Select Board Meeting Minutes 9.11.23



September 11, 2023

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

Members Absent:   None

Also Present:  Nick Zaiac-Town Administrator, Carmen Ligato-GNAT videographer, Jonathon Murray,  Joe and Susan Gervais, Garret Siegel, Elliot Nachwalter, Mike King-FD Chief, 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 possible acquisition of Fire Department equipment to the agenda. Mr. Sherman seconded. Motion carried. Mr. Wilkins noted it is preferable to have 48 hours notice if action is to be taken.

 Minutes of the Meeting of  August 21, 2023: Ms. Browning made a motion to approve the minutes of the meeting of August 21, 2023,  as presented. Mr. Paustian seconded the motion. Motion passed.

Public Comments:  Mr. Gervais had comments regarding the tax rate increase, and expressed displeasure with the Board’s lack of swift action to make taxpayers aware of the rate change. It was discussed that the error occurred in a previous year and had a cascading effect, and that reappraisals in other towns increased their Grand Lists, but that was not the case in Arlington, and the Grand List has not risen. It was also mentioned that there had been challenging budget years, and the Town was under taxed in the past, and had not spent enough to keep equipment upgraded, which caused the need for many pieces of equipment to be needed. It was discussed that going forward the Town’s auditor will review all figures, and that the Lister office will receive support to make sure the Grand List is ready on time so there is time to have all the figures reviewed to prevent errors in the future.  The Board agreed to send a letter to taxpayers, explaining why and how the tax rate went up, which will be drafted, and reviewed at the next scheduled meeting. Mr. Wilkins agreed the letter should have been included in the tax bills to offer homeowners an explanation when they received their bills.

New Business:  Zoning Bylaw; Final Vote:   Mr. Zaiac offered slides to illustrate the most complete rewrite of the Town’s Zoning Bylaws in 50 years. Planning Commission members, Mr. Siegel and Mr. Nachwalter, were present for any questions about the revision. It was noted that it took 15 months of twice a month meetings to complete the revision, which is now reorganized and clear, for ease of use. The revision had been discussed at a previous meeting and warned in the local newspaper. Mr. Zaiac thanked Cat Bryars for all her work on the bylaws.  Ms. Browning made a motion to approve the updated Zoning Bylaw  as presented to the Town of Arlington Select Board on September 11, 2023. Mr. Wilkins seconded. Motion passed unanimously.

Repeal of the Sign Ordinance:  Ms. Browning made a motion to repeal the existing sign ordinance, dated October 18, 1973. Mr. Paustian seconded. Motion carried unanimously.

Appointment of Jonathon Murray to the Planning Commission:  Mr. Murray said he is from the Lake Bomoseen area. He had owned a sporting goods store but lost everything in the Covid pandemic. He purchased a home in Town two years ago and has also been a member of the National Guard. He was aware of the opening on Planning Commission from a sign in front of Town Hall. Ms. Browning made a motion to appoint Jonathon Murray to the vacant seat on the Planning Commission to serve through April 2024. Mr. Wilkins seconded. Motion passed unanimously.

Fire Warden Reappointment: Mr. Harvey had a letter from District Fire Supervisor, Lars Lund, recommending current Fire Warden, Jamie Paustian, be reappointed for the fire year term. Ms. Browning made a motion to approve the reappointment of Jamie Paustian as Fire Warden, for a term from July 1, 2023- June 30, 2028. Mr. Wilkins seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously with four votes.

FD Purchases: Fire Chief, Mike King spoke to the Board about purchasing turn out gear. He said the product from MES had better lining and seams. MES items should take three months to arrive and Bergeron six to eight months. Chief King said there is money in the budget to purchase 5 sets this year, and 10-15 sets will still be needed. MES quote was $16,522.50 and Bergeron was $17,118.00.  Ms. Browning made a motion to approve purchasing 5 sets of turn out gear from MES, for $16,522.50, based on $1,984 for tail coats and $1,320 for tail pants. Mr. Wilkins seconded. Motion carried unanimously.

Sunderland ARPA Meeting:  It was discussed that ARPA funds require 2 quotes of like items for purchases. Chief King discussed purchasing 12 new SCBA air packs and new bottles, and MES has offered to have 50% off the bottles if the 12 SCBA’s are purchased. It was discussed that this a good use of ARPA funds, and that there is between $500,000-$520,000 in ARPA funds remaining. Mr. Wilkins said he feels it’s best to also replace the air compressor at the firehouse, for approximately $45,000,  along with the new bottles. Having joint ARPA  purchases with Sunderland was discussed, and having Mr. Paustian and Mr. Sherman attend a Sunderland meeting with a proposal and report back to the Board.

Town Administrator Report: Mr. Zaiac said a lot has been accomplished. Storm clean up from Thursday’s storm was completed, and he and Mr. Robinson met with a contractor, Dydo & Company, to have a hazardous tree removed from the river, that is blocking the river and creating a hazard for rescue personnel as well as people trying to use the river.  Mr. Zaiac said he has posted warning signs at the covered bridge and fishing access area. Ms. Browning made note that having some of the tree left is better for the river environment. There were no final figures for the removal as of the meeting time, and a special emergency meeting was warned for September 12, 2023 at 7PM to finalize the project.

WD Warrants and Orders:  Ms. Browning made a motion to approve Water Department Warrant #17, dated 9/8/23, in the amount of $3,567.12,  with key elements being insurance premiums, a new motor, and State fees.     Mr. Wilkins seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

Warrants and Orders:   Ms. Browning made a motion to approve Warrant # A 23-3, in the amount of $14,325.00 from the Audit Fund for RHR Smith for Town audit work. Mr. Paustian seconded. Motion carried. Ms. Browning made a motion to approve Warrant #17, from the General account, dated 9/8/23,   in the amount of $58,285.41, with largest elements  being insurance premiums, chloride purchases, BCRC fees and cemetery mowing.  Mr. Paustian seconded. Motion passed unanimously.

Executive Session:  Ms. Browning made a motion that premature discussion of legal and personnel issues would cause the municipality to suffer substantial disadvantage. Seconded by Mr. Paustian. Ms. Browning made a motion to enter into Executive Session for discussion of legal and personnel issues and to allow Mr. Zaiac to remain in the room for the legal issue. Seconded by Mr. Paustian. The Board enter Executive Session at 8:43PM. The Board exited Executive Session at 9:14PM. No decisions were made as a  result of the Executive Session.

All Other Business:  None

Mr. Paustian made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Ms. Browning seconded. Motion carried. Meeting adjourned at 9:15PM.

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