VERGENNES CITY COUNCIL MEETING
JUNE 26, 2018
Mayor Renny Perry called the regular meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. at the Vergennes Fire Station. The agenda was amended to include 5.j. Dog Park Grant. Those in attendance were:
Mayor Renny Perry City Manager Mel Hawley
Deputy Mayor Jeffrey Fritz City Clerk Joan Devine
Alderman David Austin Shannon Haggett
Alderman Lowell Bertrand Robert Trepanier
Alderman Mathew Chabot Andy Kirkaldy
Alderman Mark Koenig Ken Remsen
Alderman Lynn Donnelly
MINUTES: Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of June 12, 2018. The motion was seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig with all voting in favor.
WARRANT: The Warrant totaling $116,032.44 was circulated for review and signatures of approval.
COMMENTS: Robert Trepanier advised the sidewalk replacement project on South Water Street looks great. It appears an attempt was made to create a new lawn but the seed has failed miserably, he reported. City Manager Hawley advised Public Works Supervisor Jim Larrow has that location under watch.
CREATION OF RECREATION COMMITTEE: Mayor Renny Perry advised everyone received his Charge to the Recreation Facilities and Programs Advisory Committee. He is open to any changes and wants the City Council to think about appointees to the committee which will report to the City Council. Alderman Matt Chabot moved to approve the proposed Charge for the creation of the Recreation Facilities and Programs Advisory Committee. Alderman David Austin seconded the motion. Mayor Renny Perry reported the committee would be subject to appointment each year at the first meeting in the fiscal year and they will be subject to Vermont open meeting law. Alderman Mark Koenig inquired if the committee could propose changes to the Charge to which Mayor Renny Perry advised they could. A vote on the motion showed all voting in favor.
APPOINTMENT OF DELEGATES AND ALTERNATE DELEGATES TO ACRPC: City Manager Hawley reported he reached out to Shannon Haggett and Cheryl Brinkman to see if they had interest in continuing as a respective delegate or alternate delegate to the Addison County Regional Planning Commission (ACRPC). Cheryl Brinkman currently serves as an alternate delegate to City Manager Hawley and Shannon Haggett. City Manager Hawley advised, given his retirement, he is not interested in reappointment. Both Shannon Haggett and Cheryl Brinkman expressed interest in being delegates to ACRPC for a term of July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to appoint Shannon Haggett and Cheryl Brinkman as the City’s delegates to ACRPC. The motion was seconded by Alderman Jeff Fritz with all voting in favor.
APPOINTMENT TO ACRPC TRANSPORTATION ADVISORY COMMITTEE: City Manager Hawley reported Brent Rakowski is interested in continuing as the City’s representative on the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) for a one-year term of July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019. City Manager Hawley has historically served as an alternate representative. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to appoint Brent Rakowski as the City’s representative on the Transportation Advisory Committee, seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig, with all voting in favor.
RPC/DEC MUNICIPAL ROAD GRANTS-IN-AID PROGRAM: City Manager Hawley reported the information was sent to him late by Addison County Regional Planning Commission and was due last Friday so he signed it and sent it back to show a letter of intent. This action will need to be ratified. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to ratify the City Manager’s action, seconded by Alderman Jeff Fritz, with all voting in favor.
AUTHORIZE MAYOR TO BID AT TAX SALES: As Mayor Renny Perry will not be in town, City Manager Hawley advised someone needs to be authorized to bid on the City’s behalf at the tax sales scheduled for July 16th at 4 p.m. He reported one of the four sales will not occur as the property owner recently made a substantial partial payment and a commitment for final payment within the month. Three properties are still going to tax sale at this time. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to authorize Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz to bid the amount owed by a respective property owner subject to tax sale on behalf of the City. Alderman Lynn Donnelly seconded the motion with all voting in favor.
PROPOSED FY2019 GENERAL FUND BUDGET: City Manager Hawley advised he made adjustments to the original proposed budget that were suggested at the budget work session held June 19th. The proposed budget as it stands will require a 90 cent tax rate and does not use any portion of the projected year-end fund balance currently estimated at $134,000. He expects another $10,000 in revenue will still come in by August 30th but that much in bills for June expenses will need to be paid. It is his expectation to have between $135,000 and $150,000 as a year-end fund balance. He advised the options for the City Council is to adopt the budget as modified and set the tax rate accordingly; stay with the various cuts and use $90,400 of the fund balance that reduces the tax rate to 86 cents (each cent on the tax rate raises $22,600) or reducing the number of cruisers in the fleet to five by eliminating either the unmarked cruiser or the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) enforcement cruiser. He reported the 2004 CMV is in trouble and won’t last the year but there is justification for having five cruisers so one could be eliminated. He pointed out the Water Tower Fund could also be used for purchasing cruisers and/or public works vehicles if classified as a public improvement based on the policy. Alderman Lynn Donnelly stated the Chief sent an email that said he would rather have other cuts in the department as he needs two new cruisers now. Alderman Matt Chabot thought they made some good progress at the budget work session. The police department budget is 40 percent of the total general fund budget and that level is not sustainable. He supported getting the revenue back on track and eliminating the purchase of the second cruiser that was proposed. Alderman Mark Koenig advised he would like to get the tax rate to 83 cents using $90,400 from the fund balance and the remainder from the Water Tower Fund. Alderman Lynn Donnelly preferred using $120,000 from the projected fund balance surplus; doesn’t see the logic in not using what was previously raised by taxes. Alderman David Austin agreed. He felt there is a revenue problem, not an expense problem, which needs to be looked at without taking from the taxpayer. City Manager Hawley advised the police station bond payment could be taken from the Water Tower Fund as it is clearly a capital improvement. Mayor Renny Perry felt using the Water Tower Fund to pay down the bonded debt made more sense than using it for cruisers. Alderman Mark Koenig felt removing the part-time assistant at City Hall was not a wise move; he felt that decision was not supporting the City to run efficiently.
City Clerk Devine advised she and Assistant City Clerk Melissa Wright were going to need help in their office once City Manager Hawley retires. She reported he does all accounts payable and they do not have the time to code bills and process checks. Generally, she advised, accounts payable processing is not part of a City Manager’s duties. She reported the employees at City Hall all do each other’s work when required. Mandatory election training is coming up and the primary election where City Hall will have to be closed as there is no one left to serve the public, she advised. City Hall never closes, especially the day before property taxes and sewer assessments are due, she advised. The various services provided to residents are going to suffer not to mention the stress she and her assistant will have to endure, she stated. The City Council agreed to put the part-time position back in the budget for 20 hours a week at $15 per hour as originally proposed.
After final changes to the budget, it was agreed $90,400 of the fund balance would be used and $72,500 is allocated from the Water Tower Fund to pay the police station bond. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to set the City tax rate at 83.5 cents. Alderman Matt Chabot seconded the motion with all voting in favor.
REPORT OF THE CITY MANAGER SEARCH COMMITTEE: Deputy Mayor Fritz reported Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT) have received 23 applications so far for the City Manager position which closes July 9th. The potential for an interim City Manager provided by VLCT is likely.
ZONING ADMINISTRATOR SEARCH COMMITTEE: Planning Commission Chair Shannon Haggett advised they have a search committee meeting on June 27th to look at the three applications they received for the position of Zoning Administrator.
DOG PARK GRANT: Alderman Mark Koenig reported he found an opportunity for a $25,000 grant offered by PetSafe to build a dog park (as listed in the Downtown-Basin Master Plan) that requires a letter of support from the legislative body and photos of the proposed site. He advised he has forwarded the information to Steve Rapoport. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to authorize Mayor Renny Perry to draft and sign a legislative body support letter for a dog park to be developed in Vergennes Falls Park. Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz seconded the motion with all voting in favor.
CITY MANAGER’S BUDGET REPORT: City Manager Hawley gave current budget totals by department. He advised he will have everything booked by the next meeting so a final year-end budget report will be available. Fieldwork for the audit is scheduled for July 18th.
2018 SWIMMING POOL BUDGET REPORT: City Manager Hawley advised the swim team ended up with 117 or 118 members which drives up the number of season passes sold. The City has received $2,000 from the Vergennes Swim Team and $500 from the Vergennes Community Group towards the $3,400 purchase of the pool vacuum. Hot water has been installed in the bathhouse with money left for other capital improvements. He recommended the pump house be enlarged (doubled) to allow for the storage and distribution of chemicals.
CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS AND SPECIAL FUNDS REPORT: An updated version of this report was provided. City Manager Hawley pointed out the Tree Planting Reserve Fund has been depleted.
DELINQUENT PROPERTY TAXES AND SEWER ASSESSMENTS: Delinquent tax collector Mel Hawley reported there is a balance of $56,623.17 in delinquent taxes covering 2013 through 2017. Four tax sales are scheduled for July 16, 2018. Delinquent sewer assessments are at $50,782.49, which includes penalty and interest charges, and he will be doing tax sales for those next if time allows.
MAHAIWE, LLC APPEAL: Alderman Chabot announced his disclosure statement with Mahaiwe, LLC. City Manager Hawley advised City legal fees for this appeal are now over $13,000. He reported he could have paved Booth Woods for $15,000.
ADJOURNMENT: At 7:40 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