January 3, 2022
Members Present: Dan Harvey, Matthew Bykowski, Cynthia Browning, Todd Wilkins (who arrived with the meeting in progress) Glenn Sherman
Members Absent: None
Also Present: (In person, or via Zoom or phone) Town Administrator- Nick Zaiac, Steve McClafferty, Greg Sukiennik-Bennington Banner, Olavi Wirkki, Andrew McKeever, and Janet Barry
The meeting was called to order at 7:02 PM, by Mr. Harvey.
Public Comments: Mr. Harvey opened the meeting asking for any public comments that were not warned, agenda items. There were none.
Minutes of the Meeting of December 20, 2021 Mr. Bykowski made a motion to accept as presented, the minutes of the previous meeting of December 20, 2021. Ms. Browning seconded. Motion passed unanimously, with Mr. Wilkins not yet in attendance.
New Business: ZBA Appointments: New Business was moved ahead in the agenda.
Mr. Bykowski made a motion to accept Ron Weber’s resignation as a member of the ZBA, and to ask Mr. Zaiac to prepare a letter of gratitude for his service. Mr. Sherman seconded. Motion passed unanimously, with Mr. Wilkins not yet present. Mr. Bykowski made a motion to appoint Ron Weber as an alternate member of the ZBA. Mr. Sherman seconded. Motion passed unanimously, with Mr. Wilkins not yet in attendance. Mr. Bykowski made a motion to appoint Michaelanne Sylvester to serve the remaining period of a three-year term on the ZBA, ending in April 2023. Ms. Browning seconded. Motion passed unanimously, with Mr. Wilkins not yet in attendance. Mr. Bykowski made a motion to appoint Travis Evans to serve the remaining period of a two-year term on the ZBA ending in April 2023. Ms. Browning seconded. Motion passed unanimously, with Mr. Wilkins not yet in attendance. Ms. Browning wanted to publicly thank Mr. Weber for his many years of service and to also thank Ms. Sylvester and Mr. Evans for having come to every ZBA meeting, even though they had been alternates, and for stepping up to become members now.
Certificate of Highway Mileage: Mr. Harvey spoke to the Board about the annual Certificate of Highway Mileage form, that needs to be signed by the Board. He said there are zero Class 1 roads, Class 2 has 7.970 miles, Class 3 has 26.77 miles, and State Highway is 14.047 miles, for a total of 48.727 miles. Class 4 have 2.71 miles, and Legal Trails are 4.56 miles. All were no changes from last year. Ms. Browning made a motion to accept the Certificate of Highway Mileage, Year Ending February 10,2022, as read by Chair Harvey. Mr. Bykowski seconded. Motion passed unanimously, with Mr. Wilkins not yet in attendance. The form was passed around for signatures.
Fire Chiefs- 2022: The Board reviewed paperwork supplied by the Fire Department, stating that after their annual meeting on December 28,2021, officers for 2022 are: Mike King- Chief, Vince Thompson- 1st Asst. Chief, and Jay Coonradt- 2nd Asst. Chief, as well as a 2021 Fire Call Summary report.
2021 VT State Department of Taxes Equalization Study Results: The Board reviewed the State Department of Taxes 2021 Equalization Study, which is within normal range of other towns at 99.72%.
2021 Borrowed Money and Voted Transfers Letter from the Treasurer: Mr. Harvey and the Board discussed the letter from the Treasurer with the transactions of Reserve Funds borrowed money and the amount of reimbursements that have been completed for 2021. There was a total of ten line transfers, for a total amount of $203,000.
Highways: Mr. Wilkins arrived at this point in the meeting. Back-Up Sander and Plow:
Mr. Zaiac explained that the back-up plow was no longer usable and the sander on the truck would need expensive repairs, and it was not worth putting the money into the equipment. The Highway staff looked for used items for sale that are in reasonable shape. The Board reviewed two options, with the second one being $3800 more than Option 1, for $3000. Mr. Bykowski made a motion to approve the purchase from Brett Lourie, from Rupert VT, for a used plow and sander for a total of $3000. Ms. Browning seconded. Motion passed unanimously.
New Business, con’t: Budget and Town Meeting: Initial Meeting: Mr. Zaiac presented the Board with a slide show for the 2022 Budget. He said this proposed budget, which would be a tax increase of 5.18%, takes care of the staff, adjusts for increased health insurance costs, allows for the new, year-round Park position, focuses on compliance, such as removing an aging fuel tank from the garage property, cemetery hazardous tree removal, and money for the fire truck sinking fund. He said this is the first budget with the real, and final cost of the Town Administrator position, but is still less than it could potentially be, because he does not require health insurance through the Town. There is $4500 for the fuel tank removal, and $5000 for the fire truck sinking fund. There is also money in this budget for BCSWA, to cover Arlington’s share of the new Hazardous Waste Facility, and an increase of 100 Land Use office hours to help organize the filing system. The budget doesn’t include any extra equipment or structural change to Town government. Mr. Zaiac said he had sent emails to Sunderland and Sandgate for their shared portion of the Fire Department budget, with the changed amounts from the new census numbers. In reference to the larger than usual tax rate increase, Ms. Browning said last year the Board purposely didn’t raise property taxes because of the uncertain economic situation resulting from the pandemic. The proposed budget Mr. Zaiac prepared would offer a 3% raise for administrative staff and a $1 per hour raise for the Highway crew. Mr. Bykowski said that inflation is almost 7%, and that a 5-6% increase for administrative staff might be needed to take into account the inflation rate, and to retain the good employees the Town has. Mr. Harvey said it is important to not balance a budget on the backs of the employees. Mr. Zaiac had said he would not seek a raise, but the Board agreed he should also be receiving the same percentage raise as the rest of the administrative staff. It was discussed that the new Highway grader would not be in this budget, due to the delayed delivery time, buying an extra year before that expense. It was also discussed that the Treasurer’s Assistant had agreed to accept $16.00 per hour, after the Board having made a motion to allow the Treasurer to offer an hourly wage increase to her assistant, not to exceed $17.04 per hour, at the last meeting. It was discussed that at this point, the Town is planning for a traditional Town Meeting, and not Australian Ballot, like was necessitated last year by the State pandemic rules, and that the school would have to agree to allow the use of their building, or an alternative location will be needed. Mr. Bykowski asked Mr. Zaiac to check into having GNAT live stream the meeting, as it was important to offer a remote option. Mr. Wilkins said he commends Mr. Zaiac on the responsible budget he presented. There will be a budget meeting before the next Water Board meeting, on January 18,2022 at 6PM.
Wastewater Committee: The Board briefly discussed the six candidates for the Wastewater Committee, and then continued their discussion in Executive Session. Ms. Browning said it is important that the members of the committee approach the material with an open mind, and not come in with an idea of what should already have been done. Mr. Bykowski said Steve McClafferty has a Green Belt in Six Sigma certification, which would be an asset for decision making techniques in small group settings.
Executive Session: Mr. Bykowski made a motion that premature discussion of a personnel matter and a property matter would cause the municipality to suffer substantial disadvantage. Seconded by Ms. Browning. Motion carried. Mr. Bykowski made a motion to enter into Executive Session for discussion of personnel, and property issues and to allow Mr. Zaiac to remain in the room. Ms. Browning seconded. Motion carried. The Board entered into Executive Session at 7:55PM. The Board exited Executive Session at 8:19PM. Mr. Harvey said the Board discussed the applicants for the Wastewater Sub-Committee, and all were excellent.
Mr. Bykowski made a motion to appoint Andrew Rodriguez, Steve McClafferty, Andy Curtis, and Chris Heins to the Wastewater Sub-Committee. Ms. Browning seconded. Motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Zaiac was asked to let each candidate know the decision. Mr. Harvey said there will be ample time for the public to be able to offer input at the meetings.
Town Administrator Report: Mr. Zaiac said he had written a letter for the Arlington Commons project, and done minor grant work. He thanked the Highway crew for all their service, working extra hours during the bad weather around the holidays.
Water Department Warrants and Orders: Ms. Bykowski made a motion to approve Warrant WD#1, in the amount of $4,338.18, with the most notable payment being to Otter Creek for a water study for $2,625. Ms. Browning seconded. Motion passed unanimously.
Warrants and Orders: Mr. Bykowski made a motion to approve Warrant #1, in the amount of $10,726.82, with the biggest items being Blue Cross/Blue Shield Health Insurance premium for January, and sign supplies. Ms. Browning seconded. Motion passed unanimously. Mr. Zaiac said the signs supplies are for replacing all the outdated signs around town.
Other Business: None
Mr. Wilkins made a motion to adjourn. Ms. Browning seconded. Motion passed. Meeting adjourned at 8:29 PM
Janet Barry, Recording Secretary
Cc: files, Town Clerk