are used in other areas in the city and cautioned that the sidewalk project that will be going on in 2020 may cause some damage and the beds may not be protected.

ST. PAULS STREETSCAPE PROJECT: City Manager Chabot advised the first week of May is the target date to complete the new sidewalk on Park Street. The concrete wall will be coming down and Panton stone and steps will be installed. He is hoping the project will be completed by June 13th, the first farmer’s market on the City Green this summer. Alderman Bertrand would like to see construction impact in the area minimized for the Legion’s Memorial Day celebration.

CITY COUNCIL MEETINGS MOVE TO CITY HALL EFFECTIVE APRIL 23rd: City Manager Chabot thanked Chief James Breur and all the firefighters for use of their space for council meetings through the years. Effective April 23, 2019 City Council meetings will be held in the new conference room at City Hall and will be live streamed.

GREEN UP DAY: City Manager Chabot thanked Alderman Bertrand for stepping up to oversee Green Up Day that will take place on May 4th. They will meet on the City Green at 8:00 a.m. The Vergennes Recreation Committee will be roofing and painting the buildings at the Sam Fishman Pool and the Skate Park during Green Up Day. They will be meeting at the pool at 9:00 a.m.

MAYOR’S REPORT: Mayor Fritz announced he and City Manager Chabot will continue their roadshow seeking support from neighboring towns for the alternative truck route and will be attending Ferrisburgh’s and New Haven’s select board meetings on May 21, 2019.

ADJOURNMENT: At 6:25 p.m. Alderman Bertrand moved to adjourn the meeting. Alderman Koenig seconded the motion with all voting in favor.

Respectfully submitted,

Assistant City Clerk