Washington Selectboard Meeting
August 8, 2023
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Selectboard members present: Sheila Duranleau (Chair), Fred Blanchard, AJ Galfetti
Town employees present: Josh Bell (tree warden), Peter Carbee (CVRPC, planning), Elwin Chambers (road crew), Lois Deberville (town clerk), Jesse Lambert (road commissioner), Ben Tiefenthaler (FEMA administrator)
Invited speakers: Christian Meyer (Executive director, CVRPC), Casey Spencer (Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District)
Visitors present: Regina Mannings, Victoria Schena, Matthew Oszajca, Dwayne Braman, Billy Donovan, Gayle Callahan, Joe Callahan, Rob Dupuis, Jen Lambert, Alice Poulin, Reg Poulin, Ethan Pratt, Jenny Wolffe, Bruce Bock
Zoom visitors (identified): Dana Teel, Sarah Teel, Joan, Rob Perdue, Cheri Galfetti
- Chair called meeting to order at 6:31 p.m.
- Fred made motion to approve the minutes from the July 27, 2023, special meeting, 2nd by AJ, carried by ayes.
- Adjustments to the agenda: Chair added an executive session to end of the meeting to discuss labor relations agreement, invited Peter Carbee into it as he had gathered information regarding it.
- Public Comments on items that are not on the agenda:
- Victoria expressed concerns about the environmental issues with the junkyard near her home. AJ suggested she contact the Agency of Natural Resources, Fred said state would probably test her well, AJ will contact them as will Victoria.
- Billy addressed the ATV survey, he thinks it needs more input to receive a broader view, current ordinance strikes a fair balance between the extremes of no ATVs, and that ATVs can run anywhere they like. What becomes of other clubs’ users if roads are opened to ATV use as far as determining who is a resident and who is not. He asked for a comment on it.
Sheila said she’s not prepared to discuss ATV issues as it wasn’t on the agenda, and if it had been there would be more people there who would like to hear and be part of the conversation.
Billy said Fish and Wildlife can not enforce if someone is a resident or not, can only enforce state law. He asked that the board not make any decisions on ATVs until the town planners have opportunities to look at some of the issues addressed. He said the state statute asks for a lot of town involvement.
5.1 Christian Meyer, Executive Director of Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission-he read the commission’s mission statement in regards to offering support and assistance to the member communities. Ex: municipal plan, zoning by-laws, village center designation, educational programs, drafting local hazard mitigation plans, grant writing among others.
Sheila explained about the grant received to help with renovating upstairs of the town hall as an emergency center, warming and cooling center. Peter said we need reliable power (ie:generator) Billy asked what can be seen as competing elements of a town
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plan, how do towns deal with the challenges. Christian will get back to him with a staff contact.
5.2 Casey Spencer, District Manager (Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District) on Hands Mill Dam: was very sorry for what the dam did to our town. They are working towards next steps to correcting the damage. She has been out several times to assess the damage, meeting with different funding sources, will see if can rework previous agreements into redesigning the agreement for work for sediment removal. There is no current action but is on the forefront. She will work with Stone Environmental; this won’t happen next year as they need a complete redesign. Considering expanding the damage to the Buswell parcel, look how to extend their design to stabilize that area. This is a good example on why these (old) dams need to be removed. Fred asked if still considered high risk, and she has to check. Bank stabilization is their concern now. Peter said more silt comes down with each rain, severe rain will cause property damage, can timeline be moved up. Casey will look into that as far as what programs are there for towns. Everyone she has worked with has independently expressed interest in the dam. Dwayne asked about dredging, any studies on how much level of stream is raised. She said they have only been tracking it at the site of the dam, she is bringing a river scientist next week on site and they will walk the river to see other damage. (Stacy Pomeroy) Encourages anyone with damaged farm land to contact USDA. Over 1100 trucks worth of sediment was supposed to have been removed. Sheila mentioned the memo from Samantha Smith of VT Emergency Management that we don’t have to do any more debris removal (on the property). Christian addressed Ben’s question about future disaster events (such as the recent flood) as far as changing our town’s planning, referred him to Keith Cubbon, CVRPC Transportation & Emergency Management Planner), but said Washington is one of the towns with the best work in preparing for the storm.
5.3 Email from J Trombly from July 10: Lois will reach out to her to see if issues have been resolved regarding culvert blockage.
6.1 Delinquent Tax Collector-no report.
6.2 Treasurer-no report. Sheila acknowledged the capabilities of the treasurer but expressed concern over the town needing someone with a less demanding full-time job. FY23 budget vs actuals are not available. Discussion on a backlog in QuickBooks. Sheila discussed the petition from March 2023 on whether a treasurer has to be a town resident, not allowing for a wide net.
6.3 Road commissioner Jesse Lambert discussed the hiring of Mike Tagliavia, Elwin Chambers, and Owen Dudley (who is to start August 25). He discussed fixing roads, ditches, culverts, said having a good group of people working together to do a good job as his number one goal. Little more work on the Williamstown Road, Turnpike needs ditching work, Stellar Road not sure what is going on, all roads are passable but he doesn’t know if it’ll be completely passable from one end to the other this year. Ryder Road is passable but needs some more work (i.e.: culvert). Mike Avery has started on MacDonald Road culvert project. The next biggest concern is Notch Road, is completely gone, has to do something before winter. AJ would like an
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answer on whether town can use Dubois & King or do we need to reach out for other bids. Christian suggested reaching out to Keith Cubbon for advice as it gets trickier at that cost threshold. Ben has reached out re: what kind of requirements involved, has not heard back yet from our FEMA rep. Ben will forward his questions to Keith. Josh asked if we got bids back on other roads yet, but town hasn’t written up anything formal yet. Billy asked who is responsible for removing a hazardous tree on Class 4 road. Jesse took note and will have it taken care of it. Rob asked if there’s a spec that we have to follow to maintain our roads, and why wouldn’t we have a work order that road crew would fill out to keep track of what’s on the roads. Jesse said the sheets are being set up that way, wants to keep track of what’s done on every road. (ie: gravel, grading, hours, cost) AJ said there is a book on specs. Dwayne thinks as a town there needs to be a process of education, we have to do more with getting stuff off the roads, more with culverts, going to be a process that will take years to get people to get used to the idea that it all has to happen (to be better prepared). Has confidence in Jesse and Elwin. AJ asked for help from all residents to let the board know where there are problems and to help with solutions, as there has been a tremendous amount of work dropped onto the board (due to the flood). Jesse said you can look out and see all the dirt, but it’s not just the people doing the dirt work, there’s also a lot of paperwork. Christian said Washington never accepted offer of help with culvert inventory until this year, only got half way through but will wrap it up next summer. Peter added that we will have every GPS co-ordinate.
6.4 Town clerk Lois Deberville asked about reimbursing Nick Benoit for a US flag, board agreed. The restoration and preservation fund state statute allows for the money for new land records and a new rack, questions how much money we have in that fund. Lois will check on current prices.
As an FYI, the Animal Control Ordinance went into effect on August 5, 2023, as there were no town petitions presented objecting to it, and it was adopted over 60 days ago.
Security issues are a concern, we need to add measures to what we already have in place. Lois and Harry will submit a list of what is needed.
Linda Ingold couldn’t be at the meeting but wanted to express her appreciation to the board and office staff, and Lois acknowledged the many hours Peter has and is putting in.
6.5 FEMA administrator Ben gave an update. He got the FEMA assistance request submitted, has our town account set up. The process involves FEMA assigning us a FEMA rep and a state rep. He will set up a recovery scoping meeting between himself, AJ and the FEMA rep to give FEMA a broad overview of projects in the different phases. Ben would like to have weekly reports posted to the town’s social media platforms which would include road work plus what they are looking at ahead. Right now, we are 75% reimbursable but the 25% is not insignificant. The state will reimburse us 12.5% of that 25%. If damages exceed 111 million dollars statewide, then we will be at 90% reimbursable. The hydraulic studies will tell us how many acres feet of water will be at each area where they are done. Joe Callahan said there was a hydraulic study done already on Notch Road.
7.1 AJ made a motion to compensate the road commissioner $1000/yr, 2nd by Fred, carried by ayes.
7.2 Update on roads-discussed already.
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7.3 CMV requirements-drug testing that is required for road crew. Sheila is working on a hiring package and the drug testing will be part of that. Lois will peruse the policy to see what needs to be done.
7.4 Dubois and King for 250K repairs-already covered. AJ would like to budget for some administrative help from a community member if someone comes forward. Discussion on needing more staff. Billy asked about a 5-person selectboard. Sheila has been looking into that and would like it on the nest town ballot. There’s a lot of work to go around, right now they can’t talk to each other outside of a warned meeting (about town business) with only 3 people.
7.5 Bridge inspections and hydraulic studies-Sheila will follow up with Michelle Redmond.
7.6 Debris pickup-Peter met with the FEMA contractors Ceres and TetraTech, there will be a debris pickup next Tuesday (August 15), will probably be a one time shot. No metal, nothing with a cord, no household hazardous waste, no household garbage. Allowed: construction/demo stuff, clothes, books, toys, etc. whatever else was flood debris. Technically should be in the right of way, or at least very close to it. He will get them a map of our roads. FEMA pays 75% and state pays 25% of cost, no cost to the town.
7.7 Auditors-two community members will help if they get guidance. Fred will ask one to reach out to VLCT.
7.8 Computers update-new computers were set up. Miles from the Computer Barn said they aren’t worth more than $20 each, and if they are taken to the Computer Barn he can erase and destroy the hard drives and dispose of them. Lois said the collector of delinquent taxes and treasurer could use a new computer. We may have to set up one of the old ones for now for Scott if it works better than the one he’s using.
7.9 Surplus trailer-Lois will reach out to Norman LeBlanc who has it in his yard.
7.10 Adopt draft employee personnel policies-will do in executive session
7.11 Records retention policy-this will say what has to be kept (per state statutes), what does not have to be kept, and what the selectboard wants or does not want to keep. Board will review it before adopting.
7.12 Town policies-several were handed to the board for review. (certification of compliance on roads and bridge standards, overtime policy, code of conduct/conflict of interest, purchasing policy). Sheila wants to be sure we have a fair bidding policy as in her opinion we should not reach out to the same each time. Invitation to bid discussed, should put on social media and our website. Details discussed.
7.13 Buswell-previously discussed.
Bid looked at for replacement of front steps and railings. Board said we can post that we are accepting bids.
7.14 Review of road side mowing bid-will have town road crew do it.
7.15 Tax department reappraisal order-the state has tasked every town to do a reappraisal within the next two years. Peter said there are a limited number of appraisers, and the tax department estimated it’d be 12-16 years to complete them all. Board will ask Harry to draft a letter to the tax department and bring to next selectboard meeting.
AJ made motion to go into executive session, 2nd by Fred, carried by ayes.
Board came out of executive session at 9:23 p.m.
AJ made motion to accept the personnel policies as final draft pursuant to review by VLCT, 2nd by Fred, carried by ayes. Fred made motion to adjourn at 9:24 p.m., 2nd by AJ, carried by ayes.
Respectfully submitted, Lois Deberville
This is a draft subject to amendment/acceptance at next Selectboard meeting September 12,2023.