Town Meeting 2017
Call to Order at 10:00 a.m. The pledge was recited.
Moderator Charlie Keeler stated that due to the Town reports not being available at least 10 days prior to Town Meeting and the warning not being published in the newspaper 5 days prior to Town meeting, per 17 V.S.A. §2662, there will be a special Town Meeting in April, warned 30 days prior, with an article validating the actions taken at this Town Meeting of March 7, 2017.
Article 1: To elect all officers as required by law for the ensuing year by Australian ballot. For this purpose, the polls will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Article 2: To hear and act on reports of the Town Officers.
John Benson, Selectboard Chair, recognized Aaron Adler for serving on the Planning Commission for 16 years.
J. Benson recognized Melanie LaRocque, Bonnie Fallon, and Mike Herold for all of their hard work on the Cemetery Commission. They did a great job restoring the cemeteries. There will be additional conversation concerning the Cemeteries later in the meeting.
J. Benson updated the EMS plan for the Town. We have gone to Barre Town with an agreement beginning on July 1st.
The Ridge Road paving was completed and the super elevation just south of the Pond Village Church was corrected. The grant from AOT for signage on the Ridge Road has not been completed.
The Selectboard and State are aware of the concerns about the quality and materials used for VT Route 65 reconstruction. In the Fall, there was a field inspection done and the whole road will be re-evaluated in the Spring on how to move forward.
The fire truck and the new plow truck were paid off.
The Town Office attic has new insulation and the front door and windows have all been replaced. The vault door needs either to be repaired or replaced. The tumblers are wearing out. In summer 2016 the water well almost ran dry, but recovered.
The Town Garage has had a room added for recordkeeping. The State is requiring more records and Kasey Peterson, Administrative Assistant, will be spending part of her day doing the recordkeeping. The addition was constructed mainly by the Road Crew during their down times.
We have been working on updating the classification of several Town roads. Old Stage Road has been updated to retain a portion as Class 3, and a small western segment was downgraded to Class 4.
We expect to do a reappraisal in the next few years. We receive money from the state and currently have $68,000 saved up. There will be little impact to the Town budget for the cost of the reappraisal.
J. Binhammer, referring to the balance sheet on page 5, commented that the line for recreation/conservation was a negative and he wondered where the money went. T. Godfrey confirmed the money is there and that it’s an accounting error.
J. Benson said every year there is a list of projects put together to do with the Regional Planning Commission (RPC) and VT Routes 12 and 14 was not mentioned on the transportation plan for this year. There was a surface course overlay on route 14.
D. Montie said the Town should file a letter with the RPC to keep them on the plan. The resurfacing did not address the underlying issue.
Article 3: To see if the Town will authorize the Selectboard to borrow money in anticipation of revenues.
Motion by D. Childs, seconded by L. Stowell to approve authorization. Motion carried.
Article 4: To see if the Town will vote to have all taxes paid into the Treasury as provided by law in two installments, and if so, to set the dates.
Motion by K. Anderson, seconded by D. Montie that the first payment of 2017/2018 property taxes due November 4, 2017; second payment due May 5, 2018. Motion carried.
Article 5: To see if the Town will authorize support of Big Heavy World for the sum of $250.00.
Motion by K. Anderson, seconded by L. Stowell, to authorize the support.
J. Kimmel said the Selectboard received a request in November for authorization to benefit the music community of Vermont. After adding the request to the warning, he tried to contact them several times to suggest that the group send a representative to speak at Town Meeting. The number was disconnected. He recommended forgoing the opportunity to donate.
E. Nielsen said it is a reputable organization and it is a group of volunteers. He understood a decision to not fund them because of no representation at Town Meeting. Call to vote. Motion denied.
Article 6: To see if the Town will vote to approve the discontinuance and disbanding of the Brookfield Cemetery Commission, with authority over the Town cemeteries to revert to the Selectboard (per 18 VSA 5381.
Motion by E. Nielsen, seconded by M. Herold.
J. Kimmel said Melanie LaRocque, Mike Herold, and Bonnie Fallon have done an enormous amount of work while serving on the Commission. Since they are not running again it makes sense to revert the cemetery maintenance back to the Selectboard. They would then look for a warden or sexton to maintain the cemeteries and sell plots, arrange for burials, and maintain the paperwork. The sexton fees would be paid through plot purchases and burial fees.
Martina Rutkovsky acknowledged all who stepped up to the plate. It takes a lot of attention to do the work. She recommended not to put it on the Selectboard but to ask there to be a group to manage the 5 cemeteries. Call to vote. Motion carried.
Article 7: To approve a 12-month budget for the financial year of July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018 to meet the expenses and liabilities of the Town General Fund and to authorize the Selectboard to set a tax rate sufficient to provide the same.
Motion by D. Montie, seconded by L. Stowell.
C. Keeler opened for discussion. There was none so the motion was called. Motion carried.
Article 8: To see if the Town will authorize the Selectboard to complete a property line adjustment with the property owners adjacent to the Town Garage property, consisting of the following:
- Transfer of ____ acres from adjoining parcel 89 to the Town Parcel 88.
- Transfer of ____ acres from adjoining parcel 90.1 to the Town Parcel 88 in exchange for an access easement for Parcel 90.1, across Parcel 88 along the western boundary of Parcel 88 to its intersect with VT Route 65 Right-of-Way.
- Payment to be either in cash or an adjustment of property taxes for the adjoining landowners.
Motion by E. Nielsen, seconded by L. Stowell.
J. Benson explained, with the aid of a sketch, the plan for purchasing approximately 0.8 acres of land from parcel 90.1 and approximately 0.15 acres from parcel 89, which would create a 35’ right-of-way. He estimates it might be around $3,000 using an abatement of taxes or an actual payment for the purchases. The larger gets steep as you go back further.
A. Adler questioned why Bullet 3 refers to “owners.”
J. Benson stated if we can’t close a deal with the owner for parcel 89 then we would have to do something else with 90.1.
Discussion centered mainly around erosion control and a drainage plan.
J. Benson suggested that those concerns might be addressed by creating a slight retaining wall. The shed needs to be moved back for additional space for expanding the garage.
J. Binhammer made a motion as part of the purchase to direct the Selectboard to put together a plan to fix the drainage first. This was seconded by T. Anderson.
J. Benson said the Selectboard would develop a stormwater run-off plan.
G. Brees was concerned about project “creep”: should the Town buy the land, before it has a plan for the garage? Is that all the Town needs for land?
J. Benson commented that we don’t yet know what the needs are for 20 years. There is absolutely no room for material storage and garage expansion right now. Rebuilding the shed by moving it back is planning ahead for additional space. At this point, the grader sticks out of the shed. If the property owners request an excessive price, the Board would come back to the Town for a vote.
The amendment was withdrawn by J. Binhammer and T. Anderson.
Motion to call the question with no amendments. Motion carried.
C. Keeler turned the discussion to Senator Mark MacDonald, Representative Jay Hooper, and Representative Ben Jickling.
Sen. MacDonald complimented Jay Hooper and Ben Jickling on being elected as the new State Representatives and showing how to finish a campaign.
Sen. MacDonald said there are few surprises for this legislation. There is a $30 million budget gap. The new Governor has taken a pause on creating new revenue.
Rep. Jickling is working on the Health Care Committee. A big concern is changes by the federal government with health care, and how it will affect health care for Vermonters. There isn’t enough money for mental health and there is a backlog in the ER’s. Prescription drugs are a major driver of health care costs.
Rep. Hooper is working on the House Agriculture & Forestry Committee. They have been dealing with how to pay for cleanup of waterways (i.e. Lake Champlain), the new immigration laws affecting the dairy workers, and a stagnant milk market. The Representatives are working on the cross-over of bills going from Senate to House and vice versa.
J. Benson asked to have the Senator and Representatives raise two issues with Montpelier.
- For a single proprietor, the Department of Labor is requiring workman’s compensation. The Town either has to hire them as employees or hire larger companies who carry workman’s comp. He is requesting they don’t “backdoor” hiring requirements. We are being forced to pay workman’s comp for independent contractors or pay more for the larger companies.
- Health care coverage for Town employees. When a town wants to sign up an employee, a Town representative has to use their own personal information to log in. The Town should be able to use its Tax ID number verses using an individual person’s information.
L. Churchill would like to see the State repair VT Routes 12 and 14 instead of just surface coating them.
A. Borgman, Guardian Ad litem for children’s services, would like to see someone take a broader view on social services. B. Gassner agreed that there should be more information on services available. There should be a better understanding on the impact on early childhood trauma (i.e. PTSD).
Rep. Jickling stated he would bring the concerns back to Montpelier.
Rep. Hooper said a bill was passed to expunge felon status inquiries if a job applicant was a felon after 3 years instead of 8-10 years. This goes into effect July 1st. They have already banned questioning on an initial application if you were a felon.
Article 9: To see if the Town will authorize the Selectboard to purchase a new grader for up to $290,000, and to determine whether the terms for such purchase shall be payment in full in the first year, installments over a term of years, or leasing the equipment.
Motion by E. Nielsen, seconded by S. Dilcer.
J. Benson said they have been researching with Ray Peck, Road Foreman, the cost of a new grader comparing one from CAT and John Deere. CAT has a new 2016, never used, at a cost of $357,000. To purchase it, the cost would be $305,000.
There are 3 options to purchase: 1. Outright 2. Lease/purchase; 3. Loan for 5 or 8 years.
The outright option is to be paid for through $90,000 (budget), $85,000 (equipment savings fund), and $130,000 (delinquent tax collections from prior years).
The Selectboard recommends option 1.
Benson said a backhoe is planned on being purchased next in 2022. Every three years we replace one of the plow trucks. He stated bank interest is at 3% which is a better rate than the equipment loan fund through the State would be.
A. Adler asked if option 1 meant there would be no change to the budget and that Article 9 states $290,000.
J. Benson said it would need to be amended. Purchasing the 2016 grader from CAT is a step-up because of the placement of the blade being in front of the driver vs behind. There would be no change to the proposed budget.
Motion to amend from $290,000 to $305,000 by A. Adler, seconded by M. Maeder
Call to vote to see if the town will approve the amendment of Article 9 to read $305,000.
New Motion by M. Stoddard, seconded by S. Dilcer to authorize the Selectboard to purchase a new grader for up to $305,000 with making the payment in full (Option 1) using the funds listed above.
J. Benson said we will make a payment with the equipment fund as a deposit to hold the grader until the new fiscal year begins on July 1, 2017.
Article 10: To approve a 12 month budget for the financial year of July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018 to meet the expenses and liabilities of the Town Highway Fund and to authorize the Selectboard to set a tax rate sufficient to provide the same.
Motion made by E. Nielsen, seconded by L. Stowell.
C. Keeler opened for discussion. There wasn’t any so the motion was called. Motion carried.
Article 11: To transact any other proper business.
D. Childs spoke about EC Fiber. There have been 2 incursions in Brookfield: on Kibbee Road and in West Brookfield. They’re working on covering 24 towns. He encouraged everyone to sign up so Brookfield will move up on the list.
L. Stowell wanted to let everyone know there would be a Public Safety Community event open to individuals and families on March 11th at the Brookfield Elementary School.
B. Fallon encouraged everyone to take part in Green Up Day the 1st Saturday in May.
P. Kacik said there are Ice Out tickets available in the Teachers’ work room for $2/guess or 3 for $5. 25% goes to the winner and 75% is for the Historical Society.
Motion by A. Haggett, seconded by L. Stowell to adjourn the meeting at 12:30 p.m.
Teresa Godfrey, Town Clerk