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Washington Selectboard Meeting 7/2/24

Washington Selectboard Regular Meeting With Zoom Link At End

July 2, 2024

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Present:

Selectboard: Sheila Duranleau (Chair), Josh Bell (Tree Warden), AJ Galfetti (Highway Supervisor)

Town Officials: Peter Carbee (Assistant Town Clerk), Susan Davis (Lister), Lois Deberville (Town Clerk), Leona Grearson (Auditor), Ben Tiefenthaler (FEMA Admin)

Visitors: Mike Concessi, Maxine Durbrow, Dr. Robert Rinaldi, Mike Tagliavia (Road Crew)

Zoom: Cheri Galfetti, Judy Perdue, Kara Williams, Sarah Teel, Norm, Tura

  1. Chair called meeting to order at 6:34 p.m.
  2. Josh made the motion to approve the minutes of the June 4, 2024, selectboard meeting, AJ 2nd, ayes carried. AJ made the motion to approve the minutes of the June 17, 2024, special selectboard meeting, Josh 2nd, ayes carried.
  3. Adjustments to the agenda: Leona asked for executive session to discuss 7.1, Maxine asked to speak regarding new payroll guidelines as pertained to the Calef library, Josh said Mike Concessi would be joining the meeting to speak, Sheila had health insurance update for employees, Sheila had email regarding downstream flood insurance from Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT).
  4. Public comment: none

5.            Visitors:

5.1         Mike Tagliavia said he is running for Republican state representative, can be reached with questions at 1-410-310-1219, email is mjtpools@protonmail.com.

  • Updates/reports from town officials:
  • Leona discussed meeting with Scott in June to get a feel for the accounting practices currently in place. She generated a 6-page response with overviews and comments which she has shared with Sheila, and gave suggestions for employee overview and financial responsibilities.
  • Lois discussed the upcoming primary, ballots have been received, everything’s on track. She asked for approval to increase the dog license fees to cover the mandatory increase just passed (H.626) that will fund the newly created Division of Animal Welfare. Motion by AJ, 2nd by Josh, ayes carried. The statute allows for a 50% increase in fees when the dog is licensed past the Vermont due date of April 1. Motion by Josh, 2nd by AJ, ayes carried.

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5.            Visitors, continued…

5.2         Mike Concessi from the Echo Valley School District schoolboard discussed the need for the town to be able to catch up on the owed money to the district, which has been delayed due to the July 2023 flood. An agreement for payments had been made between Chris Locarno (school district finance) and Scott Blanchard (Washington Treasurer) which Mike C states is not sufficient for the school’s need to close out its FY24. Discussion on both the school district’s and the town’s individual tax anticipation notes (TAN). Sheila suggested a meeting between Chris and Scott, and will call Scott to update him. While the town understands the need to fulfill the obligation to the school district, there was an understanding made, and Sheila said she can commit to doing everything we can to get them all the money owed.

  • Updates, continued…
  • Peter has ordered the 2nd bulletin board. He’s talked with Cameron Nauceder on installing the two, as well as some other small fixes to the office.

Peter has two quotes on the handicap line striping. Discussion on whether road crew could do it. Leona offered to check with Cameron about this project.

He discussed the septic system here with Chase & Chase.  

Peter will meet with VT Housing Conservation to go over the easement at Carpenter Park.

Ben updated the town’s FEMA portfolio, working on one from December which has been submitted to FEMA’s auditing department, he doesn’t know how long that takes. He is ensuring that the town takes full advantage of what FEMA has committed to do. He is pushing on getting as many projects through as possible. All the pre-paperwork has been submitted and is in the queue with all the other VT towns. As far as the July (2023) projects, Williamstown Stellar Road was the more difficult side, submitted on May 13, 2024. Ben getting different responses from different FEMA managers. $100,000 project. Poor Farm RD bridge and Sky Acres have been in the queue since early June. It’s apparently on the 2nd to last desk before it gets obligated. He had met with Ryan Bresette, Fire Chief, and pulled together all the receipts and information from the night of the flood when/where the fire department was involved. Ben presenting to FEMA tomorrow (7/3) Macdonald Road, Scales Hill, Pray Road. He has all the documentation/invoices lined up which is not the problem, the problem is with processing at various stages, he tries to stay at the top of everyone’s in-box. Notch Road-he and AJ have done inspections, the very top level of VT Emergency Management is on board to be sure the 5’ diameter culverts are replaced by bridges. One is 3x too small, one is 4x too small. FEMA’s literature says for every $1 they spend on hazard mitigation, it saves $6 down the road because those roadways don’t fail in subsequent storms, and Ben repeats that to every new hazard mitigation person who comes through.

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Ben and AJ met with Steve Libbey on the $90 million hazard mitigation fund that the state has which is 100% covered with no town match. Steve said think big, think about the village center which is largely in a flood plain. If we get accepted into the phase project by having a couple of engineering studies and hydrologic and hydraulic (H&H) studies, we would be locked into Phase 1 and the potential of Phase 2. We just need the basic outline, don’t need the whole thing figured out at this point.

Discussion on the viability of dredging the rivers and using the product for town use, but the permit process gets into such a quagmire.

Ben will work on getting new flood plain maps. Sheila said immediate time crunch is getting the flood plain maps, getting community input, and meeting the August 16, 2024, deadline. Peter will ask about involving the regional planning committee. There is a possibility of residents wanting to have buy-outs, we will work on getting information out, and will have other plans in order to not lose the money. While we may lose taxes if folks want a buy-out, Dr. Rinaldi said having a safer village area may make it more attractive for other people to come into it. Possibility of allowing water to pool in specified areas and then move in a more sinuous slow-down path.

Peter asked if there are other road projects that the money could be used for as armor against future flooding. AJ said Poor Farm Road and State Forest Road in South Washington.

7. Business:

                7.1         AJ made the motion to formally accept Billy Donovan’s resignation as town lister, 2nd by Josh, ayes carried.  The work of the listers is at a standstill right now without at least one more lister with the need to lodge the Grand List. Two residents have expressed interest in learning the duties of a lister.  Sheila said the board acknowledges and appreciates the lister work done by Susan and Billy.

                7.2         Discussion on changing the personnel policy to reflect when a new employee becomes eligible for the health insurance benefit. AJ made the motion to allow new employees to become eligible 30 days from hire, 2nd by Josh, ayes carried.

7.3         Compensation schedule for annual payments (ex: for planning commission) moved to August agenda.

7.4         Town Highway Class 2 Roadway Program-the grant paperwork is here and AJ will sign. Board agreed they should budget for a reserve fund for grant matches. Susan asked about a budget committee, Sheila agreed that’s a good idea. One board member could sit on it to avoid a quorum.

7.5         TH47 site visit still scheduled for July 16th.

7.6         The Local Emergency Management Plan has been submitted. Sheila had discussed the plan with Susan’s daughter who has a leadership position for Student Transportation who will read the plan to determine if they want to be part of it, and if so will send us a letter on how to access them in case of emergency.

7.7          Law enforcement FY25 contract has been received from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department-Washington’s FY25 budget increases from $10,000 to $20,000 for this contract.

7.8         H.875 ethical standards for public officials-effective July 1. When VLCT revises its policy, town will adopt it. This will be for all elected officials with mandatory training. Sheila reiterated that this is another reason for us to have a town administrator as this doesn’t fall under anyone’s responsibility.

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7.9         Act 133 (S.55) open meeting law:  the definition of who qualifies can be confusing. A non-advisory group (has budget, make decisions on budget, roles defined in statutes) is subject to the open meeting law. Examples: selectboard, planning/zoning, board of civil authority, library trustees, cemetery, listers, recreation department.

7.10       Discussion on reconfiguring the existing office spaces to allow for more people to work here, as well as secure all confidential information. Up until the last election, there were maybe 2 or 3 people here at a time, and now there are more. We need more locking file cabinets and/or locking desk drawers. Main issue is the listers’ office with needing more room for a 3rd lister. Harry, Peter, Lois and Christie have discussed different ways of removing some bookcases/shelves with non-confidential information from that space to make room for another desk area. Peter referenced the calendar in the conference room on which people can write when they need a space.

7.11       Downstream insurance from VLCT: if we have a dam that’s not stable then we can’t get insurance for damages downstream. AJ said our dam is not breached but is still at risk, and supposed to be done by October 15.  It’ll then be considered as the risk being eliminated.

7.12       Maxine received a letter from the VT Dept. of Labor which eliminated the unemployment insurance exemption for non-profits with 3 or fewer employees.  She will ask advice from Chad. (Sullivan Powers & Co)

8.            Josh made the motion to enter executive session, 2nd by AJ, ayes carried, entered at 8:56 p.m.

9.            Executive session ended at 9:19 p.m., no action taken.

10.         Motion by Josh to adjourn at 9:19 p.m., 2nd by AJ, ayes carried.

The next regularly scheduled meeting is August 6, 2024, 6:30 p.m. at the town hall.

Attest: Lois Deberville

This is a draft subject to amendment/approval at a future selectboard meeting.

Zoom audio/video:

https://us06web.zoom.us/rec/share/tQoczL1XBqnTc_2p1BWJTajIeA488fDvr2dlUqoZqR22L1NWyhQpQ2B4QklWQCxs.2t5O__auoaTNHYQ9

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