Select Board Minutes 4-14-2020
TOWN OF RUTLAND SELECT BOARD OPEN MEETING
HELD VIA PUBLICALLY ACCESSABLE CONFERENCE CALL LINE
APRIL 14th, 2020
Out of an abundance of caution around the covid-19 virus, this meeting was held via a conference call line which was made publicly available for anyone to call into.
- Board members present: Josh Terenzini, Mary Ashcroft, Sharon Russell, Joe Denardo, John Paul Faignant
- Meeting opened at 6:00 P.M.
Approval of Select Board Minutes for March 31st, 2020
- Denardo moved to approve the minutes. Ms. Ashcroft seconded the motion. The motion passed 4-0.
Approval of Select Board Minutes for January 24th, 2020
- Faignant moved to approve the minutes. Mr. Denardo seconded the motion. The motion passed 3-0 with Ms. Ashcroft and Ms. Russell abstaining.
New Business: Board to speak with Andres Torizzo regarding storm water projects and spending
- The list of projects currently underway was discussed
- Torizzo has been working on the Phosphorous Control Plan, which is due to the state by April of 2021. This does need to be done.
- The road erosion inventory work needs to continue. Some items need to be double checked. There are deadlines due to the state this month.
- Advancing work on the Wynnemere project. This should be able to be grant funded.
- The Nancy Lane project is scheduled to be implemented now. There is potential for grant funding, but no application has been prepared yet.
- Torizzo estimated that it would take between $15,000 and $20,000 to complete the work on the list. He recommended keeping work going as to not get behind, missing due dates for projects.
- Ashcroft discussed paying for the work now versus waiting for later when revenues will be down. Approximately $6500 was paid recently.
- Torizzo asked if work could continue on the Phosphorous Control Plan and delay the billing until the next fiscal year. Mr. Terenzini commented that that 1% local option tax income recently received was good, but the next payment will likely not be.
- Faignant and Ms. Russell agreed work should be slowed wherever possible. Mr. Denardo suggested the state be contacted to see if deadlines could be or are being extended.
- Torizzo said some grants could be coming but they would be looking for “shovel ready” projects and planning is important.
- Denardo asked if Mr. Torizzo could give a cost as to what the Phosphorous Control Plan would cost to complete. Mr. Torizzo did not have an estimate but would, but together a proposal for the board.
- Denardo asked Mr. Torizzo about the proposed new construction of a Harbor Freight Tools business on Route 7 South and if this project could help us complete some storm water mitigation work already planned in the area. Mr. Torizzo commented it could help with storm water and the phosphorous control plan. A system has already been designed but incorporating this new project would take cooperation from the town, the state, VTrans and the developer.
- Denardo commented that in the designed system, a large amount of fill would need to be removed and this could possible be a benefit to the new building for use on their site. Mr. Faignant commented that the state would need to actively be involved. Mr. Torizzo stated he could help coordinate this and would include it in his proposal.
Barbara Noyes-Pulling Planning Commission Chairperson
Discussed the recent call with the Otter Creek Solar project developer.
- They currently have 2 certificates of public good approved. One is for the larger array they are breaking up into two individual ones. This action required them to restart the approval process. The newly adopted Town Plan has the energy component and would be applicable to this new application. It has three specific impacts.
- It changes the land use district from industrial to agricultural.
- Cold River Road is a scenic viewshed and would require the developer to complete a viewshed analysis.
- This site is not on the preferred list established in the plan.
- Faignant said comments on the project are necessary and the developers would need to comply with the requirements in the plan. Also discussed that the integrity of the plan is at risk if comments are not given.
- Ashcroft discussed the payment in lieu of taxes the town has already received and brought up the possibility of an exception to the approval process be considered. Mr. Denardo commented that there is no major change and it should not hold them to the criteria of the new plan.
- Faignant stated no special consideration should be given. It was the developer’s choice to refile the project and no exception should be given.
- Noyes-Pulling stated the town megawatts of the project are going down and that the site plans submitted have some slight changes since their original filing.
- Faignant stated they need to explain to the state what their plans are.
- Russell moved to mandate they follow our energy plan process as laid out today and not grant any exception. Mr. Faignant seconded the motion. The motion passed 4-1 with Mr. Denardo voting against the motion.
- Noyes-Pulling stated the developer needs comments submitted by Thursday April 17th and asked if it should a joint letter from the Select Board and the Planning Commission. The 45-day notice was filed March 6th. Mr. Faignant stated the Planning Commission could draft the letter. Ms. Ashcroft both parties are statutory parties to the filing and that it would makes to combine the letters. The letter should highlight the changes made since the last filing. Ms. Ashcroft will work with Ms. Noyes-Pulling on drafting the letter,
Byron Hathaway Rutland Town Road Commissioner
- Hathaway commented on the highway department operations over the next 2 to 3 months being limited by the Governors Executive Order. Mr. Hathaway read excerpts from an email he received from the VT Local Roads Program. It states the limited activities of road crews. Mr. Hathaway said this could mean the potential layoffs of the hourly highway employees due to the decrease in allowable work.
- Terenzini asked Mr. Hathaway what he recommends. Mr. Hathaway stated he suggested following the executive order to avoid fines and penalties. Mr. Terenzini asked for his recommendation on staff. Mr. Hathaway said it would be to have staff at home but remain on call. Mr. Faignant said an on-call rate could be established.
- Russell stated that if the employees go on unemployment and do come in for work, they would report that on their claim.
- Ashcroft asked if the staff was laid off and they are called in would they have the option to refuse. Mr. Hathaway replied that they would.
- Terenzini stated we should no continue to pay them their full rate while they are sitting at home waiting. He stated his opinion is to have Mr. Hathaway on call and layoff the other employees temporarily to allow them to file for state benefits.
- Faignant moved to, effectively immediately, temporarily layoff the two hourly town highway employees until further notice based on executive orders. While they are laid off the Town of Rutland will pay their insurance benefits and paid time off will continue to accrue. Ms. Russell seconded the motion. The motion passed 5-0.
- Mr. Hathaway stated Rutland City employees are on furlough and continue to be paid. Mr. Faignant replied they are trying to look out for the best financial health of the town. Mr. Hathaway asked about the use of vacation time. Mr. Faignant said it is theirs to use but it could negate their unemployment benefits.
- Mr. Jason Bathlon asked if vacation time would be lost if they are laid off. Mr. Faignant answered no that it would be retained and available upon return and that an exception would be made for any benefit tie expiring could be made.
- Mr. Hathaway asked if health insurance benefits would remain. Mr. Faignant answered yes it would be and benefit would still accrue during the time away. Ms. Ashcroft said she would be in favor of the plan as long as benefits remain intact.
- This would apply to Walter Tripp and Jason Bathlon as the two hourly employees. Mr. Hathaway would stay on and complete office work as needed. Mr. Denardo wanted to clarify if Mr. Tripp and Mr. Bathlon would be available to help if needed for any storm related issues. Mr. Faignant stated it is covered by the unemployment claim.
- Mr. Denardo asked Mr. Bathlon if he was comfortable with this plan. He answered yes, he was.
- Ragosta called recently to discuss the drainage project for his property and that he would like to begin laying pipe. Mr. Hathaway nothing has been received from Bronson Spencer Engineering regarding this project. Mr. Hathaway stated this should be considered non-essential and the project should be on hold until the executive order is lifted. The board agreed.
- A storm water permit will be needed for the Northwood park storage building project. This will need to be signed by an engineer. The Act 250 permit cannot be approved until it is submitted and approved.
- Denardo said this project was voted on previously and should be moved forward.
- Hathaway has called Robert Clark from Otter Creek Engineering to check on cost and has not been called back yet.
- Faignant stated the project should move forward.
- Ashcroft suggested waiting 2 weeks until an estimate is received.
- Russell discussed the project with one of the abutting property owners, Mr. Ed Skwira, and stated he was condescending in his discussion with her in regard to her gender.
- Hathaway stated after his discussion with Mr. Skwira his concerns were addressed. Mr. Skwira did address his concerns with the Act 250 commission.
- The Agency of Natural Resources is a party to the permit, and they are requiring the storm water permit for the project.
- Asked for a discussion of the winter contractors and their performance be added to the highway committee agenda for discussion.
- A draft of the easement agreement for the access to Northwood Park from Chasanna Drive has been received from town attorney Kevin Brown but as final copy has not been received yet. Mr. Hathaway will follow up.
New Business: Board to consider operating permit for C&C Fireworks
- Chip Greeno presented the board with a request to renew his operating permit.
- A 2-year permit was approved last time. Mr. Greeno is asking for an open-ended permit, which he pointed out could be revoked by the board at any time. He stated a open ended permit would give him an opportunity to invest long term into the property currently being used.
- Faignant stated an open-ended permit would not be appropriate.
- Faignant moved to approve the permit for 2 more years and have a committee discuss what other time frames could be appropriate in the future. Ms. Russell seconded the motion. The motion passed. 5-0.
- Town Police Chief Ed Dumas commented that they have not had any issues with Mr. Greeno at all. Town Fire Chief Chris Clark stated he has not either.
- Denardo commented that just because the store is in Rutland Town does not mean the fireworks people hear always came from this store. Complaints should not be on Mr. Greeno.
- Terenzini would like the Police Committee to discuss the authority the Police Department has for enforcement on fireworks violations and what can be done to increase penalties.
Bill Sweet Administrative Assistant to the Select Board
- Provided an updated list of scheduled meetings and committee agenda items
- Reviewed the current list of sewer allocations. The list has been merged with all the information available from the Listers office and the City of Rutland. There are 2 groups which need to be addressed in a committee meeting. There is a list of allocations which do not show as having a corresponding City of Rutland account and a list of businesses which potentially should have an allocation but do not.
- Discussed the option to buy back unused allocations. This is addressed in the ordinance and should be discussed in the committee meeting.
- Rowe discussed a recent bill he received for the storage building at Northwood Park. His normal bill while the building is open is $45. This bill, for when the building was closed, was for more than $2000. He contacted Rutland City but has not heard back yet. He stated he checked and there was no leaking water in the building.
- Reviewed application from TKNY for an allocation of 625 GPD. Ms. Ashcroft moved to approve. Mr. Denardo seconded the motion. The motion passed 5-0.
- Provided a salvage yard permit request from Hubbard Brothers. They are asking for a 5-year permit. The last approval given was for 1 year. Mr. Denardo moved to approve the permit for 5 years. Ms. Russell seconded the motion. The motion passed 5-0.
Kari Clark Rutland Town Clerk/Treasurer
- Provided updated budget status sheets
- Mary Dahlin will be in the office next week helping while Susan is on vacation.
- VLCT has asked for some documents as part of a self-audit. Several non-employee work agreements are missing for work done for the town. There is no evidence of them being done ion the past. Most departments are needing to reach out to their vendors to have them completed. Ms. Ashcroft expressed the importance to department heads that we be in compliance.
- Denardo asked for clarification as to what contractors are missing the paperwork. Ms. Clark gave some examples, and that each department head would be sent their list. Some of the items missing may be contracts, insurance or non-employee agreements.
- Reviewed the information on the 1% local option tax provided to the board members. It was broken down by payment and the period it came from. Based on the projection fore the year, we are only short approximately $83,000 with 1 more payment expected.
- Based on some research into the changes around the 1% tax and state payments, businesses are still required to collect the tax. The penalty for late payments of the tax being sent into the state are waived. It is not clear if this will delay the money we receive from the state.
- Terenzini commented that we are expecting to see a significant drop off in the income mainly due to the rooms and meals portion.
- Clark said the next payment would likely be the first to reflect the impacts of closures.
- A recent invoice for attorney’s fees relating to tax sale from Jim Scholtz was not included in these recent orders. Mr. Faignant notes any fees paid for by the town will be deducted from the proceeds when the property is sold. Mr. Scholtz discussed the fee which is capped at 15% of the uncollected tax. Attorney Kupferer charges a lower rate for tax sales but does not limit his invoice to the 15% cap.
- Faignant asked if he had established a fee agreement with Attorney Kupferer. Mr. Scholtz said he did not but will discuss that with him.
- Faignant clarified again that all fess paid by the town for the tax sale will be deducted from the sale price. Mr. Faignant moved to table the approval of the payment until fees and values are established. Ms. Ashcroft seconded the motion. The motion passed 5-0.
- Scholtz asked for a special meeting with the board on this topic. Mr. Faignant asked him to schedule it with Bill.
- Clark said there have been a lot of questions regarding tax bill due dates for the third installment. She has let people know if it’s not being moved due to the date being approved by town voters. Mr. Faignant said we do not have the authority to change the due date.
- Terenzini commented that VLCT is taking up this issue with the state legislature. They are discussing giving the authority to Select Boards.
- Ashcroft said there is an abatement process available to the taxpayers currently.
- Denardo commented that penalties and fees could be waived using the abatement process.
- Scholtz said the penalty should be waived upon the payment being made and not just a blanket waiver.
Mike Rowe Rutland Town Recreation Director
- Discussed park maintenance. Mr. Faignant said the maintenance staff should not start. Their start date will be determined by the governors’ mandate. Mr. Rowe will do the mowing himself for now.
- Terenzini said feedback regarding the transfer station operation this past Saturday was very positive after going back to the previous way it operated. A lot of feedback has been received about the walking trails being closed. He asked if the bard felt that the playing courts and playgrounds could be fenced off and allow the rest to remain open.
- Faignant stated the health department recommended to keep it closed. After some discussion, no changes to reopen parts of the park will be made.
- Faignant asked if there have been any issues with people going beyond the transfer station on Saturday. Nothing has been noticed.
Chris Clark Rutland Town Fire Chief
- Members spent some time recently helping set up beds at the Spartan Arena for non-covid patients. They helped put down rubber mats. It is not occupied yet. If this facility is used and reaches capacity the plan is to start using the Holiday Inn.
- The department participated in a recent parade around the hospital to recognize the staff.
- The trucks are due for inspection in April, and this could be postponed. Mr. Denardo asked if Earls Truck Repair is still open and working. Chief Clark said that they are. Mr. Denardo said the trucks could still go and that he recommends having only 1 person bring them.
- Dumas said there is a 3-month grace period for inspections right now.
- Terenzini asked them to be done as it is safe to do so.
- Denardo discussed burn permit being issued. A statewide burn ban request has been discussed but the department of Forest and Parks is not doing that at this time. Chief Clark said there have not been any permitted burns that have caused an increase on calls for service to the department.
Ed Dumas Rutland Town Police Chief
- Recent calls for service were provided.
- Discussed the ongoing dog barking complaint on the West Proctor Road. He was asked to check on the condition of the dogs. The dogs outside did have bark collars on them. The dogs inside did not stop barking the entire time the PD was on the property. The ones outside barked a couple of times and stopped. There was no response from the property owners when they attempted to contact them.
- Asked about the status of approval on the deferred compensation plan. Mr. Terenzini asked Bill to resend the information to the board members.
- Faignant moved to approve the request for an on-call rate for Deputy Chief Washburn. Mr. Denardo seconded the motion. The motion passed 5-0.
- Asked if the police Department admin could be allowed to work from home. Some new hardware would need to be purchased. Mr. Faignant asked for a written proposal to be submitted.
- Discussed two complaints received regarding businesses being open that the complainants felt were non-essential. Chief Dumas said he looked into both of them and said they met the requirements of being open for essential reasons at this time.
John Paul Faignant Town Health Officer
- Recommending the town closure guidelines be set to match the governor’s timeline be done as the Board of Health.
Mr. Terenzini discussed the Randbury Road project. The City of Rutland has signed off on the last component needed. The full contract has been delivered to the town as of today. It is not known if town attorney Kevin Brown has reviewed the final draft. Bill will look into that.
Ms. Russell moved to adjourn the board meeting and convene as the Board of Health. Ms. Ashcroft seconded the motion. The motion passed 4-0, with Mr. Faignant abstaining. The Select Bord meeting adjourned at 8:34 PM.
Ms. Russell moved to extend the closure of town hall as well as the parks to be in alignment with state executive order. Ms. Ashcroft seconded the motion. The motion passed 4-0 with Mr. Faignant abstaining.
Ms. Ashcroft moved to adjourn the Board of Health. Ms. Russell seconded the motion. The motion passed 4-0 with Mr. Faignant abstaining. The meeting adjourned at 8:37 PM.
Respectfully submitted, Mr. Bill Sweet
|Joshua C. Terenzini, Chairman|
|Mary Ashcroft, Clerk|
|John Paul Faignant|
Center Rutland, VT.