October 10, 2023
Members Present: Cynthia Browning, Glenn Sherman, and Jamie Paustian
Members Absent: Dan Harvey, Todd Wilkins
Also Present: Nick Zaiac-Town Administrator, GNAT videographer, Bennington Banner reporter, Highway Foreman-Mark Robinson, Jim Henderson-BCRC, Don Keelan, Firefighters- James Hawley, Brian Hawley, Keegan Hawley, Lewis Douglas, Ryker Kozal, Austin Weller, Joe Blum, Nicholas Ritchie, Eric Marko, and Josh McKenzie, Steve McClafferty, Lindsay Sherman, June Onorato, and Janet Barry (via Zoom)
The meeting was called to order at 7:00 PM, by Ms. Browning.
Agenda Addition: None
Minutes of the Meeting of September 25, 2023: Mr. Paustian made a motion to approve the minutes of the meeting of September 25, 2023, as presented. Mr. Sherman seconded the motion. Motion passed.
Public Comments: Joe Blum asked for updates on the Benedict Crossing Bridge Project. Mr. Zaiac said MSK has the contract and is conducting a study to form a comprehensive plan. Steve McClafferty said he called the Treasurer to request an income statement and balance sheet and only received trial balance report. He said the Water Department loan is missing on the paperwork. He said the Board should be getting monthly or quarterly information on all departments. Mr. Zaiac said there will be finance discussions on upcoming agendas, and there will be a complete balance sheet after the audit is completed. Mr. Keelan came to the meeting after having sent an email to the Board, to ask to be put on the agenda for a future meeting, to discuss revamping the Town Report. He said it is unacceptable that the Board has not been receiving balance sheets from the Treasurer, and that the State Auditor can become involved if necessary. Ms. Browning said she’d like to have an explanation of the data and figures included in the Town Report to make it clearer for the voters to understand. Mr. Paustian said the Board discussed offering a better presentation at the next Town Meeting. It was discussed that the voters voted down the option to have an appointed and not elected Treasurer, so it has remained an elected position that the Board has no control over. Ms. Browning explained that it is a nonprofit municipality and not a business, and voters have the option to vote on budgets and elected officials. Mr. Zaiac said the Town finances are getting more complicated each year, with more grant and loan programs being utilized. He said there will be a surplus next year, due to the large influx of delinquent tax payments being made this year. Mr. McClafferty and Mr. Keelan will return for the November 6, 2023 meeting for further discussion.
Old Business: None
New Business: Class A Water Discussion: Mr. Henderson from BCRC said he is withdrawing his discussion to have two local streams reclassified from “Class B” to “Class A” because it is a complicated process and too time intensive to do at this time. He is filing paperwork for Grants In Aid for the Benedict Hollow Road project this week, and confirmed he will be at the October 23, 2023 meeting to discuss hazardous trees. He thanked the Dydo Company, the Town, and Highway crew member, John Kent, for the successful removal of the tree in the Battenkill.
Fire Department Issues: Many members of the Arlington Fire Department were at the meeting to discuss several issues. The members present voiced their displeasure in the Fire Chief Committee’s decision to have an appointed Fire Chief and not elected as in the past, and that the current chief had not been on the committee, and the speed with which they felt the committee reached this decision. It was discussed that having an appointed chief has been an ongoing consideration for a long time, and that the Board has been following information that resulted from a study that was conducted with consultants hired by the Fire Company several years ago. Mr. Zaiac said the forming of the committee was advertised for six months and not many department members or citizens applied for the positions. Ordering turnout gear was discussed, as there was an issue as to order black or beige colored gear, with both having pluses and minuses. It was discussed that the black changes to pink to show when it is no longer protective, and the beige does also change slightly in color. It was discussed that the gear has to be stored properly by the firefighters to avoid UV damage. The idea of waiting to order the new gear until the chief situation is decided was discussed and dismissed, due to the need to have this new protective gear in a timely manner and saving money by ordering before the expected price increase, that was discussed and approved of at a past meeting. Mr. Sherman made a motion to proceed as originally planned and previously approved of at the past meeting, to order the five sets of black turnout gear. Mr. Paustian seconded the motion. Motion carried, with Mr. Harvey and Mr. Wilkins absent. It was discussed that the Building Committee has not met yet. It was discussed that the Fire Chief Committee is not going to continue, and would have to be reconstituted with the Board seeking new appointees if needed. It was discussed that the Fire Department is currently being run with two co-chiefs.
Ash Borer Grant: Mr. Zaiac pitched his initial idea to seek VT Forestry funding for Ash tree removal in the Park. After hearing Mark Robinson’s suggestion that the Highway Department can remove the trees on the Park’s trails safely because there are no power lines nearby, he will now refocus his proposal on having Ash trees removed from road right of ways, and will present a final proposal to the Board at another meeting. It was discussed that the project would need to have a one-to-one tree replanting in order to qualify for the grant money.
Winter Salt Award: It was discussed that winter salt is typically purchased three quarters from one company and one quarter as back up from another. It was discussed that stockpiles are good, and no more than 800 tons would need to be ordered. Mr. Robinson said Appalachee salt was preferred. Mr. Paustian made a motion to approve the purchase of 600 tons of winter salt from Appalacee at $88 per ton for a total price of $52,800, and backup 200 tons form Cargil for $90 per ton not to exceed $18,000. Mr. Sherman seconded. Motion carried with Mr. Harvey and Mr. Wilkins absent.
Town Administrator Report: Mr. Zaiac said he did not have a lot to add in addition to what was already discussed.
WD Warrants and Orders: Mr. Sherman made a motion to approve Water Department Warrant #19, dated 10/10/23, in the amount of $2,268.83, with biggest payments being to EJP for hydrant repair, Endyne sample tests, and rural water fees. Mr. Paustian seconded. The motion passed unanimously, with Mr. Harvey and Mr. Wilkins absent.
Warrants and Orders: Mr. Sherman made a motion to approve Warrant #19, from the General account, dated 10/11/23, in the amount of $35,241.25, with largest elements being BCRC recycling, FD tire purchase, Miles Fuel, TopKote striping, and NEMRC annual fees. Mr. Paustian seconded. Motion passed unanimously, with Mr. Harvey and Mr. Wilkins absent.
All Other Business: Mr. Zaiac discussed needing to have a homeowner’s fence repaired that was damaged by the Town. Mr. Paustian said he knows someone who repairs fences and may be able to do the job, and Ms. Browning asked to have an estimate at the next meeting. Mr. Robinson asked about the 3-4 roads in Town that the Highway crew maintains part of and the rest they currently do not maintain. He said he wanted to start the discussion of the responsibility for the ends of these roads. It was discussed that the Town does not maintain private roads and maps and deeds would need to be looked at in order to make any decisions. Mr. Zaiac said he will gather information for a future meeting.
Executive Session: Ms. Browning made a motion that premature discussion of a personnel issue would cause the municipality to suffer substantial disadvantage. Seconded by Mr. Sherman. Ms. Browning made a motion to enter into Executive Session for discussion of a personnel issue and to allow Mr. Zaiac, and Highway Foreman Mark Robinson to remain in the room. Seconded by Mr. Sherman. The Board entered Executive Session at 8:51PM. The Board exited Executive Session at 9:01PM. No decisions were made as a result of the Executive Session.
Mr. Sherman made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Paustian seconded. Motion carried. Meeting adjourned at 9:01PM.