Monday, August 15th, 2022, Selectboard Minutes

Zoom Meeting   https//zoom. us/join         Meeting ID:  972 2791 1757   Passcode:  352680

BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT:
Angela Sanborn, Ann Golob (Zoom), Jeffrey Chevalier, Katy Johnson- Aplin, and Mike Fitzpatrick (phone)

OTHERS PRESENT:
(In-Person) Doris Knechtel, Carol Hesselbach, Beckley Gaudette, Dennis Wiswall, Karen Astley, Rebecca St Pierre, Cynthia Fisher, Ken Estey (Planning Commission), Christine White, Frank Suponski, Austin Rice, – B.C.T.V., and Wannetta Powling.

(Zoom) Jane Douglas (Planning Commission), Melissa Brown (Treasurer) Alyssa Sabetto, CFM Senior Planner Windham Regional Commission, Chris Mays, Ila Bartel, Jake Urato, David Serpa, Patty Johnson.

CALL TO ORDER:  
The meeting was called to order at 6:00 pm by Selectboard Chair Angela Sanborn.

ADDITIONS/AMENDMENTS TO AGENDA:  
Katy Johnson-Aplin suggested that the correspondence should be moved to “Old Business” when discussing the Tax Bills and Surplus Funds.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

  1. August 1st, 2022, Regular Meeting
    Golob made a motion to approve the August 1s regular meeting minutes. Johnson- Aplin seconded the motion. Motion passed 4/0/1 Chevalier abstained.
  2. August 1st, 2022, Board of Liquor Control
    Johnson- Aplin made a motion to approve the August 1st Board of Liquor Control minutes. Fitzpatrick seconded the motion. Motion passed 4/0/1 Chevalier abstained.

ROAD FOREMAN’S & ROAD COMMISSIONER’S REPORT:

  1. The ROW statement for 254 Depot Rd. is back in the town attorney’s hand for some minor revisions.
  2. The Arch Bridge they are putting in the metal to complete the end walls and will be pouring the cement soon.
  3. The Sand/Salt shed has no changes at this point.
  4. Hartgen has started working on the Archeological study for the gravel pit.
  5. Vermont Protective Coating is making good progress on Monroe Bridge.
  6. I am still awaiting Ben Green the state Dam inspector to comment on the plan we have for Kenny Pond dam.
  7. I have nothing new for the Jail St. access.

Fitzpatrick made a motion to approve the Road Foreman’s Report. Chevalier seconded the motion.

Discussion:
Dennis Wiswall asked if there were thoughts of installing a new culvert to clear the standing water when it rains on Wiswall Hill Road, between the Carey residence and the Long residence.

Sanborn will relay the request to Jay Wilson.

Karen Astley asked when to expect the roadside mowing to start. Brook Road and Dump Road are dangerous at these intersections

Powling mentioned that there was a delay in getting a windshield for the tractor. The mowing should begin at the end of August.

Fitzpatrick mentioned that there was an attachment for the Excavator that could do some of the mowings.

Vote called Motion passed 5/0 

ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT’S REPORT: 

  1. The Informational Meeting to discuss the articles for the Special Town Meeting is on Tuesday, August 23, at 6:00 p.m. I will post the Warning- Agenda on Friday, August 19th.
  2. I have the WARNING for the September 20, SPECIAL TOWN MEETING. The Selectboard will need to sign this tonight to meet the required days of posting.
  3. The packet tonight has an invitation for Newfane to join the IDEAL VERMONT. This initiative creates a coalition of Vermont municipalities dedicated to advancing racial and other forms of equity across the state. They ask for your reply to the invitation before Monday, September 12.

Follow up

  • I still need to meet with Ryan from Mastaler Cleaning and get their rates for cleaning the Town Office and washing the windows.

Johnson- Aplin made a motion to approve the Administrative Assistant’s Report. Chevalier seconded the motion. Motion passed 5/0.

 COMMITTEE REPORT
Newfane Listers – Doris Knechtel and Beckley Gaudette presented to the Selectboard information for the Town-wide reappraisal. New England Municipal Consultants (NEMC) currently works with the Newfane Listers as a property assessor.

It was recommended that this should be completed by April 1st, 2026. Currently, there is $81,351 in the reappraisal account. It is expected to cost $131,500.  With the continued amount to be set aside during budget season each year, there will be a need to raise an additional amount of $16,770 to cover the cost.

Suponski commented that when he was a Lister, New England Municipal Consultants, was the only firm that submitted a bid on the reappraisal done in 2002 and 2017.  He supports that Ryan Sylvestery from NEMC is more than capable of doing the work.

Karen Astley recommended that the Selectboard follow the purchasing policy on such a large expense. Newfane has a purchasing policy that anything over $2,000 needs to go out to bid.

Chris White was among others in attendance that agreed with Astley’s statement.

Fitzpatrick made a motion that the Town Wide Reappraisal go out to bid. Johnson-Aplin seconded the motion.

Discussion:
Chevalier wanted to know if there was a list of qualified appraisers that can be approached.
Golob asked that we get the bids back ASAP.

Motion passed 5/0

SCHEDULED MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC
Windham Regional Commission – Alyssa Sabetto -Senior Planner and Planning Commission Chair Estey have been discussing the need for doing a bylaw update, along with the roles and responsibilities of the town in regulating the floodplain, river corridors, development, and mapping.

ERAF (Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund) provides State funding to match FEMA Public Assistance after federally declared disasters.  Eligible public costs are reimbursed by federal taxpayers at 75%.  The State typically contributes half of the required 25% non-federal match for approved projects.  Under the new ERAF rule, which went into effect October 23, 2012, Towns have 24 months to adopt the required mitigation measures to maintain the State cost share for FEMA Public Assistance grants.

Towns that adopt higher standards can achieve a higher percentage of state funding for post-disaster repair projects – from 12.5% to 17.5%.  Towns that have not adopted the basic set of measures will see a decrease in the State match, from 12.5% to 7.5%.  Thus, the State contribution toward the local match requirement will vary from 7.5% to 17.5% of the total project costs, depending upon the level of adoption of recommended mitigation measures.

What is needed for ERAF compliance?
12.5% – of eligible communities have adopted four mitigation measures:

  • Adopt or take steps toward the adoption of a flood hazard bylaw to secure participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
  • Adopt the most recent Agency of Transportation Town Road and Bridge Standards (annually certify adopted standards that meet or exceed the current standards).
  • Adopt and maintain a Local Emergency Operations Plan (adopt annually after town meeting); AND

Adopt a Local Hazard Mitigation Plan – Adopt a FEMA- approved local plan (valid for five years).  Or a draft plan has been submitted to FEMA Region 1 for review.

  • Adopt a river corridor protection bylaw that meets or exceeds state model regulations and guidelines, OR
  • Maintain an active rate classification under FEMA’s NFIP Community Rating System (CRS) that includes activities that prohibit new structures in mapped flood hazard areas.

Windham Regional Commission (WRC) has a model for flood hazard bylaws for towns that also have other zoning in place.  The other alternative is to use the ANR model bylaw that works well if a town does not want to regulate river corridors, as you simply don’t include that segment of the model.  The ANR Atlas is the best place to review the mapping for both the FEMA Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) and the ANR River Corridors.

UNSCHEDULED MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC
None

OLD BUSINESS
Tax Bills Surplus Funds – Lister Knechtel explained that the error was a glitch that wasn’t noticed until the bills had already been mailed. Surplus Funds belong to the voters of the Town, and it should be a vote to decide how, and if the funds should be used to cover the deficit.  Chair Sanborn opened the meeting for discussion:

Karen Astley started by Thanking the Town Employees, Boards, and Commissions for all that they do. Spoke in favor of using surplus funds to offset the shortfall from the property taxes. Shared the following numbers that she got from the Treasurer

  • ARPA funds $220,468
  • Capital $963, 000
  • FEMA $500,000 Irene unassigned
  • July Storm 286,159.99 Unassigned (Unsure if this has been received).

Shared information from the VLCT handbook for VT Municipal Treasurers on how to spend surplus monies.

Chris White agreed with Karen Astley

Carol Hesselbach (who spoke as a resident) does not believe that sending our amended tax bills would be a wise choice.

Frank Suponski; Agreed – The homestead from the State is going to have to be refigured. It will be a whole lot of adjustment that is unnecessary; we should use the surplus funds.

Dennis Wiswall; Agreed with what Carol & Frank both said, and this money should not be considered not surplus – back in 2011 taxpayers had to pay for damages from the hurricane, and rightfully belongs to the taxpayers. 

Jake Urato: In favor of sending out new tax bills, surplus funds should be saved for other needs.  50% of homeowners in Newfane are second homeowners, if they can afford second homes then in my opinion, they shouldn’t benefit by using the surplus funds to offset their share of the property taxes.

Doris Knechtel:  The tax bills would not be a three-quarter adjustment; it would be a new bill reissued.

 Fitzpatrick:  The FEMA reimbursements were borrowed money that we had to raise taxes to repay the loan to cover the cost, due to the Federal Government’s slow repayment.

Chevalier: I wish that our Road foreman was here to help better clarify how the money could use to better our road and community.  As a taxpayer and homeowner, I would rather pay the correct bills.

Wiswall:  Is there a cap on how much can be saved in the unassigned funds? It just seems like an exorbitant amount of money to not be used to benefit those that are already struggling.

Cynthia Fisher– Agrees with Dennis that this is a very large amount of money and that she would like to see using a portion of the unassigned funds to cover the tax error.

 Golob: Asked for Melissa Brown’s (Treasurer) clarification of the surplus funds total.

 Brown:   Explained that currently there is $ 550,000 unassigned with additional funds received from Covid and recent FEMA funds in the amount of $225,000 from the July 2021 storm.  The total of $775,000, would allow the Town to cover the $300,197 error. The voters have voted to move funds to the Capital Expense fund in the previous years, to help keep the tax bills lower.

Correspondence was read into the minutes from Cary Stratton Boyd, The Lodge at West River, Bahman Mahdavi, Gary Sherman, Nancy Shaw, and Patricia Campbell.

(Letters are available to view at the Town Office during normal business hours.)

Johnson- Aplin made a motion to allow the voters to make that decision at the Special Town Meeting on September 20th which will be “In Person Voting Only”. Chevalier seconded the motion.

Residents asked if the Town would send out postcards with the information for the Informational and the Special Town Meeting. (Direct Door Mailing).

Motion passed 5/0

ARPA updates – No updates
Estey asked if there was any progress on the application procedures policy for requesting ARPA funding.
Golob mentioned that WRC is waiting to receive a Federal Fund to hire staff that would be able to assist Towns with Community Economic Development.

Cannabis updates – No formal updates but will be working on the PowerPoint Presentation. 

Warning for Special Town Meeting
Selectboard Chair Sanborn read the warning into the minutes.

Fitzpatrick made a motion to accept the Warning as read; Johnson-Aplin seconded the motion.
Motion Failed 0/5.
Discussion:
Golob asked if the Moderator Deborah Luskin had reviewed the Warning and had approved the version.
Powling confirmed that Luskin had been given the warning and was good with the copy given to the Selectboard.
Hesselbach mentioned that Rainy Day Fund was not what was discussed.
The article shall be changed to read:
ARTICLE 4:
“Shall the Town of Newfane voters approve transferring surplus funds of $300,197 of unassigned Surplus Funds to cover the shortfall of taxes for the Fiscal Year 2023?”             Chevalier made a motion to accept the Warning as corrected and read, Golob seconded the motion.
Motion failed 0/5

Chevalier amended the motion to change the word from approve to appropriate. Golob seconded the motion.

The article changed to read:
ARTICLE 4:
“Shall the Town of Newfane voters appropriate transferring surplus funds of $300,197 of unassigned Surplus Funds to cover the shortfall of taxes for the Fiscal Year 2023?”        

The article was amended to take out redundant wording.
Read again as corrected.
ARTICLE 4:
Shall the Town of Newfane voters appropriate transferring surplus funds of $300,197 to cover the shortfall of taxes for the Fiscal Year 2023?
Chair Sanborn called the vote.
Motion passed 5/0

Windham County Sheriff’s Office update / Building Committee
Fitzpatrick reported that he had a phone conversation with Judge Barnett and Powling about the Town leasing the Sheriff’s Building.

Discussion ensued:

The Selectboard asked employees and others that had toured the building for their input, Estey mentioned how the current Town Office was far more attainable and advantageous to the public, it is very hospitable and an inviting workspace here.

Golob made a motion to decline the offer from Judge Barnett. Johnson -Aplin seconded the motion.
Motion passed 5/0.

 Sanborn and Powling will draft a letter from the Selectboard to send Judge Barnett that at this time the Town will not be able to accept this offer.

Update from Knechtel on the Newfane Inn it is off the table as there are potential other buyers.

 Traffic Calming Update
Golob suggested that the Selectboard agenda should set up four discussions with thirty minutes scheduled to follow through on past recommendations and studies, the board voted on the proposal and the meetings will be as followed:

  1. Invite the Windham County Sheriff to discuss the different ideas regarding enforcement. Jay to talk about enforcement and reporting. To discuss some of the suggestions that have been brought up such as an empty police car to help deter speeders.
  2. Talk with Jay about the previous reports from the traffic calming committees and to discuss what needs to be done. Discuss the pros and cons of installing speed bumps to those who live near the bumps.
  3. Invite a VTrans official to gather an understanding of the possibilities for sidewalks and crosswalks in the villages, and if legislation or laws needs to be reviewed or re-written to meet the current needs of our community.
  4. Beautification ideas are things that get the attention to encourage people to slow down and be more aware of their surroundings, including artwork, railings, flags, and flowers.

On September 8th there is a public meeting for community members to come together, and get involved with helping to make changes pertaining to crosswalks and sidewalks along the Route 30 corridor in the village of Newfane.

NEW BUSINESS
 None
(Attending remotely, Ann Golob and Mike Fitzpatrick withdrew and left the meeting.)

CORRESPONDENCE
(Amended and moved to Old Business)

  1. Cary Stratton Boyd
  2. The Lodge at West River
  3. Bahman Mahdavi
  4. Gary Sherman
  5. Nancy Shaw
  6. Patricia Campbell

 PAY ORDERS

  1.   Payroll Warrant No #11581                           Amount $    6,771.78
  2.   Payroll Warrant No #11582                           Amount $    4,796.78
  3.   Account Payable No # 22003A                     Amount $    12.00
  4.   Account Payable No # 22004                        Amount $    111,512.27

 Johnson- Aplin made a motion to approve Pay Orders. Chevalier seconded the motion.
Motion passed 3/0

ADJOURN:  
 Chevalier made a motion to adjourn. Meeting adjourned at 8:10 pm

Respectfully Submitted,
Wannetta Powling,
Administrative Assistant