ARLINGTON SELECT BOARD

MINUTES OF THE DECEMBER 16TH, 2019 MEETING

Board members present: Keith Squires, Dan Harvey, Tim Williams, Matt Bykowski, Cynthia Browning. Minutes taken by Cynthia Browning.

Members of the public present: Jack McDonough- GNAT-TV, Jim Baker, Sheila Kearns, Andrew McKeever, Kathleen James, and Luke Nathan – Bennington Banner.

I.   CALL TO ORDER.

    Mr. Squires called the meeting to order at 7:03 pm. 

II.  PUBLIC COMMENTS.

    None offered.

III.  MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF DECEMBER 4th, 2019.

    Ms. Browning made a motion to approve of the minutes of the December 4th meeting as presented. Mr. Williams seconded. The motion was approved with four ayes, with Mr. Bykowski abstaining since he was absent. 

IV.  NEW BUSINESS.

    1. Communications Union District.

        Andrew McKeever of Sunderland explained the proposal of a Communications Union District (CUD) to the Board and asked if they might wish to put an article about joining this district on the March ballot. The CUD would be a way for Towns to band together to try to get better internet service for their communities. Each Town would send a representative. No property tax revenue would be involved in any way. The CUD could apply for a state grant to study the feasibility of developing a request for proposals for providers who might be able to offer more and better service than some areas have at this time. The costs of the build out of such services, if it were to happen, would be covered by grants, service, fees, and the subscribers who buy the new service. This approach has been authorized by the state as a way for areas like ours to get better service than the big companies are willing to provide. The goal would be to extend the fiber infrastructure further throughout the rural areas. Five towns have already joined together in the Southern Vermont CUD – Bennington, Shaftsbury, Sunderland, Sandgate, and Rupert.

        There was discussion of how important better internet service is for community members and for economic development. There was discussion of similar efforts elsewhere in the state.

        The article on the March ballot would say: “Shall the Town of Arlington enter into a communications union district (CUD) to be known as the Southern Vermont Communications Union District, under the provisions of 30 V.S.A. chapter 82?”

        Board members noted that it would be very important that the current CUD task force members undertake outreach and education so that people would know what this article was about. Those task force members present acknowledged this responsibility.

        Ms. Browning made a motion to put the following article on the Town of Arlington ballot to voted on March 3 2020: “Shall the Town of Arlington enter into a communications union district (CUD) to be

known as the Southern Vermont Communications Union District, under the provisions of 30 V.S.A. chapter 82?” Mr. Harvey seconded. The motion passed.

    2. Items for 2020 Budget.

        Mr. Squires raised a proposal for undertaking a strategic survey of emergency services and where they will be over the next 20 to 25 years. This would involve an outside expert studying such ongoing issues as the strength of the volunteer fire department, the growing need for equipment, and the possibility of a new facility. He said that there might be some private funding available for this study, but that it might be necessary for the Town to put up some additional funding to make it happen. This kind of study might cost $20,000 to $30,000.

        The Board discussed various aspects of this proposal in terms of what the deliverable would be, how much information the Town already has, and other such issues. Board members in general agreed on the importance of this proposal, and the possibility of putting money in the budget for it, but determined that there is a need for more information about what the expert would be providing before making a firmer commitment than that.

    3. Set 2020 Meeting Schedule.

        The Board reviewed the proposed meeting schedule for the Select Board and the Water Department Commissioners and agreed to it.

    4. Handling of Town Monies.

        Mr. Williams raised the question of the legalities surrounding the handling of Town funds as an appointed rather than an elected position. This item will be put on the next agenda.

V.  OLD BUSINESS.

    1. Resolution on Municipal Authority Regarding Commercial Cannabis.

        Ms. Browning reported that she had not yet succeeded in discussing this with someone from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, but that she could report to the Board her recommendations. She reported that the wording of the resolution has it that the Board is supporting legalization of recreational cannabis as long as all of the listed issues related to local control were addressed. Ms. Browning noted that although she agrees with the importance of those issues, she is also concerned about highway safety, prevention of use by young people, protecting the environment, and energy use. She would like to be support the resolution as long as the Board could alter the language to include such concerns. The Board agreed that she will check with VLCT about doing that.

    2. Town Hall Tech Update.

        Mr. Bykowski reported that the transition of the Town’s digital activities to the cloud has been completed. This is the part that had to get done for the re-appraisal working with NEMRC. The next stage is the transition of the emails to Office 365. This will happen some time in the new year. We will look at remaining local back ups and hardware issues later.

VI.   HIGHWAYS.

    1.  Sidewalk on Route 7A to the Recreation Park.

        Mr. Squires reported on a meeting with state officials about the question of achieving better site distance for the cross walk at the north end of the proposed sidewalk. He said the removal of a small bump in the bank on the east side after the private drive north of the former Catholic Church and the

bed and breakfast would improve the site distance for pedestrians and drivers. The bank is about 8’ to 10’ high. He reported further that there is a culvert on the west side that will have to be extended along with a buildup of the level of the ground for the projected sidewalk on that side.

        After discussion it was determined that removal of the bank bump and extension of the culvert will be done by the Arlington Highway Department as recommended at the site meeting. Ms. Browning made a motion authorizing the Town to enter into an agreement with the state to work in the state right of way to improve the sight distance and extend the culvert at the north end of the Arlington Recreation Park Route 7A Sidewalk. Mr. Bykowski seconded. The motion passed. 

        Mr. Squires also noted that the estimated cost of the project continues to rise with rising construction costs overall. He will explore applying for additional funding.  The project will most likely occur in 2021 not 2020. Mr. Squires asked Mr. Williams to check into getting a construction easement from the Community Club.

        While the Board was discussing this matter the payment to BCRC for $139.48 and Dufresne for $6,919.48 for their work on the sidewalk project planning was raised. Mr. Harvey made a motion to approve of Check Warrant Report 19-2 dated 12/12/19. Ms. Browning seconded. The motion passed.

    2. Speed Signs?

        A Board member asked Mr. Squires to check into whether the speed signs can be put on state signs or poles.

    3. Highway Department Report.

        Mr. Squires reported that in addition to dealing with varying weather and road conditions the crew is taking care of odds and ends and truck repairs as needed. He said that the street sign for Russell Street has been ordered.

VII.  WATER DEPARTMENT.

    1. Meeting Schedule.

        The schedule of 2020 Arlington Water Department Commissioners meetings was agreed to along with the Select board meetings.

    2. AWD Warrants and Orders.

        Mr. Harvey made a motion to approve of Check Warrant Report W D 26 dated 12/12/19 for $5,635.16. Ms. Browning seconded. Mr. Harvey noted that $3,511.05 was re-imbursement of the Highway Department for work done for the AWD during the year according to the established practice. The motion passed.

        Mr. Harvey made a motion to approve of Check Warrant Report W D 12 B for $284.28 to Mr. Keith Squires. Mr. Williams seconded. This is to re-imburse Mr. Squires for his work done on AWD affairs and projects. The motion passed with Mr. Squires abstaining.

    3. AWD Payment Agreements.

        Mr. Squires reported that overall customers with payment agreements are keeping up.

VIII. WARRANTS AND ORDERS.

    1. Mr. Harvey made a motion to approve of Check Warrant Report R-9 dated 12/12/19 for $5,310 from the Re-Appraisal Fund. Ms. Browning seconded. Mr. Harvey reported that $5,200 of this is to NEMRC. The motion passed.  

    2. Mr. Harvey made a motion to approve of Check Warrant Report 27 dated 12/11/19 for $42,542.53. Ms. Browning seconded. Mr. Harvey noted that this included purchase of Arlington Fire Department equipment for assisting at accidents. The motion passed.

    3. Ms. Browning noted the $7,000 donation from the Chapel on the Green to the Recreation Park. A thank you letter will be sent.

IX. ALL OTHER BUSINESS.

    1. Upcoming Meetings and Agenda Items.

        The Select Board will have an interview with a Town Administrator candidate on Wednesday 12/18 at 6 pm. This will be an executive session. Mr. Baker will send a copy of the job description to Ms. Berry for circulation to the Board Members.

    2. There were some letters in the ASB packet related to personnel matters, and these issues will be dealt with in an executive session at the next regular board meeting.

X.  ADJOURNMENT.

    Mr. Harvey made a motion to adjourn. Mr. Williams seconded. The motion passed and the meeting was adjourned at 8:55 pm.

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