Selectboard considers beach survey, food waste and proposed Fire and Rescue budget at Nov. 26 meeting

The Town of Charlotte, VT

A full agenda dominated the Monday, November 26, Selectboard meeting, beginning with a 4:00 p.m. site visit for a Highway Access Permit and an executive session interviewing two applicants for minutes-taker. Carol Miklos was selected and a motion passed to draw up a contract offering employment through the fiscal year. Miklos’ first day of work is Jan 1, 2019.

The Recreation Commission presented results from the Town Beach survey, published in The Charlotte News and on Front Porch Forum. Over 200 respondents participated in the survey, answering questions about facility usage, frequency and reasons for visiting. The presentation concluded with the Selectboard recommending the Recreation Commission further analyze the written survey comments, provide a summary and work with local landscape company, Distinctive Landscaping, to come up with concepts for the December Selectboard meeting. Public comment included concerns about access to the waterfront for kayaks, traffic, speed limits, grant-writing opportunities for enhancing handicap access and extending the survey into the summer to include beach attendees.

Other notable business included selecting Reliant Electric Works’ bid to provide the Town Hall and Senior Center with generators and reappointing Ken Spencer and Kim Findlay as Green-Up Day Co-Coordinators for 2019.

Charlotte Library Director Margaret Woodruff and Charlotte representative to the Chittenden Solid Waste District, Abby Foulk, presented two agenda items for consideration and approval: matching funds to support a grant application to CSWD for portable waste stations for events, which was subsequently approved, and consideration of a budget line item in the FY20 budget for food waste collection. The proposed budget item supports the upcoming Act 148 requirement that households separate organics from waste by 2020. The Selectboard recommended Ms. Foulk and Town Manager Dean Bloch collect additional information and represent their findings on location options, costs to build a containment area, consideration of site soil and water quality.

Charlotte Fire and Rescue presented the Selectboard with financial information for the FY20 budget.  Business Operations Manager Patrice Machavern presented a narrative that noted, “of the 50 budgeted expense line items, 65% are level funded or reduced.” Tom Cosinuke, president of the corporate board of CVFRS, said increases were due to rising payroll and health care costs. The FY20 proposed operating budget presented was $782,600, a $1,000 decrease (0.14%) from FY19.

The majority of the discussion that followed centered on the capital fund reserve projection. Even with a proposed annual town appropriation of $120K, CVFRS is projecting a reserve deficit beginning in FY21 and requested input from the Selectboard on this and future capital investments. Mr. Cosinuke asked, “What is a sustainable surplus for capital spending?” The projection included investments in equipment, including protective gear for Rescue, replacement of the 2006 ambulance in FY20, replacement of the 1993 tanker in FY22, a placeholder for replacement of the 2014 ambulance in FY24, and a revised replacement date for the 2004 Seagrave pumper to FY24. The Selectboard suggested adding some line items to correct calculations, and the CVFRS team offered to take a fresh look at projecting cost and refining the approach a bit further.

The agenda item, “donation of trail easement along Town Link Trail,” resulted in a lengthy discussion. Trails Committee Co-Chair Laurie Thompson explained that a landowner on Greenbush Road is interested in donating land, and Ms. Thompson requested the town attorney to review the current easement donation form so that it could be used for the future. The Selectboard asked Ms. Thompson if this was an opportunity to revise the document, proposing to expand the easement language to include a flexibility provision to be able to move the easement “in case the trail has to wind around something,” such as high-value trees along State Park Road discovered during trail construction. There was some concern from Ms. Thompson about the willingness of property owners to donate easements for the trail, as well as the length of time involved in the process of getting easements. After the discussion, no motion was made and the Selectboard asked Ms. Thompson to consider including expanding the easement language to include a flexibility provision.

Final agenda items included updates on employee performance reviews and the emergency plumbing repair at the Charlotte Senior Center, which included a discussion about what is considered an emergency repair according to town policy.