Wednesday, July 6, 2022 Selectboard Minutes

Newfane will now require Zoom participants to remain muted and will need to raise their hand, the Chair will recognize them before being allowed to unmute due to recent “Zoom Booming.”

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

BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT:

Angela Sanborn, Jeffrey Chevalier (arrived at 6:06 PM), Katy Johnson- Aplin, Ann Golob (Zoom), and Mike Fitzpatrick (phone).

OTHERS PRESENT:

Doris Knechtel, Beckley Gaudette, Ken Estey, Brian Bashaw from BCTV, & Wannetta Powling, Jay Wilson (phone). By Zoom: Henriette Mantel, Meg Gonzalez, Jane Douglas.

CALL TO ORDER:

Selectboard Chair Angela Sanborn called to order at 6:00 P.M., and Angela Sanborn asked if tonight’s meeting had been warned. Wannetta Powling confirmed that it had been.

ADDITIONS/AMENDMENTS TO AGENDA:    None.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

May 27, special meeting. The minutes were not approved because the meeting had been improperly warned (the wrong day had been inadvertently listed).

June 20, Regular Meeting. Mike Fitzpatrick made a motion to accept June 20, Regular Meeting, and Katy Johnson-Aplin seconded. Motion passed 4/0.

Selectboard member Jeff Chevalier arrived at 6:06 PM.

ROAD FOREMAN’S & ROAD COMMISSIONER’S REPORT:

  1. The Arch Bridge walls are being set starting today.
  2. Not much for changes on the Gravel Pit. We are working on finding a design for the stream bed.
  3. I am still waiting on the town attorney for #254 Depot Road to clear the easement certification. We removed some trees for Green Mountain Power to relocate the power lines for construction last week.
  4. The Newfane Hill Cemetery tree cutting has been completed. It looks much better now with the dead ash trees removed.
  5. The meeting for the Newfane Village Pedestrian Scoping study group was held two weeks ago and will continue monthly.
  6. Nothing for updates on the Sand/Salt shed project.

 Mike Fitzpatrick made a motion to accept Road Foreman’s report; Ann Golob seconded. Motion passed 5/0.

Emergency Management Letter

Discussion ensued regarding the request from the Emergency Management Coordinator (Jay Wilson) to upgrade the town’s emergency power generators which would include the following items:

  • NewBrook Fire Department Cost: $ 36,415
  • Town Garage Cost: $ 29,345
  • AED 4-5 Units at $ 1,800 each for Town Office, Williamsville Hall, Garage, NewBrook Fire Department meeting room, and Union Hall.

Replacement of the two Emergency Generators at the two Emergency Shelters (Town Garage and the NewBrook Fire Department) is necessary since the current ones are old and were second-hand when Newfane obtained them.

There is a considerable wait time to receive the generators; the vendors anticipate a 44-week wait until delivery can be made.

Ann Golob made a motion to approve the cost of replacing both Emergency Generators.

Jeff Chevalier seconded. Motion passed 5/0.

The funding source that will be used needs to be tabled until the July 18 meeting, when Treasurer Melissa Brown can attend to add additional clarification.

ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT’S REPORT: 

  • I have met with Jenna Wilson to review the Town Office cleaning needs; she is very pleasant and does the cleaning for other local businesses. Jenna mentioned that her husband has a pressure washer and would be willing and capable of cleaning the outside of the building and doing the windows at least twice a year.

Mike Fitzpatrick made a motion to offer Jenna Wilson the cleaning job with a 90-day trial period. Katy Johnson-Aplin seconded. Motion passed 5/0.

  • I want to thank Walter Hagedorn for looking after our flower gardens here at the Town Office. He stopped in on Thursday the 30th before the Holiday weekend to make things look tended and well cared for.
  • VLCT will be offering training on July 13 at 10 A.M., and I have made copies for you to review. I have registered to explore and understand the responsibilities of our workplace, along with the state and federal legal developments.

Ann Golob asked what type of training was being offered. It is: “Creating a Transgender Inclusive Workplace” with legal updates.

  • In 2024 Newfane will be celebrating its 250th Anniversary. It is a perfect time to start getting the word out about “WONDERFUL NEWFANE.” I want to ask the Selectboard to consider doing a summer series for the community. I understand that this is something Newfane Anew used to do, with music on the common. Some other ideas or suggestions could include
  1. Acknowledge a Town Volunteers/Employee or Business in the Media, Posters, and Town website.
  2. Advertise “Friendly Newfane offers Free Ice Cream” for a few hours/ using a Southern VT Vendor like the Blueberry House.
  3. Face Painting/ Clowns / Jugglers
  4. Mystery Shopper’s / Customer Service, with donated gift certificates as prizes.

Discussion ensued.

The recommendation from the Board was to create a committee and present to the Selectboard plans for promoting the Town of Newfane and the villages of Brookside, South Newfane, Newfane, and Williamsville. Selectboard members Katy Johnson-Aplin and Jeff Chevalier volunteered to get the committee started and look for other residents to join them.

Jeff Chevalier made a motion to accept the Administrative Assistants’ report. Mike Fitzpatrick seconded. Motion passed 5/0.

COMMITTEE REPORT

Listers- Doris Knechtel and Beckley Gaudette presented the Selectboard with the information to set the 2023 FY Municipal Tax Rate.

                                                                  Homestead                                   Non-Residential

FY 2023                 Municipal Tax                  0.5501                                        0.5501                      Education Tax Rate  (Set by State)              1.9191                                         1.5957
TOTAL TAX RATE -FY-2023                        2.4692                                          2.1458
FY 2022 – Municipal Tax                           0.6172                                          0.6172    CL 91.87%
FY 2022 – Education Tax                            1.8849                                         1.6719
TOTAL-FY 2022 Tax Rate                             2.5021                                            2.2891  COD 16.10%

Discussion ensued.

Ann Golob made a motion to accept the 2023 Municipal Tax Rate of 0.5501 %. Katy Johnson-Aplin seconded. Motion passed 5/0.

Planning Commission Chair – Ken Estey provided the Board and those present with an update on what the Commissioners have been working on.

  • Estey said he has been working on additional information for the Newfane Energy Audit and will provide details at a future meeting. An Enhanced Energy Plan needs to be further revised and adopted. This revision was started by Bob McCandless and preempted by COVID.
  • The Tiny House Bylaw amendments are still a big concern for the Planning Commission, and we will seek expert advice to review the plan before presenting it to the Selectboard and the public.
  • Jane Douglas noted that DV Fiber is making significant progress in the Stamford and Whitingham areas, and they will start hanging wire soon. Newfane will not receive fiber cable until the least served regions are connected
  • Ken Estey talked about new rules impacting state funding reimbursement to match FEMA public assistance after a federally-declared disaster. (See addendum at the end of the minutes with more information that was provided by Estey.) The advantage of the change would be to allow a higher rate of reimbursement to the town after a disaster. But to be eligible for the higher rate, the town must agree to certain building restrictions in flood plains as a way to decrease the likelihood of more damage in the future. The building restrictions would not impact existing structures but would limit the future building of some types of structures. Estey plans to investigate the issue more and will then discuss the issue again with the Selectboard to see if this is something the Town wants to move forward with. The Windham Regional Commission is available to work with the Town if we are interested.

SCHEDULED MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC:   None

UNSCHEDULED MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC: None

OLD BUSINESS: 

ARPA funding opportunities:

Angela Sanborn and Ann Golob met with consultants from BDCC to discuss the steps that would be involved in setting up a business grant process for Newfane. BDCC recommended looking at the work that has been done in Wilmington with their revolving loan and Dover on their business grant. Sanborn and Golob are following up with people in both towns to get more information and will bring the information back to the Selectboard.

BDCC is hoping to receive a federal grant to work with towns on business development strategies. They should know in about three months and will keep us updated.

One point that was made in the meeting with BDCC was that if the town is looking at how to improve its economic viability, the most important thing we could do is develop our infrastructure, specifically, water treatment, septic, and housing. It is the presence of these three pieces of infrastructure that will do the most to ensure future growth and greater viability.

Golob said she is continuing to work on pulling together information on the next steps for investigating sewers and housing options for the Town. She had a meeting with VLCT in which they shared a wealth of information, people to contact, and additional grants that can be applied for. She will continue working on pulling this information together and will keep the Selectboard updated.

The question came up whether the Town would use ARPA funds to pay bonuses for the town staff.  Golob related a conversation she had with the Treasurer, Melissa Brown, that we have sufficient funds to pay the bonuses from the town’s operating funds and we do not need to use the ARPA funds. We have the excess funds due to receiving a FEMA reimbursement recently. The Treasurer will attend our next meeting and explain this in further detail.

Mike Fitzpatrick raised the issue that he felt strongly that we should not be paying bonuses but rather making pay raises to the road crew in order to ensure that their overtime pay is increased on an hourly basis (paying a bonus would have no impact on their hourly overtime pay). Golob made the point that she had discussed this issue with VLCT and they suggested that in the interest of transparency, it was more appropriate to make a bonus now if that is what we wanted to do and to address pay raises as part of our budget cycle so that any town members who would like to be part of the discussion can do so. Doing it as part of the town budget process also allows us to evaluate the overall impact of the raises on the entire budget as well as to research the prevailing salaries being paid in neighboring towns for other Town staff including listers, treasurer, clerk, zoning administrator, and administrative assistant.

Mike Fitzpatrick left the meeting at 7:42 P.M

Cannabis Law – Katy Johnson–Aplin discussed the key items raised at a recent VLCT meeting on the cannabis legislation and how far the state has progressed in setting up the Cannabis Control Board, and filling open positions at the state level, etc. One issue that had been of concern to her was the safe space required between a retail cannabis business and a school/church. She was surprised to learn that it was only 500 feet.

She then focused on what the town needs to do including establishing our own Town Cannabis Control Board to approve/disapprove any requests for retail sales (which can be in homes or in commercial spaces). Requests for approvals will need to be made by October when the State allows that process to begin. To get ready for this, Katy Johnson-Aplin will figure out the timing when the town can hold an informational session and then a town vote on whether or not to allow the sale of cannabis in Newfane. This will need to be done before October 1st. Johnson-Aplin will also investigate a possible speaker for the informational event who can answer questions more fully.

The question was raised whether we anyone has heard if people in Newfane are interested in establishing retail sales. One Board member was aware of residents who are planning to apply.

The Board discussed having the Selectboard function as the town’s Cannabis Control Board as we do for the Board of Liquor Control.

Katy Johnson-Aplin will bring more information back to the next Selectboard meeting so we can move forward with preparing for the opening of retail sales.

 Williamsville Hall – no updates.

NEW BUSINESS:  None

CORRESPONDENCE:

 Assistant Judge Lamont Barnett – Sent an e-mail asking if the Town of Newfane had any interest in a long-term lease of the Sheriff’s office.

The Selectboard asked the Administrative Assistant to contact Assistant Judge Barnett and invite him to a Selectboard meeting for further discussion.

 Heather Blunk – Windham County Natural Resources Conservation District sent a letter offering,

“We have received a grant to provide outreach and education programming aimed at providing invasive species assessments to Windham County in town forests, public parks, and other public green spaces. I am wondering if Newfane would be interested in working with us to provide invasive support to your town-owned land.”

The Administrative Assistant will contact Blunk and find the time when Katy Johnson-Aplin and Jeff Chevalier would be able to meet and gather additional information to bring back to the other Board members. Gloria Cristelli and Jay Wilson will also be copied to see if they would like to attend.

Elizabeth Devane sent an email requesting a letter of support from Newfane. She wrote, “My name is Lizzie Devane – my husband Jon and I own a small gourmet mushroom farm in Newfane. We applied for CIP funds to support the expansion of our workspace to produce more mushrooms. The state agency of commerce and community development has requested more information before determining if we are eligible for funding.” As part of her application, a letter of support from the town is required. Unfortunately, the request was received too late for the town to provide the letter.

It was agreed that the Administrative Assistant will contact Devane to see if she was able to get more time from the state to provide the letter of support.

Ann Golob made a motion that if there is time to submit a letter then to give the Selectboard Chair permission to go ahead and provide the letter. The motion was seconded by Katy. Motion passed 4/0.

 Ann Golob made a motion to suspend the Selectboard meeting and to open the Board of Liquor Control. Katy Johnson-Aplin seconded. Motion passed 4/0. Selectboard suspended at 7:56 P.M.

BOARD OF LIQUOR CONTROL:  See posted minutes

 Katy Johnson –Aplin made a motion to re-open the Selectboard Meeting at 8:00 P.M.  Ann Golob seconded.

After the Board of Liquor Control closed, Ann Golob, who attended remotely, left the meeting at 8:00 P.M. 

PAY ORDERS:

1.       Payroll Warrant No# 11575                         Amount $   4,239.10
2.       Payroll Warrant No# 11576                          Amount $   6,468.63
3.       Accounts Payable No# 22028                       Amount $   27,368.11

Angela Sanborn made a motion to approve pay orders. Katy Johnson-Aplin seconded the motion. Motion passed 3/0.

ADJOURN:   Jeff Chevalier made a motion to adjourn. Meeting adjourned at 8:10 P.M.

Respectfully Submitted,
Administrative Assistant
Wannetta Powling

ADDENDA

Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund (ERAF) provides State funding to match FEMA Public Assistance after federally-declared disasters.  Federal taxpayers reimburse eligible public costs at 75%.  The State typically contributes half the required 25% non-federal match for approved projects. Under the new ERAF rule, which went into effect October 23, 2014, 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 on the recommended mitigation measures’ adoption level.

Needed for ERAF compliance:

  1. Adopt or take steps toward the adoption of a flood hazard bylaw adequate to secure participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP);
  2.  Adopt the most recent Agency of Transportation Town Road and Bridge Standards (annually certify adopted standards that meet or exceed the current standards);
  3. Adopt and maintain a Local Emergency Operations Plan (adopt annually after town meeting); AND
  4. 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. 17.5% – eligible communities also:
  5. Adopt a river corridor protection bylaw that meets or exceeds state model regulations and guidelines; OR
  6. Maintain an active rate classification under FEMA’s NFIP Community Rating System (CRS), including activities that prohibit new structures in mapped flood hazard areas.

After a declared disaster, the damage to public infrastructure, including roads and culverts, may approach a million dollars.  Here is how the cost of damage will be carried by federal, State, and municipal taxpayers:

7.5% ERAF Rate 12.5% ERAF Rate 17.5% ERAF Rate
Federal Share $750,000 $750,000 $750,000
State Share $75,000 $125,000 $175,000
Municipal Share $175,000 $125,000 $75,000
100% of $1,000,000 $1,000,000 $1,000,000 $1,000,000

Why Change the Rule?

According to state officials, implementing the new rule will result in long-term savings to both the State and municipalities. After a natural disaster, many municipalities fail to implement much-needed hazard mitigation measures that would minimize or eliminate future damages when rebuilding or repairing roads, bridges, culverts, and public buildings. Consequently, the municipality increases its exposure to future flooding, which may result in recurring and higher repair and maintenance costs. The intent of the mitigation measures required by the new ERAF rule is to minimize economic losses during floods by improving local resilience to future flooding. Additional advantages may include enhanced public safety, floodplain and river corridor protection, and improved water quality.