City Council Minutes 04-10-2018


April 10, 2018


Mayor Renny Perry was unable to attend the meeting so, in his absence, Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz called the regular meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. at the Vergennes Fire Station. Those in attendance were:

Deputy Mayor Jeffrey Fritz             City Manager Mel Hawley

Alderman David Austin                     City Clerk Joan Devine

Alderman Lowell Bertrand              Darren Donovan

Alderman Mathew Chabot              Doug Lazarus

Alderman Mark Koenig                     Andy Kirkaldy

Alderman Lynn Donnelly

VISITORS: None scheduled

WARRANT: The Warrant totaling $66,477.65 was circulated for review and signatures of approval.

MINUTES: Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to approve the minutes of the regular meeting and public hearing held on March 27, 2018. The motion was seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig with all voting in favor except Alderman Lynn Donnelly who abstained due to her being absent from the meeting.

ADVERTISEMENT IN “VERGENNES MAP” BY DOUGLAS LAZARUS: Doug Lazarus was present to promote a walking tour brochure he is developing with an expected May 15th publication. He advised the spaces for advertising are sold out but he held a space for the City. There will be 3,000 copies printed and will be restocked at two-month intervals at approximately eighteen locations from Charlotte to Middlebury as well as being available at sponsor locations. Mr. Lazarus’ drawing promotes the docks at Vergennes Falls Park and Macdonough Park by listing information such as docking by donation, electricity, Wi-Fi, lodging, shopping, restaurants, etc. The cost to the City for the advertisement is $350. Alderman Lowell Bertrand inquired if the City could have an electronic copy of the brochure to place on our website to which Mr. Lazarus agreed. City Manager Hawley advised he does not feel that taxpayer money should be paying for this but suggested funds from the donation boxes at the docks would be appropriate if the City Council was inclined to accept this offer. Alderman David Austin commended Mr. Lazarus for taking the initiative to create the brochure but found the numbers low in terms of distribution. He inquired if, should he run out of copies before the end of six months, additional copies would be printed. Mr. Lazarus advised he would print up to an additional 1,000 copies if necessary. This is the first year for the brochure but, should he need additional copies, he will factor that in next year and the rate will so reflect. Alderman Matt Chabot moved to allocate $350 from the Otter Creek Basin Fund for the Vergennes Map. The motion was seconded by Alderman Bertrand with all voting in favor. Alderman Matt Chabot advised that it was his opinion that such expenses should be paid by businesses and that Mr. Lazarus should not assume that the City would automatically contribute to such an effort in subsequent years.

APPOINTMENT TO THE REVOLVING LOAN FUND COMMITTEE: Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz stated that Alderman Lynn Donnelly was not reappointed as the City Council designee to the Revolving Loan Fund Committee at the last meeting because she was not present and she had encouraged others to consider the position. Alderman Lynn Donnelly advised if no one else wanted to serve that she was very interested in being reappointed to the committee. City Manager Hawley explained that if she was reappointed to the committee, her appointment would coincide with her recent re-election as an Alderman for another 2-year term as stated in the policy for the fund. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to appoint Alderman Lynn Donnelly as the City Council designee to the Revolving Loan Fund Committee for the remainder of her term. Alderman Mark Koenig seconded the motion with all voting in favor.

CITY LIMITS NIGHTCLUB – LIQUOR LICENSE, LIVE ENTERTAINMENT LICENSE: Alderman Matt Chabot disclosed that 10-12 Green Street, the location of City Limits Nightclub, is owned by his employer. City Manager Hawley advised the memorandum he received from Police Chief George Merkel was included in the agenda packet regarding documented over-serving of alcohol at City Limits Nightclub. He further advised that Brett Ward had called him recently and was requested to attend the next meeting. Brett said that he was unable to come to this meeting as he had a scheduled vacation. Manager Hawley pointed out the City Council, acting as local control commissions, could simply thank Chief Merkel for the memorandum and act on the liquor license application or they could wait and meet with Mr. Ward at the next meeting before acting. City Manager Hawley advised he wants the expectations to be very clear to Mr. Ward. Alderman Chabot requested information on the procedure for the three citations issued by state liquor inspector Jay Clark and requested he be invited to the next meeting. At the recommendation of City Manager Hawley, the applications for City Limits Nightclub were deferred.

AMENDMENTS TO THE PERSONNEL POLICY: City Manager Hawley reported Alderman Mark Koenig has provided a lot of suggested edits to the proposed amendments which are very helpful. He advised if anyone else has any comments he would like them by Friday (April 13). He and Alderman Mark Koenig will meet the following week in hopes of sending out another revised version well in advance of the next meeting. Mayor Renny Perry commented in an e-mail that he did not want the review and approval process rushed. City Manager Hawley advised accrued vacation time for employees, when converted in accordance with the policy, will result in an amount that is in excess of the limit listed in the proposed amendments to the policy so a transition clause is needed. Under the proposed amendments, vacation time will accrue weekly compared to being awarded on an employee’s anniversary.

CONFERENCE ROOM PROJECT – LOBBY DOORS: Sheetrock has been put up, taped, primed, and ready for the final coat of paint, advised City Manager Hawley. The existing double-doors in the lobby are fire-rated but are no longer required in light of the sprinkler system that was installed. He said these doors currently do not lock and are not energy efficient. He advised he has received a quote of $5,300 from Desabrais Glass for a 42” wide glass door with two 13” glass side panels. Friends of Vergennes Opera House, who installed the existing doors, do not like the aesthetics of glass doors. Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz advised he very much likes what the glass doors will do for the offices as did Alderman Matt Chabot. Deputy Mayor Fritz stated the City Council will take no action at this meeting to allow the Friends of Vergennes Opera House to have an alternative available at the next meeting for consideration.

ACTIVITY ON CREDIT/DEBIT CARD PAYMENT OPTION: City Clerk Devine prepared a spreadsheet of activity through the debit/credit card system that became available in her office in October. She advised it has been used approximately 45 times and feels the public appreciates having that as an option even though they must pay the associated service fees. City Manager Hawley said that this adds additional steps in reconciling the checking account but given the limited volume, it is not a problem.

REPORT OF THE CITY MANAGER SEARCH COMMITTEE: Deputy Mayor Fritz reported the committee has received several applications for the advertised City Manager position. He advised they have had over 500 hits on the two websites where it is posted. Overall, they are very pleased with the response thus far. The deadline for receipt of applications is April 16th.

CITY MANAGER’S BUDGET REPORT: City Manager Hawley advised sewer revenues are in decent shape with the recent quarterly billing having just been processed. He reported the revenue budget is $652,000 and $637,148 has been billed thus far. There are three more monthly billings left in the fiscal year at about $12,000 each. As for the police department budget, an officer is currently in the hospital. A second part-time officer will be appointed soon to help cover shifts. Payroll related to Memorial Day hits the budget pretty hard so he was not predicting it to be under-budget at fiscal year end. Alderman Matt Chabot suggested any discretionary spending be kept to a minimum at this point. Manager Hawley went on to discuss the Capital Projects and Special Revenue Funds pointing out the sewer line replacement fund only has $15,162 which is about one-third of a typical project.

ADJOURNMENT: At 6:39 p.m. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to adjourn the meeting. The motion was seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig with all voting in favor.

Respectfully submitted,

Vergennes City Clerk