Braintree Selectboard Meeting
Tuesday, April 7, 2020
“In accordance with the recent amendments to Vermont’s open meeting law, and in light of the ongoing public health crisis, this meeting was be held via conference call. The public could have accessed the meeting at the scheduled time by calling 802-210-4472.”
Present via Remote Conference Calling:
Megan O’Toole, Selectboard Chairperson
Charles McMeekin, Selectboard Member
Daniel Burson, Selectboard Member
Keegan Haupt, Selectboard Member
Present at Town Office:
Loren Bent, Selectboard Member Jessica Brassard, Town Clerk/Treasurer
Janice R. Russell, Administrative Assistant Jeff Masterson, HighwayForeman
Ms. O’Toole called the meeting to order by phone at 6pm. A roll call was done to confirm what Selectboard members and citizens were in attendance via teleconferencing.
The Board Reviewed the agenda with Ms.’ O’Toole and Brassard stated that new information would be mentioned under the COVID-19 section of Old Business as the situation and regulations are constantly evolving.
On motion of Mr. Haupt, seconded by Mr. McMeekin, the Board unanimously approved the minutes from the Regular Selectboard Meeting on March 17, 2020.
On motion of Ms. O’Toole, seconded by Mr. McMeekin, the Board unanimously approved the minutes from the Emergency Selectboard Meeting on March 18, 2020.
Citizen’s comments are limited to 3 minutes per person with a 15 minute maximum – No citizens attended.
* Highway Report – The Selectboard reviewed the report submitted by Mr. Masterson. Ms. O’Toole requested information on the Peth Road tree cutting plans and was informed that it is between Mud Pond and Walker Roads for ditch work and is a grant funded project, although the town has not yet received said grant.
Upon a question presented by Ms. O’Toole regarding sand stockpile and a need for a new sandpit in the near future; she wanted a definition of near future. Mr. Masterson stated that on best case scenario the current sand pit will suffice for 3 or 4 years and worst case is 1 or 2 years. Until further digging is completed there is no way of knowing which scenario will pan out.
* Hiring of a Zoning Administrator- Mr. McMeekin will continue his efforts to contact potential candidates. Currently all Zoning questions are being forwarded to Joan Richmond-Hall, chairperson of the Braintree Planning Commission.
* COVID-19 Follow-up – Office Closure To Public & Remote Working – Upon request from the Selectboard Ms.’ Brassard and Russell described how effective the Office Closure and Remote Working is functioning and when each employee is at the office.
Ms. O’Toole suggested that the Town Office should remain closed until April 21st and the Selectboard will re-evaluate the closure then and at each consecutive Selectboard meeting until the COVID-19 pandemic has ended. The other selectboard members agreed that it made sense to continue with the closure. Ms. Russell will update the Town website, Front Porch Forum and Facebook with the new April 21st date.
Timothy Caulfield, the Emergency Management Director, has created a new Town Office outgoing message that states that if you need any non-emergency assistant related to the COVID-19 Health Crisis that there are resources on the Braintree Website right on the Home Page with a link to the Emergency Management Page that leads to the Randolph Area Mutual Aid Network (RAMAN) information. The new outgoing message also provides Tim’s contact information.
Ms. Russell initiated a discussion regarding the new forum, much like Zoom that Vermont Computing created for the greater Randolph area to use for video and telephone meetings. At this time, the Selectboard decided this forum is not necessary to use at this time but are glad the option is there for use at a later date.
* Dog License Late Fee Waiver – Ms. Brassard that because of Vermont State Statute the Dog License Fee date of April 1st can not be changed but late fees can be waived. Due to the COVID-19 Rabies Clinics have been pushed out or canceled altogether and people are scrabbling to get the required Rabies Certificate. Other towns are pushing the late fees out to April 30th to the end of May. The Town of Braintree collected less then $100 from late fees last year and wonders if we should push it out or waive all late fees for Dog Licenses this year.
On motion of Mr. Bent, seconded by Ms. O’Toole, the Board unanimously approved the waiver of Dog License Late Fees for this year.
* Certificate of Highway Mileage – The Selectboard reviewed the Highway Mileage, which has not changed since last year.
On motion of Mr. Burson, seconded by Mr. Bent, the Board unanimously approved the Certificate of Highway Mileage.
* Request for Public Assistance (RPA) from FEMA to Recoup Any Losses During COVID-19 Crisis – A discussion ensued and no Selectboard Member felt that the Town had anything to recoup at this time. The Town has not experienced any financial burden.
* Current town wide reappraisal and issues surrounding the extension of the deadline for the grand list. – The State of Vermont has extended the filing of the Grand List but the requirement of a 30 day period of when the tax bills are sent out and when said tax bills are due is still in place. Ms. O’Toole read the information provided by Ms. Brassard and Jackson Evans, Town Lister, and the Town is in a unique position because the Town Wide Appraisal is almost completed. Mr. Evans, in his information, explained his concern is regarding grievances of an appraisal and due to COVID-19 would not be able to convene the Board of Listers to hear these grievances. A discussion to push back the date of reappraisal notifications until later in the summer occurred and the selectboard discussed that the bills could be sent out on October 1st with a due date of October 31st.
Ms. Brassard spoke about the lack of Disaster Recovery Backup of the KAMA system, which is where all the appraisers support and work comes from. To purchase the Disaster Recovery Backup for KAMA would be $500.00. To prevent the possible lose all the work of the appraisers the Selectboard approved Ms. Brassard using the IT Support and Software and Office Supply lines there is money available to purchase the Disaster Recovery Backup software.
* Kari’s Law and Upgrade to the Phone System – Ms. Brassard informed the Selectboard Members that Key Communications notified her that as of February 16, 2020 that all public building required to have a phone system that allows direct dial to 911 without having to enter a code. The cost to the Town of Baintree would be a one time fee of no more then $100 for the update. Ms. Brassard was given permission to have the upgrade to the telephone system completed.
Payment orders – Mr. Bent, as the only Selectboard attending the meeting at the Town Office, checked and signed the payment orders. Mr. Burson arrive at the Town Office on Wednesday morning for a second signature.
On motion of Mr. Bent, seconded by Mr. Haupt, the Board unanimously approved the payment orders.