December 18, 2023
Members Present: Dan Harvey, (via zoom)Todd Wilkins, Cynthia Browning, and Glenn Sherman,
Members Absent: Jamie Paustian (arrived at 7:30 PM)
Also Present: Nick Zaiac-Town Administrator, GNAT videographer, Tiffany Mays-Town Treasurer (via zoom) Willy Knight-Park Supervisor, Ron Smith, Jenna Peeler, Chris Wehrman, Firefighters- Mike King-Chief, Brian Hawley, Keegan Hawley, Ed Hawley, Eric Marko, Nicholas Ritchie, James Hawley, Austin Weller, Ryker Kozal, Lewis Douglas, Josh McKenzie, Don Keelan, Steve McClafferty, Paul Woodard, Carly Bacon, John Toth, and Janet Barry (via Zoom)
The meeting was called to order at 7:00 PM, by Mr. Wilkins.
Agenda Addition: Ms. Browning made a motion to add a wastewater letter to the agenda. Mr. Sherman seconded. Motion carried, with Mr. Paustian not yet at the meeting.
Minutes of the Meeting of Dec.4, 2023: Ms. Browning made a motion to approve the minutes of the meeting of Dec.4, 2023, as presented. Mr. Sherman seconded the motion. Motion carried, with Mr. Paustian not yet at the meeting.
Public Comments: Paul Woodard was at the meeting again to continue to resolve his zoning and burn permit enforcement issue that has been discussed at past meetings. He has been trying to schedule a meeting with the Zoning Board but they do not meet regularly. Mr. Harvey agreed to reach out to the Zoning Board Administrator to discuss Mr. Woodard’s request.
New Business: ZBA Appointment: Chris Wehrman was at the meeting to be appointed to the ZBA. He gave the Board some background information about himself, including that he is a licensed architect, and has served on zoning boards in the past. He’s lived in Town for approximately two years and wishes to give back to the community. Ms. Browning made a motion to appoint Christopher Wehrman to the Arlington ZBA. Mr. Sherman seconded. Motion carried unanimously, with Mr. Paustian not yet at the meeting. Regular appointments will be held for the seat in April.
Fire Gear Change Order: Chief King was at the meeting to discuss getting the turn out gear order completed, that was discussed at past meetings. The two options were discussed again, to pay $4,100 to send back the brown gear and get black, or to keep the brown gear that is already in their possession, and the company would take $500 off per set. The fire members present decided to keep the brown gear. The Board agreed to hold a special meeting on Wednesday at 6:30 to approve the warrant so it can stay in this year’s budget.
Audit Results: Ron Smith from RHR Smith and Company, and Town Auditor, Jenna Peeler were at the meeting to discuss the audit that they had performed for the Town for 2021 and 2022. It was discussed that the Treasurer’s office is making progress from three years ago when data was done with pen and paper, with 50-60% of the software being utilized, and more will be used going forward. Mr. Smith said he is all in to help with the path forward and can do a training presentation for the Board in the near future. He said he is seeing improvement in General Ledger reconciliation from what it was in 2021. The need to have 30-90 days of surplus funds available was discussed, as was having a tax anticipation note from the bank being an option to cover expenses. A deficit in the Water Department was discussed, as was depreciation, which Mr. Smith said is similar to a new car purchase. He said he has every confidence the issues can be fixed. He said government money for infrastructure will be available next year that the Town can benefit from. It was discussed that the Water Department is covering its costs, and no taxpayer money is going into the Department. The possibility of having an audit for 2023 before Town Meeting was discussed. Mr. Wilkins and the Board thanked Mr. Smith and Ms. Peeler for all their hard work, and that they look forward to having their guidance in a workshop presentation.
Budget 2024 Discussion: Mr. Zaiac shared his screen with the new budget amounts he has drafted. He said there is a $8,500 decrease in recycling fees as a one-time refund due to the lower hazardous waste payment from the new facility in Bennington saving the local towns money. He said he doesn’t anticipate much computer expense in 2024. He said there is a new “Improvement” line in the Park budget for park improvements, including having the wash pad for the Park mowers for $2,500 that had been discussed in the past. The Park new equipment line was dropped from $25,600 to $3,000 because there are no major equipment purchases planned. Mr. Zaiac thanked Mr. Toth for delivering the $1,000 donation that had been given to the Park by a citizen. It was discussed that the Audit fees are being paid for by a CRF fund established years ago for the expense, and when the fund is depleted, it will be put back into the general fund budget line. The preliminary budget had a $3,000 reduction in the Fire Department maintenance line which Mr. King didn’t agree with, seeing there are still aging vehicles owned by the Department. Having a vehicle that the FD members could drive to training events was also discussed. Mr. Zaiac said the budget will be the main focus of the first meeting of 2024, on January 8th. Mr. Knight was thanked for all his hard work in keeping the Park so well maintained.
Wastewater Letter: The Board reviewed a letter being sent to Montpelier. It reads :
Water Investment Division:
The Town of Arlington Select Board, and its constituent Wastewater Committee, seek a status report on the review of the town’s previously submitted 30% plans for its Village Wastewater Initiative project. These plans were submitted for review in May 2023. This delay has been cause for delay to further steps on the project and is one cause for a sliding timeline with regard to long-term implementation of wastewater solutions in Arlington’s pair of Designated Village Centers. Further, there are real, if secondary, inconveniences for the community due to the inability to file for reimbursement of incurred expenses until after these plans have been approved.
The Town acknowledges delays are common in the operation of government particularly in this current period of substantial flows of federal funds into the state. We further acknowledge that Montpelier’s summer floods have set back many state efforts.
The Town will be next meeting to discuss the matter at 7 pm on January 18, 2024. We hope to have some form of status report by that date. We extend an invitation to state staff to this meeting to give a status update and answer questions from the Wastewater Committee. To confirm participation, please contact the Town Administrator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Town of Arlington Select Board
Letter Dated 12/18/2023
Mr. Paustian made a motion to approve the letter as presented. Ms. Browning seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.
Town Administrator Report: Mr. Zaiac said some highlights from his report was having grand recording done, and that the Town is in good shape to receive a Better Roads grant that could help cover five culvert jobs. Work for the Audit had also been done.
WD Warrants and Orders: Ms. Browning made a motion to approve Water Department Warrant #24, dated December 15, 2023, in the amount of $3,976.49, with major items being insurance payments for $1,300, GMP for $1,000, and vehicle maintenance for $1,100. Mr. Sherman seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Warrants and Orders: Ms. Browning made a motion to approve Warrant C23-10 for $8,919 to MSK for the bridge study. Mr. Wilkins reviewed the information, that these are incremental payments, and five tasks have been completed with four tasks yet to be done. Mr. Paustian seconded. The vote was divided, with Mr. Harvey, Mr. Wilkins, and Mr. Paustian in the affirmative and Mr. Sheman and Ms. Browning nay votes, motion passed with the 3/2 vote. Ms. Browning made a motion to approve Warrant #25, from the General account, dated December 15, 2023, in the amount of $82,008.95, with key items being FD new equipment, GMP payments, VLCT insurance payments for $11,000, gravel for $5,000, and rebuilding/snowplow line to White Creek for almost $11,000. Mr. Paustian seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously. The Warrant amount was lowered to $74,223.95 the next day due to a change on a FD invoice, and resigned at the Special Select Board meeting on Wednesday.
All Other Business: Ms. Browning said she is concerned about an area of Benedict Hollow Road, because the road is narrow and Highway Department made the ditch wider and deeper and she is worried someone will end up in the ditch and not be able to get out easily. She suggested having the Highway crew add more stone to the ditch to raise the level. Mr. Zaiac will bring it to the crew’s attention.
Executive Session: Ms. Browning made a motion that premature discussion of property, legal and personnel issues 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 property, personnel and legal issues and to allow Mr. Zaiac to remain in the room. Seconded by Mr. Sherman. The Board entered Executive Session at 8:40PM. The Board exited Executive Session at 9:05PM. Mr. Harvey made a motion to accept the resignation of Animal Control Officer, Robyn Champine, and send a letter of thanks. Ms. Browning seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously. Mr. Harvey made a motion to hire Bob Perry as Animal Control Officer, effective January 1, 2024. Mr. Paustian seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously. The Board met with Mr. Perry at the last meeting and is comfortable with his abilities.
A special Water Board meeting will be held on January 9, 2024.
Ms. Browning made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Sherman seconded. Motion carried. Meeting adjourned at 9:10PM.