TOWN OF RUTLAND
Board members present: Stanley F. Rhodes III, Don Chioffi, Steve Hawley and John Paul Faignant
The Meeting opened at 6:31 P.M.
All rose for the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States Flag.
Mr. Faignant moved to approve the December 3, 2013 minutes as presented. Mr. Hawley made a second to the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Norman Ladabouche, CPA with AM Peisch, met with the Board regarding the 2013 Municipal audit. Mr. Ladabouche told the Board that the Town is in very good shape. Mr. Faignant asked Mr. Ladabouche to explain to the public what it is that his company does for the Town.
Mr. Ladabouche said AM Peisch does the following for the Town audit:
Evaluate overall internal controls and procedures
Performs substantive testing and confirmation work by reviewing invoices
Verify; money from the State to the Town school, payroll records as well as additional verifications
Look at overall controls and make recommendations to the Board.
Mr. Ladabouche said his primary focus is to give an opinion that financial statements are fairly presented. He said in so doing he reviews the Town's overall procedures to ensure they are proper. Mr. Ladabouche told the Board that he also reviews the Town's various funds, like the Sutton.
Mr. Ladabouche said this year he split out in the General Fund, the Recreation fund, the Highway fund, the Fire fund and the total unrestricted Town funds. Mr. Ladabouche said the Town of Rutland is in good financial shape compared to any town. Mr. Ladabouche cited the fact the Town has a very strong surplus.
He said the Town delinquencies is very low and maintain a very tight budget. He said the Town has always been very fiscally sound.
Mr. Ladabouche said he likes the fact that everything goes before the Select Board to be approved. He said his company does a lot of checking to make sure the checks match up with invoices and signed approvals.
Mr. Ladabouche cited the fact the Town only has two individuals in the Treasurer's Office and the controls that are in place are about as good as the Town can do. Mr. Ladabouche cited the fact that he made a few recommendations in his report to the Board. He said with extra controls comes inconvenience.
Mr. Rhodes said he is satisfied with the work AM Peisch has done. Mr. Hawley asked if Mr. Ladabouche if anything systematically jumped out at him regarding the annual audit. Mr. Ladabouche said it will be good when the Town can get delinquent taxes on the NEMRC system. He cited the fact the Town is working to do so.
He said it is amazing the Town has had less than $100,000.00 in delinquent taxes over the past two years. He said things are going very well. Mr. Ladabouche said he would be happy to discuss his work with any board member at his office.
Town resident Mr. Peter Yakowski met with the Board and made the following remarks regarding solar power:
He has been very interested in renewable energy since CVPS put up the solar panels on US RT 7.
Became more interested 18 months ago when Green Mountain Power announced their solar city plans.
He named a number of the individuals he has spoken with regarding his attempt to learn more about the “solar city”. He said no one could tell him what it is about. He said they did so because they do not want people to know what is going to be going on and how solar panels will effect us.
He said he is please to see the Board plans to adopt solar siting standards. He said the standards will be very good for the Town.
Cited the State Comprehensive Energy Plan and their powers under Act 248.
Said most of the decision making will be done by the Public Service Board (PSB)
He said the Board should make the standards as strong as they can.
He said the 2% concept in the standards makes sense.
He said the Town should be compensated by the developer.
He said solar and wind power is a good deal for the developer.
He said it is not necessarily a good deal for towns.
He said the facts don't back up Mr. Steve Costello's claim that solar power makes sense based on economic and environmental factors.
He said in 2012 Mr. Josh Castenguay, who is with GMP, told him that Vermont air quality will not improve, electrical cost to consumers will go up
There will only be temporary jobs with solar panels
They could not tell him what long term jobs would be created
They told him there would be a significant number of solar panels in the Rutland area.
He told the Board that everyone that he has spoken with in town over the past two years is concerned regarding solar development.
He said solar projects are priced 4 to 5 times higher than the price of electricity from the grid.
He said renewable energy credits will soon go away, he cited the State of Connecticut which he said will no longer purchase renewable energy credits.
He said he is against the proposed Cold River Road Solar farm because it is not a good deal for the town.
He said the Cold River Road Solar farm will generate up $700,000.00 to $800,000.00 in revenue
He said the Board should hang tough regarding the proposed stipend to the Town.
Mr. Yakowski and the Board discussed solar issues further. Among the issues discussed was a suggestion by Mr. Chioffi that the Board place a non binding item on the March ballot regarding support for solar siting regulations. Other solar matters were discussed and no action was taken.
Town resident Mr. Dale Laval said aesthetics are important to him. He said he does not want to see the Williams farm full of panels. He said if solar provides some economic benefit to the Town then he is all for it. He said he would like to see buffers so you can not see a solar field when driving. Mr. Laval said solar panels destroy the pastoral view.
Town resident Mr. John Mahoney, said he wonders about the economic feasibility of solar projects. He said it is his understanding that there is not a long term power contract when the panels are set up. He questioned who would take the panels down if the company that owned the panels went out of business.
Mr. Chioffi said there are long term contracts and explained the two different types of contracts the State of Vermont would sign. Mr. Chioffi said the power purchased from the Cold River Road farm would be at 18¢. He said GMP could purchase power from the grid at 6¢. Mr. Chioffi said That GMP would ask the PSB for a rate increase to make up the 12¢ difference.
Mr. Mahoney asked if the Board knows how many mega watts (MW) GMP has planned for Rutland County. Mr. Chioffi said he has not been able to get the information.
Clerk & Treasurer: Ms. Marie Hyjek reported:
Cited the Fire department rental agreement and said the Town has to pay for the month of January.
Said all appropriations
for the March ballot have been received. Mr. Rhodes said all
appropriations are the same except the Rutland Free Library. Ms.
Hyjek said the library budget request is up 3.5%.
Mr. Chioffi inquired if the Library would have to get a petition since the amount has increased. Ms. Hyjek said the Board exempted both the Library and the Rutland Regional Ambulance Service from having to get a petition if their requests increase. Mr. Chioffi said the Library should be asked to hold the line.
The matter was discussed further. Mr. Chioffi made a motion to level fund all the agencies that have requested appropriations and that we put the same amounts on as they requested last year. Motion died due to lack of second.
Mr. Hawley moved to accept the appropriations list for the March 2014 ballot. Mr. Faignant made a second to the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Ms. Hyjek said her goal for the Town Report is December 31, 2013, she encouraged all submitting information to get it in my December 31st.
Told the Board the Town office will be closed December 24th and 25th.
Thanked the Transfer Station crew for the sign they put up notifying the public of their holiday hours.
Regional Planning Commission Mr. Fred Nicholson reported
Informed Ms. Hyjek that she should soon receive the letter from the Rutland Regional Planning Commission (RRPC). Mr. Nicholson said town dues were increased by $25.00. He said the Town dues are now $900.00 a year.
Informed the Board that
Mr. Kristen Hughes had resigned his position as the Executive
Director of the RRPC. Mr. Nicholson informed the Board that he had
accepted the position of temporary Executive Director of the RRPC.
Mr. Nicholson said the Board now needs to make Mr. Shields the
Mr. Rhodes asked Mr. Nicholson to speak to Mr. Shields to see whether he would accept the position. Mr. Rhodes cited the fact that Mr. Shields has been the alternate RRPC representative for many years. Mr. Chioffi moved to appoint Mr. Shields as the Town's representative to the Regional Planning Commission. Mr. Hawley made a second to the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Town Road Commissioner: Mr. Byron Hathaway reported:
Planning Commission Chairman: William Matteson:
Transportation Council & SWAC: Mr. Charles Shields reported:
Fire Chief: Mr. Joe Denardo reported:
Submitted application for junior fire fighter. He cited the fact that this is the first time he has presented the Board with an application from a junior fire fighter. He said for insurance purposes the Board should sign all applications including juniors. He told the Board that Ms. Alisa Robideau is the applicant. He said her father is a long time member of the department. Mr. Hawley made a motion to accept the application of Alisa Robideau for a junior fire fighter. Mr. Faignant made a second to the motion. The motion passed unanimously
The chief discuss payment procedures for junior fire fighters with Ms. Hyjek.
Informed the Board that he would like to get a water drafting location build when the Ripley Bridge is replaced.
The chief and the Board discussed a proposed amendment to the Fire Department Bylaws. The chief will revise the amendment and resubmit to the Board.
Mr. Denardo said his new budget will be level funded.
Chief Ed Dumas reported:
From the period of 11/29 to 12/12 2013
A total of 426 calls for service, he listed the various types of calls received.
24 cases were close
a total of 22 motor vehicle stops, 12 tickets were issues for a total of $2,240.00 in fines.
Total hours 110. He said 34.5 hours for administration and the remainder were for patrol.
Encouraged individuals to have someone watch their home if they go south for the winter.
Chief Dumas informed the Board that the Town Dog ordinance only allows Town constables and appointed official to issue tickets under the ordinance. Mr. Faignant said it should be amended so any certified law enforcement officer can enforce the ordinance. Mr. Faignant said he or chief Dumas could issue a violation notion based on the affidavit of another law enforcement officer.
Mr. Nicholson informed the Board that the Town had won a bike rack in a drawing at the RRPC Holiday party.
Mr. Chioffi and Mr. Rhodes discussed whether the Board should consider the proposed Police Budget presently or with other budgets at a separate meeting.
The Board discussed a proposed ballot item suggested by Mr. Chioffi and prepared by Town Attorney Mr. Kevin Brown regarding establishing a capital reserve fund. Mr. Chioffi moved to approve the ballot item. Mr. Hawley made a second to the motion. Board members discussed the proposed ballot item at length. Mr. Chioffi maintained the proposed item would set aside 1 percent revenue funds so that the Town would not have to borrow money for future projects. He said the set aside money would save taxpayers money since project funds could be paid from the set aside funds rather than going to the bank to borrow money.
Mr. Faignant and Mr. Rhodes said they are not in favor of creating the reserve find and would rather continue to use the 1 percent revenue money to lower taxes. The motion failed by a vote of 1 to 3. Mr. Rhodes, Mr. Hawley and Mr. Faignant voted in the negative.
Recreation Director: Mr. Mike Rowe reported:
Town Administrator: Mr. Joseph Zingale reported:
Informed the Board that the Town would have to increase the speed of the Town internet connection if the Board wants to stream Board meetings live on either the internet or on television. He said it would cost about $50.00 per month to increase the Town's internet speed. The Board took no action.
Told the Board that Mr. Steve Reman, of groSolar, would attend the Board's January 28th meeting. The Board said to schedule Mr. Reman for the February 11th meeting.
Discussed ongoing Flory Heights meter malfunction issues with the Board. Mr. Zingale will report back when he has more information.
Suggested the Board accept the 1,500 sq. ft. at the Diamond Run Mall and then form a citizens committee to explore issues for the space. The Board took no action.
Mr. Zingale informed the
Board and cautioned Northwood Park dog walkers to be careful because
a small dog was recently killed in leg-hold trap, which was in the
The Board reviewed packet correspondence.
Mr. Faignant moved to receive and file a pro solar letter from Mr. Steve Costello. Mr. Chioffi made a second to the motion. Mr. Faignant moved to receive and file a pro solar letter from Ms. Bonnie Livak O' Rourke. Mr. Chioffi made a second to the motion. Mr. Faignant moved to receive and file a pro solar letter from VNRC. Mr. Chioffi made a second to the motion. Mr. Faignant moved to receive and file a pro solar letter from Korrine Rodrigue. Mr. Chioffi made a second to the motion. Mr. Faignant moved to receive a letter from Attorney Stacy Chapman and to place on file. Mr. Chioffi made a second to the motion. The motions all passed by a vote of 4 to 0.
Mr. Hawley will report back to the Board regarding the activities of the Rutland County Natural Resource District.
Mr. Chioffi moved not to sign the Finard-Zamias estoppel agreement. Mr. Faignant made a second to the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Chioffi suggested that the Board make a donation Mount Saint Joseph Academy for the annual Project Help food drive. Mr. Hawley moved to donate $100.00 to the MSJ Project Help. The motion passed by a vote of 3 to 1. Mr. Faignant voted in the negative.
Mr. Rhodes cited the Bennington Rutland Opportunity Council (BROC) annual report submitted to the Board by Town resident Mr. George Sabol. Mr. Rhodes said that Mr. Sabol would attend a Board meeting if there are any questions.
Mr. Rhodes cited a letter from the Rutland County Sheriff's Office regarding a rate increase of 50¢ per hour. He said the hourly rate would now be $34.50 per hour. He also cited correspondence from Town State Representative Mr. Tom Terenzini regarding legislation he plans to sponsor pertaining to solar renewable energy.
Mr. Chioffi suggested the Board go into an executive session to discuss the groSolar offer to the Town. Mr. Rhodes said he agrees with Mr. Chioffi. Mr. Faignant said he is willing to state his position in public.
He said the development should be taxed based on income. He said it is an income producing property and that to tax based on income from the property is a fair basis to tax. He said the Town should use an income type formula for such properties.
Mr. Chioffi said the Board should take a position it would then apply uniformly to all solar projects proposed in Town. Board members discussed the matter further and Mr. Faignant said he agreed with Mr. Chioffi that the Board should have a conversation prior to meeting with the groSolar officials.
Mr. Chioffi told the Board that GMP did not appeal their recent denial by the PSB . He also told the Board that groSolar would file their application with in the week.
Mr. Faignant moved to close the meeting at 8:45 P.M. Mr. Hawley made a second to the motion. The motion passed unanimously. Mr. Rhodes wished everyone a Merry Christmas.