February 5, 2024
Members Present: Dan Harvey, Todd Wilkins (arrived at 7:20PM) Cynthia Browning, Glenn Sherman, and Jamie Paustian
Members Absent: None
Also Present: Nick Zaiac-Town Administrator, GNAT via Zoom, Mark Robinson – Highway Foreman, Willy Knight – Park Supervisor, Mark Rondeau – Bennington Banner, John Toth, Paul Woodard, Carly Bacon, 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 the appointment of the Deputy Health Officer to the agenda. Mr. Sherman seconded. Motion carried.
Minutes of the Meetings of January 22, 2024, January 29, 2024, January 30, 2024: Ms. Browning made a motion to approve the minutes of the meeting of January 22, 2024, as presented. Mr. Sherman seconded the motion. Motion carried, with Mr. Wilkins absent. Ms. Browning made a motion to approve the minutes of the meeting of January 29, 2024. Mr. Sherman seconded the motion. Motion passed, with Mr. Wilkins absent. Ms. Browning made a motion to approve the minutes of the meeting of January 30, 2024. Mr. Sherman seconded the motion. Motion carried with Mr. Wilkins absent.
Public Comments: Paul Woodard was at the meeting again to discuss the letter he received from Mr. Harvey regarding his issues with his neighbor that has been discussed at past meetings. As of this time it appears the neighbor is in compliance. Mr. Paustian said the neighbor had been told he cannot burn without a permit from the Agency of Natural Resources. Mr. Woodard feels the Zoning Administrator did not completely understand his concerns for his property. It was decided that Mr. Harvey will speak to the Zoning Administrator to ask for the decision in writing and this will be addressed again after Town Meeting.
New Business: Liquor Licenses: No liquor licenses were presented.
ARPA Update: Mr. Zaiac shared a spreadsheet that he had created, along with Mr. Sherman and Mr. Paustian. The Board reviewed some of the projected uses of ARPA funds. It was discussed that $20,000 will be used for hydrant replacements, $80,000 for an engineering and hydrology study and $15,000 for sprinklers at the Park. As was discussed at the last meeting, the Highway department is in search of a larger, used excavator, with $100,000 ARPA funds set aside for the possible purchase. There is $30,000 reserved for a Firehouse engineer/architect study. Mr. Zaiac said spreading money to every department is a challenge. There is $69,655 remaining in unallocated funds. There are plans to meet with Sunderland in hopes of coordinating ARPA funds for the shared Fire Department needs.
Personnel Policy 2024 Revisions: It was discussed that three new holidays will be added to the policy, Juneteenth, Bennington Battle Day, and the day after Thanksgiving. It was decided this would be discussed after the Executive Session.
Other Business: Ms. Browning said she had met with Water Department Supervisor, Burr Snow, to discuss Water Department projects that could potentially offset the Water Department depreciation, such as projects that had been planned for RT 313 and Chiselville, and replacing pipes that run through river beds. It was agreed that a full list of Water projects that would be good to complete in the next five to ten years is needed.
Executive Session: Ms. Browning made a motion that premature discussion of 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 personnel issues and to allow Mr. Zaiac, to remain in the room. Seconded by Mr. Sherman. The Board entered Executive Session at 7:35PM. The Board exited Executive Session at 8:35PM. No decisions were made as part of the Session.
Town Administrator Report: Mr. Zaiac said in the past two weeks the budget had been finalized, Water Department RFP ‘s had been started, and he had met with Mr. Knight and Mr. Paustian about the playground installation. He said the telephone transition was almost complete, and Ash Borer tree removal, and BCRC Hazardous Mitigation Plan grant money had been awarded by the State.
Deputy Town Health Officer: Ms. Browning made a motion to recommend Nick Zaiac as Deputy Town Health Officer. Mr. Wilkins seconded. Motion carried unanimously.
Mr. Wilkins made a motion to table the 2024 Personnel Policy revision discussion until the next meeting. Mr. Sherman seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.
WD Warrants and Orders: Ms. Browning made a motion to approve Water Department Warrant #3, dated February 2, 2024, in the amount of $413.25. Mr. Paustian seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.
Warrants and Orders: Ms. Browning made a motion to approve Warrant #3, from the General account, dated February 2, 2024, in the amount of $34.446.25, with key items being $5,819 for salt, new Fire equipment for $2,701, Peckham for $5,179 for salt and stone, Miles Fuels for $7,215 for oil and diesel. Mr. Paustian seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.
All Other Business: Mr. Knight said he had looked into the floodplain issues for playground locations. Mr. Zaiac explained the Planning Commission bylaws ban primary structures and accessories in the floodway, and go even further than State law requires. Having the volleyball court as the preferred area for the installation, as well as having the existing playground equipment moved to this area was discussed. Mr. Zaiac will complete the required documentation to seek Planning Commission bylaw changes, as well as the required permit application, but it was agreed it would need to be signed off on by the Board, and they will take responsibility for the request.
Mr. Wilkins made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Sherman seconded. Motion carried. Meeting adjourned at 9:01PM.