Select Board Meeting Minutes 1.8.24 (draft)



January 8, 2024

Members Present: Dan Harvey,Todd Wilkins, Cynthia Browning, Glenn Sherman, and Jamie Paustian

Members Absent:   none

Also Present:  Nick Zaiac-Town Administrator, GNAT videographer,  Willy Knight-Park Supervisor,  Firefighters- Mike King-Chief, Brian Hawley, Keegan Hawley, James Hawley,  Don Keelan, Steve McClafferty, Matt Smith, John Mendenhall,  and  Janet Barry (via Zoom)

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 PM, by Mr.Harvey.

Agenda Addition: Ms. Browning made a motion to add liquor and tobacco license approvals to the agenda. Mr. Wilkins seconded. Motion carried.

 Minutes of the Meeting of Dec.18, 2023, and Dec. 20, 2023: Ms. Browning made a motion to approve the minutes of the meeting of Dec.18, 2023,  as presented. Mr. Wilkins seconded the motion. Motion carried. Mr. Paustian made a motion to approve the minutes of the Special Select Board meeting of December 20, 2023. Mr. Wilkins seconded the motion. Motion carried.

Public Comments:  Mr. McClafferty asked if the new Town credit card was implemented so staff did not have to personally pay Town bills, and Mr. Zaiac enthusiastically answered the credit card was working and he no longer had to use his personal card.

New Business:   Town Meeting Warning Draft:   Mr. Zaiac shared his screen, and the Board reviewed the revised draft of the consolidated Town Meeting Warning prepared by Town Clerk Robin Wilcox. The updated version of the 2021 Article that went before the voters to have the Treasurer be an appointed, and not an elected position, was discussed, and the Article to have voters authorize the elimination of elected Listers and the hiring of a professional assessor. The Highway Surplus, Article 7, was also discussed, which would allow the surplus to be used for resurfacing roads and replacement or repairs of Highway trucks. It was decided that the one surplus Article would be made into two, for clarity. The Select Board discussed having a report from them for the Town Report. Ms. Browning will draft it with a list of things to cover from the Board and Mr. Zaiac.  Mr. McClafferty asked if the surplus was related to ARPA funds, and Mr. Zaiac explained the surplus is due to limited winter expenditures last year, and revenue from delinquent taxes being collected. Mr. Harvey explained that Highway surplus can be carried forward for future Highway expenses, but it still has to be on the ballot.  The Board will formally approve the format and content of the Warning at the next meeting.

Budget Discussion:  Mr. Zaiac  said he has added buffer to the budget to have more cash on hand, and to cover additional costs that could arise, such as a staff change could alter the health insurance expenses.  Ms. Browning said she wants all budget figures validated by Town Auditor, Jenna Peeler. It was discussed that Ms. Peeler suggested lowering her salary line because she hasn’t used the full amount even with last year’s audit work. Budget lines were increased for the Treasurer Salary, and Lister office line, to cover the additional salary costs  if the Articles for their offices should pass. Tree removal line was decreased and Highway truck maintenance line was increased. The budget has $8,250 for fire department dispatch with Manchester that was agreed to last year. Mr. King said he feels sinking funds are not keeping up with the increase in the cost of purchasing new trucks, which Mr. Zaiac agreed that  adding to the fire truck sinking funds would be valuable. Mr. King agreed with reducing the training line in the budget because the State typically covers a lot of the training expenses. It was mentioned that Fire Department costs are shared with Sandgate and Sunderland. Mr. Knight spoke about the need for trail maintenance at the Park and the possibility of using shoulder stone and not just mulch. Ms. Browning would like to try that on a small portion of trails to see how it works out. Mr. Knight would like to have benches replaced. It was discussed that the equipment line had been lowered to $3,000. Having mulch used in the Dog Park was briefly discussed as a means to help with the mud.  It was mentioned that a donor has come forward to cover the cost of installing the new playground equipment.

Mr. Paustian said the covered bridge has supports hanging in the river. Mr. Zaiac will look at it in the morning. The Board was asked about progress on the Benedict Crossing Bridge. It was explained that the bridge is in worse condition than what was anticipated, and the project is in a holding pattern until the State study is completed, due to it being a historic bridge, but there is potential to decrease the cost of replacement in half with federal funding, so having the study completed is necessary. Mr. Hawley asked about bridge inspections and Mr. Zaiac said bridges are inspected every three years.

Budget follow-up discussion will be held at the next meeting.

Grants In Aid Management Agreement:  Ms. Browning made a motion to authorize Mr. Zaiac to sign the 2024 Grants in Aid Scope of Work Agreement, with Jim Henderson, up to $1,500. Mr. Wilkins seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.

Liquor and Tobacco Licenses:  Ms. Browning made a motion to approve the 2nd Class Liquor, Tobacco Substitute, and Tobacco License to Stewart’s Shops. Mr. Wilkins seconded. Motion passed unanimously.

Ms. Browning made a motion to approve the 2nd Class Liquor License, Tobacco License, and Tobacco Substitute License to Arlington Deli Inc. Mr. Wilkins seconded. Motion carried unanimously.

Town Administrator Report:  Mr. Zaiac said  much budget work has been done, and he has been working with the Treasurers office. Annual Highway reporting has been done and ditch work goals for 2023 have been met. He said it has been a successful time, with budget and warning done, and a property matter that will be discussed in Executive Session also having consumed some work hours. 

WD Warrants and Orders:  Ms. Browning made a motion to approve Water Department Warrant #1, dated January 5, 2024, in the amount of $1.871.09, with major items being health insurance payments, and supplies.   Mr. Wilkins seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

Warrants and Orders:    Ms. Browning made a motion to approve Warrant #1, from the General account, dated January 5, 2024, in the amount of $27,741.82, with major components being BC/BS health insurance premiums, Highway tires, and communications, Miles Fuel and Peckham for sand and stone.  Mr. Paustian seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.

It was discussed that as part of the accounting transition to true fund accounting and fewer checking accounts, Audit and CRF invoices will now be built into the General Warrant, and a Status report of that budget line and highlighted information will be provided as part of the paperwork with the Warrant. Mr. Wilkins asked that the legality of not having to vote separately for CRF money be researched. Mr. Zaiac will contact VLCT for guidance, and thanked the Treasurer for getting us to this point.

 All Other Business:  Mr. Mendenhall expressed concerns that had previously been raised about  drainage issues on his property, and on East Arlington and Buck Hill Roads and discussed a junk ordinance issue with his neighbor. Mr. Zaiac will take pictures of the property in question and will conduct follow-up research to help the Board better understand who is responsible for the drainage issues on Mr. Mendenhall’s property.

Executive Session:  Ms. Browning made a motion that premature discussion of property, and personnel issues would cause the municipality to suffer substantial disadvantage. Seconded by Mr. Wilkins. Ms. Browning  made a motion to enter into Executive Session for discussion of property, and personnel and issues and to allow Mr. Zaiac, and Mr. Knight to remain in the room. Seconded by Mr. Wilkins. The Board entered Executive Session at 9:06PM. The Board exited Executive Session at 9:52PM.  No decisions were made as part of the Session.

Mr. Paustian made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Wilkins seconded. Motion carried. Meeting adjourned at 9:53PM.

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