Brandon Select Board Meeting
July 23, 2012
NOTE: These are unapproved minutes, subject to amendment and/or approval at the subsequent board meeting.
In Attendance: Devon Fuller, Richard Baker, Mitch Pearl, Dave Atherton, Ethan Swift
Also in Attendance: Keith Arlund, Alan Leavitt, Charles Rivers, Bernie Carr, Robert Black, Phyllis Reed, Lee Kahrs, Tina Wiles, Linda Stewart, Jeff Stewart, Maria Ammatuna, Dick Kirby, Bill Dick, Wayne Rausenberger, Kathy Rausenberger, Brian Sanderson, Steve Beck, Seth Hopkins, Jim Leary, Anna Scheck, Bette Moffett, Judy Bunde, Terry Kline, Donna Taylor
1. Call to order
The meeting was called to order at 7:13PM by Devon Fuller, Chair.
a) Agenda Adoption – Motion by Mitch Pearl/Ethan Swift to adopt the agenda as presented. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
Richard Baker questioned the Property Acquisition Agenda, Item 2(b), as the concept of the Consent Agenda is for items to be discussed and voted on. Devon Fuller stated this item was for discussion purposes and should have been discussed under the Old/Other Business. In the future, items of this nature will be included in the Old/Other Business section.
2. Consent Agenda
a) Approval of Minutes – July 9, 2012 – Select Board
Motion by Ethan Swift/Richard Baker to approve the minutes of the July 9, 2012 Select Board Meeting with the amendments noted below. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
Richard Baker noted the following corrections to the FY13 Tax Rate: Local Municipal Rate – $.6584, Special Appropriations – $.0216, Exempts – $.0043, Veteran’s Exemption – $.0035 and Brandon Fire District – $.0508. Mr. Baker stated the total for the residential tax rate of $2.02 was correct, but noted a correction to the total for the non-residential tax rate to $2.1258.
b) Property Acquisition
. McManus/Bunn – 114 Wheeler Road
Devon Fuller stated at the last meeting, the 114 Wheeler Road property was discussed and it was noted that a public vote is required for the town to acquire any type of property. This property will be a FEMA buy-out and there was discussion of voting on this property during one of the regular voting times.
. Vafias – 33 Center Street
Devon Fuller noted there are liens associated with this property and there was no action taken on this item.
. Churchill Road Parking Lot (Gibbud)
Devon Fuller reported there has been discussion of placing a parking lot prior to the bridge to allow people to utilize the area, once the bridge is repaired for pedestrian traffic. Richard Baker noted the parking lot will be part of the discussion with the Gibbuds at the hearing. Mitch Pearl stated there is no action required at this time and the staff will continue to work on this issue.
. Poirier – 14 Conant Square & Briggs Lane
Mitch Pearl wished to clarify discussion from the prior meeting; noting that condemnation has a lot of legal meanings and caution has to be taken when using that word. The town is not talking about acquiring this property, but needs to determine what can actually be done with the building. The Select Board has been advised that it has limited options in approaching this building, as it is a private property with unresponsive owners. Mr. Pearl recommended Mr. Arlund talk with the town’s attorney about this item as it may come to a point when the town has to do something with this property, given the state of disrepair it is in. Devon Fuller agreed the property has been sitting without action too long and felt that the staff should get a legal opinion from the town’s attorney. He noted the town has done some infrastructure work on Briggs Lane and it could be compromised if this building is not acted on. Mr. Pearl stated the town first should determine what it needs to do to move forward and then go for a legal opinion. Keith Arlund stated it is known what needs to be done and they have been working with CLD on this project. Mr. Pearl reiterated the town is not trying to take ownership of the property, but needs to move forward on it. Mr. Fuller requested Mr. Arlund discuss this matter with the town’s attorney and advise the Board at the next meeting.
Mr. Fuller stated the Board hopes to be able to bring any properties for possible acquisition to the voters during one of the scheduled voting days. Mr. Baker advised the state has changed the statute on voting; now requiring a 45-day notice prior to the voting day. There could be a special vote held, however, the next available time to vote on the properties during a regular vote would be November. Tina Wiles advised there are several properties she would like to also discuss with the Board.
a) Consider Tax Anticipation Note
Richard Baker stated since the town does not have money in the account to cover the first warrant, he suggested moving the tax anticipation note to the beginning of the Fiscal discussion, as the budget has been overspent. Anna Scheck noted the town cannot touch the $750,000.00 for the infrastructure, so it puts the cash flow short.
Motion by Richard Baker/Mitch Pearl to approve a tax anticipation note of $500,000.00 with the National Bank of Middlebury at a rate of 1.15% for a period of one year; to be paid without penalty once the FEMA reimbursement is received. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
b) Warrant – June 30, 2012 – $392,847.53
Motion by Richard Baker/Mitch Pearl to approve the warrants of June 30, 2012 in the amount of $392,847.53. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
Richard Baker noted the warrant is high because of the Maple Street work that was billed. Devon Fuller questioned the status of the drainage issue at 14 Maple Street. Brian Sanderson reported Markowski has removed some of the pavement around the catch basin. There is an issue that it is a long, flat stretch and it was restrained because of the sewer main, so it only allows for a certain size catch basin. Mr. Fuller noted Markowski does good work for the town, but he wanted to be sure this issue was corrected. Ethan Swift questioned the work on Maple Street/Russell Lane. Mr. Arlund reported the cost was under the initial estimate and was paid through the Town of Brandon Fund Balance. Mr. Swift questioned the itemized municipal monthly mowing. He was under the impression the Corrections Department primarily mowed the parks in town and questioned whether they do Estabrook Park. Mr. Arlund advised they also do Estabrook Park, the Police Station, the park near Café Provence and the area around the town hall; in addition to the main parks. Mr. Swift noted he saw a private contractor mowing the ball field at the school and Mr. Arlund stated the offenders cannot go on school property. Mr. Swift also questioned how much mowing is done by staff and Mr. Arlund reported Shawn has worked within the confines of the Little League fields. Mr. Swift questioned the fee attorney fee for the foreclosure on the old high school. Mr. Arlund reported the attorney had rendered an opinion of what could be done and this was the charge for the consultation on that issue. Devon Fuller questioned the invoice for the emergency generator and Mr. Arlund reported this invoice was for the service call when the generator went down. The repair is scheduled for August 1st and he will be adding the generator to the town’s insurance through the VLCT.
c) Warrant – July 11, 2012 – $2,000.00 (Postage for Meter)
Motion by Mitch Pearl/Ethan Swift to approve the warrants of July 11, 2012 in the amount of $2,000.00 for postage. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
d) Warrant – July 23, 2012 – $36,724.87
Motion by Ethan Swift/Richard Baker to approve the warrants of July 23, 2012 in the amount of $36,724.87. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
Richard Baker proposed approving the warrant as stated, however, he requested the checks for Veronica McKeighan and Lucille Smith be held until further discussion. Mr. Baker noted one check was the wrong person and the other is to be discussed during an executive session. Ethan Swift questioned whether the invoice for Wilk Paving was a FEMA repair and Mr. Arlund confirmed it was the section repaired in front of the old Brandon House of Pizza. Devon Fuller questioned whether there was a new contract with Green Mountain Power for the streetlights as the billing was $2,500.00 less. Anna Scheck stated there is not a new contract and this was a split billing.
e) Consider P. O. 23126 to Mallory’s Automotive, Inc.
Motion by Ethan Swift/Richard Baker to approve P. O. 23126 to Mallory’s Automotive, Inc. in the amount of $6,000.00 for FY12/13 Police Department vehicle maintenance. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
Ethan Swift questioned what this invoice related to and Keith Arlund reported this is a blanket order for routine maintenance for the next fiscal year. Mr. Arlund advised Mallory’s is using the same rates from three years ago.
f) Consider P. O. 23127 to Champlain Oil, Inc.
Motion by Ethan Swift/Richard Baker to approve P. O. 23127 to Champlain Oil, Inc. in an amount not to exceed $20,000.00 for FY12/13 Police Department gas purchases. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
Richard Baker questioned if this is just for the Police Department and Mr. Arlund clarified this is for all town vehicles, which includes the Highway Department.
g) Consider P. O. 51559 to Markowski, Inc.
Motion by Mitch Pearl/Ethan Swift to approve P. O. 51559 to Markowski, Inc. in the amount of $10,650.00 for FY12/13 purchase of gravel. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
Mitch Pearl noted there was a memo from the Public Works Director explaining this purchase order and the next purchase order on the agenda.
h) Consider P. O. 51560 to Florence Crushed Stone
Motion by Mitch Pearl/Richard Baker to approve P. O. 51560 to Florence Crushed Stone in the amount of $9,900.00 for FY12/13 purchase of gravel. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
Ethan Swift questioned the status of the gravel supply on the Newton-Thompson Road and Brian Sanderson stated the recommendations previously discussed will have a large up-front cost to remove this material. Mr. Swift noted the town needs to come up with a game plan for removal of this material. Keith Arlund reported he has had conversations with Jack Bowen to come up with a way to approach a solution in a phased manner. Dave Atherton stated it appears someone has been removing some of the material. Keith Arlund stated he will look into this, as he was not aware of anything being removed. Mr. Arlund noted he has also had a discussion with Rodney Bicknell about the possible purchase of some of the material.
5. Scheduled Reports from Committees and Officials
There was no discussion held.
6. Town Manager’s Report
Keith Arlund reported that Jim Carroll has completed the review of the Segment 6 documents. Tina Wiles will be doing some minor revisions based on his review and the document will be ready to be sent to the state next week. Mr. Arlund has tentatively scheduled the meeting between the DBA, VHB and CLD for August 15th at 10AM at the Heritage Credit Union Conference room. With regard to the emergency generator, the transfer switch will be repaired on August 1st and Mr. Arlund has notified Ms. Pulsifer that Neshobe School will be without power that day for about 6 hours. The FEMA auditors completed their review of the town’s files that have been compiled by Anna Scheck, Elaine Smith and Brian Sanderson. The auditors indicated the documents were complete and acceptable and will be retained in the event FEMA requests an audit in the future. Mr. Arlund reported Tina Wiles and he will be attending ADA training in Bethel on Wednesday. As a reminder, the Churchill Road hearing is scheduled for August 6th, with the site visit to begin at 6PM. Mr. Arlund recommended carpooling to the site and parking at the turnout on Route 73. He reported that certified letters notifying the abutting property owners have been sent. Devon Fuller questioned the status of the traffic counters for Marble/Park Streets. Brian Sanderson reported he was advised they will be delivered late July.
7. Public Works Report
a) Right-of-Way Letter
Brian Sanderson reported the pavement has been restored at 4 Conant Square and in front of the Brandon House of Pizza and he will now submit those repairs to FEMA. He also had a section behind Café Provence repaired, as the pavement had settled. The tree stump in front of Mr. Kimble’s house has been removed. The line painting is complete, including the municipal parking lot near Café Provence. The parking space in front of the alley has been removed to eliminate parking there. The ditch improvements along Wheeler Road are underway, which is being funded by a Better Back Roads grant. It is hoped to have this project completed by August 31st. The total grant was for $7,000.00. There have been repairs done at the wastewater treatment plant. Richard Baker complimented Mr. Sanderson on the installation of the signs designating the 3-way stop that had been requested at the last meeting. Devon Fuller questioned if the portion of Wheeler Road that had been previously worked on was part of the FEMA claim and Mr. Sanderson advised the town did receive some reimbursement for this area. Mr. Sanderson reported he met with VTrans concerning the Prospect Street crosswalk. It was noted that the temporary crosswalk followed VTrans recommendations and the VTrans official indicated the site distances are within the limits. Linda Stewart questioned whether Mr. Sanderson had researched the issue of mail boxes. Mr. Sanderson read the following letter and also noted that the information can be found on the town’s website:
“To All Brandon Property Owners:
The letter you received in the mail regarding the Town’s right-of-way (ROW) (click on the link to read the letter) was sent to all property owners, not to certain individuals. The letter was intended to give you information as to what the ROW is and what can or can’t be done within that limit. The letter is not a letter of action; the Town is not asking you to remove existing items within the ROW. The purpose of the letter was to inform all property owners that you must receive permission from the Town in order to place anything within the ROW in the future.
The subject of mailboxes has surfaced as well. Federal requirements for mailbox installation place mailbox 6 – 8 inches from the curb (if present) to mailbox door and 3 ½ – 4 feet from road to bottom of the box. Unfortunately, this places the mailbox in the Towns ROW. The Town would recommend that any new installation or replacement of mailboxes have a distance of 2 – 4 feet from the road edge. This will allow for snow removal, especially if the snow needs to be pushed back with a wing plow. Please be advised that the Town will repair/replace mailboxes that were damaged directly from plows or equipment, but will not be responsible for damage to mailboxes from snow coming off plows. I urge residents to familiarize themselves with the Town of Brandon’s Winter Operations Policy, adopted November 28, 2011. You may view the policy by clicking on the link above or pick up copies at the Town office.
I hope this clears up any questions or concerns you may have. Please feel free to contact me for any further clarification. Thank you.
Public Works Director
Mr. Sanderson encouraged the residents to become familiar with the winter requirements for mailboxes. Devon Fuller thanked Mr. Sanderson for writing the follow-up letter in trying to keep people informed of what should be done.
8. Town Infrastructure
a) Segment 6 Project Status Update
Keith Arlund provided a project update that was received from VHB dated July 20, 2012 that summaries where the project is in the process. They are defining the scope of work for Bridge 114 and at the same time working on ASR 7 and ASR 8. Richard Baker asked if the ASR’s are in hiatus until August 16th, noting that he does not see that the meeting on the 15th will be instrumental in changing anything and feels the ASR’s should be updated and submitted as soon as possible. Mr. Baker made the same comment two weeks ago, and this discussion has taken up the summer because the Chair wants to have a meeting between VHB, CLD and the DBA, which he feels is damaging to the rebuilding of Segment 6. Ethan Swift questioned if both ASR’s need to be submitted simultaneously and Mr. Arlund confirmed that Patty Coburn has requested to see the entire package at one time, however, the scope of work for Bridge 114 is a separate process. Mr. Baker noted it is looking less likely that Option 8 will be implemented this summer. Devon Fuller advised the RFP for Option 8 is not scheduled until February 2013. Mr. Baker noted the town now has two design consultants debating between the project and costs are approaching $30,000.00 with nothing delivered to the town yet. Mr. Baker stated the design is basically complete for Segment 6, as this is a federally funded project that follows the federal highway rules and the town should be getting it under contract based on the design that had been completed two years ago, and then do final adjustments. The right of way is ready to be sent to Montpelier and the right of way documents are based on the design documents. Devon Fuller stated it was noted that any discussions to be held will not affect any of the right of ways or footprints and it is felt that any changes can be done during the construction phase when the design is done. There were things that were missed, such as the Stephen A. Douglas House was not public property at the time and it is thought that improvements could be made to the parking at this location. Mr. Fuller stated there have been many years spent on this project and delaying the project for two more weeks is not going to break the deal. Mitch Pearl questioned if there is anything else that is holding up ASR 7 and ASR 8, other than the scheduled meeting. Keith Arlund advised there is still the question of whether they are going to change the locations of the sidewalks, which would require a design change because of the curbing and the access to the sidewalk. This was one of the items mentioned for discussion and there were questions about rerouting south of the park. Mitch Pearl questioned if there was not going to be a meeting on August 15th, would the ASR 7 and ASR 8 be submitted to the state. Keith Arlund stated there needs to be a decision on the construction engineering services for ASR 8. The ASR 7 is ready to go and could be wrapped up in a short period of time, but both ASR’s need to be submitted at the same time. Ethan Swift stated the changes in the sidewalks would be minor tweaks and Mr. Swift does not see that a significant change to the submission would take place if the meeting was held or not. Devon Fuller stated a meeting with the group could answer several questions in talking with the engineers and the request was originally made on May 23rd, with a memo distributed the beginning of June. Mr. Baker stated an answer was received, however, it was not the answer that was wanted; as it was indicated there can be no changes to design. Mr. Baker stated he was a former federal employee and he is familiar with the procedures. Mitch Pearl suggested having a work discussion to discuss the timelines and figure out whether everyone is on the same page or not. Mr. Pearl stated Mr. Arlund has indicated the ASR 7 and ASR 8 will take a couple more weeks to complete. Mr. Baker stated if the meeting on August 15th perpetrates changes, the documents will not be submitted. Mr. Pearl felt that once a meeting has taken place, it can be determined whether the project needs to move forward. Mr. Arlund reported that VHB has been working on the appraisal services and finalizations will have to take place. Mr. Pearl noted the project is moving along in a somewhat orderly fashion and he can live with a week delay. Mr. Fuller stated there is a timeline and he feels the Board should be updated on this information and he does not feel a couple of weeks are a significant delay. Mr. Pearl noted there are four Select Board members who were not on the Board when this project was approved and felt that a meeting with engineers is a good idea to bring everyone up to speed on the project. Mr. Fuller wants to keep the project moving along and does not want to see the project stalled. Mr. Baker stated this project will likely not start until the spring of 2015.
Richard Baker requested an update on the town office. Keith Arlund stated all documents were finalized and sent out; and the process is moving along. Mr. Baker questioned if there is going to be a change to the hazard mitigation plan, as the Select Board had signed a document to move the town office away from its current location. Devon Fuller stated it will be financially tough enough to rebuild it at the current location. Tina Wiles stated this issue was one of the hazard mitigation items and she suggested putting the funds into a building that is outside of the floodplain. Mr. Baker noted it has been eleven months since tropical storm Irene and the town has only cleared the building out and is proposing to install an elevator in a building the town does not own. Ethan Swift stated this discussion appears to fall under a more detailed goal-setting discussion and the Select Board does not want to compromise the town staff in doing their jobs. Devon Fuller noted this item will be added to a more detailed planning discussion. Keith Arlund stated there have been several weeks spent coming up with a floor plan for the town office that has been submitted, with several changes made. He is attempting to get a cost estimate to bring before the Board and the insurance carrier in the near-term future. Mitch Pearl stated there had been discussion and a decision made to move forward with the renovation of the existing town office for the foreseeable future. Tina Wiles stated this is a public safety issue and if another flood happens tomorrow, the Select Board is putting people in harm’s way. She noted there are some things that she is going to require to be done when repairing this building. Dave Atherton stated he is unsure why the project is continuing to move forward when this is the first time he is hearing about this issue. Bernie Carr stated there have been multiple attempts to move the town office to a different location in the past that have been rejected. Linda Stewart stated there had been a Town Plan brought before the Select Board that had been accepted and included the concept of keeping the town office in the downtown.
9. Citizen’s Public Forum
Wayne Rausenberger expressed concern about the previous discussion of the town office. Keith Arlund stated the town does not currently have the cost estimate to rebuild the town office and it will not be known what will be received from the insurance. Mitch Pearl stated no decision has been made and there is not a push to move the town offices from their current location. This Board had decided to keep the town office where it was originally and refurbish it in phases to make it better, as the best of the imperfect options available. One of the reasons is that the town has had a series of rejected votes to move the town offices out of the downtown. Judy Bunde stated Mr. Baker had made a comment that an elevator was going to be put in a building the town does not own and requested clarification. Devon Fuller advised there is consideration to installing an elevator in the portion of the building that is owned by the Learys. Mr. Fuller stated Ms. Wiles did bring up a valid point that the town office is being put into a flood zone. Tina Wiles stated her job is to eliminate any hazards and the town may decide to rehabilitate the current office with flood requirements. Bernie Carr noted the funds would be used to improve a town-owned building. Mr. Rausenberger questioned if the August 15th meeting will be held and it was noted this meeting is still scheduled for that day.
Robert Black complimented the Select Board on the civil discussion held this evening. Mr. Black advised that he is one of the architects that is working on the town office and is working in a concerted effort to leverage the insurance money and accessibility grant to make it the best town office possible. Tina Wiles’ point is well taken and this will be included in the plan. Mr. Black stated the town has many resources they can draw from. Mr. Black has a lot of experience and will do his best to assist where he can. He has been working with the Planning Commission and Mr. Swift in initiating programs to enlighten the public. Mr. Black noted the decisions made today will be the legacy of this town. There is a strategy to develop a three-year plan to make a vibrant downtown for the future. Mr. Black reiterated the design committee is a resource for the town. Mr. Black has worked on several federal projects that have gone through some kind of changes. The DBA will be submitting new data on the Segment 6 project for possible improvements and Mr. Black urged the Select Board to read through the report once. He noted a larger change can be done and the committee would like to see the Select Board stay open-minded. The meeting on August 15th is an inquiry and it is realized the ultimate decision is that of the Select Board. Mr. Black stated this report is coming with much more data than in the engineering memo and is based on the posters that have been placed throughout the town. Mr. Black does not see the report as a problematic document and is in the best interest of the town. The draft document is being reviewed by the committee and will be submitted to the Select Board by next week.
Wayne Rausenberger questioned when there will be a meeting for public input on Bridge 114. Keith Arlund reported there will be at least two meetings once the initial scope has been resolved.
Bernie Carr is concerned about the lack of concern with the ASR 8 water project. Keith Arlund noted the town is concerned about this project. Mr. Carr questioned whether Ray Counter has had input on this issue and Mr. Arlund advised there have been ongoing conversations with both Mr. Counter and Tom Whittaker. Richard Baker expressed concern this project will not be completed this year. Mitch Pearl stated the Select Board is concerned, but it is uncertain at this time whether there is anything that can be done this year.
Terry Kline asked what happened to the street light on the corner of Cedar and Walnut streets. Devon Fuller stated there is a streetlight committee that has been working on this issue, however, Efficiency Vermont ran out of money to fund the project until next year. The town will need to discuss this item during the next budget cycle. Mr. Fuller noted this is a volunteer committee that spent countless hours tracking every light and there was a plan developed, but it is now waiting for the next budget cycle.
Bernie Carr noted, in addition to the Poirier block, another safety concern is the Nickerson barn that is hanging over the road. It was noted this is also private property and the suggestion was made for Mr. Arlund to send a letter to the property owner requesting they address this issue.
The DRB appointments will be done at the next Select Board meeting, with the last interview taking place this evening prior to the Select Board meeting.
Jim Leary questioned if there will be any further repairs done to Kennedy Park this year. Keith Arlund reported once the sewer issues are resolved, the project will move forward. Work is continuing on the repair of the retaining wall and Mr. Arlund continues to work on the redesign of the steps. He reported the initial FEMA review did not consider the steps to be totaled. Mr. Leary asked if any actions can be taken and Mr. Arlund stated he will continue to push FEMA for the funding. Tina Wiles stated there needs to be review approval from the stream alteration people and it is not as easy as bringing in FEMA. Robert Black stated the same is true for these situations as with the Segment 6 project in that the DBA is available to assist with this project as well. Mr. Black noted part of their strategy is to assist with keeping people informed and they will be a resource to transmit the information to the public once the direction is clear.
Terry Kline questioned what the schedule is for emptying the trash bins along the sidewalks, as the one near the bank overflows. Brian Sanderson reported the bins are emptied on Thursdays and Mr. Kline suggested possibly increasing the schedule to twice per week on certain bins due to the use. Devon Fuller requested Mr. Sanderson come up with another solution. Mr. Sanderson noted there are more events happening in town, coupled with the fact some people are using the public bins for their own trash. He will discuss this item with Mr. Arlund to try to come up with the most cost-effective solution to the problem.
9. Old/Other Business (If Needed)
Richard Baker stated there was a memo received at the last meeting requesting the Select Board to schedule a hearing and the Board needs to determine an action. It was the consensus of the Board to discuss this item at the first meeting in August. Mr. Arlund will include the letter in the next Board packet.
Motion by Richard Baker/Mitch Pearl to recess the Select Board to convene as the Board of Sewer Commissioners. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
Motion by Richard Baker/Ethan Swift to reconvene as the Select Board at 9:36PM. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.
10. Possible Executive Session – Contracts/Personnel (If Needed)
There was no discussion held.
Motion by Richard Baker/Ethan Swift to adjourn the Select Board meeting at 9:37PM. The motion passed unanimously – 4 to zero.