City Council Minutes 09-24-2019


SEPTEMBER 24, 2019


Mayor Jeff Fritz called the regular meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall in the conference room. Those in attendance were:

Mayor Jeff Fritz                                              City Clerk Joan Devine

Deputy Mayor Lynn Donnelly                Police Chief George Merkel

Alderman David Austin                              Patti Merkel

Alderman Mark Koenig                              Robert Trepanier

Alderman Lowell Bertrand                       Sierra Bertrand

Alderman David Small                                James Amblo

Alderman William Benton                        Rainwalker Winterpainter

City Manager Mathew Chabot

WARRANT: The Warrant totaling $847,948.56, which included the first quarter education tax to ANWSD, was circulated for review and signatures of approval. Deputy Mayor Donnelly questioned a restocking charge from Denecker Chevrolet and an education tax refund to a resident.

MINUTES: Alderman Bertrand moved to approve minutes of the September 10, 2019 meeting. The motion was seconded by Alderman David Small. On the third page under “Budget Update” the last sentence was corrected to read, “He reported the City has been on a 3-year promotion which just ended and our rates increased $346 per month.” A vote on the amended minutes showed all voting in favor.

ADMINISTRATION BUDGET REVIEW: Mayor Fritz announced the City Manager Chabot has provided his draft Administration budget for FY2021. Deputy Mayor Donnelly advised she would like to look at the Vermont Municipal Employee Retirement System (VMERS) benefit the City provides employees. City Clerk Devine reported prior to 1988, when Mel Hawley was the City Manager the City was on Plan A, the City Council approved paying the employees portion (3%) of the VMERS withholding in lieu of a wage increase. Thereafter, when Randy Friday was the City Manager he proposed to the City Council to switch from Plan A to Plan B; which they approved. Mayor Donnelly suggested the City Council look at the VMERS and the health insurance benefits the City provides and she would like to address that before winter. Mayor Fritz agreed that should be done. City Manager Chabot quoted some rates for MVP and BCBS insurances that he has looked into. This year we switched to a different cloud recommended by Symquest so our IT expenses increased due to up-front costs but we should see a $10,800 overall savings next year. Manager Chabot pointed out the increased line item for hired assessors this year but stated he does not expect to use all those funds.

2020 CENSUS: City Manager Chabot advised beginning April 1st jobs are available doing the 2020 Census. He reported they are trying for better data this year so it will be tougher but they are paying wages in the range of $13 to $28 per hour. The public can go to the City’s website to apply.

ADDISON COUNTY TRANSIT RESOURCES: City Manager Chabot advised Diane Lanpher contacted him and asked to be reappointed as Vergennes’ representative to the Tri-Valley Transit Addison County Regional Operating Committee. The appointment term is July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to make that appointment, seconded by Alderman David Austin, with all voting in favor.

GRANT AGREEMENT RESOLUTION-VERGENNES COMMUNITY HOUSING: City Manager Chabot reported the Grant Agreement Resolution, for the $400,000 in funds the City will receive under the Vermont Community Development Program for the Community Housing project on Armory Lane, requires City Council endorsement. The document names City Manager Chabot as the authorizing official and Abbie Farrar as the administrative person responsible for the VCDP activities. The document was circulated for signatures and is filed as part of these minutes.

SAVIDA HEALTH UPDATE: City Manager Chabot reported the Development Review Board met on Monday and have post-phoned their decision at this time. They will be holding a deliberation session tomorrow afternoon which will be closed to the public. Alderman David Austin advised he represents a group that has been granted interested party status for SaVida Health’s permit application. Whether SaVida Health is a medical services provider is the question, he stated.

SEWER RATE INCREASE: Mayor Jeff Fritz advised City Clerk Devine sent City Council members an email explaining the $55,748 she reported at the last meeting to be excess dollars as a result of increased sewer rates was actually a quarterly amount that would be raised; annually over $223,000 would accumulate. City Manager Chabot reported the Vergennes-Panton Water District advised him all their water meters do not work.

GOVERNORS HIGHWAY SAFETY PROGRAM: City Manager Chabot explained, due to comments on the Vergennes police cruisers being outside our community, that our officers working the Governor’s Highway Safety Program will be seen in various locations as authorized under the grant. He reported another $125,000 grant has been awarded to the City to continue highway safety efforts.

CITY COUNCIL AT MACDONOUGH PARK: The October 8th City Council meeting will start at 5:10 p.m. at Macdonough Park and will meet with the Basin Task Force. A site review and discussion regarding the walking path will occur. Once completed, the meeting will relocate to City Hall.

MAYOR’S REPORT: Mayor Fritz reported Helena VanVoorst has agreed to Chair the Succession Committee. She will assemble a committee of 3-5 folks who will meet in two weeks. He will provide a copy of their charge at the next meeting.

EV EVENT – CITY GREEN: City Manager Chabot advised we are doing our part recognizing climate change with our electric vehicle charging station event that will be held on the City Green on Friday at 3:30 p.m.

ADJOURNMENT: At 6:07 p.m. Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to adjourn the regular meeting, seconded by Alderman Mark Koenig, with all voting in favor.

Respectfully submitted,

Vergennes City Clerk