TOWN OF BROOKFIELD 2018 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 6, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. to transact the following business:
Call to Order at 10:00 a.m. The pledge was recited.
Moderator Charlie Keeler stated the Orange Southwest School District met Monday, March 5, 2018.
Lunch will be served supporting the Brookfield School Club with donations.
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, thanked the voters for the purchase of the new grader last year. The week of Town Meeting 2017, the motor went in the old grader and CAT provided the new grader early less the trade-in value.
- EMS in Brookfield, as of January 1, 2018, is now been split with most northern residents covered by Barre Town and southern residents covered by White River Valley Ambulance.
- The lot line adjustments at the town garage, which were approved last year have been moving forward. The first section has been completed. A partial release from the bank for the other portion has been approved.
- Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) has been doing a great deal of work. They have inventoried the signs creating a data base. They have recommended updates for the traffic ordinances and enforcement has started.
- The condition of VT RT 65 did not hold up well so VTrans resurfaced the gravel portion this past October.
- VTrans and Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission (TRORC) have grants available for erosion control. This will require sediment transport from cleaning ditches and water quality issues are a concern. A culvert will be replaced on West Street.
- A storm in July took out a portion of the newly paved section of Northfield Road leaving a crater. Some of the cost will be covered by FEMA funding.
J. Benson thanked C. Keeler for his years as Moderator. C. Keeler did not run for office this year. He has done a great job.
Aaron Adler questioned the Auditors report stating an “adverse opinion” from the auditing firm Fothergill Segale & Valley. He stated it is the worst opinion you can receive and asked if one of the Town Auditors can address this concern.
Ginny Brees, Town Auditor, said this has been for a number of years and it is primarily about the Pension Plan and we would have to revise the report adding about 4 pages. We are in compliance and always contribute the amount needed. This would increase the audit cost and we are not exposed to any loss. The office has improved a number of the procedures. We will be having full audits every 2 or 3 years with minimal audits in the off years.
Dan Childs, ECFiber representative for Brookfield, stated a lot of residents signed up for ECFiber after last year’s Town Meeting and Brookfield will be receiving fiber in October or November. The process takes time to get the lines on poles and hooking up each home. His cost for TV, telephone, and internet is roughly $100/month. There is a $90 installation fee if you are 400’ from the pole or you pay by the foot if you are greater than 400’. The cost for underground is different. West Brookfield will have fiber installed during the same time period. If you are “off grid”, that is a different issue.
Article 3: To see if the Town will authorize the Selectboard to borrow money in anticipation of revenues.Motion by Marylou Maeder, seconded by Lew Stowell to approve authorization.
A Adler questioned if the adverse opinion from the audit will affect borrowing.
J. Benson said this is in case we need to borrow but haven’t had to since we went to collecting taxes twice a year. We put this in, because a few years ago, we didn’t have the money to pay the vendors.
Call to vote. 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 Linda Runnion, seconded by Eric Nielson that the first payment of 2018/2019 property taxes to be due November 3, 2018; the second payment due May 4, 2019. Motion carried.
Article 5: To see if the Town will vote to contribute five hundred ($500) to Central Vermont Adult Basic Education (CVABE).
Motion by E. Nielson, seconded by C. Curtis Koren to contribute $500 to CVABE.
Joanne Fitzgerald, representative for CVABE, said they cover Washington, Orange, and Lamoille Counties. There are at least 4 Brookfield residents per year ages 16 and up using this service. It is used for high school completion, receiving a diploma or GED, English as a second language, literacy education, changing jobs, financial and computer training. The classes are free of charge and confidential. It costs about $3100/year/student which is paid through contributions, grants, Rotary Clubs, and individuals. There are paid educators who train and manage volunteers. Classes held are individualized depending on what is needed.
Call to vote. Motion carried with one “no” vote.
Article 6: To approve a 12 month budget for the financial year of July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019 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 Billie Gosh, seconded by L. Stowell.
C. Keeler opened for discussion. There was none so the motion was called.
C. Keeler turned the discussion over to Senator Mark MacDonald.
Sen. MacDonald discussed the energy issues that are being discussed within the Energy Committee in Montpelier. He discussed that Vermont has one of the highest electric rates in the country. Efficiency Vermont is helping to improve energy efficiency for Vermonters. Because of this, Vermont has the lowest bills in New England. The Energy Committee plans on copying the Efficiency Vermont model keeping the money in Vermont by employing Vermonters to do the work. There is a surcharge on electric bills that goes to support Efficiency Vermont.
Article 7: To see if the Town will vote to approve purchase of a new Highway Department truck for up to $198,000, to be financed and paid for over a term of up to three (3) years.
Motion by L. Runnion, seconded by M. Maeder.
J. Benson said every 3 years we replace one of the trucks. We run it for 9 years then retire them. This is the last of the Internationals. It has been a problem since we bought it. They are too light for the work needed in Town. The tandems hold a lot of material and covers the route with 1 load vs 2 saving time and retains its value. L. Stowell asked if there was difficulty on the narrow roads and J. Benson replied that has not been a problem.
Some of the West Brookfield residents were concerned with the size of the trucks and the weight of them. They have hit the signs and mailboxes. The roads are narrow and so they have trouble when they meet the trucks. There are no pull over areas when they do meet them. The ditches are deep.
J. Benson said the tandem trucks are the same plow width as the single axle trucks. There is no demand for single axle per truck companies.
Ben Hickin asked if the $15,000 trade-in was a set amount or if the Town had checked into the State vehicle auctions.
J. Benson said with trading in the vehicle, we are never down a truck. The first payment is included in the budget presented on page 22.
Call to vote. Motion carried.
Article 8: To approve a 12 month budget for the financial year of July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019 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 E. Nielson, seconded by Beth Urie.
Brenda Flint questioned the $25,000 budget for paving and if we had any paving left.
J. Benson said we own a small section (9/10ths mile) on Chelsea Mountain Road and we have an aggressive crack sealing process on the paved roads.
Dennis LaRocque wondered if there is a benefit to pave when Randolph or Chelsea pave their sections but both have paved recently. Northfield tore up one of their roads and non-paved roads are cheaper to maintain. You can’t salt unpaved roads.
Authorization for posting the roads for mud season was approved in February at a Selectboard meeting.
Discussion turned to road sign theft and how to prevent it. The road through town needs grading. We are one truck down. It was suggested the Town look into putting crushed ledge rock down to help with draining and the sun heats it so it melts ice off quicker. The Road Crew is working on segments of road throughout the year.
Call to vote. Motion carried.
C. Keeler turned the meeting over to Chris LaMonda, Barre Town EMS Director.
C. LaMonda confirmed that Barre Town is now covering most of VT RT 65 North due to reduced response times. They have paramedics on staff Monday-Friday 95% of the time. There are 18 new personnel due to the additional towns using their services. There are 2 providers on the truck per response. You have choice of hospital depending on the emergency.
C. Keeler turned the meeting over to Representatives Ben Jickling and Jay Hooper.
Rep. Jickling is part of the House Health Care Committee. He reported they have several measures to pass to keep up with the Federal actions on health care. Concerns included mental health care, inpatient beds, health care insurance, and rate increases. There was a discussion about treatment options for Vermont children and Medicaid such as the Brattleboro Retreat.
Rep. Hooper is part of the House Agriculture and Forestry Committee. He reported milk prices are in a decline. There are pilot programs to help farmers with regenerative or organic programs. Discussions included protecting the pollinators, untreated seeds being available, inspections for amusement rides at State Fairs, Emerald Ash Borer, and other Vermont invasive species (both plant & insect) and how to eliminate them.
Article 9: To transact any other proper business.
Bonnie Fallon promoted Green-Up Day. She stated we are losing volunteers and to bring the kids. Don’t touch the needles.
L. Stowell, member of PSAC, said they are losing one member. They hold one meeting a month and advise the Selectboard in public safety. They are working on less expensive ways for law enforcement. They meet with Orange County Sheriff. They are working on the missing highway signs because if there are no signs, we can’t enforce speeds. We have helped rewrite the traffic ordinance.
D. LaRocque was concerned about parking in the town right-of-way.
J. Benson said this has been brought attention to the Sheriff’s department. We had to be sure the Town ordinances are the same as requirements that the State has.
Perry Kacik informed the voters that the Brookfield Historical Society is selling “ice-out” tickets and Floating Bridge pamphlets.
Martina O’Donnell said the West Brookfield Village Trust is putting together programing. They are selling tickets for a quilt Alice Wakefield made to help off-set costs of building maintenance.
Jon Binhammer is looking into forming a conservation commission. He is looking for volunteers interested in being a part of the commission.
Motion by L. Stowell, seconded by Julie Benedict to adjourn at 12:15.
Teresa Godfrey, Town Clerk