City Council Minutes 05-22-2018


May 22, 2018


At 5:00 p.m. Mayor Renny Perry, Senior Alderman Jeff Fritz, Aldermen David Austin, Lowell Bertrand, Matthew Chabot, Mark Koenig, Lynn Donnelly, City Manager Mel Hawley, City Clerk Joan Devine, Lee Shorey (VUHS faculty member), Carson Hoffmann (student), and Tyler Quesnel (student) conducted a site visit at the skate park to discuss potential improvements.

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

Mayor Renny Perry                                                Shannon Haggett

Deputy Mayor Jeffrey Fritz                              Sara McKirryher, VARS

Alderman David Austin                                       Brian Goodyear, VARS

Alderman Lowell Bertrand                               Robert Trepanier

Alderman Mathew Chabot                              Rena Trepanier

Alderman Lynn Donnelly                                 Andy Kirkaldy (6:10 p.m.)

City Manager Mel Hawley                              Cheryl Brinkman (6:25 p.m.)

City Clerk Joan Devine


VISITORS: Sara McKirryher and Brian Goodyear, President and Treasurer of Vergennes Area Rescue Squad (VARS), were invited to the meeting to discuss their proposed price increase in the ambulance service agreement with the City. Mr. Goodyear reported they have experienced a 30 percent increase in payroll expense over the last three years due to a lack of unpaid volunteers; a problem all volunteer agencies are experiencing. Currently, they are paying 3-4 employees for 30-40 hours per week but he feels confident with their budgeting. Insurance company billings provide 70 percent of their revenue, member subscriptions 12 percent, billed to municipalities on a per capita basis brings in 12-13 percent, with donations and fundraising covering the remainder. The last rate increase was 3 years ago, he advised, and they have been able to maintain that rate until now. The proposed contract price calls for increasing the per capita rate from $6.50 to $8.00. Mr. Goodyear advised they want all ambulance service agreements with municipalities to run on a calendar year basis beginning January 1, 2019. As for funds on hand, he reported they have $140,000 in the checking account and will be buying a new ambulance in a month. They also have a $250,000 endowment fund, which they have had for 20 years, and continue to look for a new building. He reported the cash flow ranges from $80,000 to $110,000 and they put $20,000 into a capital investment fund every year. They have revenue budgeted at $422,000 and their operating expenses at $382,000 with $40,000 directed to their ambulance fund. City Manager Hawley stated the proposed agreemeet should be revised to an 18-month period to comply with the conversion. He expressed his desire for a continued fiscal year agreement but if not possible, a 6-month agreement through December 31, 2018 at $6.50 per capita should be considered.

MINUTES: Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of May 8, 2018. The motion was seconded by Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz. On the first page of the minutes, under Green Mountain Power Corporation, the word “Hawley” was inserted into the third sentence after ‘City Manager’. On the second page under Swimming Pool Capital Purchases Process, the last sentence was corrected to read, ‘Everyone was comfortable going forward with the installation of hot water and purchase of the robotic vacuum as this year’s capital purchases from the budget.’ A vote on the amended minutes showed all voting in favor.

WARRANT: The Warrant totaling $724,596.23, which included the final quarterly installment for education taxes, was circulated for review and signatures of approval.

VERGENNES AREA RESCUE SQUAD (VARS) – SERVICE AGREEMENT: City Manager Hawley reported we are going to need a transitional agreement with VARS for 6 months. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to approve a 6-month transitional ambulance service agreement with VARS at $6.50 per capita. The motion was seconded by Alderman Matt Chabot with all voting in favor.

VERGENNES LAUNDRY BY CK – OUTSIDE CONSUMPTION PERMIT: An application for an Outside Consumption Permit was submitted by Christian Kruse, d/b/a Vergennes Laundry by CK, to serve alcoholic beverages from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. outside in the roped off 11’ x 7’6” area on the south side of the stairs. Alderman David Austin moved to approve the permit. The motion was seconded by Alderman Bertrand with all voting in favor.

SKATE PARK SITE VISIT: Mayor Renny Perry asked the City Council if they would agree to create a recreation committee; something he felt was helpful. He advised they could create a sub-committee for the skate park with oversite. Alderman Austin stated that if recreation assets are City-owned then the City should be maintaining them or they will deteriorate. An application of Arborcoat of the exterior surfaces of the ramps in the skate park is needed to preserve the structures. He advised he did not see any glaring liability there and would volunteer to work on that. City Manager Hawley advised some painting is indeed needed and a decision on whether to move the backboard wall. Mayor Renny Perry authorized Alderman David Austin to take the lead. Alderman David Austin advised he would work with City Manager Hawley on any cost estimates. Alderman Matt Chabot wondered if Northlands Job Corps Center students could provide labor. Mayor Renny Perry felt that was very probable.

BIXBY LIBRARY – SERVING ALCOHOL ON CITY PROPERTY: An application was submitted by the Bixby Memorial Free Library Board of Trustees to serve alcohol on their premises for the Bixby Gala scheduled for June 22nd. Proof of liability insurance, certificates of educational training, and a letter showing the Board of Trustees voted to allow serving of alcohol on that date accompanied the application. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to grant permission to serve alcohol as requested by the Board of Trustees. The motion was seconded by Alderman Donnelly with all voting in favor.

PROPOSED FY2019 FIRE DEPARTMENT REVENUE BUDGET: A finalized revenue budget for the Fire Department was presented by City Manager Hawley. He reported revenues generated will be $178,650 plus $20,000 from the projected FY2018 fund balance totaling $198,650 equaling the expense budget that was previously approved. He estimated the FY2018 fund balance to be approximately $29,000 and felt safe to use $20,000 of the surplus. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to adopt the Fire Department revenue budget at $198,500 using $20,000 of the projected FY2018 fund balance. The motion was seconded by Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz with all voting in favor.

REPORT OF THE CITY MANAGER SEARCH COMMITTEE: Deputy Mayor Fritz reported the search committee has only one candidate for the position of City Manager to submit to the City Council so they decided to expand their search. Depending on the scope of services, Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT) have proposed a cost of $4,300 to $6,800 to assist the committee, he advised. Alderman Lynn Donnelly moved to proceed with a budget not to exceed $6,800 for contracted services with VLCT. Alderman Matt Chabot seconded the motion. Deputy Mayor Fritz advised VLCT will also help find an interim City Manager. Shannon Haggett advised the Planning Commission is also looking for a zoning administrator and may have some advertising costs. A vote on the motion showed all voting in favor.

CITY MANAGER’S BUDGET REPORT: City Manager Hawley advised interest revenue in the general fund is not meeting expectations and the budget for administration will be a challenge. Memorial Day will result in significant overtime for both the Police Department and Public Works Department. School Street will be the only paving project done this spring, he reported. The Fire Department is fine; the Sewer Department is close but under budget.

MAHAIWE, LLC APPEAL: Alderman Matt Chabot disclosed that he is employed by an affiliated owner of Mahaiwe, LLC. City Manager Hawley advised the Superior Court upheld their two prior decisions affirming the conditions involving a Development Review Board decision regarding site plan approval and conditional use approval relative to required fencing on so-called Norton Grist Mill Island. Judge Durkin’s decision reflects the good work done by the Development Review Board but noted that attorney fees paid by the City were over $13,000. That matter could be further appealed to the Vermont Supreme Court.

MAYOR’S REPORT: Mayor Renny Perry advised he supports reestablishing a recreation committee and will get back to the City Council with the charge and requisition.

City Manager Hawley thanked Michelle Eckels, Mark Koenig and Steve Rapoport for pressure washing, wall repair, and gutter cleaning at the pool. He advised that the Grievance meeting may have to be changed from June 6th to June 13th because timely filed homestead declarations have not yet been received.


ADJOURNMENT: At 7:20 p.m. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to adjourn the meeting. The motion was seconded by Alderman Lynn Donnelly with all voting in favor.

Respectfully submitted,

Vergennes City Clerk