VERGENNES CITY COUNCIL MEETING
May 8, 2018
Mayor Renny Perry called the regular meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. at the Vergennes Fire Station. The agenda was amended by adding item 5h. – “Schedule Skate Park Site Visit”. Those in attendance were:
Mayor Renny Perry Alderman Lynn Donnelly
Deputy Mayor Jeffrey Fritz City Manager Mel Hawley
Alderman David Austin City Clerk Joan Devine
Alderman Lowell Bertrand Kristen Benton
Alderman Mathew Chabot Michelle Eckels
Alderman Mark Koenig
VISITORS: None scheduled.
MINUTES: Alderman Mark Koenig moved to approve the minutes of the regular meeting/public hearing held on April 24, 2018. The motion was seconded by Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz. On the second page of the minutes, under City Limits Nightclub, the word “punish” was replaced with “take action against”. A vote on the amended minutes showed all voting in favor except Alderman Lowell Bertrand who abstained due to his absence.
WARRANT: The Warrant totaling $91,366.11 was circulated for review and signatures of approval.
VERGENNES AREA RESCUE SQUAD (VARS) – SERVICE AGREEMENT: City Manager Hawley reported the proposed agreement provided by VARS for emergency medical care reflects an increase from the 2014 rate of $6.50 per capita to $8.00 per capita. In 2008 the rate was $4.00 per capita. A report reflecting fees paid to VARS since 2004 was provided as well. Mayor Perry suggested deferring action on this item and invite VARS officers to discuss this at the next meeting. Alderman Lynn Donnelly advised she found it hard to make a decision in this regard without their financials; she wondered if there is a real need for the increase. She stated she would not be in favor of their proposed increase until she sees financial information. City Manager Hawley reported VARS is a 501(c) (3) corporation so their financial information is not public information but it certainly is a legitimate request. He said he would invite representatives of VARS to the next meeting
GREEN MOUNTAIN POWER CORPORATION – PARTIAL ASSIGNMENT: It was reported by City Manager Hawley that Green Mountain Power Corporation needs to replace the turbine in their hydroelectric generation building located adjacent to property the City leases from L. F. Benton Company on the east side of Otter Creek. They need access over and use of a portion of the leased property to store material and equipment, the temporary placement of a crane and other construction activities, he advised. City Manager advised that Green Mountain Power Corporation had negotiated a separate short-term lease with the L. F. Benton Company and suggested a Partial Assignment of the City’s lease for the duration of the project. There will be no compensation for the assignment as the L. F. Benton Company leases the land to the City at no charge. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to approve the Partial Assignment to Green Mountain Power Corporation as explained and City Manager Hawley is authorized to execute the document. Alderman Donnelly seconded the motion with all voting in favor.
CONFERENCE ROOM PROJECT – LOBBY DOORS: Kristen Benton was in attendance as a representative for the Friends of Vergennes Opera House Board of Directors, advised City Manager Hawley. As reported at the last meeting, the cost is $5,360 for a metal-framed glass door with glass side panels. Friends of Vergennes Opera House (FVOH) prefers a wooden door which would include a large expanse of glass and wood-framed glass side panels; an estimate of $8,555.52 was provided by Norman LeBoeuf. Kristen Benton reported FVOH would like to take over the full task of replacing the doors and will cover any difference in cost. She advised the City can write them a check at the end of the project in the amount of $5,360. City Manager Hawley reported the current doors were purchased by FVOH so those doors are theirs to potentially sell. Deputy Mayor Fritz asked how soon the project can begin. Kristen reported they are ready to go once the City Council releases the project to them. There were no objections to the proposal by FOVH by members of the City Council.
SWIMMING POOL CAPITAL PURCHASES PROCESS: The budget for the swimming pool that was adopted at the last meeting included $5,000 for capital purchases. Mayor Perry advised the previous swimming pool advisory group had recommended a list of improvements including the installation of hot water, a new roof with solar panels, baby changing tables, wall-mounted toilet and soap dispensers and a robotic vacuum. He has been advised that Vergennes Swim Team will contribute $2,000 towards the purchase of a robotic vacuum estimated at $4,000-$5,000. City Manager Hawley asked how expenditures would be decided given the Mayor’s recently created swimming pool advisory committee (SPAC). He said the estimate for installing the hot water which has been determined to be required by code and one new facet would be about $2,000. Mayor Perry advised the City Council can control that line item with recommendations from SPAC. Alderman Matt Chabot asked Michelle Eckels which was needed more; a new roof or a robotic vacuum. She felt, based on sanitary improvements made last year, the vacuum was probably needed more unless the roof was in dire need of replacement. Everyone was comfortable going with the installation of hot water and purchase of the robotic vacuum as this year’s capital purchases from the budget.
CORRECT PERSONNEL POLICY – SICK TIME ACCRUAL RATE: City Manager Hawley reported he made an error in calculating the weekly accrual rate for sick time. The previous policy stated that employees are granted 8 hours per month (96 hours per year) for sick time with a maximum accumulation of 160 hours. The new policy changes all accruals to a weekly basis. He said it was not his intention to increase the amount of sick time granted to employees. The weekly accrual for sick time should have been 1.85 hours per week rather than 3.0 hours as was adopted at the last meeting. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to correct the sick time accrual to 1.85 hours per week. The motion was seconded by Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz with all voting in favor.
PROPOSED FY2018 FIRE DEPARTMENT BUDGET: Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to adopt the FY2018 Fire Department budget as proposed by City Manager Hawley at $198,600. The motion was seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig. City Manager Hawley advised the voters approved the $500,000 bond in March but there will not be a bond principal payment due in FY2019; interest payments will be due in November and May. The fire truck will cost $537,000 plus any change orders. Funding the purchase will be $500,000 from the bond, $20,000 from the sale of the fire truck that is being replaced and the remaining $17,000 will need to be covered through the budget. Manager Hawley advised he is proposing the use of $20,000 from the fund balance and the City, along with the three other towns served, will cover the remaining $178,600. He stated the motion should only cover the expenditure side of the budget as he is waiting for final numbers from the Town of Ferrisburgh to calculate revenue. A vote on the motion showed all voting in favor.
REPORT OF THE CITY MANAGER SEARCH COMMITTEE: Deputy Mayor Fritz reported the search committee is still deliberating and will have more information next week. City Manager Hawley reported the Planning Commission is having some level of anxiety over the zoning administrator position. He reaffirmed he is resigning from that position effective July 24. Deputy Mayor Fritz questioned if the zoning administrator position is an issue for the City Council or the Planning Commission. City Manager Hawley reported the Planning Commission is required by law to nominate someone to be zoning administrator. The City Council is not required to appoint their nominee. As for his administrative support to the Board of Listers, he reported the punch list for the 2018 grand list was completed and he has been paid. He assured the City Council that the additional required work to finalize the 2018 grant list will be totally done in time for printing the property tax bills (July 15, 2018).
SKATE PARK SITE VISIT: City Manager Hawley advised he had received an email from Lee Shorey, a faculty member at VUHS and student Carson Hoffmann requesting a site visit at the skate park with the City Council. They are looking for consideration by the City Council for improvements at the park. Mayor Perry advised he inherited the skate park project when he became City Manager (2003) and we did the best we could. He would like the City Council to visit the site, see existing problems, and determine appropriate action. A site visit was scheduled for May 22nd at 5:00 p.m.
CITY MANAGER’S BUDGET REPORT: City Manager Hawley advised Alderman Matt Chabot’s challenge regarding the Police Department budget is looking like it might not be overspent at fiscal year end. He advised police fines are considerably less than forecasted but there are still three more months. There are other budgeted revenues in the budget that are higher than anticipated such as zoning fees that will help off-set that deficit. Expenditures for Administration are at 87 percent of budget with all insurance premiums paid for the year. Public Works Department expenses are at 75.7 percent with paving remaining to be done but he will not pave any roads that have remaining installations by Vermont Gas Systems. Winter maintenance materials ended at 105 percent of budget which he said was great given the tough winter. The Fire Department appears to be in good shape while the Sewer Department is close to 89 percent of budget but noted that insurance premiums for the year and the bond payment have been paid.
Benton Mitchell, from NEMRC, has completed the necessary fieldwork and loaded the information using the appraisal software resulting in an estimated 1.3 million dollar increase in the grand list. The grievance meeting will be held the first week in June. The City Council will have solid numbers to set the City tax rate by the end of June, advised City Manager Hawley. The Department of Housing and Community Development has awarded the City $46,250 for the Park Street Streetscape Project, advised Manager Hawley. He recommended firming up the arrangement with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church regarding their share in the amount of $23,125.
MAYOR’S REPORT: Mayor Renny Perry advised Deputy Mayor Fritz and Alderman Mark Koenig made the evaluation forms for performance evaluations of the City Manager and the City Clerk/Treasurer. He noted we are late compared to the procedure listed and we need to set expectations for performance. We will do the City Clerk/Treasurer’s evaluation in the not too distant future and conduct an exit interview with City Manager Hawley. These will be done in executive session, he advised.
ADJOURNMENT: At 6:30 p.m. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to adjourn the meeting. The motion was seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig with all voting in favor.
Vergennes City Clerk