VERGENNES CITY COUNCIL MEETING
JUNE 12, 2018
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 City Manager Mel Hawley
Deputy Mayor Jeffrey Fritz City Clerk Joan Devine
Alderman David Austin Chance Koenig
Alderman Lowell Bertrand Erin Roche
Alderman Mathew Chabot Andy Kirkaldy
Alderman Mark Koenig
Alderman Lynn Donnelly
MINUTES: Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of May 22, 2018. The motion was seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig. On the first page of the minutes under VISITORS, the word “price” was replaced with “rate”. On the second page under SKATE PARK SITE VISIT, “something he felt was helpful” was replaced with “something he felt would be helpful”. On the third page under MAHAIWE, LLC APPEAL, “Superior Court” was changed to “Superior Court Environmental Division”. Under MAYOR’S REPORT, “and requisition” was deleted. A vote on the amended minutes showed all voting in favor except Alderman Mark Koenig who abstained due to absence.
WARRANT: The Warrant totaling $110,952.58 was circulated for review and signatures of approval.
WATER LINE EASEMENT: City Manager Hawley advised Addison Northwest School District (ANwSD) requested a permanent easement, 20 feet in width, for the installation of a new water line to the Vergennes Union Elementary School. The easement would go across the City-owned property on East Street that was acquired from the Vergennes Graded School District when they dissolved. A draft of the easement deed and drawing was provided. Alderman Mark Koenig disclosed that he sits on the ANwSD Board of School Directors but did not see that as a conflict of interest. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to approve the request and to authorize City Manager Hawley to sign the easement. The motion was seconded by Alderman Donnelly with all voting in favor.
FRIENDS THEATRE – APPLICATION FOR LICENSE: City Manager Hawley advised Chance Koenig plans to put on a show at the Bixby Library. Section 4 of the City Ordinances requires that a license be obtained from the City Council and a $25 fee must be filed with the application. Chance Koenig announced he is the producer and director of a show, “Hamilton”, that he would like to hold at the Bixby Library on June 25th at 5:30 p.m. City Manager Hawley stated that he felt the ordinance has an error as it exempts shows at schools and churches but does not specifically exempt such events on City-owned property. He felt it was an oversight that the ordinance did not exempt events on City-owned property and recommended refunding the $25 fee. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to follow the City Manager’s recommendation, seconded by Alderman David Austin, with all voting in favor except Mark Koenig who abstained.
DOG WARRANT: A Dog Warrant listing 15 dogs that were not registered as required by law was presented to the City Council for signatures. City Clerk Devine reported each pet owner has received two letters after the April 1st due date advising they needed to register their dog. The Dog Warrant was passed for signatures of approval and will be given to Police Chief Merkel for further action including possible impoundment. Alderman Mark Koenig advised he will not sign the Dog Warrant as he is opposed to the language in the State law that says the dog may be humanely destroyed. City Clerk Devine explained the procedure that is used by the Police Department and has been very successful. She reported no dog has ever been taken from its home as the dog owner promptly registers their dog after a visit from a police officer.
VERMONT MUNICIPAL BOND BANK SALE: A Resolution and Certificate, a Municipal Tax Certificate and a Loan Agreement associated with the voter approved $500,000 bond for a new frontline engine for the Fire Department must be approved and signed by the City Council, advised Mayor Renny Perry. Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz moved to adopt and execute the documents as presented, seconded by Alderman Matt Chabot, with all voting in favor.
PROPOSED FY2019 RECYCLING PROGRAM BUDGET: City Manager Hawley reported there is a continuing decrease in the value of recyclable materials so Casella Waste Management will not lock into a contract price for 12 months as they have in the past. There is the potential for an increase this year up to 30 percent. He advised he contacted Addison County Solid Waste Management District (ACSWMD) and they are charging $50 per ton but that is not a long-term fixed number either. City Manager Hawley recommended moving forward with running the recycling center and offering contracts with the participating towns to use the facility for six months. He said the program should be reassessed over the next few months. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to approve the budget as submitted and offer 6-month contracts with the participating towns. The motion was seconded by Alderman Koenig. Mayor Renny Perry advised he and Manager Hawley will encourage ACSWMD to get representatives of the towns together to see what options are available as he felt it was their responsibility in regard to managing solid waste. City Manager Hawley advised ACSWMD is looking into creating a collection facility in northern Addison County but it takes time and will not likely be in operation by January 2019. He cautioned that the City can offer this to the towns but they may opt out at some point. Alderman Donnelly reported she read a letter to the editor that suggested each household donate $100 to the town to keep the recycling centers open. Mayor Perry advised if the recycling center is closed, the materials will likely end up all over the town. A vote on the motion showed all voting in favor.
PROPOSED FY2019 SEWER DEPARTMENT BUDGET: Manager Hawley pointed out the reduction in budgeted costs for chemicals. The current year, $50,000 was budgeted but only $28,000 spent so far, he advised, so he suggested reducing that line item to $35,000. He attributed the savings to the change in chemicals used and improved operation. Looking at the anticipated fund balance plus revenues versus expenses, Manager Hawley advised the year-end fund balance will grow by $10,000 and feels the increase to $106 per quarter per unit is sufficient. The budget also allocates $20,000 to the sewer line replacement fund. The bond payment in the amount of $123,000 a year will be paid off in 2022. Alderman Mark Koenig moved to adopt the proposed sewer budget as submitted, seconded by Alderman Bertrand, with all voting in favor.
PROPOSED FY2019 GENERAL FUND BUDGET: City Manager Hawley advised the revenue budget does not use any portion of a projected year-end fund balance of at least $80,000. This amount is available if the City Council wants to use it to reduce the increase. The proposed budget, without using any of the surplus, would require a 13 cent increase in the tax rate, he stated. Each cent on the tax rate raises $22,600. The proposed budget is a shock but things will be clearer in a week or two, he advised. A budget work session was scheduled for Thursday, June 21st, at 6:30 p.m. Alderman Austin departed at this time (6:25 p.m.).
REPORT OF THE CITY MANAGER SEARCH COMMITTEE: Deputy Mayor Fritz reported the City is under contract with Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT) to assist with finding a City Manager. The job description and information for where to send applications is on the City’s webpage and will be listed in the next VLCT newsletter; the deadline for applications is July 9th. Mayor Renny Perry advised there is the potential for an interim City Manager which VLCT can provide from their pool of retired Vermont managers. Deputy Mayor Fritz reported Planning Commission Chair Shannon Haggett advised they will be looking at the applicants for Zoning Administrator at their meeting on June 25th and they also may need an interim Zoning Administrator.
CITY MANAGER’S BUDGET REPORT: City Manager Hawley advised he is predicting revenues to run short in the general fund. The City has $700,000 invested and is earning $17,500 in interest but the market value of the holdings is only $686,000. He reported the police department revenues are also down. There are several expenditure adjustments that still need to be made when reconciling grant funds, he stated. School Street has been recently paved and a few catch basins have been replaced, neither of which have been paid. The Fire Department has an approximate $8,000 payroll that will be done by the end of the month. At the next meeting City Manager Hawley will provide a swimming pool budget report and a capital improvements and special funds report.
RECTANGULAR RAPID FLASHING BEACON PROJECT: The beacon to be installed across from City Hall will require the installation of an island, reported Manager Hawley. The cost of constructing the island is about $22,000. There were no objections to the island.
DELINQUENT PROPERTY TAXES: Delinquent tax collector Mel Hawley reported he has nine accounts with delinquent taxes for 2016 and/or prior years; four notices for tax sales have been mailed to owners. There are a number of property owners that have not paid sewer assessments for four years and he will be dealing with those next.
MAHAIWE, LLC APPEAL: Alderman Chabot disclosed his affiliation with Mahaiwe, LLC. City Manager Hawley reported Mahaiwe, LLC has filed an appeal of the Superior Court Environmental Division’s decision to the Vermont Supreme Court regarding their property located on the falls. The City has paid $13,000 in legal fees so far, he stated, and City Attorney Ouimette estimates it could be another $6,500 to $13,000.
OTHER TOPICS: City Manager Hawley shared an e-mail he received from Steve Rapoport. The Rapoports have a new puppy and Steve pointed out that the Downtown-Basin Master Plan suggests the creation of a dog park in the basin area, advised Manager Hawley. He encouraged the City Council to consider the proposal and determine if that is the best location and proceed accordingly. Manager Hawley was not aware of any available grants to build a dog park.
MAYOR’S REPORT: Mayor Renny Perry suggested an Implementation Committee for the Downtown-Basin Master Plan; he will work on that. He advised he has not prepared the charge for a Recreation Committee yet but will have it soon. Mayor Perry felt the Recreation Committee should be a City Council committee and subject to open meeting laws which would include posting agendas and having formal meeting minutes.
Mayor Renny Perry reported Vermont is the first State to hold an Opportunity Zone summit which he attended. Vergennes has 1 of the 25 census tracts recommended by the Governor for the new tax incentives aimed at increasing private investment in low income census tracts.
Mayor Renny Perry advised he met with Sue Rakowski, Chair of the Addison Northwest School District Board of School Directors, to discuss the possibility of a school resource officer. He advised it is their decision and they are not in a position to go forward with that now.
ADJOURNMENT: At 6:55 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