December 15, 2008
In attendance: Jon Trefry, Randy Volk, Howard Russell, Andrea Morgante, Ken Brown, Frank Koss, Rocky Martin, Wayne Elliott, Jeanne Wilson, Al Barber, Dawn Francis, Frank Cioffi, Alex Weinhagen, Curt Carter, Bill Marks
Meeting called to order at 7:00 pm.
Officer Frank Koss advised that he brought the new cruiser (2009 Tahoe) to the meeting in the event that the Board wanted to see it. Jon said that it is difficult to look at the vehicle in the dark, and the Board agreed to look at the cruiser at a later date during daylight hours.
Discussion of Wastewater Upgrade Project and Wastewater Rates: Rocky Martin had prepared and provided wastewater rate projection information for various levels of upgrade. Rocky reminded the Board that water rates needed to be adjusted to meet the budget, and this increase would be approximately $75/year for an average unit to cover the budget for FY 09 – 10.
Wayne Elliott advised that $108,500 was budgeted for design, engineering and permitting for the $2.1 million upgrade/expansion project. This figure is based as a percentage of the construction cost. There is a current engineering agreement for $20,700, of which approximately $10,000 has been spent to date. An amendment to the agreement for an additional $85,000 in engineering cost would need to be approved in order to complete the design, engineering and permitting for the $2.1 million upgrade/expansion project. The cost for engineering, design and permitting for the $625,000 critical-need upgrade would be $35,000 - $40,000, or 1/3 the cost of the full project cost. Wayne advised that it really comes down to a question of spending an additional $70,000 on the chance that federal money would come through to help fund the $2.1 million project.
Andrea stated that the Board did not begin discussions of the project with the thought that there would be federal funding available. The planning for the project has been underway for quite some time. She was in favor of going through with the design and permitting process for the full upgrade/expansion, and then making a decision later to not go to construction if funding was an issue.
It was the consensus of the Board to move forward with the design, engineering and permitting for the $2.1 million project.
Howard said that in his opinion the $2.1 million project would go forward only if significant federal funds became available. Without funding assistance to offset the expense, the project would be the critical-need upgrade at $625,000.
Ken said that there might be scenarios where the full project would go forward even without federal funding. Randy said he agreed with Ken, and is not convinced that it is not possible to do the full project.
Jon said that the Board should think about the impact of project funding through wastewater rates on the large commercial users, not just residential users.
Randy noted that this is a long-term project, and the Board needs to look out over the 20 years of the bond, not just the next few years. The project could potentially run a deficit initially and then make up the deficit in later years. He noted that Rocky’s analysis of rates was a worst-case scenario, and distributed notes he had made on rate projections.
Ken advised that he had created a spreadsheet that looks at rates and revenue over the 20 years of the bond. He will share the spreadsheet with other Board members.
Howard noted that the Planning Commission’s projections for growth were based on the past state of the economy. Some economists predict that the current economic situation is not a short-term dip, but may be a permanent change. The Board needs to be careful not to assume that the economy will return to the way it was. The system users will be on the hook to repay the bond. There is no question that there is a need to go forward with the critical-need upgrade, but he feels it is a huge risk for the users to go forward with the full project.
Randy noted that the projected number of houses in the rate projections is significantly lower than the Planning Commission’s projections. He also questioned the assumption that not doing the project saves money. He noted that not doing the entire project now would cost the users more over the long run.
Wayne advised that over the next 4 – 5 years he would anticipate further repairs being necessary if the Board goes forward with the critical-needs upgrade at this time.
Jon noted that there was a need to readjust rates for January. He had looked at projections for a rate with a $45 base charge plus a usage rate of $0.031/cubic foot. Wayne stated that it is difficult to compare rates in Chittenden County with the rest of the state because water rates in Chittenden County are very low due to Champlain Water District. He thought the statewide average for water & wastewater rates was $800 - $1,000 annually.
Howard said that the Board should consider the cumulative impact of increases on businesses (rate increases, tax increases).
Andrea said that she would rather move slowly in regards to rate increases, and wait for more information. She was supportive of increasing rates in January, but not by as much.
Howard said he supports putting more weight on the base fee. If usage decreases, expense does not decrease at the same rate.
The Board agreed to set new rates at the January 5 meeting.
Discussion of GBIC Assistance and Formation of Community Development Corporation: Frank Cioffi, Curt Carter and Dawn Francis of GBIC were in attendance for a discussion on how GBIC could assist the Town in the redevelopment of the Saputo site, and also to the benefits of forming a community development corporation. Frank advised that GBIC serves as a regional economic development entity for Chittenden County.
Curt provided information on community development corporations. They are non-profit corporations, formed with bylaws and articles of association. >A municipality can help form a corporation, or encourage the formation of one. The corporation can be linked to a municipal function, or can be separate from it.
Dawn noted that the missions of corporations vary, from being site specific to more general. The mission can be determined in creation of the charter for the corporation, and either the Town can have a say in the mission or it can be left to the corporation.
Frank noted that a development corporation was the best way for the Town to have a voice in re-development. Many grants need to flow through a development corporation. He noted that there are four items that need to happen in regards to re-development of the Saputo site:
1) Establish interim zoning to allow flexibility in re-development
2) Identify someone to negotiate with Saputo in the Town’s interest
3) Investigate formation of a community development corporation
4) Apply for grants to fund work that needs to be done
There are several grants that could fund the planning effort, including the Special Projects & Urgent Need Grant through the Community Foundation, the Successful Communities Grant through the Community Foundation, grants through USDA / Rural Development and VCDP planning grants. A community development corporation would allow time to look at re-adaptive uses for the site. Frank advised that the best role for GBIC would be as a negotiator with the company.
Andrea advocated for the formation of a committee to work with GBIC. Grant money could be used to focus the efforts. She didn’t believe there was support for town-ownership of the property, but there was interest in creating jobs and re-establishing the property tax revenue.
Bill Marks asked whether is was possible to borrow money from private entities for the planning effort, with the funds recouped upon sale. Frank said it was possible if there is an entity created through which the funds are handled.
Ken noted that the Town could move forward with interim zoning and negotiations with Saputo through GBIC. Frank advised that an intermediator would be helpful to figure out what the Town wants and what Saputo wants. Ken thought that this issue was important enough to move forward with all four items at the same time.
Ken made a motion that the Board vote to request that GBIC start a dialogue with Saputo on behalf of the Town for fact finding. Seconded by Howard and approved.
Jon asked Alex for information on interim zoning.
Approve Warrants: Howard moved that the Board vote to approve the warrants (including payroll warrants) for bills payable as presented by the Town Treasurer. Seconded by Andrea and approved.
Trial Balances for Water & Wastewater and General Fund Accounts for Period Ending 11/30/08: Ken moved that the Board vote to acknowledge receipt of the trial balances for water & wastewater and general fund accounts for the period ending 11/30/08. Seconded by Howard and approved.
Minutes of December 1, 2008: Howard moved that the Board vote to approve the minutes of December 1, 2008 as amended. Seconded by Andrea and approved.
Buried Utility Permit / Zuckerman on Hines Road: This was not a buried utility permit, but instead a proposal worked out between the Zuckermans and the Highway Foreman to run an irrigation line to fields on the north side of Hines Road via a seasonal water line through the culvert under Hines Road. Randy moved that the Board vote to approve a request by David Zuckerman to run a seasonal irrigation line through the culvert under Hines Road as outlined in the buried utility permit dated 11/24/08, subject to the terms and conditions outlined in the approved permit. The irrigation line through the culvert shall be a flexible line with connections on both ends for removal. The line shall be removed between November 1 and April 1 annually. The buried portion of the line shall be outside of the Town’s right-of-way. Seconded by Ken and approved.
Buried Utility Permit / French on Drinkwater Road: A buried utility permit application had been received from Gary French to install electric power cable under Drinkwater Road. The request is associated with a one-lot subdivision, and the subdivision had received final approval from the DRB. Green Mountain Power provided both the GMP Service Requirements (for residential underground service) and a written statement that GMP will own and maintain the underground services to the top side of the meter, and will be responsible for the wire and conduit once it is energized; GMP does not take responsibility for damage to the road, since they are not doing the installation. Randy moved that the Board vote to approve the buried utility permit of Gary French to install electric power cable in the right-of-way on Drinkwater Road as outlined in the permit dated7/14/08, subject to the terms and conditions of the permit and any other additional terms and conditions placed on the permit by the Highway Foreman. Seconded by Andrea and approved.
Road Cut Permit / French on Drinkwater Road: This road cut was part of a one-lot subdivision, which had received final approval from the DRB. Randy moved that the Board vote to approve the road cut permit application of Gary French, for a road cut on Drinkwater Road (a subdivision of Tax Map #11-01-02.21) as outlined in the permit dated 11/12/08, subject to the terms and conditions placed on the permit by the Highway Foreman and all state and local permits governing the development of this parcel. Seconded by Andrea and approved.
Resignation from Conservation Commission / Gerald Livingston: Ken moved that the Board vote to accept the resignation of Gerald Livingston from the Conservation Commission effective 12/31/08. Seconded by Howard and approved.
CCMPO Innovative Finance Committee: Andrea reported that the CCMPO had formed a committee to explore methods of financing transportation projects. A recommendation of the committee is the formation of a Regional Transportation Authority, which would have authority to tax for transportation projects. Formation of such an entity would require enabling legislation from the State Legislature. Andrea noted that it was a worthwhile concept, but that the idea needed more details on how it would work as well as more time to be vetted by the communities. Andrea advised that there was a CCMPO Board public meeting scheduled for December 12 for further discussion of the concept.
Municipal Representative to CCRPC Multi-Jurisdictional All Hazards Mitigation Plan Review / Update Committee: As discussed at the 12/1 meeting, a letter was received from CCRPC, requesting that the Town appoint a representative to the Mitigation Plan Review / Update Committee to support the update process. The committee will meet twice – Tuesday, January 13 from 11- noon and once in the spring. A request for volunteers was extended to the DRB & PC, with no response. Andrea advised that she would be interested in serving on the Committee. Howard moved that the Board vote to appoint Andrea Morgante to the CCRPC Multi-Jurisdictional All Hazards Mitigation Plan Review / Update Committee. Seconded by Ken and approved.
Continued Discussion of Employee Fitness Program: This item was originally discussed at the 11/17 meeting. The Board asked for feedback from the Leadership Team on whether employees would make use of the fitness room. Jeanne provided feedback from employees. Howard advised that he was hesitant to change the current fitness incentive program when there was not a clear consensus between the Chief and Deputy Chief. He was also concerned with the perception from voters of a gym membership for employees, even though the membership was less expensive than the current program. Finally, Howard noted that the new program was not inexpensive if only a couple employees use it. It was the consensus of the Board to not take action at this time to change the current fitness incentive program for the police department, and Ken further noted that the Board should look at reducing the amount budgeted in the Police budget for the fitness incentive program.
Continued Discussion of Town Owned Shadow Lane Property: The Board directed Jeanne to send an invitation to bid to all adjoining property owners, for a formal bid process for the sale of the parcel.
FY 2009 – 2010 Budget Discussion: The Board reviewed the expenditure summary, which showed a 4.26% increase in expenditures prior to any additional adjustments / reductions.
Continued Discussion of Impact Fee Ordinance: Jeanne advised that a meeting with consultant Mike Munson was scheduled for December 18 to review the draft ordinance and discuss the work that needs to be done to finalize the ordinance. Jon provided a list of questions for the consultant.
Other Board Member Items: Ken commented on the poor condition of the “Welcome to Hinesburg” signs. Jeanne advised that the Hinesburg Business and Professional Association had discussed replacing them in the past, but currently did not have the necessary funds to do so. Howard noted that if the signs are in bad condition they should be removed.
Andrea advised that there was discussion among community members about holding an inaugural ball on January 20, and questioned whether it would be appropriate to hold the event at Town Hall. It was the consensus of the Board that there was no problem holding it at Town Hall, as long as the Town did not sponsor the event.
Howard advised that the Ancient Roads committee met with consultant Paul Hannon. The meeting was very helpful and the committee is on target with its work. Mr. Hannon recommended holding a public hearing soon, and not waiting until the end of the process.
Andrea advised that Matt Mainer had virtually finished the stone wall around the sign in front of Town Hall. The capstones will be installed in the spring. It was recommended that Matt be invited to a future Selectboard meeting in order for the Board to thank him for the work.
Discussion of Legal & Personnel Issues: Howard moved that the Board vote to go into executive session to discuss legal and personnel issues. Seconded by Randy and approved.
Howard moved that the Board vote to adjourn. Seconded by Randy and approved.
Jeanne Kundell Wilson
Hinesburg Town Administrator