Chelsea Selectboard Meeting Minutes (Draft)
Tuesday, November 1, 2022 at 7:31 PM at Chelsea Town Hall
Selectboard Members present: Levar Cole, Mark Whitney, Bruce Hook, Geoff Clayton, Merrill Whitney
Other Town Employees present: Karen Lathrop, Town Clerk, Gayle Durkee, Treasurer, Rick Ackerman,
Members of the Public: Cindy Allen, Emily Newman
- Call Meeting to Order
Meeting called to order at 7:31 pm by Levar Cole, Chair
- Conflict of Interest disclosure
- Changes to agenda
Cole added TRORC budget piece under Department Liaison Updates
- Town Clerk
Lathrop gave brief update to Board on election concerns as to whether write-ins on ballots might show up as overvote if voters did not stay within the box for the write-in candidate
a. Budget Status- All areas okay but Highway Fuel is at 162% with fuel prices increasing. This led to a Board discussion on backup plan if fuel becomes scarce in the winter and needs are not met by suppliers. Concerns are high, as Fire and Ambulance pull from the same fuel tank. Rick states the tank is 1000 gallons and it is filled weekly. Bruce and Rick to create a plan for winter, Mark to speak with Tracy Simon, on emergency plan. Board position at this point is if fuel supplies run low this winter, Town won’t be doing business as usual. Discussion on prioritization/rationing of fuel assets. Rick states there is no
issue with salt. Cargill stated supply should be fine.
Gayle noted she paid all appropriations but not the Fire Dept as we collect their taxes. School taxes have to be paid (1.7 million). Over$ 687,000 of taxes are still outstanding. She has concerns there might not be enough money even with ARPA fund and a line of credit might be necessary, She noted the line credit is usually $ 450,000.
Action Item: Geoff Clayton moves Gayle seek a line of credit for $300,00.00 to cover Town in the event not enough revenue comes in. Motion seconded by Levar Cole. Voted by unanimous consent of the Board.
b. Orders- Question by Mark Whitney as to cost of Brake Cans on order. Discussion by Board
and Rick as to cost, quality and warranty. Mark to check on costs at other supplier.
Action Item: Mark moved to approve orders. Motion seconded by Geoff. Board voted approval by unanimous consent.
Gayle presented new lease from Mullens for Treasurer/Admin Office. Lease increasing by
$100.00/month. Cole noted it will be on the next agenda.
- Department/Liaison Updates
a. Bruce went over the questions asked of Rick on 10/22/2022 about Klondike Rd unpermitted excavation. No site plan, 48 hour notice was given verbally, no application submitted, there was a request by the land owner via phone call, which Rick could not reply to as lost cell number. Rick only spoke with Tad Boardman the morning of excavation.
Cole noted that the Town a policy on work within the right of way has been in place since 2012, and there is also Statute on it. The Board expectations are for the process to be followed and the process was not followed. Merrill noted the person should get the paperwork from the Clerk’s Office or the Admin’s Office. Bruce stated everyone in this day and age knows permits are a requirement. Geoff shared the legal advice he received. The legal opinion was that the Town not to allow a line under a road as it creates a liability for the Town. Geoff not in favor of it. Mark noted there are other lines under the roads that pre-date this current Board but fell within the timeline of when the policy was put in place.
Chair requested the Clerk to look through the records for permits. Merrill stated the applicant will claim he spoke with the Road Foreman and received permission. Road Foreman note many people work in the Right of Way without permits. Levar noted the discussion is about utility under the Town Right of Way in this issue. Geoff’s concern iTs still Town liability. Levar made it clear the permitting process needs to be done correctly not what past practice has been. Levar stated for the record that Town Policy and Statute
were not followed and it must be followed in the future. Mark’s concern is equitable treatment for all.
Road Foreman stated he knows going forward that State Statute must be followed.
Board discussion on how to notify applicant of unpermitted work. Road Forman in favor of Board notification as they sign the permit. Levar noted when permits are granted the Road Foreman was the messenger so why wouldn’t he be the messenger for this.
Cindy Allen asked questions about whether he would be able to even get a permit, what with the laywer’s advice. Levar stated as of now they want the road restored. Work was done on the road unpermitted and without the supervision of the Road Foreman. He noted the road has considerable settlement. The landowner has not submitted a permit so they haven’t ruled on it. She expressed concern that the Road Foreman would be out there again doing it all over. Mark noted the Road Foreman does not do the work. Merrill notd the Lawyer gave advice and shouldn’t the Board follow it.
Levar stated to do that the Board would have to re-write a specific policy and rescind the current one. Geoff expressed concern and would like to see the applicants in the future sign a release from liability. Levar thinks that is already in our policy. There was a discussion on permits that come before the Board that have a necessity for a permit Levar to write letter to send to Admin Assistant to put on Letterhead.
Action Item : Geoff moves to have the landowner remove the pipe (utility) and restore the road to its original condition. Motion seconded by Levar Cole. . Board voted approval by unanimous consent.
Garage Structure passed over.
Hook Road Guardrail still in progress, expected to be finished in a day. Discussion on guardrail parts.
Pepper Road done
Bobbinshop bridge guardrail was damaged. The Board discussion with Rick as to company liable, bridge damage, none. Discussion on permits to be on the roads. Mark stated it is a State permit. Clerk states it is the overweight permit. Not every trucker gets them if it is a one day delivery. The DOT would have to see it happen, then they would have to file a permit violation. Treasurer questioned whether the company liable should find a company to do the installation. Road Foreman said bridge needs heavier rails. Bruce, highway liaison, Rick and Gayle to work on that project together.
Moved to Agenda Item 13 Human Resources – Executive Session before Merrill Whitney had to leave.
Action Item: Levar moved to go into executive session for Hurman Resources (1 VSA 313 (a) 3) at 8:40 PM. Seconded by Geoff. Gayle Durkee invited to stay.
Board exited executive session at 8:43 PM – No action taken Merrill Whitney left the meeting.
Bruce continued to his Liaison report. Reported pipeline on Town Farm Road was rolled up. Levar concerns that they would need a permit to do that. Bruce also noted many people do work on the roads just to be nice. How would the Board deal with that. Is there Town liability for that? Board asked Road Foreman’s opinion. Rick stated they don’t really look at it. Bruce stated he needs an answer in order to answer people calling him. Levar’s thoughts- maybe consider that in the road plan being created.
Geoff’s thoughts- if not changing the road structure it could be written in. Road Foreman concernwould that create a liability to the Road Foreman. Mark Whitney’s concern, liability through knowledge.
Bruce to work on that for the Road Plan.
Equipment Plan Update- Board looked at the plan submitted by Rick. Listing of equipment and projected replacement dates. Geoff to send a pic of it. Levar would like it on the December agenda.
Levar moved up to
- Public Comments
Cindy Allen would like Board support for the newsletter, the Chelsea Spotlight. Stated other Towns support their newsletter. She asked for support so they can become a non-profit that is cost prohibited. The newsletter would come out twice a year. To file for a non-profit consists of many fees. She noted the Town has the rec committee under it’s umbrella. They are requesting being a line item in the budget or asked for an appropriation ($1000.00). She read their goals and content. Levar spoke to speech paid for by government. Geoff spoke to whether this could come under the Historical Society? Also if it was a Town Committee it would need a charter. There are options out there to do this. Cindy thanked the Board and it will be considered.
Levar moved to Agenda Item 8.
Budget Discussion for Highway as Rick was present. Rick noted he had a few items to share
before the budget. He gave an update on the Beaver’s and Dam. Dam was taken out, Beavers left to go to Mize’s pond. One was relocated, one dispatched.
Rick questioned how to input his hours for the Wastewater Plant. Levar stated for switching the flow chart. Levar asked if it was a daily event? Yes. Levar informed the Board that Rick has been doing it every day but stated John can do it also. Levar said they were covering their time for that. Rick says they have to come down on the weekends also and needs to know how to put in hours. Is it a 2 hour call in or hourly? Is it a total of 3 hours? Board feels it is an emergency situation and it should be the call in time and the other hour for a total of three. Just stay coordinated with Mike Whipple.
Rick requested Board guidance on whether he should be doing the sidewalks and Town Hall steps. Board discussion on having John doing it. Rick stated John’s route is longer which is why he does it. Just does not want people coming back to him on it. Board backs him unanimously on it. Rick to follow the same process as he has but if they get extra custodian hours that might change. Rick brought up the sidewalk in front Haywards on North Common. Geoff stated he could speak with him. Brush needs to be cut back
in order to get it plowed and salted.
Rick asked if the Board wants him to chop the leaves up on the common. Board would like John to do that when he comes back from vacation. Hold off for a week. Rick also asked about the two dead trees.
Mark is working on it.
Board and Rick went through the Highway Budget. Rick said salaries dropped a little because there are only 3 full time and could cut back some. Overtime, depends on mud season. VEMERS is increasing,
Gayle noted because it is going up to 5% until July and 5.25% after July. Rick stated up equipment repairs up as the equipment is getting older. Garage Technology is up due to protection plan for the laptop. Heating fuel/electricy. Propane has not gone up much. $5,000 heating. Last year was $4500.00 and two months to go. Gayle stated the Town was locked in at the price for the fuel.
Rick stated we are at $60,000 for diesel some of the total amount spent was ambulance and fire Gayle said ambulance payed quarterly and the fire dept was annually. She noted equipment payments were less. Board wanted to know if the equipment repairs could be broken out if they need to see costs per vehicle.
Rick reported McCulloughs told him material prices were going up fifty cents/yard and they may not have any sand left at the Barre pit. Board questioned where would they get it. Rick stated they would have to look around. Town usually gets 4,000 yards. He wants tostay at that amount. Average for Town is 3,7000. Manufactured sand is expensive. Washed screened is 18.25/yard. Total cost of sand would be 162.000.00. Mark states that just gives us an idea of what we will be looking at. Rick stated salt is the same. Town uses 200-230/tons. Last year was $73.94/ton. This year would be $86.00/ton. This year he said he has used 162 ton and has about 22 tons left with November and December to go. He said Cargill assured him there was no issue with obtaining salt.
Levar asked about the guardrails. Rick stated there was a guardrail that was damaged last winter on Washington Turnpike that will have to be replace Levar told the Board if they had any questions about the budget to contact Bruce/Rick.
Went back to agenda
b. Transfer Station- Geoff reported electric fence will go up in spring. There’s always an issue
with the locks. Geoff could co-ordinate a key drop off.
c. Water/Wastewater -Levar ran down the two week roster that Mike Whipple co-ordinated .
he noted the Town still needed a long term plan if Nolan is not back in a couple a weeks. The State is being supportive. Mike/Tracy/ Levar would call the State if there was any issues and the Board notified as soon as possible.
d. Public Safety- Levar asked Mark to hold off on the contracts.
e. Grounds- Mowing Bid – Mark reported he had the old one from 2016 and it needed the
three FEMA properties added to it and dates updated. Geoff had question about the old Battey property that Frank was mowing. Board said he has an easement to get to the other property. Mark stated Rick had it on it on his time card so it should go on the RFP. Board chose December 15, 2022 for date to submit by and December 20, 2022 bid opening at the Selectboard meeting.
Action Item: Mark moved to approve the updated RFP for Town Property Maintenance Services with Geoff seconding the motion. Board voted to approve the motion.
f. Administration- Health Insurance- Levar reported he looked at it from the standpoint of
competitiveness that our people would appreciate it as everything is going up in cost. He asked Gayle her opinion. She reported the Town has always gone with the Platinum Plan. MVP is less Blue Cross is a little more. Board has asked for input from employees, but nothing has been forthcoming.
Action item: Levar moved the Board choose the MVP Platinum Plan for the Town Health Insurance option with Mark seconding the motion. Board voted to approve the motion.
Purchase Policy Amendment- Levar asked if it was read. Gayle said she read it. She wondered about the second part where there were purchases that were not normally used. Levar said the Town does not want employees to purchase using their own cards. That is the reason for the amendment. No one is using personal card.
Action item: Levar moved to amend the Town of Chelsea Purchase Polciy. Change page 5. To
exceptions/value services. The values in this section is hereby changed from $10,000.00 to $20,000.00.
The second amendment to be the Town Treasurer/Administrative Assistant may use a purchase/debit card for purchases approved by the Selectboard, whether it be a recurring such as online subscription services or one time purchases both of which would include items and services unordinarily unable to procure without the purchase of a debit card. Approved by the Selectboard on this date. Geoff seconded the motion.
Levar spoke with previous board members who had put the purchase policy in place and they said the $10,000.00 limit had just been picked out of the air. He noted that there were no bids for audit services so the Board would need to purchase them and they would cost significantly more than $10,000.00.
Board voted to approve the motion.
- a. Hiring for Administrative Assistant – Executive Session
Action Item: Levar Cole moved to enter into executive session for Human Resources ( 1 VSA 313 (a) 3) at 10 PM and invited the Town Clerk and Treasurer to stay. Motion seconded by Mark Whitney. Board voted to approve the motion.
Board exited executive session.at 10.03.PM
Action- Levar to set up an interview.
Levar adjourned the meeting to November 2, 2022 immediately following the BCA meeting.
Meeting re-opened at November 2, 2022 at 7:30 PM
Selectboard present: Levar Cole, Mark Whitney, Merrill Whitney, Geoff Clayton. Bruce came in at 7:39.
Other Town Employees: Town Clerk
Other persons present: Emily Betts Newman, Ed Kuban, Tracy Simon
Levar called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM
- Department/Liaison Updates
d. Contracts -Public Safety Orange County Sheriff Department Contract & First Branch
Action Item: Mark moved to approve the First Branch Ambulance Contract with Geoff seconding the motion. The Board voted approval of the motion.
Levar noted for the Orange County Sheriff’s Dept Contract that the Sheriff has always crossed out section 5. It was not crossed off last time, and the Board does not see why it should be crossed out.
Action Item: Mark moved to approve the Orange County Sheriff’s Dept Contract the sum not to exceed $12,500.00. Geoff seconded the motion. The Board voted approval of the motion.
a: Village Greens/Roberts Gould Field Requests- None
b: Art/Pellet Furnace Update – None
c: FEMA Mapping comments. Tracy looked at the correspondence. She reported that they look at the watershed area. They review information, have a discovery phase and ask for comments. The map is on a secure server. This does not affect our Town and if it did, that would entail the Planning Board making a comment as it is their purview. They are looking at the Connecticut River but not the First Branch of it. Board thanked Tracy for her comments.
Back Agenda item 6.
d. Other Grants- Generator- Levar spoke with Kasey on the generator grant. The State
Historical Preservation has no issue with burying the propane tank unless we hit ledge. She will call Dig Safe to have any lines marked. Still need to have a few electrical items that need to be completed. The big issue is the grant has to go in by November 15, 2022. Timeline is short. If we miss the window on the grant, it will still be a high priority ARPA item.
Creamery Project- Levar reports the Creamery Grant is still a thorny issue. Conflicting
reviews by two state entities. Kasey reported we can’t use Grants In Aid because it is a private property.
The Board discussion included concerns about where the water contamination starts, water not coming off just Town Property, Brownfields, Cemetery Town Land, liability if Town work goes forward, improving private property with Town funds. Geoff states we have not made contaminated water at this point. We should avoid that at all costs for liability. Emily said the previous owner dumped all kinds of stuff at the Creamery. Geoff believes the Board should get an environmental lawyer’s opinion before going forward with this project. He believes the Road Foreman should not be speaking on the Town’s behalf about this project. Emily asked how long ago was this discovered. Geoff reported about three years ago. Board approved Levar to contact Kasey to call an environmental lawyer to get options.
e. Audit – Levar reported now that the purchase policy is amended he would ask Gayle to call some companies and see if we can hire one as we did not receive any bids.
Levar asked to go back to Mark and Bruce for updates. Mark to give an update on parts that came under 5b, Orders. And Bruce on Highways, as Levar had a voice mail on his phone.
Mark reported he called Fleet Pride about brake cans. Fleet Pride said they do offer a neoprene reinforced brake can. That was still cheaper. The comparable brake can with the four year warranty at significantly lower price ( $56)/can) than the ones that had been ordered. The total bill for the Allegiance was $567.00. Board chose to go with the cheaper model . This company wants to work more with Municipalities. Board discussion on cost effectiveness for repairs, parts and best use of time of town employees. Bruce to discuss this with the Road Foreman Levar stated last night that Rick wanted the Board to contact the owner on Klondike Road about restoring the road. The Board made the accommodation and Levar would write the letter. Levar shared with the Board he received a voice mail from the landowner on Klondike Road saying Rick called him to speak about the unpermitted work within the right of way. He said he wanted to make it right and fix the hole in the road. Bruce said write the letter Mark said just smoothing out the road is not acceptable and reported what other Towns have done. Geoff said he wanted a laywer’s opinion. Board still wanted
Levar to write the letter as agreed the night before. No one wanted to reconsider the motion made the night before.
Board expressed that Bruce should have a conversation with Road Foreman about following the direction of the Board after they made an accommodation for him, so he would not have to speak with the landowner, as he said he did not want to be the messenger. Bruce asked if the letter to the landowner would be certified. Levar asked Karen what she has done. She
replied registered letter with return receipt.
Levar said he won’t answer the message but if he gets a phone call, he will tell the landowner a letter would be forthcoming.
Merrill Whitney, noted that the Road Foreman was on Whitney Lyman Road the other day and filling rough spots with stone and did not feel it was necessary. Rick has been told to conserve diesel fuel and money at this point. Bruce reported work on Hook Rd was completed.
Jump to Agenda Item 10
f- Americans with Disabilities Act- Levar reported a person asked him about ATV’s again. He
was told someone had a medical condition that makes him immobile and wants to ride an ATV as mobility device and the ADA says you have to make accommodations for that. He said he called VLCT about it and they said that because our Town does not have an ordinance. That if someone were to aske us for an accommodation, we would have to approve it by Federal Law. No one has made a request but Levar reported he did his due diligence and was letting the Board know. Merrill wanted to know if they needed a disabled plaque for it. Levar stated Federal Law says Towns have to assume a person has a
Merrill Whitney left.
a. Administrative Assistant – Emily Newman wanted to know if she can put a proposal in to do some of the AA work. The Board said feel free to send in the proposal.
b. Water/Wastewater Assistant Operator – Levar stated he wanted to re-advertise the position and put $25/hr negotiable and hours negotiable again. Karen asked how hours could be negotiable and Levar said there are some automation features that haven’t been used but could be utilized going forward. Board is in favor of going forward with this.
Action Item: Levar moved to have himself to work with the AA/Gayle revise the
advertisement out again with $25.00/hour negotiable and hours negotiable. Mark seconded the motion. Board voted to approve the motion.
Added to Agenda- Levar let the Board know that TRORC dues for the year will be $2010. It is a line item in our budget.
- Approve Minutes
Levar moved to approve the September 6, 2022 minutes. Seconded by Geoff. Board approved motion.
Levar moved to approve the September 20, 2022 minutes as revised. Seconded by Geoff. Board
Levar moved to approve the September 24, 2022 Special Meeting minutes. Seconded by Geoff. Board
moved to approve motion.
Levar moved to approve the October 18, 2022 Special Meeting minutes. Seconded by Mark. Board
moved to approve the motion.
Adjourned 8:47 Pm