Selectboard tackles coronavirus, rec department roles, and other business

The Town of Charlotte, VT

Monday’s Selectboard meeting covered a range of topics, including an update on the Mount Philo State park parking expansion, an update on the security agreement with the Champlain Valley School District, and discussion about the roles of the recreation director and Recreation Commission. There were also related agenda items about the COVID-19 virus – from consideration of a personnel policy for town employees working from home and a briefing from CFVRS Fire Chief Rob Mullen.

Town Administrator Dean Bloch discussed the Mount Philo State Park parking lot expansion, including the site plan review recently presented to the Planning Commission in February. Bloch said he outlined some concerns to the state prior to their application, saying, “It addresses needed changes adding queuing…but there is a known problem on Mt. Philo Road, which includes speed.” Krasnow said he hasn’t seen any data related to the safety issue and recommended Bloch’s concerns be brought up to the Planning Commission. Peter Joslin, the chair of the commission, agreed with Krasnow, saying, “Discussions about access should be brought up during sketch plan review.” And while he wasn’t aware of specific speed issues, Joslin said the town planner is in the process of writing up the sketch plan review letter. Newly elected Selectboard member James Faulkner asked that Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service be involved in the discussion as well, as it related to the turning radius of the proposed access and material used for the roadway.

Krasnow provided an update regarding the agreement with CVSD regarding use of Charlotte Central School for elections. He proposed that two Selectboard members, he and Louise McCarren, “move forward directly with the district, take the concerns and interests of board members, and come back with updates and discussions every meeting until we come to a MOU that works.” The board agreed.

Krasnow opened discussion on the roles of Recreation Commission and recreation director by saying it was “a discussion about positions and not personnel.” The board reviewed a recently unearthed historical document which outlined roles of the recreation commission and the previous recreation coordinator job function. While the board reviewed the document, Krasnow provided Faulkner with background, noting that the role of recreation coordinator has evolved into a director position with increased responsibilities. The clarification of roles and formalized communications between the Recreation Commission and the director have been discussed by all involved parties in previous meetings, but no formal recommendations have been made or implemented yet.

Selectboard Member Carrie Spear asked Recreation Director Nicole Conley what she thought of the information. She responded that “the position has been evolving.” Spear recommended using the document to “implement something very quickly. It’s time to move on from this subject.” Krasnow agreed and said the board would dedicate time in subsequent meetings and have something finalized by the end of April.

Coronavirus and COVID-19 were next on the agenda. The board heard from Town Administrator Dean Bloch and Senior Center board member Lane Morrison on the town personnel policy. Bloch said, “It’s become more recently relevant in terms of coronavirus and the potential for the need for employees to work from home if they do need to quarantine.” Morrison said the policy is “silent on the issue” and the Senior Center director has been allowed to work from home one day as week. He requested a “clean up” of the policy. Krasnow responded they would take up the issue in a future meeting, noting, “If the policy doesn’t mention it one way or another, it would be up to each supervisor’s discretion [to telework].”

CVFRS Fire Chief Rob Mullen asked to speak to the Selectboard “to try to alleviate some fears out there [about the COVID-19 virus].” He continued, “We are taking no extra precaution at CFVRS,” but are receiving regular updates about it at the state level and “are treating it like a respiratory illness.” He said they have supplies in stock; however CVRFS attempted to purchase additional supplies and equipment and found it to be sold out. He said he would also post similar information on Front Porch Forum.

Other Business
The Selectboard reviewed and approved their work plan and board member assignments for the year, finalized the town employee performance review process, and signed an engagement letter with Sullivan, Powers and Co., P.C. to perform an audit of the town’s financial statements for FY20. They also amended and readopted the Charlotte Park and Wildlife Refuge “Ordinance Regulating Conduct” to include language in accordance with 24 VSA §§2291 & 2295, and delegated a Selectboard member to open mowing and brush hogging bids on March 16.

The board also received a presentation from Bob Stock, U.S. Census Bureau Partnership Specialist. He provided an update on the 2020 Census and said people will be able to respond to the survey starting this Thursday. He gave an overview of the demographics of Charlotte and highlighted a data dissemination program available to the public.

March 5 meeting, post-town meeting debrief
During the Thursday, March 5 meeting, the Selectboard undertook several procedural actions related to the makeup of the new board, which included newly elected member Faulkner and re-elected member Krasnow. The board motioned and approved Krasnow as chair and Frank Tenney as vice chair. The Charlotte News and The Citizen were selected as newspapers of record and the schedule of meetings, and the Selectboard liaisons to committees, commissions and boards were selected.

The board also approved the warning for the Australian ballot vote on the FY21 budget for Tuesday, April 7, 2020 and the warning for a Special Town Meeting on Monday, April 6, 2020 – the same night as the informational hearing on the budget. The special meeting is to, according to the agenda, validate action on Article 6 of town meeting, which was warned incorrectly.

The Selectboard discussed and debriefed Town Meeting Day, which included subjects such as attendance, advisory motions during other business at the end of the meeting, moving town meeting day, and questions related to a town response to the COVID-19 virus.

The Selectboard approved several change orders related to the Charlotte library addition and approved the request to engage Stizel, Page and Fletcher, PC as legal counsel to assist the Delinquent Tax Collector Mary Mead with all tax sales scheduled for 2020.

The next regularly scheduled Selectboard meeting is March 23 at 6:00 p.m.