SWANTON VILLAGE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
SWANTON VILLAGE MUNICIPAL COMPLEX
120 FIRST STREET
SWANTON, VT 05488
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INFORMATIONAL MEETING & PUBLIC HEARING
Monday, February 24, 2020
MINUTES NOT YET APPROVED BY
THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
PRESENT: Joel Clark, Selectman Chair; Gary Centabar, Selectman; Karen Drennan, Selectwoman; Mark Rocheleau, Selectman; Cathy Fournier, Town Clerk; David Jescavage, Town Administrator; Brian Savage, Town Administrator; Chris Leach, Village Trustee; Adam Paxman, Trustee; Eugene LaBombard, Trustee; Reginald Beliveau, Village Manager; Dianne Day, Village Clerk; Leonard “Joey” Stell, Chief of Police; Jason Butler, Fire Chief; Jason Cross, Tim Girard, Rich Kelley, Betty Cheney, Betsy Fournier, Elisabeth Nance, Dick Thompson, Jim Pratt, Cody & Paige Hemenway, Amy & Robert Giroux, Susan Hunter, Glen Gurwit, Ron & Sandy Kilburn, Louise Labombard, Don Gilbert, Joanne Parah Reiter, Ed Daniel, Ashley & Joe Marchant, Ali Boren, Barbara Hubis, Bona Sylva, Heather Buczkowski, Piper Buczkowski, Judy Paxman, Ken & Darlene DeHart, Marcel Moreau and Ch. 16.
Unless otherwise noted, all motions carried unanimously.
1. Call to Order:
Joel Clark, Town Selectman, called the Town Informational Meeting to order at 7 p.m. Chris Leach, Village Trustee, called the Village Informational Meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
2. Pledge of Allegiance:
All stood for the Pledge of Allegiance.
3. Agenda Review:
Joel Clark stated after the Town’s Warning is read, they will show their power point presentation, then the Village will read their warning and show presentation.
4. Reading of Town of Swanton’s Annual Warning – Moderator Brian Savage:
Brian Savage read aloud the Town of Swanton’s Annual Warning. See Town Minutes for their power point presentation.
5. Reading of Village of Swanton’s Annual Warning – Village Trustee & Chair Chris Leach:
Chris Leach, Village Trustee, read aloud the 2020 Annual Village Warning. Reg Beliveau, Village Manager, presented the following power point presentation.
6. Power Point Presentation and Discussion of Town of Swanton’s Proposed 2020 Budget:
See Town Minutes for presentation.
7. Power Point Presentation and Discussion of Village of Swanton’s Proposed 2020 Budget:
Reg Beliveau presented the following power point presentation:
Tax Rate 2019 Actual vs. 2020 Proposed
- General Fund 2019 Tax Rate = $0.0814 vs 2020 Tax Rate = $0.0822
- Fire Department 2019 Tax Rate = $0.0468 vs 2020 Tax Rate = $0.0504
- Police Department 2019 Tax Rate = $0.3926 vs 2020 Tax Rate = $0.4284
- Highway Department 2019 Tax Rate = $0.3223 vs 2020 Tax Rate = $0.3228
- 2019 Tax Rate = $0.8431 vs 2020 Tax Rate = $0.8838 for a change of .0407
Taxes 2019 Actual vs. 2020 Proposed
- 2019 Actual on a $150,000 House = $1264.65; $175,000 House = $1475.42; $200,000 House = $1686.20
- 2020 Proposed on a $150,000 House = $1325.70 for an increase of $61.05; $175,000 House = $1546.65 for an increase of $71.23; and
- $200,000 House = $1767.60 for an increase of $81.40
Proposed 2020 Taxes by Department
- $150,000 House = General $123.30, Fire $75.60, Police $642.60, Highway $484.20 = $1325.70
- $175,000 House = General $143.85, Fire $88.20, Police $749.70, Highway $564.90 = $1546.65
- $200,000 House – General $164.40, Fire $100.80, Police $856.80, Highway $645.60 = $1767.60
2019 r in Review
Wastewater Treatment Plant
- TMDL standards will challenge us - we’ve tried some tests with different chemicals
- We have begun the 20-year evaluation of the wastewater plant
- We continue to perform routine maintenance
Water Treatment Plant
- Performing well – continue to perform preventative maintenance
- Continue the Blue/Green Algae monitoring
- We have begun the process to engineer a new water line across the river as a redundant source of water from our water plant
- Paving Project 2019 - completed our own small projects on Brown Avenue and Depot Street
- Sidewalk Work - Canada Street and New Street
- GIS – manholes, structures and outfalls
- Preparation for 20-year operations and structures evaluation of the WWTP
- Work with WWTP on lagoon work
- Work with Town Public Works crew on Swanton School Playground
- Also new hire – Dillon Dupont
- Summer help Brian Paradis
Electric Department - 125 years old
- We provided mutual aid to our neighboring utilities
- Continue to keep up on tree trimming in order to reduce outages during high wind and heavy snow events
- Performed line extensions for customers and upgraded some of our poles and lines
- Moved poles on South River Street to assist the Town with a walkability project from the Rail Trail to the Village sidewalk system
- Public Power Week/Day
- Zem modular home in park
- Working relationship with Efficiency VT, VPPSA, VT GAS
- We want to be known as a “collaborator” for VPPSA and EVT
- New Hire Jody Benoit
- General repairs continue – E-maintenance program
- Started the process for re-licensing to be completed in 2023 (3 years out)
- Halloween Day rains – near record 9.49ft
- Triggers our EAP (Emergency Action Plan) at Hydro Plant along with EMD planning
- Retirement of operator Albert Paradis in December – 11 Years of Service
- New Hires – Daniel Chevalier and Joshua Packard
- Over 1500 individual assets throughout the Village
- All entered in a preventative maintenance program
- Ensures equipment is being visited and maintained per manufacturer specs
- Continue to provide top notch customer service while providing accounting, grant management, billing, accounts payable, human resources, IT support, job estimates and payroll to all the departments
- The staff improves their skills through continuing education by taking courses in accounting, customer service and general courses relating to the Public Utilities Commission, State Law and Efficiency Vermont
- A lot of support for a small staff!
- Built in 1978
- Village Complex houses the administrative offices, public works, electric, fire, police and Missisquoi Valley Rescue departments
- Several of the departments have outgrown their space
- The Village hired Wiemann-Lamphere Architects to do an evaluation of the Complex
Thoughts for 2020
- Community and Economic Development
- Work with local businesses, rental and home properties
- EVT and VPPSA and Swanton Electric – importance of this partnership
- State Representatives – VPPSA presents at the State House
- Making sure our voice is heard at the State House
- The importance of our Public Power Utility
- Village and Town resource sharing
- No duplication of services it’s collaboration of services
- Equipment, materials and resources
25 Years of Service
Reg Beliveau mentioned Daren Plouff, electric lineman; and Brian Bishop, water plant operator, achieving 25 years of service in 2019. He also said Brian will be retiring in July 2020. Reg also mentioned Albert Paradis retiring in December 2019 after 11 years of service as a hydro plant operator.
- Village President 1-year term - Neal Speer: Chris Leach read a letter that Neal left with him since he couldn’t make the meeting this year.
- Village Clerk 1-year term - Dianne Day: Thanked everyone for their past support and asked for their continued support.
- Village Trustee 3-year term – Adam Paxman: Thanked everyone for their past support and asked for their continued support.
- Collector of Delinquent Taxes 1-year term - Betty Cheney: Thanked everyone for their past support and asked for their continued support.
8. Public Comment:
Ed Daniel asked who was going to be left in ten years to pay taxes in Swanton because people are leaving Vermont. He said the taxes are too high and after reading through the Village Report and reading a newspaper article in January he thought the taxpayers were told the funds raised from the sale of the fire trucks would be put toward the cost of the new trucks. He said a 9% increase in the police department and an 8% increase in the fire department is too high. He said instead of paying overtime rates to the police officers they should just hire new officers. He also said he is against placing surplus funds in a specific fund because he doesn’t get any benefit from it. Ed said he is going to vote no on the police and fire budgets on March 4th as well as the three articles asking to place surplus funds in specific departments. He said if the taxpayers defeat these five articles the Village will need to hold another vote and they should demand the Village use those surplus funds to bring down the fire and police budgets.
Heather Buczkowski stated the price of a new fire truck is already 15% higher than what the Village paid last year. Reg Beliveau stated the two fire trucks cost $1.4 million dollars and you will see the final number being reduced by over $100,000 which were funds from the sale of the trucks.
Michelle Nordberg stated she has looked through both the Village and Town Reports and she feels each department should show what percentage that fund is increasing instead of just showing the actual numbers.
Cathy Fournier stated the Town does show percentages in their report. Chris Leach said he has been an opponent of the police budget in the past and feels the board has scrutinized their budget hard this year. He said there are increases out of anyone’s control such as workman’s compensation, health insurance and liability insurance. He also said there is a shortage of officers at this time. Chief Stell explained why his labor rates have increased this year and said they are continually searching for new recruits and have some placed in training at this time. He said the hiring process is very intense and not anyone can just come in and be placed in training. Eugene LaBombard stated he also has been hard on this department but said another reason for their high labor numbers this year was because there was a home invasion case in the Village which resulted in numerous hours of investigation. He said he doesn’t want to see another one of those cases and he also mentioned the bb gun vandalism case which also took numerous hours to investigate. He asked Chief Stell to explain what the police department is facing today. Chief Stell stated the State of Vermont is short 101 police officers at this time. He said even if they were to hire that amount there’s no way they would all be able to be in training at the same time. He said this is a problem nationwide not just in Vermont. He said his department began training four officers last year but only two made it through the process. He said they have part time officers in training now and hopefully they will be on the road in a few months.
Sandy Kilburn stated she wanted to thank the Town and the Village on how they work together and said as Joel Clark would say, they are ONE Swanton.
Cody Hemenway said he was born and raised in Swanton and he feels this is a safe and close-knit community. He said because of that he and his wife just purchased their first home and their kids are attending Swanton schools. He said he does not plan on moving out of Swanton. Reg Beliveau read the last paragraph of his annual report which states: Overall, 2019 was a year filled with projects which were championed by our community partners and our supportive citizenry. It takes all of us to work together to make a community as special as what we have today. Every one of us are as important as the other. We all make this a community and are responsible for the culture and the climate that our visitors experience while they visit us. Our beautifully historic and picturesque community draws people to visit, it’s each one of us that make them stay. Thank you for volunteering, participating and being involved.
9. Any Other Necessary Business:
10. Executive Session If Necessary:
11. Adjournment by both Boards:
Eugene LaBombard made the motion to adjourn the Board of the Trustees Informational Meeting and Public Hearing at 8:26 p.m. Adam Paxman seconded. There being no further business at hand, Chris Leach, Village Trustee, adjourned the meeting at 8:26 p.m. Motion carried.
Neal Speer, Village President Date
Dianne Day, Village Clerk Date