BROOKFIELD SELECT BOARD
Town Clerk’s Office
Meeting of MONDAY, 12 December 2016
- The meeting was called to order at 6:30 P.M.
Members present: John Benson, Chair; Jeff Kimmel, and Cory Haggett
Staff present: Carla Preston, Alternate Administrative Assistant.
Others present: Stuart Edson, Lew Stowell, Amy Borgman, and Teresa Godfrey, Town Clerk.
- Adjustments to Agenda – none
- Public Presentation or Comment
- Brookfield Public Safety Advisory Committee –
Lew Stowell and Stuart Edson presented the Public Safety Advisory Committee’s (Committee) report. The report covered the traffic ordinance, parking, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, traffic signage and recommendations. Mr. Stowell asked if the town had received an updated invoice from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. There was no indication that it had been received as of yet.
Mr. Stowell advised the Committee is recommending that three roads be added to the ordinance, Crossover Road at 35 miles per hour, Ralph Road at 30 miles per hour, and East Hill Road at 35 miles per hour. He noted that the Vermont Local Roads 2012 Guide (Guide) used required a traffic study for all roads. They propose to use budgeted monies from the current year to conduct traffic engineering studies on Ralph Road, Crossover Road and East Hill Road.
Chair Benson advised that traffic studies were required in the past but that has been amended. According to the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans), select boards have the authority to establish speed limits in the range of 30 miles per hour to 50 miles per hour. He advised that the studies do not have to be performed by professional engineers. The Board will verify that information including the statutory reference mentioned in the Guide to ensure it is still in effect.
Mr. Stowell reported on damaged and/or missing speed limit signs at an estimated replacement cost of $50 per sign. They found four damaged signs and concluded that 17 speed limit signs were missing which totaled $1050. After further discussion with the Board the number of missing signs increased by at least six additional signs needed.
With respect to parking issues, the Committee recommended further enforcement at the Cushing residence on Stone Road to ensure safety. The town truck cannot properly plow the lane next to the buildings due to the vehicles and other debris along the edge of the road. In addition, customers and visitors consistently park in the road making the situation very dangerous and unsafe. There is a small field adjacent to the residence that could be used for parking.
Mr. Stowell noted that the Committee is reviewing the parking situation in Pond Village and has pursued some options but has not confirmed any possible resolutions.
Chair Benson advised that the parking ordinance prohibits leaving vehicles unattended in the winter months. He noted that some towns have no parking areas as well as prohibitions about plowing snow into the road. The Board concluded that it would be a good idea to put such a public announcement in the local papers.
Mr. Stowell advised that they were hoping to have the most recent invoice from the Orange County Sheriffs’ department for budgeting purposes. They are not close to the currently budgeted $12,000 thus are trying to determine whether it should be reduced nearer to the amount actually spent, $9800, or keep it at $12,000 in the event of unexpected expenses.
The Board indicated that recommendations for what the town wants the Sheriff’s Department to do is needed. The town needs to give clearer direction as to the expectations and function of the Sheriff’s Department. The costs incurred to date reflects what the department has done as it feels appropriate but does not reflect what the town would like them to do. It was noted that some of the funding includes grants. In the end, the Board was hesitant to reduce the budget for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department since it is still six months away from the effective date of the budget and agreed to keep it at $12,000.
Messrs. Stowell and Stuart agreed, particularly because law enforcement is reactive and difficult to predict future needs. They indicated that they would like to see public outreach with respect to the multiple break-ins in the town. There are precautions people can take to help prevent theft and property damage. They recommend involving the state and local police and focus on a particular topic to bring awareness to the public. They advised that the Committee has not yet decided on a particular topic or topics but did suggest sources for the notice including the town’s website, postings at the school, and so on. To encourage public participation, the Committee recommends holding this event nearer to town meeting and perhaps in an evening.
Mr. Stowell advised that the Committee recommends adding stop and yield signs pursuant to the traffic ordinance. The Committee will be conducting a complete sign inventory throughout the town including speed limit signs, stop signs, yield signs, warning signs and street signs. He noted that the scope of this project is increasing in size. The results of this inventory may require the purchase of additional signage which may need to be factored in for budgeting purposes. The Committee needs to know the Select Board’s position regarding the location and placement of these signs.
The Board advised that it does not want to define where every sign should be placed. Chair Benson agreed to review the national standard for appropriate road signage which could be adopted by the town. He agreed to contact VTrans for more information. It was noted that law enforcement has thoughts and recommendations for sign placement as well.
It was reported that Ray Peck, Road Foreman, is working to create a database showing all roads in town. The Board recommended that the Committee contact Administrative Assistant Kasey Peterson for the type of software being used to ensure its compatibility with other programs.
Mr. Stuart agreed to follow up with Ms. Peterson for that information which would be very helpful to the Committee.
Mr. Stowell advised that the Committee recommends removing the two signs near the Brookfield Elementary School stating a reduction in speed from 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM since it is ambiguous and not supported by the traffic ordinance. The Ordinance reads 30 miles per hour regardless.
Chair Benson noted that the speed limit on Ridge Road is 40 miles per hour except at the School, thus to avoid confusion there would need to be signage noticing a reduction in speed from 40 mph to 30 mph and for the 30 mph speed limit by the school in both directions. The Guide recommends reduced speed signs when applicable (10 mph change) but they are not required. Speed limit signs are required at intersections involving public roads but are not required for private roads. The group discussed where those signs are and should be located and noted that this could also increase the number of signs needed once the inventory is complete.
In response to Mr. Stowell’s question about who is responsible for 911 changes, the Board advised that the Committee should contact Chuck Barnum. Mr. Barnum is responsible for assigning and reporting new 911 emergency numbers. The Board indicated that he may have data that would be very useful to the Committee.
Mr. Stowell was concerned that some roads or addresses do not show up on 911, particularly when roads are not open all year round. He gave an example of Twin Pond Road which uses Upper and Lower extensions but are not found on 911 data. He agreed to invite Mr. Barnum to one of their meetings to discuss these issues further.
Mr. Stowell noted that members of the Committee have been reviewing public meeting law in an effort to understand having a quorum of members at an event which has not been warned. He noted that is why only two members were present to submit their report to the Select Board.
Chair Benson advised that because the warned meeting of the Select Board included the Brookfield Public Safety Advisory Committee’s report on its agenda, it would have been covered had additional members been present. The Committee was only reporting its findings, not making official decisions.
Mr. Kimmel suggested to the Committee that it give a heads-up to attendees at town meeting about what is being planned even though their report will be included in the Brookfield Town Report. It would also be a good opportunity to announce an upcoming public event as previously discussed.
Chair Benson recapped the Committee’s report acknowledging signage replacement and additions to consider and the need to increase the budget allotment, maintain or reduce the budget for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, and the parking issue on Stone Road requiring enforcement. Mr. Cushing will be advised of the winter parking ordinance and that the Sheriff’s Department will be policing the area. If necessary warnings and fines will be issued.
The Board approved the removal of the two signs near the school stating 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM and leaving the 30 miles per hour speed limit signs. Everyone agreed it would best to add warning signs announcing the reduction in speed. The goal is to make it safer since the speed will be 30 miles per hour at all times by the school. Mr. Haggett volunteered to discuss the matter with Mr. Peck to determine the best solution for signage near the school. They will also inform school officials as to the changes in signage. In addition, they will discuss signage needs for coming off Old Stage Road.
- Amy Borgman – Library Report and Security issues
Ms. Borgman submitted the Library Report which will be included in the Brookfield Town Report.
Ms. Borgman expressed concerns about security for the town offices since it was the second time the building had been broken into. She noted that potential targets such as personal information and cash are locked up. It was her understanding that bars may be added to windows in the back and recommended adding bars to all of the windows. She mentioned other options such as installing alarms, sirens, cameras or motion detectors.
Chair Benson advised that all of those options have been discussed, many of which have been ruled out due to the multiple boards, commissions, committees and other groups that utilize the town offices. An alarm or siren would have to be deactivated prior to meetings. Alarms set up by motion could be triggered by animals. The back of the building is not visible from the road or by neighbors which is why the recommendation to cover that area.
Teresa Godfrey noted that currently there are no other security measures other than locks. She advised that there are motion sensors in front of the building but nothing in the back. She confirmed the timeframe in which the last intruders entered the building which occurred between 7:15 PM and 10:00 AM.
Ms. Borgman advised that they are no longer holding book sales or accepting donations which might imply that there is cash on the premises. On another topic, she mentioned the apple trees in the yard that are dying and need to be removed. She advised she will research records to make sure they do not represent a memorial or have some other importance.
The Board advised Ms. Borgman to discuss removing the trees with Ray Peck who also serves as the town’s tree warden.
Ms. Godfrey advised that an electrician is scheduled to come in to add some lights. She could ask the electrician to also add power to the back of the building so that motion lights or cameras could be added. She noted that there are funds available for that under buildings and grounds. The possibility of wireless cameras with night vision which can be viewed by phone and set up to record based on motion were also discussed. She also mentioned that the door to the library was replaced which seals better and is much more energy efficient.
- Old Business
The Chair called for approval of the Minutes of the 28 November 2016 meeting. The Board voted to table approval of the 28 November 2016 Minutes until its next meeting scheduled for 29 December 2016.
- New Business
- Highway Report
- Heat in the addition – The Board approved the proposed wall mounted propane heater from Gillespie Fuels and Propane, Inc. as previously discussed.
- Culvert Grant – tabled
- The Board discussed concerns about snow plowing that had been raised by a resident located on Bear Hill Road. It is likely that a written agreement between the resident and town will be needed. The Board noted that the town’s right-of-way expands to both sides of the road and that it is the town’s responsibility to maintain it to ensure safety. Haggett will follow up with Mr. Peck on this matter and meet with the resident to discuss the concerns.
In preparation for budgets to be discussed at town meeting, Ms. Godfrey advised the Select Board about discrepancies, future needs, and further explanation about the data. She advised that $94,866 was used from the delinquent tax account in 2015 to pay off a truck early which puts the town in a good position to purchase a grader in the upcoming fiscal year. She explained that $43,965 for the Fire Department appeared in last years’ budget but was actually spent the year before which is why is still showed on the books and has now been corrected. She noted the Cemetery budget went over by $15,000 due to repairs of grave stones that occurred near the end of the fiscal year; it has been amended. She noted that the equipment budget is negative by $26,000 due to the truck that had numerous problems. She explained the budget line item regarding tree removal and clean up from the storm and other trees that needed to be removed. She advised that some discrepancies were due to grants. In summary, Ms. Godfrey indicated that in the end they are in good shape with respect to the balance sheet.
Ms. Godfrey advised that she figured out the discrepancies between the bank and the town’s financial software (MEMRC) which were revealed by the auditors. She explained that transfers from the Accounts Payable (AP) to the General Ledger (GL) were not always done immediately thus did not show up on the bank’s statement. She advised that the bank’s reconciliation now fully balances with the software system.
Ms. Godfrey noted that the Select Board would be making a presentation to the People of Brookfield at town meeting regarding the purchase of a grader. She recommended utilizing a white board or something similar so people could visualize the sources for this expense. They will need to discuss financing and leasing options. She confirmed it will be a warned item on the agenda.
- Radio North Group Inc. Quote – $15,400. The Board concluded that this item needed to be discussed further with Mr. Peck regarding his overall budget for part of the big picture view. It was unclear whether it would fall under the Fire or Highway Departments’ budget. In addition, does it need to be a warned line item or included in the group? The matter was tabled with Mr. Peck’s overall Highway budget.
Ms. Godfrey mentioned the replacement or repairs needed to the vault door and noted that if the tumblers are still available it would be cheaper than replacing the door.
The Board asked Ms. Godfrey to work on figures regarding the budget.
Ms. Godfrey advised that she has not yet received proposed budgets but is receiving requests for appropriations. She will email those figures to Chair Benson for inclusion into the budget as she receives them. She will also forward requests for appropriations to him.
Mr. Kimmell is working on the preparation of the Brookfield Town Report. They discussed photo options for the cover of the Report.
- Big Heavy World, James Lockridge ED – new appropriations request ($250). The Board advised that since this is not historical it will need to be warned. The Board asked Ms. Peterson to advise them that typically better results are achieved when representatives are present at the meeting.
- Administrative Assistant hours – The Board tabled this issue.
- White River Valley Ambulance billing – The Board noted that discussions are in place to split the town for services between Barre Town and WRVA.
- Two-Rivers Ottauqueechee Public Hearing Notice – Ms. Godfrey advised that the notice has been posted.
- Amendment to the personnel policy – Section 17 Health Benefits – The Board acknowledged that this is model language from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT) to be included in health plans. The information needs to be added to the personnel policy. Copies were made for distribution to appropriate supervisors. No further action taken at this time.
- Payroll/Accounts Payable Warrant
Based on the documents presented Mr. Haggett, made a motion, seconded by Mr. Kimmell, to approve payment totaling $26,773.13. The larger amounts of the warrants consisted of $5,319.13 to Lake Sunapee Bank, $3,600 to the Vermont Visiting Nurse Association, and $2,350 to the Stagecoach and transportation. The question was called and the motion passed unanimously.
- Other Proper Business – None.
Mr. Haggett made a motion, seconded by Mr. Kimmell, to adjourn the meeting at 8:21 PM. Motion passed unanimously.
Alternate Administrative Assistant
Town of Brookfield