SWANTON VILLAGE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
SWANTON VILLAGE MUNICIPAL COMPLEX
120 FIRST STREET
SWANTON, VT 05488
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Monday, December 10, 2018
MINUTES NOT YET APPROVED BY
THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
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; Ben Doyle & Cheryl Ducharme, USDA Rural Development; David Jescavage, Swanton Town Administrator; Taylor Wunsch 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 p.m.
2. Agenda Review:
3. Public Comment:
Ben Doyle and Cheryl Ducharme were present for this discussion. Ben thanked the Board and Reg Beliveau for having them. He stated he was in Swanton when they held the Community Visit three years ago. Reg stated that Ben and Cheryl gave a discussion at one of his VPPSA meetings to discuss the Rural Economic Development Loan & Grant Program and he wanted them here tonight to explain this to the Board of Trustees. Ben said this is a Federal agency and their purpose is to promote rural economic development and promote job creation projects in rural communities. He said they invest in housing mortgages, are very active in business development working with non-profits who support small businesses with revolving loans and are also very active in essential community infrastructure such as fire stations, libraries, water and wastewater infrastructures, etc. He said they have 46 different programs at rural development and there are some programs they haven’t used in 20 years. He said two years ago they went to North Dakota and they talked with them about a program they use a lot which is the Rural Economic Development Loan Grant Program. He said this is a loan which USDA Rural Development makes to a municipally owned electric company or an electric coop. He said then the municipally owned power company or coop can re-lend that money to a private business or non-profit organization to do an economic development project. He said a good example of this would be if a company in an industrial park wanted to do an expansion but couldn’t afford it, they could work with the electric company in their community. He said USDA would loan money to the power company and they would then re-lend the money to the company to do the expansion. He said the utility could borrow up to $2 million dollars with zero percent interest for up to 10 years and would have to relend this money to a preselected borrower at identical loan terms. He said the utility isn’t making money on this, it’s making an investment in the economic development of their community. Ben said the benefit to the rate payers is the utility is more stable with a major user in the community.
Ben stated he hasn’t done one of these loans in 20 years and said Vermont is very regulated. He said it’s a very popular program in the Midwest and has helped with numerous projects. He said he’s done a lot of homework on this in terms of meeting with VPPSA and Ken Nolan who is very supportive of this. He said they’ve talked with the Public Utilities Commission about this and the Public Service Board as well. He said they would be willing to sit with them and an applicant if one comes of this. He said a lot of utilities don’t want to get involved with this because they aren’t a bank and don’t want to add extra work to their staff. He said some of this could be contracted out. Cheryl stated a utility could work with their Town who has a background with revolving loans, etc. She said the Town could be the fudiciary agent and handle the loan piece of it. She said the utility could add a 1% fee to the loan to cover those expenses. Lynn stated she has concerns because not only does the Village have PUC rules, she asked how the Village would skirt Title 24. She said the Village would still have to deal with the lending laws and having to get voter approval and go out for a bond if the loan is over 5 years. She said the Village is Australian Ballot so whether it’s a 12 month loan or a 20 year loan she needs to go to the Village voters for approval. Cheryl stated she didn’t think the Village could skirt those issues. Cheryl said she believes if the utility borrows a million dollars they didn’t have to get the licensing. Ben said their advice is if they can get one utility to go ahead with this and find that it’s economically beneficial that would be great. He said they are not trying to talk anyone into anything, he said they’re a federal agency who’s seen such great success in North Dakota he said he’d like to see it here in Vermont. Lynn said the Village already has revolving loan funds and are having trouble relending that money out. Lynn asked what happens if they find a customer who wants to do this and borrows the money and then goes out of business. She asked if the Village would be on the hook for the loan and Cheryl stated yes, the Village would be responsible. Lynn said this is a huge concern. More discussion took place regarding collateral and how this process works. Ben said a utility shouldn’t lend to anyone who doesn’t have the collateral to back the loan. Cheryl said USDA Rural Development would assist the utility with the paperwork and look at the borrower along with them. She said they are in this to make good loans and get that money out there for good economic development. Neal Speer stated his concern is this program has been around and available for 20 years but USDA Rural Development hasn’t had one loan go through in those 20 years.
Cheryl said they are seeing all the good this program is doing in North Dakota and they would like to see that happen here in Vermont and in New Hampshire. The Board thanked them for their information and time.
4. Approve and Accept Minutes from the Monday, November 26, 2018 Regular Meeting:
Adam Paxman made the motion to approve and accept the Minutes from Monday, November 26, 2018 as presented. Eugene LaBombard seconded. Discussion: None. Motion carried.
5. Approve and Accept Village Warrants through Friday, December 7, 2018:
Chris Leach made the motion to approve and accept Village Warrants through Friday, December 7, 2018 as presented. Eugene LaBombard seconded. Discussion: Adam Paxman asked about the payment made to Jack Farrelly Co. for $7297.87. Lynn Paradis stated she believed that was for the live tap on the water line job. He also asked about the payment made to CE Power. Lynn Paradis advised that was for maintenance at the Hydro Plant. Motion carried.
6. Missisquoi Valley Rescue Request Coin Drop for August 17, 2019:
Eugene LaBombard made the motion to approve MVR’s request to hold a coin drop on Saturday, August 17, 2019 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon with a rain date of Saturday, August 24, 2019 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. Chris Leach seconded. Motion carried with two yays and one nay.
7. Fire Department Update:
Jason Butler, 1st Assistant Chief, stated that Engine 3 should be completed in late February and have a delivery date of March 2019. He said the ladder truck should be in after that and he is hoping to have both in service by May. He said the Fire Department was presented with an opportunity to bid on a 21’ SeaRay rescue boat the Town of St. Albans had and they have won the bid. He said Star Hose bid $7,000 and won the bid. He said Star Hose would now like to donate this boat to the Swanton Village Fire Department so it can be used for lake/river rescues, etc. He said they can fight fire from this boat if needed and will require a minimum amount of training to do so. Jason also said the boat comes with a 200 HP engine motor and that alone is worth $11,000. Chris Leach made the motion to accept Star Hose’s donation of a 1991 Tri State Sea Ray boat, trailer and 2011 Mercury 200 HP OPTI XL motor. Eugene LaBombard seconded. Motion carried.
8. 2019 Budget Discussions:
FIRE DEPARTMENT: Lynn stated the 2018 retirements affected all the budgets because of how she splits their time. He said health insurance is up 1% and that’s the lowest increase she’s seen. She said the property insurance looks to be level funded. She said outside services are up in all departments as well because the Village needs a software update in 2019. She said the two new fire trucks has caused an increase and the Town/Village split is 74/26% based on the grand list. She said she kept salaries the same and they are under budget for the year. She said she put dispatching in for $15,000 for 2019 and said that’s her only unknown item at this time. Lynn said the tax rate for a Village taxpayer versus a Town taxpayer is almost the same. She said it’s approximately .4 cents per thousand for fire protection.
HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT: Lynn stated the amount of money to be raised in this department is going down a bit due to the supervisor retiring. She said she has a grant in this fund with a match that’s up a bit and State Aid is the same. She said property insurance is up a bit, they have a new ton truck and workman’s comp insurance is up also. She said they go through VLCT for this insurance and do get a better coverage and dropped premiums. She said they offer a lot of free classes and get their CDL drug testing at no cost.
GENERAL FUND: Lynn said this budget is up a by 3.55% because the Village Complex needs a new furnace. She said she budgeted $40,000 for maintenance for electric, water and sewer. The 2018 budget was 0.0787 compared to 2019 at 0.0816 for a change of .0029.
POLICE DEPARTMENT: Lynn said this budget is up a little too because of a change in insurance plans. She said they need a new cruiser for the K-9 unit. Eugene LaBombard stated he thought the department told the Board they would use an old cruiser for the K-9 when they got the dog. Chris Leach said he thought they were told the same thing also. The budget for 2018 was 0.3834 compared to 2019 at 0.4130, for a change of 0.0296.
COMMERCIAL BUILDING FUND: Lynn said all she has in this fund is the Revolving Loan Fund and the $6000 payment from the Central School loan each year.
ELECTRIC DEPARTMENT: Lynn said residential sales are down in this fund because of energy efficiency and because of solar. She said between residential and commercial solar they are paying out over $300,000 annually in credits. She said this budget is very similar to last year. She said they are caught up in maintenance at the plant. She said retirement affected this department as well and she has budgeted for a lineman to be hired in March. She said Invoice Cloud charges are up for running credit card payments and health insurance stayed level funded.
WATER DEPARTMENT: Lynn said she doesn’t anticipate a rate increase in this department for 2019. She said they had an increase in property insurance also.
SEWER DEPARTMENT: Lynn said she may need a rate increase in the sewer department. She said they have two special sewer accounts and because of the phosphorus issues out there they may be looking at a plant upgrade in the near future.
SUMMARY: Lynn said the 2018 tax rate was 0.8267 and the 2019 estimated tax rate is 0.8806 for a difference of 0.0539 which is a 6.52% increase.
The Board thanked Lynn for this first round of budgets.
9. Any Other Necessary Business:
Adam Paxman said he would like to make a change to the coin drop policy and that would be if you were approved to hold a coin drop in 2018 you would need to skip a year before you can request another one. Eugene LaBombard stated he isn’t hearing from groups that they can’t get in. Dianne Day, Village Clerk, stated she isn’t hearing that either but said she would keep track of it for him and see if it’s a problem.
Any Other Business: Reg Beliveau stated he was asked about placing the Playground Fund sign out front and the Board advised him to check with the Zoning office first to see if a permit was required. Reg said he would look into it.
Any Other Business: Chris Leach stated he saw a lady skating on the rink today and said how nice it looked in the park.
Reg Beliveau stated he would need an Executive Session to discuss Contracts.
11. Executive Session If Necessary:
Eugene LaBombard made the motion to enter into Executive Session at 9:37 p.m. to discuss Contracts. Chris Leach seconded. Motion carried.
Chris Leach made the motion to exit Executive Session at 10:30 p.m. Adam Paxman seconded. Motion carried.
ACTION TAKEN: None.
Eugene LaBombard made the motion to adjourn the Regular Board of Trustees meeting at 10:30 p.m. Chris Leach seconded. There being no further business at hand, Neal Speer, Village President, adjourned the meeting at 10:30 p.m. Motion carried.
Neal Speer, Village President Date
Dianne Day, Village Clerk Date