Town of Washington
Warned Selectboard Meeting
Tuesday June 6, 2023
· Selectboard present: Sheila Duranleau, Fred Blanchard, AJ Galfetti
· Town employees present: Josh Bell, Nick Benoit, Scott Blanchard, Peter Carbee, Lois Deberville, Harry Roush, Anna Strong
· Visitors present: Ryan Bresette, Gayle Callahan, Joe Callahan, Billy Donovan, Emily Poulin, Diane Chaffee, Regina Mannings
1. Meeting called to order by Chair Duranleau at 6:30 p.m.
2. Minutes of May 9, 2023: Fred made motion to accept, 2nd by AJ, ayes carried.
3. Adjustments to agenda: Snowflyers moved to when the club representative was able to arrive. Employee personnel policies moved to the end of the agenda.
4.1 A visitor discussed ongoing difficulties with neighbors including but not limited to excessive suspicious traffic/visitors, working on vehicles in their garage, plus many junk vehicles which she says are causing environmental concerns for her property and animals. She said there have been people laying passed out in the middle of the road when she has had to go to work. She was supported by her neighbors some of whom also expressed concerns for their physical safety. She read a letter addressed to the town from neighbors who could not attend the meeting who are concerned over the traffic noise and the environmental impact from the junk vehicles. Sheila said please call the police about every incident, and we can also direct our time from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department to be spent there. One of the visitors said ‘we have voices and we need to watch out for ourselves’.
AJ: we have a junk car ordinance in effect and we can send law enforcement there, as well as contact the state regarding an unlicensed salvage yard. We need to check our zoning by-laws regarding working out of their garage. The selectboard will check into these.
Billy Donovan: he thinks it’s up to the town to contact the police. Sheila said she’s happy to call the police with concerns.
Billy Donovan said he was aggressively approached by an ATV rider whom he had asked to drive more carefully on the road. The ATV’s companions also cursed and took off angrily. He is also concerned about vandalism on his stone wall since the issue of the wall has come up at selectboard meetings. He questioned whether rules are enforced equally. Sheila: equates with speeding, if you are pulled over by the cops you can’t justify breaking the law by saying you’re going with the flow. Rules apply to anyone who has been brought up to the board’s attention. Billy asked for enforcement of ATVs on class 3 roads. He asked for the road to be closed down to ATVs. AJ: reach out to Rob Perdue (ATV club) and/or Mike Scott (Game Warden). Rob wants to be notified when there are problems with ATV riders.
5.1 Delinquent tax collector’s report: Scott showed the board the spreadsheet of taxes owed and collected. He has collected $194,650 of delinquent taxes. He is expecting up to $17,000 from VHAP next week. The list is down to 35 names from 88 names, of which 4 people are deceased. He recommends that we sell any property that is owing more than 1 year’s taxes. He has some in negotiations (taxpayer(s) making payments), and has some he wants to do abatements on (some folks have moved and are unreachable). Discussion on sending out a new letter asking taxpayers to bring their records in to show their November 2022 payments. Motion
by Fred to put properties up for sale that owe more than one year in back taxes, 2nd by AJ, carried by ayes.
(4.2) Snowflyers’ representative Rebecca Duranleau: Snowflyers want to update their lease for 2023-2024. They added an addendum to address folks wanting to rent the building stating that folks need to have their own insurance, the groomer will remain inside the building, building needs must align with members’ schedule for opening and lockup, understood this is a garage and the building’s tables or chairs are not a provision, nor is cleanliness. AJ made motion to accept the lease as written, 2nd by Fred, carried by ayes.
Snowflyers have received a grant to bushhog on Jail House Road, needs town approval as it’s town property, class 4 road. AJ made motion to allow, 2nd by Fred, carried by ayes.
5.2 Treasurer’s report: Anna Strong: we are within the parameter of our budget. By the look of things now, we will land without our budget at end of FY23. She explained some of the standard operating procedures for bill paying and approval by the board to pay them. Sheila: we need to know budget vs actuals and Anna has worked very hard on this, with Anna saying she plans to have those figures soon, plans to meet with the accountant next week. Sheila stated that once we know the budget, things can be moved around to ensure that the road crew has the money to work on the roads in the summer to better prepare them for the winter.
5.3 Road Foreperson: Nick Benoit: Josh has been a huge help, have almost the whole town graded despite our own grader being down for almost a month. Our grader was trucked to Milton-Cat. Corinth has traded their machine’s use for our town workers to do trucking for them. They asked for truck and workers but Corinth pays for the fuel. Joe Callahan expressed concern about not being able to get into his lower property due to the way the road is right now, he wants to fill the ditch in himself. Nick: that’s on his list to look into grants for the road, he will go look at it and then decide what they can do. Nick got quotes and spec sheets for a (2024) $266, 667.00 truck and plow, not final cost as the 2025 material prices aren’t out yet. Need to order soon to get in the first build slot. We would get it in 2024. We were offered $15,000.00 in trade for the 2017. Harry: are we looking into a state contract, talking about at least 30% off the top. AJ: is it a specific truck, do we need to buy what the state is buying. Harry: no as different agencies like different brands. Nick will look into it more. Board will wait until the state contract is looked into and what our money is in the fund, will put off until July. Nick says the 2017 needs extensive work, trucks need tires. We don’t have the tools to work on the 2017 ourselves, can do work themselves once they know the budge and could purchase tools.
Re: applications, we have received three, Nick has met with one applicant so far and is waiting on a return phone call. Nick sees a need for three full-time road crew members. After AJ there may be some grants to help pay, some townsfolks willing to hire out as well. Sheila asked Nick for a plan on short and long term goals re: ditching, brush hogging, culverts, etc, so we know what we need for equipment, help, grants. Lois: do we have enough applicants to choose from or do we need to run ad still. Nick: like to keep advertising. Board chose to run one more World issue and 10 more days in the Times-Argus. Billy asked permission to clean out a culvert, Nick said he’ll assess the situation and let them all know. Peter had passed a grant program to Nick, Nick has started to fill it out. No match grant. He will send it back to Sheila.
5.4 FY23 Town budget close out: already discussed.
6. Old Business
6.1 Update on auditor(s): Fred will be seeing his top choice this week and has two town residents ready to also help.
6.2 Town truck sale-truck has been moved
6.3 Draft employee personnel policies moved to end of meeting
6.4 Uniforms and internet: internet has been installed at the town garage, fire station waiting for the installation box. Uniforms: $15 a week/paid through the town.
6.5 Update on CV Fiber: waiting on return call from Karen Kotecki
6.6 Revised animal ordinance: submitted by Rob Lowe, animal control officer: fines have been increased, Rob wants authority to issue fines, Fred made motion to accept, 2nd by AJ, carried by ayes after a fine amount is verified with Rob and Sheila sees who the fine money goes to, ordinance needs to be posted in paper by June 20, if there is a petition it has to be submitted by July 20, if no petition is presented, then the ordinance becomes effective August 5. Sheila will write what needs to be posted.
6.7 Donovan site visit report by Road Foreperson: Nick gave his report from his observations, from the town zoning ordinance and from the Vermont Agency of Transportation. His thoughts are that that section of road needs work, the rock wall is narrowing the road, plus a dozen +/- trees need to be removed. His recommendation is to have full access to the full right of way and that the wall be removed. Discussion included needing a starting spot for road work, Billy feeling he is being singled out due to his understanding of other narrow areas of town roadways. Sheila stated that he is not being singled out and she has full confidence in Nick’s recommendations. The board had agreed to abide by the foreperson’s opinion. Sheila asked for a motion for a formal letter to be sent to Mr. Donovan to remove his stone wall. Billy asked for the correct language to be used, says there are no guidelines. Mr. Callahan asked if other town residents would also receive letters, says wrong to single one person out. Board will table the matter and seek legal advice on the matter.
7. New Business
7.1 Vacant Road crew positions: was discussed previously in meeting
7.2 McDonald Road bid proposal: waiting on permit, Fred meeting with the streambank person next week. We will advertise it allowing for town residents to bid
7.3 Board of Civil Authority: Sheila says we need to call meeting when the next property tax bills are aggrieved. Harry: wants to abate the remainder of 2022 Whitehouse taxes as their home burned down last fall. Selectboard calls the board together for tax grievances and abatements, and town clerk calls the board together when there are voter issues. (town clerk, selectboard, justices of peace) Lois and Harry will work on the voter issues and decide when to call the BCA.
7.4 Annual dam fee: Fred says he was told no fee should be due because he was told as long as dam process is in motion.
7.5 AOT Grants in Aid Program: town is authorized to begin construction on Williamstown RD
7.6 Process and timeline for tax bills: Harry: new software has delayed the process, had to request state extension so can do the preliminary grand list and then the tax rate. Harry and Sheila will do the tax rate, then do the preliminary tax bill.
7.7 Special weight permit: need to be updated online, need to post what our road weight limits are, Nick to follow up.
7.8 Certification for compliance for roads and bridges: was done. Sheila wants to do an inventory of dates items are due by
7.9 FY24 town highway grants and annual financial plan due April 15th: we did not apply for anything new, still catching up from Covid year(s). Sheila will contact Michelle Redmond for an inventory of everything we have/need to do.
7.10 RPC Municipal Technical Assistance: Sheila talked with director Christian Meyer about facilitating some capital planning so we have a strategic plan, they help look for grants and help writing them. Our town plan is not forward thinking. Peter representing Central VT Regional Planning Commission: It’s a state grant with Two Rivers out of Quechee, funds allocated to 4 towns who need the most help and Washington is on the list to share $30,00. Bridge and culvert inventory is supposed to start next week, the commission was hoping to hire 4 interns for the summer but only found one. MERF (municipal energy resilience plan): the floodplains by-laws update will have new maps out September 1. There are grants for helping us get started on our town plan. Peter’s recommendation that we apply for a grant to hire a consultant. One of our hopes would be to have a bike path from town to Carpenter Park, which won’t happen on Route 110. Central VT Solid Waste Management Program is in process of building a HHW facility, household hazardous waste, will be in Berlin. Phase 1 is the actual facility area, Phase 2 will be moving the administrative offices out of Montpelier to the new facility. Also moving the recycling collection to the property from Barre.
7.11 Town Plan: this will be our strategic plan
Sheila: annual report was due April 1 on water discharge, Fred this was done, permission to dump water off of our roads into the river. Erosion inventory due no later than October 2027: has to do with the Class 4 roads, Sheila will ask Michelle Redmond.
Lois: read letter of gratitude to road crew from Henry Lee. Harry and Lois met with Steve Picazio, Records and Information Management Specialist at the VT State Archives and Records Administration, to go over what the town can keep or destroy/shred, and he suggested that we do a records and retention policy that the board needs to sign if it chooses. I also handed out copies of Steve’s post visit report. I discussed a resident’s recent visit regarding the public right to records, and outlined how it was handled. Caitlin Marineau asked if town has a noise ordinance due to Casella’s early morning trash pickup, Casella told her they would abide by any such ordinance, I will follow up with her. Harry and I went over the computer quotes from Ormsby’s and Computer Barn. Harry asked if anyone looked at state bid, we had not but will. His recommendation is to go with Computer Barn but with adding Microsoft Office programs. Ormsby’s was $5,514.51 and Computer Barn was about $4000, for 2 desktops and one laptop. Fred made motion to go with Computer Barn with the Microsoft Office package, 2nd by AJ, carried by ayes. I will be on vacation for 5 days in July, Harry and I discussed already, he will cover the days. Sheila said he can cover up to 10 hours, close the office the rest of the time. I will be in town July 8 and can do tax bills with Harry that day. I will have payroll ready to go. I also found a copy of Overtime Policy, handed copy to each board member. I found a 1995 Animal Control Agreement with the humane society, is this still in effect? The humane society is still one of our services voted on.
(6.3) Personnel policy: Tabled until July meeting. Lois will look for our Drug and Alcohol Policy. AJ made motion to pay the employees for this past Memorial Day and also the upcoming 4th of July, as the policy won’t be adopted by then, 2nd by Fred, carried by ayes.
AJ made the motion to adjourn at 9:13 p.m, 2nd by Fred, carried by ayes. Submitted: Lois Deberville