TOWN OF BROOKFIELD 2016 ANNUAL MEETING
The legal voters of the Town of Brookfield met for the annual Town Meeting, at the Brookfield Elementary School auditorium at 1725 Ridge Road, Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. to transact the following business:
Article 1: To elect all officers as required by law for the ensuing year by Australian ballot.
Polls were declared open at 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.
Article 2: To hear and act on reports of the Town Officers.
John Benson, Selectboard Chair, addressed the meeting thanking Perry & Joy Kacik for organizing the dedication for the Floating Bridge Celebration.
J. Benson is the President of the Vermont Society of Engineers and wanted to recognize Greg White for being named Engineer of the Year this year.
The storm damage repair has been completed on Old Cross Road and Farnsworth Lane has been completed.
J. Benson recognized Teresa Godfrey, Delinquent Tax Collector for doing a fabulous job in collecting back taxes which allowed the reduction of the tax rate. It also helped reduce the amount needed to borrow to pay for the new dump truck. The capital plan shows the Town will need to replace the grader soon and it is about $250,000 – $300,000 for a new one. The back taxes collected in the past can be used to help with this purchase.
The Ridge Road section, that was repaved a few years ago, was crack sealed. With the grant from the Agency of Transportation, the final section of the Ridge Road and the portion of Northfield Road that goes under I-89 will be repaved.
J. Benson recognized that the Planning Commission has dedicated an immense amount of time and effort updating the Town Plan.
The Town Office has been painted inside and following the energy audit plan that was completed a few years ago, the insulation in the Library walls and attic has been put in. Two new windows have been installed in the attic. The remaining windows will be replaced in the next few weeks.
The Emergency Medical Services plan, which identifies how Brookfield is covered, has been changed to WRVA using mutual aid with services from neighboring towns as the first responders if they are located closer than WRVA. This system will be tested and reviewed over the next several months.
Patsy French, State Representative, spoke to the voters about the difficulty in getting the budget balanced. Money was increased for Medicaid and it includes the cost of Dr. Dinosaur and Choices of Care Program. More people are becoming eligible with 60% going to home health care and 40% to community health care within nursing homes.
Representative French spoke of the opiate crisis and how it is affecting more young children that have to come into the system while their parents are being helped.
She also spoke of the Legislature’s school consolidation plans and the budget caps.
Article 3: To see if the Town will authorize the Selectboard to borrow money in anticipation of revenues.
Motion by D. Montie, seconded by Billie Gosh, 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 A. Adler, seconded by L. Runnion that first payment of 2016/2017 property taxes due November 5, 2016; second payment due May 6, 2017. Motion carried.
Article 5: To see if the Town will authorize support of the Green Mountain Economic Development Corporation for the sum of $648.50.
Motion by S. Reid, seconded by Dove Cogen, to authorize the support.
Bob Haynes, Executive Director, said they have been in operation since 1984. They are one of 12 economic development corporations in the state. Their management support has helped businesses continue to grow. This is their first time requesting from Brookfield. They work as an ombudsman with the small businesses and Legislature and will testify for owners at their request.
Motion was called. Motion carried with 1 nay vote.
Article 6: To see if the Town will authorize the expenditure of up to $1,500.00 to complete a speed limit study on selected Town highways and to allow the Selectboard to engage the service of a qualified consultant to perform this study.
Motion by Dove Cogen, seconded by S. Edson.
Discussion began with a recap of what the Town approved from Town Meeting 2015 for Police services. A Public Safety Committee was formed to research recommendations. Unless posted, the Town speed limit is 50 mph and the Selectboard is limited by State Statute for road speeds. If we want to lower a road’s speed limit to 25 mph, there has to be a speed study done by the State. The study will allow the Selectboard to reduce the speed on Town roads, but it can’t set a speed limit on State roads.
Motion was called. Motion carried with a few nays.
Article 7: To approve a 12 month budget for the financial year of July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017 in the amount of $456,487.50 ($455,839.00 + $648.50) 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 L. Stowell, seconded by M. Maeder.
C. Keeler opened for discussion. There was none so the motion was called. Motion carried.
Article 8: To approve a 12 month budget for the financial year of July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017 in the amount of $692,800.00 ($691,300.00 + $1,500.00) 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 by D. Montie, seconded by L. Stowell.
There was discussion on the gravel used and the availability of gravel. Since the Wheatley gravel pit has been closed, the Highway Department has had to use processed materials.
D. Montie wanted to know how the collections of back taxes was decided to use for the budget.
J. Benson said some of the money was part of the previous year balance and there is potential to use the balance of back taxes towards a new grader but it will be included in the warning to be put to a vote.
S. Edson wanted to know what the State plans are for Route 65.
J. Benson said the State is proposing to resurface all of Route 65 using gravel on the gravel and repave where paved. The State is looking at the intersection of Route 65 and West Street. Route 65 and Route 14 are on the list to be done.
B. Fallon would like to know how to get a barrier fence on Route 65. D. Montie is the Chair and representative for Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission and she can send a letter with your concerns.
Motion called. Motion carried.
Article 9: To transact any other proper business.
D. Childs, Town Representative for ECFiber, stated that no Town tax dollars can be used to fund ECFiber. There are 24 other towns within the 1400 mile network and the system has been wired through the Kibbee Road area. ECFiber has borrowed $40 million to complete the entire project. Where Brookfield is on the list depends on how many are signed up for it. He recommended that Brookfield residents show their interest by subscribing on the ECFiber website.
Due to fire codes, the Town is no longer able to have tables in the Elementary School hall so P. Kacik reminded everyone that the annual Ice-Out tickets and information about the Floating Bridge were available in an adjacent school room.
G. Brees, Town Auditor, commented that the financial responsibility of the auditors is meeting monthly and reviewing town records, the credit card use, delinquent taxes, payroll, etc. Everything appears to be in order and they would like to thank Teresa Godfrey, Town Treasurer, and the Selectboard for taking care of the towns’ finances.
T. O’Donnell, West Brookfield Village Trust, said they have been continuing the upkeep of the Historic Meeting House. They are thinking of ways to use the space more frequently.
B. Fallon touched on several items:
- Green-up Day is May 7th. She would like to see more people and kids participate. This is no longer a State-sponsored event so there is a need for financial support.
- The Cemetery Commission is in need of new committee members. The 2 remaining members, Mike Herold & Melanie LaRocque, will not be running for office next year.
- The Marvin Newton House Historical Society is trying to maintain the building. It is in desperate need of repair. There needs to be more involvement.
M. Herold added that he has been on the Cemetery Commission for 3 years. A lot of work still needs to be done. There are huge crevasses in the East Hill Cemetery that need filling. He hopes that in 2017 someone will take his place on the committee.
L. Kelly, Brookfield Community Partnership, is starting to plan for the Old Town Hall events and reminded everyone they can sign up to help or for email contact.
Several residents voiced their concerns about establishing community services web-links for those interested on the Town website. The Selectboard is willing to consider it with parameters.
Senator Mark McDonald discussed the marijuana bill currently being considered in the Legislature, commenting that it will probably not pass in the upcoming session. He added his support for the efforts of ECFiber to expand locally.
M. Stoddard commended the Highway Department for the job done on Old Cross Road. He would like to discuss with the Fire Chief about using the culvert as a dry hydrant.
J. Kacik wanted to thank the Selectboard and Teresa Godfrey for the time and thought they put in to the Town issues.
K. Anderson spoke of being the sole employee of the Restorative Justice Program. She works with kids & young adults from Brookfield when they get out of jail. It is paid through grants.
Motion by L. Stowell, seconded by V. Smith to adjourn the meeting at 11:58 a.m. Motion carried.
Teresa Godfrey, Town Clerk