Minutes Regular Meeting
Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at 6:00 pm
“In accordance with the recent amendments to Vermont’s open meeting law, and in light of the ongoing public health crisis, this meeting will be held via conference call. You can access the meeting at the scheduled time by calling 802-210-4472.”
Present via Remote Conference Calling:
Paul Kendell, Tri-Valley Transit (Stagecoach) Representative
Present at Town Office:
Megan O’Toole, Selectboard Chairperson Loren Bent, Selectboard Member
Daniel Burson, Selectboard Member Keegan Haupt, Selectboard Member
Charlie McMeekin, Selectboard Member Jeff Masterson, Highway Foreman
Janice Russell, Administrative Assistant Jessica Brassard, Town Clerk/Treasurer
Ms. O’Toole called the meeting to order at 6:00pm. A roll call was done to confirm what Committee Chairpersons and guests were in attendance via teleconferencing.
The Board reviewed the agenda with Ms. O’Toole requesting that the BC/BS of Vermont Health Insurance be tabled and the removal of the U.S. Department of Labor – Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Paid Leave for Municipality Employees With Children Remote or Hybrid Learning Schedules. The information regarding the FFCRA will be forwarded to Mr. Masterson to share with the Highway Crew Members affected by Remote or Hybrid Learning Schedules. Mr. Caulfield was unable to attend tonight’s meeting but sent a report for the Selectboard Members to review later.
On motion of Mr. Haupt, seconded by Mr. Burson, the Board unanimously approved the minutes from the Regular Selectboard Meeting on September 8, 2020.
- Citizens comments limited to 3 minutes per person with a 15 minute maximum – No citizen comments.
- Highway Report – Mr. Masterson reported that the tree and stump removal project behind the Braintree Town Hall is near completion with mostly minor tasks still remaining.
- An introductory meeting between Dylan Pratt and representatives of VTrans and TRORC occurred so Mr. Pratt could get acquainted with the types of support they offer; FEMA, Codes and Standards and Grants. The importance of the technical support and training provided by Vermont Local Roads was also discussed at the meeting.
- This year’s supply of sand is stockpiled at the garage location and next year’s supply is stockpiled at the Riford Brook gravel pit. A larger vein of gravel than expected was located on Sam Paddock’s property with at least 12,000 yards of gravel extracted and a potential for much more. Mr. Paddock has given permission for the Town to stockpile the gravel or crushed sand on his property. Crushing the gravel now would require using next year’s sand budget early to pay for the crusher but would enable the Town to return the layer of topsoil and reseed the pasture to its former state for Mr. Paddock to use next spring. A discussion ensued about how it would work and of any possible issues arising if next year’s sand budget was used early. After a suggestion by Mr. Bent, and confirmation by Ms. Brassard of this option, it was decided the Town should transfer money from the pit fund to cover the cost of getting the gravel crushed now.
- Mr. Bent thanked Mr. Masterson for all the work he has done for the Town, especially in researching and applying for Grants.
- Tri-Valley Transit (Stagecoach) Representative Report – Paul Kendall reported that due to COVID-19 the last six months has been very difficult for all public transportation providers in the state of Vermont. The primary focus of all the providers is to ensure that they are providing a clean and safe service for their users, especially the elderly and at risk-riders. Tri-Valley Transit is very pleased that there has been no transmission of COVID-19 to the passengers and the drivers, especially the volunteer drivers who use their private vehicles to transport passengers. Tri-Valley Transit is requiring all passengers to call in advance for a ride, to wear masks, to sit alone and next to a window unless traveling with a related person and limited the amount of passengers in each vehicle. The number of passengers riding on the commuter routes has dropped by 15-17 % and the elderly and disabled taking advantage of the services provided has dropped by around 30%.
- Along with the usual essential services Tri-Valley Transit has also been delivering meals to students in the local supervisory unions, delivering meals to people temporarily housed in hotels, supporting food banks and the farmers to table programs.
- There have been adjustments to routes, especially the more traveled routes with some additional trips being added for better access to the shopping areas and other vital facilities.
- The transition from Stagecoach merging Addison County to create Tri-Valley Transit has gone, and hopefully will continue to go, rather smoothly. A majority of riders have begun to refer to the service as Tri-Valley Transit and soon there will a rebranding of all the buses and publicity.
- The new Upper Valley Community Transit Center, which will be located in Bradford, is proceeding nicely with almost all permits and funding in place and hopefully construction can start this fall. The job is out to bid and once the bid numbers return, Tri-Valley Transit will know how to proceed.
- Old business
- COVID-19 Follow-up
- Office Closure To Public – The Town Office has reopened to the public except for Access to the Vault; an appointment is still required due to lack of Social Distancing Space in the Vault.
- Restructuring Office For Safety – The glass for the new partition in the Town Clerk’s office will be delivered to Portland Glass on Monday, September 28th.
- Possible Trade-In of 2017 John Deere Loader – A lengthy discussion was held regarding the highway crew’s issues of lack of power, incapability to function properly on jobs and the inability to completely use the bucket due to weight concerns toppling the 2017 John Deere Loader. Mr. McMeekin stated that he researched and read the minutes from the Selectboard Meetings before and during the purchase of the loader and questioned why the John Deere was purchased when it was obvious the highway crew had problems with it during the demonstration period. Why wasn’t the highway crew’s judgement valued and taken into consideration when purchasing a new loader? Mr. Burson informed Mr. McMeekin that it had to do with the $7,000.00 difference in purchase price and a better warranty. Ms. Brassard stated that during the original discussions to purchase the 2017 loader the topic had been tabled while the Selectboard explored the option to wait 5 years, while keeping the current loader in use, and purchasing a new one outright without financing. But at the next Selectboard Meeting the NORTRAX salesman arrived without invitation and gave another sales pitch and the Selectboard, without giving the other salesmen a chance to produce further information, decided to purchase the 2017 John Deere Loader.
- Mr. Masterson said that the Town has currently spent a significant amount of money for NORTRAX to travel to Braintree to repair leaking hoses and other mechanical problems. As some Selectboard Members believe that the Town’s warranty agreement with NORTRAX should be covering the cost of the repairs and travel, a review of said purchase agreement and warranty is being conducted.
- The Town requested and received quotes from Komatsu, Caterpillar and John Deere on a new loader. Selectboard Members have spoken to some Braintree citizens and have received both positive and negative comments on purchasing a new loader. The discussion centered on whether the problems with the 2017 John Deere outweigh the fiduciary responsibility the Selectboard has to the citizens of Braintree. From a budget perspective there is money available to purchase a new loader without the need to raise taxes now or in the future. Mr. Burson stated that there are different ways to view the financial situation of the town and that crews’ needs are not a back breaker in that sense and that it doesn’t adversely affect anyone’s future or present tax rate. No one in six months is going to receive a tax bill that’s going to be 10% higher because the Town purchased a new loader. The only way it would affect people’s taxes is if the Town contributed less to the equipment fund in the future and that is nowhere in the plans. A discussion then occurred on how the Town’s budget items are fully funded.
- Ms. O’Toole will do up a spreadsheet comparing the quotes and warranty information provided on the Komatsu, Caterpillar and John Deere and will present at the next Selectboard Meeting.
- Town’s options for a potential location of sand needed to replenish the 2022-2023 Stockpile – Although the Town has located enough gravel for at least the next 2 years there is still a need to continue searching for a long term solution for access to gravel/sand.
- ECFiber Hookup at the Braintree Town Hall – A short debate on the need for Internet Service at the Town Hall occurred and it was decided that Mr. McMeekin would write up a survey for Braintree citizens, especially those living in the immediate area, to complete and return to the Administrative Assistant. At this time there is no money in the budget allocated for this project so it was decided to postpone this until the 2021-2022 budget.
- VTRANS Requesting Comments from the Town regarding VTrans Preliminary Plans for Improvements of Bridge 47 over Ayers Brook in East Braintree. Ms. O’Toole had requested further information from VTrans regarding the proposal for detours and was informed that VTrans plan is to detour RT 12 travelers up/down Route 12A. As the bridge work is not scheduled to start until 2022, it was decided that the Selectboard would wait until closer to the construction period before requesting detailed information on detour routes for East Braintree residents.
- Local Government Expense Reimbursement (LGER) Grant – Progress/Status Information from VT Department of Taxes – The deadline for submitting applications for LGER grant has been moved back to October 1st and any revisions to submitted applications has been moved to October 15th. At this point the Town has submitted all current and expected expenses for COVID -19 purchases and upgrades but will submit any expenses that may arise before October 15th.
- New business
- Server Backup Service – The Administrative Assistant, Ms. Russell, is experiencing issues with the current Server Backup Service, Carbonite, and is in the process of switching to another company. Ms. Russell is currently working with Dr. Backup, a VT Computing Inc. recommended company, for a cost estimate.
- Executive Session to discuss a personnel matter pursuant to 1 V.S.A. Section 313(a)(3).
On motion of Mr. Burson, seconded by Mr. McMeekin, the Board unanimously voted to enter into an Executive Session at 6:39 P.M. for a discussion on a personnel matter pursuant to 1 V.S.A. Section 313 (a)(3).
Executive Session –The Board returned from Executive Session at 8:13 PM with no decision being made on the personnel matter
- Payment orders – The Selectboard reviewed the Payment Orders.
On motion of Mr. Haupt, seconded by Mr. Bent, the Board unanimously approved the payment orders.
On motion of Ms. O’Toole, seconded by Mr. McMeekin the Board unanimously adjourned the meeting at 8:13 p.m.