Chelsea Selectboard Meeting Minutes
Tuesday, August 30, 2022, 7:30 pm at Chelsea Town Hall
Selectboard Members present: Levar Cole, Mark Whitney, Merrill Whitney, Bruce Hook
Other Town Employees present: Marianne McCann (Administrative Assistant)(Herald), Karen Lathrop
(Town Clerk), Kasey Peterson (Grants Administrator)
Members of the Public present: Owen Daniel-McCarter, Roy Hayward
- Call Meeting to Order
Meeting called to order at 7:30 pm by Levar Cole.
- Conflict of Interest Disclosure
- Changes to the Agenda
Add citizen complaint re: rogue rooster. Add: Kasey Peterson, Cultural Arts Grant, Town Hall Wood
- Town Clerk
Re: Liquor/Lottery Licenses: Karen Lathrop, Town Clerk, stated the State of Vermont went to an online
portal, with no paperwork, and no signatures needed for Liquor and Lottery Licenses. The State will
need the Selectboard to approve the licenses, but no paper. All correspondence will be via email.
Lathrop stated she had attended a training. Lathrop asked what the Selectboard would like? A paper
copy? Only one person (Town Clerk) will see the electronic version.
Levar Cole, Selectboard Chair, stated we should send it to everyone, so that we can see it. We need
time. A person who inquired today was informed that the Chelsea Selectboard does not take up items
that are not reviewed prior to the Selectboard Meeting. If there is an emergent issue, ok. But no
decision making on anything brand new. We need to have it on the agenda.
Lathrop stated the scheduling has been an ongoing problem for a few years. Mark Whitney asked if
there is any way to alter the form.
The form is a State electronic form that saves the number of days to send. It hardly matches what towns
actually require. Not all towns have Clerks make the decision, and many are like Chelsea, where the
board puts on the agenda and decides at a public meeting.
Action: give current application to Admin. Asst. Share with Selectboard. Put on agenda next mtg.
Re: Election Costs: Lathrop presented a breakdown of election costs. We have gone over what we
budgeted. Update for the primary: there were 229 people on the voter checklist. We will change the
procedure for counting that. The actual checklist matched the tabulator. This year, for August and
November, the State of Vermont is paying all tabulator charges for formatting.
Re: Rooster Complaint: Lathrop stated there was a citizen complaint by Jen Doyle, Riverbend. Rooster
bothered an old man. Man almost fell down. School children cross the road to avoid the rooster. Rooster
resides at 301 Vt Route 110. Free ranging chickens in town. Rooster allegedly attacks people on
sidewalk. Cole stated the Selectboard can give an order to destroy a dog, what about a rooster? Geoff
Clayton is the lead on animal control. Clayton will be informed. Lathrop suggested we send the owner a
- Town Treasurer
Mark Whitney moved to approve the orders. Merrill Whitney seconded the motion. Motion passed
5.a. Re: Cultural Arts Grant/Town Hall furnace: Kasey Peterson stated she was excited and delighted
that the Cultural Arts Grant for the Pellet Heating Furnace for the Town Hall was awarded for $22,100.
With an in-kind dollar match. Peterson has the grant contract, it can be signed now or later.
Mark Whitney asked about the inclusion of a dehumidifier in the grant proposal. Peterson stated no, I
do not think one is included in the quote.
Cole stated, the board put me in charge of this decision, but I will not act on the grant agreement until
the whole board agrees. Mark Whitney stated we should find out what we need for a dehumidifying
system and find out what that would cost. Is the hopper a bag? What is it made of? Is it 100% sealed?
What if the basement floods? How sealed is the hopper? Action: Get a picture of the proposed hopper.
Cole stated we do this with the understanding that the board has questions about the humidity issue
and how to address this issue. Action: Forward grant agreement and hopper information to Cole and
- Listers, Errors and Omissions: Grand List
A notice has been sent to us for Errors and Omissions. It changed the Grand List. The State requires us to
move and approve the certificate for the Listers. Cole read the new amounts.
Merrill Whitney moved to approve the certificate for errors and omissions as presented by the listers
for the 2022 Grand List. Bruce Hook seconded. Motion passed unanimously.
Action: Have Listers send a copy to Admin. Asst.
- Department/Liaison Updates
Highway: Re: Truck sale, Bruce Hook will be in charge. Bruce will talk with Admin. Asst.. Admin Asst.
suggests two possible sales routes: Auctions International, and Allegiance with a firm offer.
Mark Whitney moved to pay the past due Myers invoices that we have put off regarding the
surcharges, and we will pay the future ones. Merrill Whitney seconded the motion. Motion passed
Water/Wastewater: Merrill Whitney stated he talked to Nolan. Everything is fine and running smoothly.
Confirm that Rick will mow inside water fence for the rest of the 2022 season.
Library: Liaison position open for Library. Board agreed Cole will take it for now.
Administrative Assistant: Cole has looked at rates for administrative assistants. Our admin. asst. is
under $20 per hour. Cole recommends a pay increase of 64 cents per hour, which would bring the pay
rate to $20. Cole stated this is still below the going rates, but a little bit closer. We are always concerned
about employee retention and compensating for the good work done for the town.
Levar Cole moved to increase the current administrative assistant pay rate by 64 cents to $20.00 per
hour. Mark Whitney seconded the motion. Motion passed unanimously.
Selectboard Oversight and Supervision of Town Affairs:
Levar Cole stated there are reasons for the Selectboard scrutiny of employee actions and pay rates. The
board is responsible for overseeing town affairs. Cole summarized his email to Mark Whitney dated 8-
21-22. Taking the oversight role, if something happens and we get deposed, here are some sample
questions. These are questions that might be asked when there is a lawsuit. We are under increased
scrutiny because we are taking a lot of Federal money. We need to work the best we can. It’s pay to
play. We are taking the ARPA money. You use federal money, you are going to pay. There will be Federal
oversight. There will be additional requirements. What I would like to do is remind us to look out for
each other and supervise town employees and their safety concerns. I will ask the Admin. Asst. to send
everyone this email. Put it in the record, as part of the minutes. From personal experience, I think we
are in a good spot, but this is our daily task.
Email attached here:
I was thinking about recent meetings and how we need to ensure, we as board members are doing our
management and supervision, and fiduciary duty. Here are three examples of why we need to be even
more obvious in our exercising oversight of town and town employee activities.
1) By statute, the selectboard shall have the general supervision of the affairs of the town and shall
cause to be performed all duties required of towns and town school districts not committed by law to
the care of any particular officer. That’s pretty clear.
2) Let’s say a town employee has taken shortcuts in a process that decreases their personal safety
margin while performing a certain activity. And they are doing this because this is the way it has “always
been done”—i.e. getting business done as they always have rather than any malicious reason. When we
are eventually sued by the employee, because they developed a workplace-related illness, injury,
cancer, disability or whatever, we will be deposed by plaintiff lawyers. They are going to ask:
Who are you?
What is your role in supervising town affairs?
The selectboard shall has the general supervision of the affairs of the town and shall cause to be
performed all duties required of towns and town school districts not committed by law to the care of
any particular officer. What is your role in supervising town affairs?
I go to selectboard meetings
What is your role in supervising employees?
I sign payroll and go to meetings
Why didn’t you take steps to mitigate the hazard the town employee faced in the subject activity?
I wasn’t aware
Why were you not aware of the unmitigated hazards the employee faced?
I don’t know
Why did you not perform due diligence to ensure work you are responsible for overseeing was done in a
safe and effective way?
I don’t know
When was the last time you observed the employee performing the subject task?
When was the last time you observed the employee perform any task?
I don’t know
When was the last time you assessed the employee’s performance of tasks
So you were negligent in supervising employee activities and ensuring work was accomplished safely?
I don’t know
Judges will ask these questions too. (Some of these questions are also in the annual audit
questionnaire). The answers above are a bad spot to be in. We are in a little better shape than this
scenario, but his is why I press us to stay on top of things and ensure the board is cognizant of work
performed by employees. This includes successes and challenges.
The third reason.
3) We are taking ARPA money. I’m wondering if it is just a coincidence that the IRS will be hiring 87,000
investigators. While the money we receive will not require us to do a “single audit,” (A single audit is a
specific, detailed and comprehensive audit consisting of more than a financial statement audit when we
hit a federal money threshold. The phrase “single audit” is misleading.) we are basically opening
ourselves to additional state and federal oversight and regulation of town activities. This is principally
why the TRORC and other folks have suggested we take the revenue replacement option to reduce the
additional accounting, reporting, regulatory, and procurement hoops we would need to jump through.
Reduce is the operative term, not “eliminate.” Because we take this money, we open ourselves to
increased liability in that we must ensure we dot all “i” and cross all “t” and check, and recheck, and
recheck, and recheck, and have someone else check…. I speak from experience. I used to be on the
other side as a fed telling small towns, states, and other federal entities to return misused equipment;
recommending clawback of misappropriated federal funds; and making referrals to US attorneys for
prosecution. What was really bad, in my opinion, was in very limited cases, the waste, abuse, misuse,
and misappropriation was erroneous and done in good faith. That is what we have to look forward to if
we don’t stay on top of how we allocate and spend this money as well as monitor the effects and
outcomes of anything we spent it on. But it’s not just the ARPA money. It is all the federal money we get
channeled through the state also opens us up to additional requirements, compliance, and oversight. It’s
like the old credit card “universal default:” because you miss a payment on your Sears and Roebuck
card, your JCPenny card gets a rate increase.
Please let me know what you think. I think we are making progress. Thanks for your support with all of
this. I recognize this is a balancing act and we rightly tend to avoid being overly prescriptive and
exceedingly proscriptive. It’s still a small town; but as you’ve noted, a lot of things have changed.
I’ve copied Gayle, Marianne, Kasey, and Tracy on this as they, in their own tasks, are familiar or will be
familiar with what we have to look forward to.
- Public Comments
Owen from Babe’s Bar in Bethel. We put in a liquor license request to cater a wedding. We were too late
to have notice. The wedding is Saturday, 9-3-22. Generally, we get the licenses from the town clerks.
Babe’s Bar is respectfully requesting an exception to the Chelsea Selectboard’s rule of applying early
enough to have the application on a Selectboard Meeting agenda prior to the event.
Cole stated we won’t take up new business without having it noticed on the agenda. We will not make
an exception for that. We will sometimes discuss emergent issues, but decide only after it has been
noticed by agenda. We have our meetings every other week.
Owen stated the wedding is happening this weekend. It was scheduled with us a month ago. We could
have done a better job of understanding the town’s policy. Is there any way an exception could be
Lathrop suggested that applicants always call the town prior to application. A lot of small towns do not
have the ability to just have the Town Clerk electronically sign off immediately. The State made the
form. There could be a statement to that effect on the form.
- Approve Minutes
Levar Cole moved to approve the minutes of August 2, 2022, with changes. Mark Whitney seconded
the motion. Motion passed unanimously.
- Administrative Assistant Report/Grants:
Re: Hiring for water/wastewater and signing bonus options: Are we continually going to have a
problem? Yes. The board discussed pay. Merrill asked if we would end up paying an assistant a higher
rate than the Chief Operator. Cole said given the fringe benefits of the Chief Operator, the dollar rate
might be higher, but not the overall rate. Assistant pay would still be lower and would not receive the
additional benefits because the hours are lower.
Admin. Asst. reported placing ads on two electronic water job bulletins. Vermont Rural Water
Association and National Rural Water Association.
Cole stated we need to spend the money on Indeed. We spend the money and pay a fee. Are we good
with having a signing bonus, with a ceiling of $4,000? Agreed. I will talk with the Treasurer and
determine the amount we can pay.
Levar Cole moved to approve the Residential Water Application for 271 VT Route 110. Mark Whitney
seconded the motion. Motion passed unanimously.
Re: Grants in Aid Grant Agreement: Cole stated in would be helpful if we had the town road plan. It
helps to show a plan when we apply for grants, FEMA. etc. Henry was trying to put together a group of
people to work on developing a plan. There is an opportunity for us to do better. It was noted the State
has a plan for hydrologically connected roads.
Levar Cole moved to approve the Grants in Aid Agreement of $35,500., with a 20% match of $8,875..
Merrill Whitney seconded the motion. Motion passed unanimously.
Re: ATV Ordinance follow up: Levar Cole has a question for Mark Whitney. Is the board interested in
putting up thousands and thousands of dollars for signs saying no ATVs at every road? There are signs in
Corinth. Should we put up signs everywhere? Even though you have received the literature (green
mailer) in the mail, can you ride? Mark Whitney stated if it’s supposed to be as it always has been, then
maybe we should have an ordinance that everybody should ride everywhere. Cole stated, we have run
out of time. We will get to other questions another day.
- Executive Session for Human Resources
- Executive Session for Real Estate
Levar Cole moved to enter Executive Session for Real Estate options (1 VSA 312 (a)2) and inviting
Marianne McCann into the Session at 9:17 pm. Bruce Hook seconded the motion. Motion passed
Levar Cole moved to exit Executive Session at 9:34 pm. Merrill Whitney seconded the motion. Motion
Afterwards, it was agreed that Bruce Hook will be the point of contact to figure out the painting of the
Old Town Garage by Tim Ward. Paint cost is estimated to be 600 to 1,000 dollars. If it will be more,
Bruce Hook will be back in touch with the Selectboard.
- a. Snook had mentioned that he was supposed to get $20.00 per hour. Cole stated he did not know
the details. Geoff is not here. Cole stated he has talked to at least 30 people last year. No one wants to
do the Transfer Station job. We were lucky to get K. Gale as the assistant. Cole will check with Geoff
Clayton. Mark Whitney asked, Is it in the budget? Cole stated just assume the budget will be exceeded.
Merrill Whitney moved to bring Snooks pay rate up to $20.00 per hour. Bruce Hook seconded the
motion. Motion passed unanimously.
Meeting adjourned at 9:47 pm.
The next regularly scheduled Chelsea Selectboard Meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 6, 2022,
at 7:30 pm in the Chelsea Town Hall.