City Council Minutes 04-25-2017


APRIL 25, 2017


Mayor Michael Daniels called the regular meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. at the Vergennes Fire Station meeting room located at 50 Green Street. Following the pledge of allegiance, Mayor Daniels advised there is an amendment to the agenda under item 5B involving an application for a taxicab license. Those in attendance were:

Mayor Michael Daniels Erin Roche

Alderman Lowell Bertrand Robert and Rena Trepanier

Alderman Jeffrey Fritz Christopher and Sandra Reck

Alderman Mathew Chabot Andrew Fritz

Alderman Mark Koenig Christine Bradford

Alderman Lynn Donnelly Paula Moore

City Manager Mel Hawley Shannon Mahoney (5:50 p.m.)

City Clerk Joan Devine Cheryl Brinkman (6 p.m.)

Andy Kirkaldy


BIXBY MEMORIAL FREE LIBRARY: Paula Moore, Christine Bradford and Andrew Fritz, Trustees of the Bixby Memorial Free Library Board of Trustees, were in attendance to provide facts and figures about the library. Paula Moore, President of the Board of Trustees, gave the presentation. She advised 49 percent of children in Addison County come to kindergarten unprepared. The library is the gap between school and home and is a place where children come to learn, she stated. There are 150 volunteers at the library that contributed 3,239 hours of their time last year, she reported. This year they have reduced their budget by 4 percent in part by relying on volunteers and applying for grants; other major sources of revenue include town appropriations. Funds from the City of Vergennes support the operating budget, staff, programs, books, utilities and supplies. Paula Moore advised it has been four years since they have asked towns for an increase in support. Currently the City of Vergennes pays $43,965 annually in addition to $5,000 in in-kind services which include lawn care and snowplowing. They are proposing an increase to $51,936 plus continued in-kind services that is calculated using the 2010 census population of 2,588 for Vergennes multiplied by $22.00 per capita ($56,936). This proposal will be considered at budget time in June.

VERGENNES FARMERS’ MARKET: Resident Christopher Reck announced that he and his wife Sandy have taken over the management of the Vergennes Farmers’ Market and its location will be moved this summer from the City Green to Kennedy Bros. That decision was based on struggling vendors, parking not available downtown, lack of restrooms, heavy traffic, the visibility challenge, and getting rained out. The new location will solve some of these problems. He advised the farmers’ market now has insurance for its operation and its Board of Directors and will have proper advertising and offer live music. By moving the farmers’ market to that location they will also be promoting businesses on the north end of the city, he stated. They may need permission to use the parking lots that are located in the city’s right-of-way as well as some green space once they decide on how they are going to lay out the vendors. They will also need approval for temporary signage, he advised. City Manager Hawley, who is also the Zoning Administrator, explained that if the farmers’ market was proposed as a permanent use it would have to go before the Development Review Board. This proposal is a change of use but is not permanent so a public assemblage permit is needed. He advised he would need more information to determine which class permit they would need and who would have authority to act. He pointed out that Kennedy Bros., Inc. will have to be the applicant on the public assemblage permit as well so Robert Feuerstein, President of Kennedy Bros., Inc., will need to sign the application. He explained that half of the parking lot is on Kennedy Bros., Inc.’s land and the other half is under a City issued public land use license for Kennedy Bros., Inc. Zoning Administrator Hawley advised he will determine what they can do for banners and temporary signage once more details are provided.

MINUTES: Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to approve the minutes as written for the March 28th City Council meeting. The motion was seconded by Senior Alderman Renny Perry with all voting in favor.

WARRANT: The Warrant totaling $100,608.46 was circulated for review and signatures of approval.

CITIZEN’S COMMENTS: Robert Trepanier inquired on the number of federal grants the City has received that are currently in place. City Manager Hawley advised approximately ten at this time. He spoke of the 2015 VTrans grant for the Main Street sidewalk extension projects in the amount of $274,000 with a $30,000 local match. The Police Department has several State grants that are supported by federal funds like the $3,350 grant for bulletproof vests. Mr. Trepanier then asked the City’s position on so-called sanctuary cities. Mayor Daniels advised he has spoken to Chief Merkel on this topic and the City does not have any procedures in place. He reported he supports the Chief’s philosophy in that we do not single out illegal immigrants; only if they are seen breaking the law will they be confronted. Mr. Trepanier then inquired how delinquent taxes were able to go from $51,000 to $25,000 in a year; how would one execute that. Delinquent Tax Collector Mel Hawley detailed his collection efforts. With the modified accrual basis of accounting that the City operates under, the collection of delinquent taxes in the first 60 days are treated as being on hand at fiscal year end which increases the fund balance.

Cheryl Brinkman advised she works in Colchester and does not get back to town in time to attend meetings beginning at 5:30 p.m. She asked the City Council to consider scheduling their public hearings further into their meeting to allow people with a travel factor the ability to attend.

VUES COMMUNITY GROUP: Erin Roche, a committee member of the Vergennes Union Elementary School Community Group, reported their volunteer organization comprised of parents, teachers, administrators and community friends, this year will host the student talent show and hope to feature a family pass to the Sam Fishman Memorial Swimming Pool in the “Family Fun” raffle prize. In return for this donation from the City they will include a quarter page ad in their talent show program and two tickets to the show. Alderman Lynn Donnelly moved to donate a family pass as requested, seconded by Senior Alderman Perry, with all voting in favor.

VENDOR’S LICENSE: Shannon Mahoney represented an application for an itinerant vendor license that was submitted by Adam Hineman, d/b/a Taco Truck All Stars, of Burlington. Mr. Hineman proposes to park his food truck on the street in front of City Hall on Saturday April 29th where they will sell tacos and other items to guests attending an event in the Vergennes Opera House. Senior Alderman Renny Perry moved to approve the itinerant vendor license, seconded by Alderman Lowell Bertrand, with all voting in favor.

TAXICAB LICENSE: An application for a license to operate a taxi was submitted by Rick Loyer, Jr., d/b/a Small City Taxi. A certificate of insurance, copy of his operator’s license and appropriate fee were presented. Alderman Lowell moved to approve the application as submitted, seconded by Senior Alderman Perry, with all voting in favor.

SETH WARNER-RHODA FARRAND CHAPTER OF THE DAR: Mayor Daniels reported the location of the bench being donated by the DAR, honoring Vietnam War Veterans, has changed. They have decided to install the bench at Macdonough Park instead of the City Green as was previously approved by the City Council. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to approve the site relocation, seconded by Alderman Matt Chabot, with all voting in favor.

FIRE STATION FLOOR REPAIR: City Manager Hawley stated he never recommends overspending a budget but the concrete floor at the fire station is in dire need of repair. Pease Construction out of Skowhegan, Maine has provided two options. Option #1 would do repairs and apply two coats of epoxy coating to just the troubled area for $18,000. Option #2 covers the work in option #1 with the addition of epoxy coating being applied to the entire floor for $31,000. City Manager Hawley recommended that the entire floor be repaired and noted that only $15,000 of the approximate $49,000 year-end fund balance was used so there are available funds to cover Option #2. Senior Alderman Renny Perry moved to spend $31,000 for the repair of the floor at the fire station as recommended. The motion was seconded by Alderman Bertrand with all voting in favor except Mayor Daniels who elected to abstain due to being a member of the Vergennes Fire Department.

2017 SWIMMING POOL BUDGET AND RATES: City Manager Hawley announced Brad Castillo will not be returning as the Pool Director this summer. Jennifer Kingsley historically runs swim lessons and has been the Assistant Director at the pool, he advised. He has spoken with Jennifer Kingsley and she has agreed to take over the Director position but due to allergies cannot handle pool chemicals. Manager Hawley advised he has asked Rick Chaput, the City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator, to be in charge of water quality and he has agreed. The proposed 2017 budget for the swimming pool reflects projected revenue at $54,120 and expenses at $57,870 thereby creating a potential deficit of $1,751. Senior Alderman Perry proposed using an additional $2,000 from the Watershed Recreation Reserve Fund to cover the shortfall rather than raising rates so they can be kept affordable for all. Alderman Matt Chabot was comfortable with running the budget with the relatively small deficit without an additional allocation from the Watershed Recreation Reserve Fund. Alderman Koenig suggested renting out the pool for private parties as a means of increasing revenues. Senior Alderman Perry moved to adopt the fee schedule for the pool as presented by the Manager. Alderman Bertrand seconded the motion with all voting in favor except Lynn Donnelly who was opposed. Senior Alderman Perry then moved to adopt the 2017 swimming pool budget as recommended by City Manager Hawley but with an increase in the allocation from the Watershed Recreation Reserve Fund from $9,000 to $11,000. Alderman Lowell Bertrand seconded the motion with all voting in favor except Alderman Matt Chabot and Alderman Lynn Donnelly opposed.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST POLICY: The Conflict of Interest Policy was reviewed at the last meeting and City Manager Hawley was requested to prepare an amended version dealing with Article 6. Recusal. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to adopt the Conflict of Interest Policy as presented, seconded by Alderman Lynn Donnelly, with all voting in favor.

CITY COUNCIL CALENDAR: A proposed City Council Calendar for meetings through March 6, 2018 was presented. Alderman Jeff Fritz announced he would not be available at all in May 2017. Senior Alderman Perry announced he will not be available to attend meetings in June but will participate by e-mail as it relates to the proposed FY2018 budget. Senior Alderman Perry moved to adopt the calendar, seconded by Alderman Bertrand, with all voting in favor.

CITY MANAGER’S REPORT: City Manager Mel Hawley advised the $30,000 shortfall with interest earnings in the general fund remains his major concern. He advised the upcoming project to rebuild the Route 7 at-grade railroad crossing could adversely affect traffic at the intersection of Main Street and Green Street. Work will begin May 1st and take about a week but traffic will be limited to one lane and controlled by flaggers. Beginning April 24th there were 25 high school students working with the Public Works Department to get a jump on spring clean up. The pool is now empty so the crew will begin making repairs.

MAYOR’S COMMENTS: Mayor Daniels advised we will defer discussion on the proposed Vergennes Senior Citizen Council until the next meeting. Alderman Lowell Bertrand reminded everyone that Green Up Day is May 6th.

ADJOURNMENT: At 7:50 p.m. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to adjourn the meeting, seconded by Senior Alderman Perry, with all voting in favor.

Respectfully submitted,

Vergennes City Clerk