Chelsea Selectboard Meeting Minutes
Tuesday, August 16, 2022, 7:30 pm at Chelsea Town Hall
Selectboard Members present: Levar Cole, Mark Whitney, Merrill Whitney, Geoff Clayton, Bruce Hook
Other Town Employees present: Marianne McCann (Administrative Assistant)(Herald), Nolan LaFrancis
(COO Chelsea Water/Wastewater), Rick Ackerman (Road Foreman), Snook Downing (Transfer Station).
Members of the Public present: Susan Elder, Peter Amber, Robin Amber, Tim Ward
- Call Meeting to Order
Levar Cole called the meeting to order at 7:31 pm.
- Conflict of Interest Disclosure
- Changes to the Agenda
Admin. Assistant added 2 items under A.A. Report. Susan Elder added request for Chelsea Arts Collective
under Public Comments.
- Town Clerk
- Town Treasurer
None. Orders presented.
- Executive Session for Human Resources
Levar Cole moved to enter Executive Session for Human Resources at 7:35 pm. Only the Selectboard
members at first, then inviting town employees in. Mark Whitney seconded the motion. Motion
Levar Cole moved to exit Executive Session at 7:40 pm. Geoff Clayton seconded the motion. Motion
Afterwards, no decisions were made.
Levar Cole stated there are employee and Selectboard concerns. The Selectboard has asked employees
to reduce overtime. Let the Selectboard know if there are problems. If, after instructions, the tasks are
impossible or impractical, let us know. Do things as we ask. We (Selectboard) would rather find out that
there are problems or concerns from employees first. One issue we are working out is employee
retention. 3 people have left in the past 2 years. We were not told, for a couple of them, until after they
were gone. We are counting on you (employees) to let us know if someone is thinking of leaving. We do
not want to lose someone for an extra 75 cents an hour if we could have done something about it. Cole
suggested at the last meeting classifying everyone as public works professionals, because of the
constant controversy about mowing. The Selectboard can change people’s jobs to meet the needs of the
Town. So that everybody would mow. Cole stated Mark Whitney had said cutting everybody’s pay and
hiring a new supervisor for public works might not be a good idea, because it adds another layer. If it
makes the trains run on time, I will fight Mark on that.
Cole stated one question the Selectboard has is we have hired Jason Hook to help Nolan. Nolan, should
we have the road crew go back to monitoring you while you go in the hole, if Jason is not working out?
Nolan LaFrancis stated Jason is working fine for his obligation. The mowing at another time would not
work for Jason right now. Cole asked: How has the plant been getting mowed? Rick has been mowing.
Jason has weed whacked. Cole stated, if Jason is not able to do the mowing, should we be looking to fill
that temporary position with someone else, irrespective of what the season is? LaFrancis stated I guess I
would expand the road crew, so I could borrow the road crew as needed. I have no problem with it.
Clayton reminded the group that if we go into more personal things, we must go back into Executive
Cole stated we (Selectboard) get a lot of comments from the public about employee performance. We
need to know the work is getting done. Nolan LaFrancis must come to us with information so we can
make decisions. We are very sensitive about money. We are concerned about paying an employee and
the work is not getting done.
LaFrancis stated it has been suggested to me to call Rick, have Rick bring over the mower, and leave it
for me to mow. That makes no sense at all. Rick can just do it when he is over here.
Cole asked LaFrancis, can you use a push mower? LaFrancis stated a push mower can be used. I will not
use a push mower. I have health issues that prevent me from using a push mower. I will not discuss my
Cole stated, when you cannot do something, tell us, so that we can make an accommodation. We need
to know from you, Nolan. Merrill Whitney will be in contact with you.
Ackerman stated we leave the mower at the Town Garage. I service it. Repairs can be made. Geoff
Clayton had asked if the mower could be left in the shed at the Water/Wastewater Treatment Facility.
Cole stated, Snook, you do a very good job advocating for Kri, if there are problems or schedule changes
at the Transfer Station. Thank You. Is there anything else you need us to do? Snook stated, nothing.
There are no issues.
Cole stated, Rick, you needed clarity last time regarding roadside mowing. Rick Ackerman stated, the
roadside mower is waiting for seals, it was leaking. The truck is parked up on the road with a for sale
sign. Cole asked, can you get all the roadside mowing done, even with the delay? Ackerman stated yes.
Cole asked what else do you need from us? Ackerman asked what about overtime? Cole stated try to
have no overtime. Ackerman stated, I am trying.
Cole stated one of the things that we have heard is that people feel they can use overtime because
there are less employees than were budgeted. It does not mean that we can burn through it in
overtime. When you come up to a point where it will be challenging, just let us know. Slow things down
and pick them up the next week. Give the Selectboard a heads up. The Selectboard might need to use
some of that money as signing bonuses for potential employees at the sewer plant.
Cole asked Ackerman, are there any outstanding issues? Ackerman stated the Town of Tunbridge wants
to know if we would haul sand for them. 112 dollars per hour is what they would pay. It might be a way
to offset a little of the fuel money. Brief discussion about possible costs and possible payment. Cole
asked, is this something we need to decide now? Ackerman told Tunbridge he would have to run it by
the Selectboard, because we are not trading. Cole stated a trade would be fine. But, if it costed us more,
it would not. Ackerman stated he figured we could probably make 500 bucks per day. Ackerman stated
he could do one run and see exactly how much fuel it would burn. Selectboard agreed Mark Whitney
and Bruce Hook can decide.
Clayton asked Ackerman if he had contacted Duranaleau about the sewer plant river bank erosion
project. No. The estimate was $6,000 to place rip rap along the riverbank for stabilization.
Cole asked LaFrancis, is there anything else we can do to support you? We are still looking for a
permanent part time person to support you? No. If there is an emergency, I will call on Rick or one of his
crew. I have not called him so far. Cole asked, should we cut back on your duties? La Francis replied, no.
I am doing overtime on the sampling periods. They are time sensitive. Cole stated, we will put Merrill
back on the task to see if there is anything we can cut back on. LaFrancis stated I am certified. I am a
professional. I have to sign a chain of custody on the water samples. No one else can do this. I am doing
what the State requires me to do. Cole stated overtime is when the Town is asking you to do extra work.
It incurs a debt. Cole stated the Admin. Asst. can advertise the position again, and the COO will do the
initial vetting on the applicants, as before.
LaFrancis asked, what about the mowing? Can we end the season with Rick mowing inside the fence?
Merrill Whitney stated we have no other choice. Have Rick do it for now.
Cole stated we are going to do a study to see if a contractor mowing might save the town money. Just
keep going as you are (with mowing inside the WWTF fence.), we will check in again in a month on
Cole stated contact the Selectboard whenever there is a challenge. We are the ones with our necks on
the line. The Town holds us accountable to make and follow through on decisions.
Snook Downing stated, I was told that I was going up to 20 dollars per hour. Is that going to happen?
Cole stated Geoff Clayton will get back to you on that.
- Public Comments
Susan Elder, speaking on behalf of the Chelsea Arts Collective, re: their event on Sept. 3, asked a
question about the Green and surrounding roads. Requested road closure or partial blockage for the
“Arts Bus” vehicle. Request would include sawhorses, a sign, and some cones to block off an area
between the road from the library to the church.
Geoff Clayton moved the Selectboard give Mark Whitney authority to make a final decision. Barring
any exigent circumstances the Selectboard approves the event through traffic closure. Merrill
Whitney seconded the motion. Motion passed unanimously.
Susan Elder requested Selectboard approval for utilizing vacant FEMA properties in town for some
“pollinator” (annuals) gardening. Elder sought approval to look for grants and make a plan.
Geoff Clayton moved to allow Susan Elder to proceed with researching grants for pollinators and put
together a plan for gardening on the vacant FEMA lots, without any commitment. Merrill Whitney
seconded the motion. Motion passed unanimously.
Peter Amber stated he was present because he had thought the Farmer’s Market people would be here,
and he was here to provide input/information about parking on the Greens.
Tim Ward stated he would like to purchase the Old Town Garage, if the Town had any interest in selling
that property. Ward is an abutting landowner. Ward asked what the process would be for purchasing
the property. Cole stated, ordinarily, real estate transactions would be discussed in Executive Session.
Cole stated we would talk first with anyone who is storing stuff there.
Tim Ward stated the Old Town Garage is in the historical district, it’s on the main street, it’s very visible.
If the Town will not sell the property, I will offer the Town of Chelsea to paint the building, if you buy the
paint. I will spray the building. I am community oriented. Let’s make it beautiful. Let’s do this soon. Cole
noted that Mark Whitney will hold you to that offer.
Robin Amber stated she would like to thank the town crew for all they do. They are very appreciated.
Peter Amber stated arborists have trouble with mowing. When you change contracts, the trees get hurt.
Rick has been trained. When you consider a mowing contractor you need to look at these things. Rick
does a really good job protecting the cambian layers.
- Department Liaisons/Updates
Re: Village Greens parking: Mark Whitney stated he has been in contact with Kristianne Gale. Whitney
is informed that it is not a good idea to park on the green, it should be avoided. At the last Farmer’s
Market, it was noted the vendors were parking around the edges. Managers change at the Farmer’s
Market. Cole noted the Selectboard’s policy has been in place since 1984. Peter Amber stated he and
Ackerman took a tree down. Amber stated there are 13 trees that should be trimmed. The best time to
cut is in the spring.
The Selectboard agreed that Mark Whitney will put together a maintenance plan for the Town Greens.
This will be on a future agenda in September.
Re: Roadside Mowing: Mark Whitney stated his understanding that the Town would be buying the seals
for the borrowed tractor repair. Mark Whitney stated he will be getting a quote from Jeremy Farnham
for town mowing. Mark Whitney stated a good share of land care businesses are proud of what they do
and responsive to potential dry or sensitive conditions. Cole stated those are issues that we will keep in
touch with the Road Foreman about.
Re: Transfer Station: Geoff Clayton stated the trash hauling contract has next to nothing in it. Generally,
the normal course of business is to reflect the fuel surcharges in the contract. Historically, if you have
done one thing with a company, you cannot start complaining about that thing.
Brief discussion about Myer’s contract and fuel charge. Action: scan the Myer’s invoice and send to
Selectboard for review.
Clayton stated the illegal dumper came and paid Snook. We are the Selectboard. We can make a change.
Recycling costs us. Non residents do not pay taxes here. We should charge them. They should pay more,
or we should close to non-residents. Something different should happen. Cole stated Mark Whitney had
that same concern last year. Mark Whitney asked how much we are losing per bag? Maybe the
containers do not need to get picked up every week, to save money. Bruce Hook stated Illegal dumping
in Barre City is a $800 fine. You only do it once. Clayton stated last year someone brought a tractor
trailer load of stuff to dump. That person was told no. We need to stop non-residents using our Transfer
Station, or make it cost-effective. Action: Clayton will come up with some ideas. Put this item on next
agenda. Clayton will bring draft letter re: illegal dumping to next mtg. Inform Snook first.
Re: Planning Commission: Cole stated Dickson Corbett is leaving town. AT&T requests another public
meeting re: cell tower. Let the Planning Commission take the lead on this, the Selectboard will leave it
alone, is Cole’s recommendation. Mark Whitney noted that the Fire Department will present a letter to
the Selectboard re: cell tower approval. Clayton stated the Selectboard is in agreement that Corbett and
the Planning Commission will carry on.
Re: Portfolio/Liaison options: Cole recommended Bruce Hook be the point person for the Highway
Department, the first person the Highway Dept. will get in touch with on the Selectboard. Bruce Hook
agrees to be the Highway Dept. Liaison.
- Approve Minutes
Levar Cole moved to approve the minutes, with changes, of the July 25, 2022 Informational Hearing.
Geoff Clayton seconded the motion. Motion passed unanimously.
- Administrative Assistant Report/Grants
Use of Village Greens request by Chelsea Public Library for a month long plant swap to be placed on the
South lawn of the Town Hall from Sept. 3 to October 1. Approved.
Use of the Roberts Gould Athletic Field request by the Central Vermont Baseball League for Fall baseball
Aug. 16 through October 16. Approved.
Letter from Kristianne Gale re: Farmer’s Market notification/already discussed.
Letter from Last Mile Motorcycle Ride re: coming through town on Route 110 on Saturday, August 20
about 11 am.
No bids were received in response to the RFP for the Chelsea ADA Sidewalk Project. This project will
likely be put out to bid again in the spring for completion in 2023.
ATV Ordinance follow up: Levar Cole noted he has some questions and comments but there is no time
tonight. ATV Ordinance follow-up will be on the next agenda.
Re: Moxley Bridge: Clayton has not contacted anyone at VTRANS yet.
Geoff Clayton moved to approve the orders. Merrill Whitney seconded the motion. Motion passed
Levar Cole forgot to give a copy of the personnel policy to the Department Supervisors. Action: Admin.
Asst will give a copy to each Supervisor.
Mark Whitney stated he worked the numbers during the meeting re: Chelsea Highway Dept. hauling
sand for the Town of Tunbridge. Whitney estimated 66 miles round trip. Whitney estimated 537 dollars
if future wages, so 371 dollars is what would be left over. Not figuring in wear and tear. Just fuel and
what we would pay the employee to run the truck. Clayton stated, so you figure about 300 dollars per
day profit? Rick told us 8 dollars per yard. After figuring fuel costs you are down to 371 dollars per day.
Whitney estimates a minimum of 45 minutes loaded. Cole stated, Mark Whitney and Bruce Hook are
considering and will make a decision.
Meeting adjourned at 10:05 pm.
The next regularly scheduled Chelsea Selectboard meeting will be Tuesday, August 30 at 7:30 pm in the
Chelsea Town Hall.