City Council Minutes 08-28-2018


AUGUST 28, 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 Reimbursement for Deferred Pension of the City Manager. Those in attendance were:

Mayor Renny Perry                                                  Matt Chabot

Deputy Mayor Jeffrey Fritz                               Jill Murray-Killon

Alderman David Austin                                        Randall Ouellette

Alderman Lowell Bertrand                                 David Small

Alderman Mark Koenig                                        Shannon Haggett

Alderman Lynn Donnelly                                    Andy Kirkaldy

City Manager Mel Hawley                                 Michelle Eckels

City Clerk Joan Devine

WARRANTS: The Warrant totaling $80,049.01 was circulated for review and signatures of approval.

MINUTES: Minutes to City Council meetings held August 10th and August 14th were presented for approval. Minutes to the August 10th meeting were amended in the last paragraph by replacing ‘expose’ to ‘reveal’. The August 14th minutes were amended in the last paragraph on the last page; the word ‘sponsored’ was replaced with ‘coordinated’. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to accept both sets of minutes as amended, seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig with all voting in favor.

COMMENTS: Planning Commission Chair Shannon Haggett announced the Planning Commission is holding a public forum in the Vergennes Opera House on September 13th at 7 p.m. The purpose is to hear ideas and concerns from the public regarding land use zoning and policy changes to the Municipal Development Plan.

APPOINTMENT OF ALDERMAN: Mayor Renny Perry reported three candidates (Jill Murray-Killon, Randall Ouellette and David Small) expressed interest in the vacant alderman seat. We will give them each a few minutes to tell us about them self and why they would like to sit on the City Council, he stated. Jill Murray-Killon advised she has lived here 15 years and has a small son starting school this year. She feels budget issues appear to be the biggest issue so she would like to listen to the people and look at the allocation process. Randall Ouellette reported he has been an alderman and the deputy mayor for a total of 10 years and has been watching the challenges that have hit this City Council. The budget and the newest recycling issue are both areas of concern. Needs versus wants need to be separated until we can afford them, he stated. He felt the pool was an important asset of the City’s. David Small announced he is new to Vergennes having purchased a home here last fall. While attending Middlebury College he discovered Vergennes but moved away for 4 years after graduation. He was hoping the City Council was looking for someone with a fresh and different perspective from outside the community. He felt this was a great place for young families to live. Mayor Perry advised the City Council would go into an executive session at the end of the meeting to discuss the applicants and will come out of executive session to make the appointment.

PUBLIC HEARING FOR PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO THE LAND USE MAP: The City Council needs to set a date for a public hearing to hear and receive testimony regarding the amendment to the Land Use Map proposed by the Vergennes Planning Commission, advised Mayor Perry. Shannon Haggett advised an error was made with the maps previously so we need to change two of the lots in the low density residential district on West Main Street to be designated medium density residential by extending the district to the south. By amending the zoning map it will bring it into compliance with the land use map of the municipal development plan. Lowell Bertrand moved to set a public hearing for September 25th at 6 p.m. in the Vergennes Fire Station meeting room. Alderman David Austin seconded the motion with all voting in favor. City Manager Hawley advised Peter Garon is the Zoning Administrator and the Clerk of the Planning Commission but he will be sending the notice to the Addison Independent in the morning and will take care of posting requirements.


AMENDMENT TO FY2019 POLICE DEPARTMENT BUDGET: City Manager Hawley recommended an adjustment to the Police Department budget as adopted. He advised he budgeted $40,000 for a new police cruiser; they have replaced their commercial motor vehicle with a truck that is going to cost approximately $35,800 before being painted and outfitted. Part of the Yipes Stripes bill ($768) should be coded to vehicle maintenance as that is the cost to decommission the 2004 Ford Explorer that is being returned to the Addison County Sheriff’s Department. He advised authorization from the State has been given to use the remaining $900 of the Governor’s Highway Equipment Grant towards the cost of the new CMV and an additional $2,000 can be taken from the Asset Forfeiture Fund. Manager Hawley recommended reducing Police Department budgeted supplies and equipment $5,000 and reducing uniforms and accessories by $5,000 and adding those amounts to the capital purchases. The overall Police Department budget total will not change. The body cameras that were budgeted under the uniforms and equipment line item will have to wait until next year, he advised. Alderman David Austin moved to re-adopt the Police Department budget as recommended by City Manager Hawley. The motion was seconded by Alderman Lowell Bertrand with all voting in favor. Alderman Mark Koenig announced he was not happy with where this budget has gotten. Alderman Donnelly questioned if Chief Merkel was okay with the body cameras on hold. City Manager Hawley advised Chief Merkel wanted to purchase local from G. Stone Motors and hire Yipes Stripes to upfit the vehicle. Replacing the Commercial Motor Vehicle was more important to him than the body cameras, he stated. How the line items are drawn in the Police Department budget doesn’t matter to her as long as they are not exceeding the bottom line, advised Alderman Donnelly. Manager Hawley reported Vermont League of Cities and Towns offers safety grants for up to $5,000 so the Chief is hopeful he can acquire one of those or he can watch his budget closely and just defer the body camera purchase until the end of the year. Jill Murray-Killon asked how many police officers we have and could they share a few body cameras. City Manager Hawley reported body cameras are standard issue and that needs to be followed.


RECREATION FACILITIES AND PROGRAMS ADVISORY COMMITTEE: Mayor Renny Perry recommended the following appointments to the Recreation Facilities and Programs Advisory Committee: Matthew DuBois (school representative) and Lynn Rapoport (resident). Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to make those appointments, seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig, with all voting in favor. Mayor Renny Perry advised a school student is the last appointment to be made to this committee.

APPOINTMENT OF DELINQUENT TAX COLLECTOR: Delinquent Tax Collector Mel Hawley advised he has retired from this position effective August 31st. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to appoint Mathew Chabot as the Delinquent Tax Collector effective August 31, 2018 at 4:31 p.m. The motion was seconded by Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz with all voting in favor.

APPOINTMENT OF TREE WARDEN: Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to appoint Mathew Chabot as the City Tree Warden effective August 31, 2018 at 4:31 p.m. Alderman Mark Koenig seconded the motion with all voting in favor.

COMPENSATION OF CITY CLERK/TREASURER: Mayor Renny Perry advised an evaluation and compensation adjustment for the City Clerk/Treasurer will be held latter in the meeting.

REIMBURSEMENT FOR DEFERRED PENSION OF CITY MANAGER: Mayor Renny Perry advised City Manager Hawley lost his first retirement check in the amount of $3,381 when he agreed to stay on with the City through August. He stated he did not feel Mel should be penalized for doing us a favor and proposed the City continue to pay Laurie’s medical insurance for the next 4 months ($3007). Alderman David Austin moved to approve the proposal, seconded by Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz, with all voting in favor.

2018 SEASON SWIMMING POOL BUDGET REPORT: City Manager Hawley reported the numbers to be on the right side when it was all done and over leaving a fund balance of $5,688.40. The swim team was a huge success this year but swim lesson fees were down some so we will look into improving that, he advised. After deducting wages and associated charges for the swim team coaches from the swim team fees, we owe the swim team $1,244.32. Usage at the pool by Thundercare and ISSP still needs to be billed, he reported.

FY2019 BUDGET REPORT: The Board of Civil Authority’s decision to reduce the assessment of Corsair, LLC resulted in a significant change for the budgeted property taxes. Between the BCA decision and the Lister error not removing a mobile home that was no longer in the park, the City will see a $4,600 reduction in property tax revenue, advised City Manager Hawley. He went on to advise he took the liberty to adjust both the Fire Department assessments and Recycling assessments in the budget that are billed out to abutting towns as he did not have final numbers when the prior amounts were set and adopted.

MEMORANDUM – COMMODORE DRIVE: The City has taken over the Phase I portion of Commodore Drive which was complete with the exception of the final topcoat, advised Manager Hawley. The City has a check in it’s possession from River’s Edge Associates, LLC in the amount of $11,220 to complete this work. A clause in the memorandum addresses any possible overpayment or deficit by River’s Edge Associates, LLC and how it will be handled.

BASIN TASK FORCE: Mayor Renny Perry advised he provided a draft Charge to the Downtown-Basin Master Plan Implementation Task Force and requested the City Council review it for any possible changes. He will proceed with this version if there are no changes. Alderman Mark Koenig suggested making this group a City Council committee and subject to the open meeting laws. Mayor Renny Perry supported that suggestion and advised the meetings would have to be posted and minutes kept.

SOUTH WATER STREET SIDEWALK: Mayor Renny Perry advised we can discuss this at another meeting but the question is whether we should abandon sidewalks on the river side of the street and just rebuild the other side. We would probably want to have a public hearing before taking any action. City Manager Hawley reported we have a sidewalk inventory that was done by John Coburn. He advised the City Council previously said they will not throw up the sidewalk and he shared that with Public Works Supervisor Jim Larrow.

EXECUTIVE SESSION: At 6:45 p.m. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved for an executive session under 1 VSA §313: the appointment or employment or evaluation of a public officer or employee. Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz seconded the motion with all voting in favor. Discussion of the appointment of an alderman to fill the vacant position and evaluate the performance of the City Clerk/Treasurer and determine compensation will be accomplished. Alderman Lynn Donnelly moved to adjourn the executive session at 7:27 p.m., seconded by Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz, with all voting in favor.

ACTION: A motion was made by Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz, and seconded by Alderman Lowell Bertrand, to have David Small fill the vacant alderman position. All voted in favor.

Deputy Mayor Jeff Fritz moved to adjust the City Clerk/Treasurer’s salary to $60,000, effective retroactively to the first pay period in July. Alderman Lowell Bertrand seconded the motion with all voting in favor.

ADJOURNMENT: At 7:30 p.m. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to adjourn the meeting. Alderman Mark Koenig seconded the motion with all voting in favor.

Respectfully submitted,

Vergennes City Clerk