City Council Minutes 12-19-2017


December 19, 2017


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


Mayor Michael Daniels                                      Shannon Mahoney

Senior Alderman Renny Perry                      Robert Trepanier

Alderman Lynn Donnelly                                 City Manager Mel Hawley

Alderman Mathew Chabot City                  Clerk Joan Devine

Alderman Lowell Bertrand                             Alderman Mark Koenig

Alderman Jeffrey Fritz

MINUTES: Alderman Lowell Bertrand moved to approve the minutes of the regular meeting held on November 14, 2017 and the special meeting held on December 4, 2017. The motion was seconded by Senior Alderman Renny Perry with all voting in favor.

WARRANT: The Warrant, totaling $948,843.47, was circulated for review and signatures of approval. City Manager Hawley advised the second installment of education taxes is included in this amount.

REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL FUNDS FOR LIGHTING OF THE CITY GREEN: Shannon Mahoney, owner of Raintree, was present to request additional funds for Lighting of the City Green for this year and in the future. She advised the total cost to buy and install the lights came to $6,412; the City Manager had previously committed $1,000 to this project as has been done in the past. Shannon passed out a list of donors’ names, merchants and individuals, reflecting commitments totaling $4,313 of which $3,763 has been collected. She pointed out that Raintree and Malabar are each donating $500 towards the cost but they are still short about $1,100 and are hoping the City will help out with more funds. In the future, she envisions the Holiday Stroll to encompass what was done this year with additional tree lighting on various streets that will be sponsored individually. This year’s volunteers want to create a destination for people to visit, she advised. Because this effort was handed to me last-minute, it did not allow for planning, she stated. She advised she and Malabar will pay the outstanding balance if they have too but would like it to be a budget item for next year. Mayor Daniels advised the City Green is very nicely decorated. Senior Alderman Perry inquired how the lights were going to come down. Shannon reported she can do some of them and will hire Barrett’s Tree Service for the remaining ones. She has also heard from people that would like some of the lights to remain. Vergennes Partnership President Renny Perry advised they could probably help getting volunteers to take down some of the lights. They also have a friend with a lift that may be able to help take the upper lights down as well as put them up next year too, he advised. He inquired if she wanted to leave some up or if they were all to come down. City Manager Hawley advised the extension cords running on the ground are a trip hazard once the snow is gone and would be a mowing issue in the spring. He went on to advise the City’s $1,000 was paid to Barrett’s Tree Service and is in the Warrant. Alderman Matt Chabot stated all the feedback he has received has not been positive. He assured Shannon Mahoney that he understood her intent when she took this project on but that the City Council is struggling with paying for things that we have to have and not things we want to have. He advised he was appreciative she was able to get that many donations. Shannon Mahoney stated that if City Council does not want to spend more than the $1,000 budgeted, that was fine. She advised she will give up the big picture and just do her own lights from now on. City Manager Hawley advised the City Council has a budget process to follow and felt it was an unfair statement for her to say the City doesn’t want to help so now she’s done. This is not the time to take additional dollars from the budget, he stated. Mayor Daniels agreed with City Manager Hawley and said we can look at this in May when we work on the budget. Alderman Mark Koenig guessed she might need the same next year. Shannon Mahoney stated she would like the City to budget $2,000 to $2,500 in the future for this. Senior Alderman Perry said he cannot definitely say the Vergennes Partnership will help next year with this event because he hasn’t talked to the Board of Directors but feels they could possibly offer help with a fundraiser. He went on to say the lighting of the City Green will be done again and we will know in advance what we need and can plan for it. Shannon Mahoney stated she felt the City Council has been negative with all of her interactions and she will run-out her lease and move her business out of here. City Manager Hawley reported the Vergennes Area Chamber of Commerce organized the lights and Holiday Stroll for many years in the past until they dissolved. The City then took it over for several years and the Vergennes Partnership did it last year, he stated. He went on to advise the City Green does look amazing this year but did not feel it looked nine times better than the $700 spent last year. Alderman Lynn Donnelly, speaking to Shannon Mahoney, said, “I feel horribly that you feel the City Council has been negative to you. You bring in something that we can plan for yet you threaten you will not participate next year if we don’t give you more.” Alderman Donnelly said it was unfair when we have a budget process to follow. Mayor Da