December 11, 2017










Monday, December 11, 2017

7:00 PM




PRESENT: Neal Speer, Village President; Chris Leach, Trustee; Adam Paxman, Trustee; Eugene LaBombard, Trustee; Reginald Beliveau, Village Manager; Lynn Paradis, Assistant Village Manager; Dianne Day, Village Clerk; Tim Girard, Fire Chief; Peter Prouty, Jason Butler, Jason Cross, Firefighters; Leonard “Joey” Stell, Chief of Police; Elisabeth Nance, Economic Development Coordinator; Gordon Winters, Tim Smith, Shawn Cheney and Ch. 16.


Unless otherwise noted, all motions carried unanimously.


1.   Call to Order:


Neal Speer, Village President, welcomed all to the Regular Board of Trustees meeting and called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.


2.   Agenda Review:




3.   Approve and Accept Minutes from Monday, November 27, 2017:


Chris Leach made the motion to approve and accept Minutes from Monday, November 27, 2017 as presented. Adam Paxman seconded. Discussion: None. Motion carried.           


4.   Approve and Accept Village Warrants through December 8, 2017:


Adam Paxman made the motion to approve and accept Village Warrants through December 8, 2017 as presented. Eugene LaBombard seconded. Discussion: Adam Paxman mentioned the VPPSA invoice. Eugene LaBombard asked what the Bergeron Protective Clothing invoice was for. Lynn Paradis stated that was for turnout gear in the Fire Department. Motion carried.


5.   Follow Up on Fire Department to Purchase New Fire Trucks:       


Lynn Paradis, Assistant Village Manager; explained that she ran some more numbers on purchasing the fire trucks. She gave an example of a home assessed at $200,000 purchasing both trucks with a 10 year bond and a 12 year bond. The increase for that scenario would be $30.01 per year. She gave an example of purchasing both trucks with a 15 year bond and the increase would be $19.58. She stated if they purchased just Engine #3 with a 10 year bond the increase on a $200,000 home would be $1.07 and if they purchased just the Ladder truck with a 12 year bond the increase would be $7.95 per year. Peter Prouty stated he contacted a couple of leasing companies and received some numbers back today from one of them. He said he would like Lynn to look these numbers over and see if it’s feasible for the Fire Department to lease the fire trucks rather than purchase. Lynn stated at the end of the lease agreement the Village could purchase the truck for $1. She said she thought the interest rate would be higher with a leasing company. Pete said they are running around 3% and Lynn said that’s what the percentage rate is with the bond companies so it may be worth looking at. Tim Girard, Fire Chief, stated that a lot of work has gone into this project and thanked his guys for working so hard on it. He said they put in their due diligence for sure. Chris Leach stated he would like to go with purchasing both trucks and said they are looking for the best economical way to do this. Neal Speer stated the voters will have to decide and thanked the Fire Department for all their hard work.


6.   Update on Rubber Dam:


Reginald Beliveau, Village Manager, informed the Board that the rubber bag has arrived at Port in New Jersey so he is hoping it will be shipped in 3 to 5 days. He said they will be storing the bag in the sub-station.


7.   Chief Stell – Update on Police Department:


Chief Stell stated things are going good in the Police Department and said their call volumes are about the same. He said they have one officer out right now and he expects him back next week on light duty. He said they are seeing some of the same problems as always but wanted to also remind people to report a crime when they see one. He said the opiate problem is still there but said they’ve seen a great success with the “Take Back the Drugs” event. He said residents can bring in their unused prescription drugs at any time and they will be disposed of properly. He said this will help with people taking someone else’s prescription drugs. He said because of this they have seen a decrease in burglaries. Adam Paxman stated he stopped by the Police Department on Sunday and an officer told him he was working on 35 cases in 3 days. He said that’s a lot of case loads piling up. Eugene LaBombard asked if Chief Stell was aware of the ATV issue in Highgate and Chief Stell said he wasn’t following it. Adam stated he is going to contact VAST and invite them to come in and discuss the issue here in Swanton with ATV’s. Chief Stell said they have caught individuals driving them through the Village and Town but said there are several more right behind them not getting caught. Neal Speer mentioned the study being done on the intersection of I89 and First Street. Adam stated a street light is much needed there and said it only makes sense. The Board thanked Chief Stell for the update.


8.    Elisabeth Nance, Economic Development Coordinator, Discussion on Model Communities Program:


Elisabeth Nance stated she is requesting a letter of support from the Board of Trustees for the Enhancement Project’s Climate Economy Model Communities Program application. Neal Speer read the letter of support aloud:


Dear Mr. Copans,


The Swanton Village Board of Trustees writes this letter in support of the Swanton Enhancement Project’s (SEP) Climate Economy Model Communities Program application.

Since 2013 the SEP has been working with village officials to revitalize Swanton’s downtown, including concerns identified as priorities during the 2015 VCRD Community Visit.  During this time Swanton has made great strides in addressing those issues, having established several task forces that continue their work and hiring an Economic Development Coordinator.

The Board of Trustees sees the Model Communities Program as an important next step toward continuing to address high priority concerns and toward beginning to address issues identified during the visit but deemed lesser priority, like improving energy efficiency.  Swanton Electric is municipally-owned, produces power from the Orman Croft Hydroelectric Plant and Dam, and boasts some of the lowest rates in the state, all of which is something Swanton needs to better promote.  In addition, Swanton has previously identified smart growth, working lands business development and business incubation as possible initiatives.  As Village Trustees we are encouraged by the SEP’s willingness to continue conversations about these areas as they directly impact efforts by the village and the SEP to revitalize Swanton’s economy. 

Working with the Town Selectboard and other partners, the Village Board of Trustees seeks to improve Swanton’s economy in the face of climate change and shifting economic conditions through initiatives like VCRD’s Climate Economy Model Communities Program and therefore fully supports the Swanton Enhancement Project’s application.


Eugene LaBombard made the motion to authorize the Village Board of Trustees to support and sign the Swanton Enhancement Project’s Climate Economy Model Communities Program application letter. Chris Leach seconded. Motion carried.


9.    2018 Budget Discussions:


Lynn Paradis, Assistant Village Manager, stated she has been working on the Village budgets and said tonight she would give a few highlights and details in each department.


ELECTRIC FUND: She said she factored in a 2.5% COLA (cost of living) increase for the Village employees. She also stated workman’s compensation is up $30,000 this year and every department sees an increase in this line item. She said health insurance is up by 4% as well. She increased the right of way tree trimming line item so they can get caught up from the wind storm. She said this is back up to $75,000. She said the net income is at $92,375 and she is expecting to do a rate increase in 2019. She said this is driven by the large solar projects going in and because of lost generation at the power plant.


WATER FUND: Lynn stated maintenance is up in this fund quite a bit and she still needs to sit with Scott Mueller to see why. She said there have been less water line breaks in this department and she doesn’t expect a rate increase in this fund for 2018.


SEWER FUND: Lynn stated she budgeted for a new employee in this department because they have someone retiring in 2018. She said they saw a huge increase in chemicals this year, workman’s compensation is up and health insurance is up. She said she is expecting a rate increase in the sewer department in 2018. She said a 1.74% increase in the fixed rate and a 3.42% increase in the variable rate would take care of what she needed in this fund.


COMMERCIAL BUILDING FUND: Lynn stated she had nothing to report in this fund due to the upcoming sale.


GENERAL FUND: Lynn stated the Village office is out of space and is very cramped. She said the Human Resources position really needs their own office for privacy reasons and said the Police Department is out of room also. She said if net metering keeps growing like it has they may need to hire another person to keep up. She also said the labor is up in the parks due to longer good weather and upkeep.


FIRE DEPARTMENT: Lynn stated this department has level funded this year. She said she just made the last payment on the fire truck and said the air packs are on a five year plan. She said workman’s compensation is up in this fund also. Lynn said the Town’s share for fire protection is now up to 76% and the Village is at 24%. She said dispatching was reduced this year but they moved that money to personal protective gear.


POLICE DEPARTMENT:  Chris Leach stated this is a lot of money for this department. Lynn said workman’s compensation is up $11,000 in this fund. Lynn said the Town Contract is up by 2% but said Joey has extended their coverage time in his proposal. She said they have budgeted for a new vehicle in this fund because the Tahoe only gets 10 mph. She said they will do a lease agreement on a new vehicle.


HIGHWAY: Lynn stated this fund is up substantially this year. She said the whole work load will shift due to a retirement in late 2018. She said streetlighting is now considerably lower than it has been. She said she has a $21,000 trackless payment, paving was pushed up to $50,000 and she budgeted $50,000 for equipment in 2018.


Lynn stated that the General Fund is going from .0788 to .0797; the Fire Department is going from .0437 to .0420; the Police Department is going from .3768 to .3799 and the Highway Department is going from .2917 to .3293. She said there is an overall increase of 4 cents on the tax rate from 2017 to 2018. She said Village taxpayers would see an increase on a $150,000 home of $59.81, on a $175,000 home the increase would be $69.77 and on a $200,000 home the increase would be $79.74. Lynn is asking the Trustees to take these budgets home and look them over and if they see anywhere she can cut to let her know. The Board thanked Lynn for her hard work on these budgets.


10. Any Other Necessary Business:


Chris Leach asked if performance appraisals were done yet. Reg Beliveau stated not yet.


Any Other Business: Adam Paxman read a letter that was written to the Police Department stating that officer #433 helped this person’s daughter tremendously and she really appreciated it.


Reg Beliveau stated he would need an executive session to discuss real estate.


11. Public Comment:




12. Executive Session (If Necessary):


Eugene LaBombard made the motion to enter into Executive Session to discuss real estate at 8:36 p.m. Chris Leach seconded. Motion carried.


Chris Leach made the motion to exit Executive Session at 9:00 p.m. Adam Paxman seconded. Motion carried.


ACTION TAKEN: Adam Paxman made the motion that in order to keep jobs in Swanton the Village Board of Trustees will sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the Village of Swanton, Swanton Town, FCIDC, Alain Morrisette, Gordon Winters and a local business man to relocate BMTM into Swanton Town and authorize the Village Manager to sign all pertinent documents. Eugene LaBombard seconded. Discussion: Reg Beliveau stated that if you look back to the April 10, 2017 St. Albans Messenger, it states in the article that their goal is to find a new home for the Teen Center and to keep the 25 jobs in Swanton. He said this goal was successfully completed. Motion carried.


13. Adjournment:


Chris Leach made the motion to adjourn the Regular Board of the Trustees meeting at 9:05 p.m. Eugene LaBombard seconded. There being no further business at hand, Neal Speer, Village President, adjourned the meeting at 9:05 p.m. Motion carried.


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Neal Speer, Village President                           Date


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Dianne Day, Village Clerk                               Date