The Selectboard meeting of April 26 illustrated the complexities of governance in Vermont. Members considered issues at three levels: policy development, implementation and oversight of current regulations, and town operations.
The board voted to engage attorney John Klesch of Stitzel, Paige, and Fletcher to develop a new or improved personnel policy. The past eight months have seen problems with current personnel rules, and the assignment is to bring them in line with best practices.
The discussion of personnel management veered into the area of having a town administrator versus a town manager. Currently, Charlotte has a town administrator, Dean Bloch. A manager model would shift some of the Selectboard’s current administrative functions and provide relief from overseeing personnel issues. Mr. Klesch stressed that revising personnel policies and regulations is an issue that is separate from the town management.
In another policy area, conflict of interest for Selectboard members, Lewis Mudge presented language to amend the Rules of Procedure as follows:
Recognizing that serving on two separate boards presents multiple opportunities for the appearance of, as well as actual conflicts of interest, no member of the body will hold membership on another town board, commission, or committee while serving on the body.
Bill Stuono and Mike Russell commented that some Selectboard members are also serving as liaisons or members of other town committees. It was decided to table the proposed language until the matter of Selectboard members serving on other town committees can be clarified.
In discussions of membership on the Zoning Board, the issue of establishing a development review board was raised. Such a board would centralize some zoning and planning functions to facilitate a more efficient process. Jim Faulkner will lead a small committee of Lane Morrison and Peter Joslin to research the matter and report back to the Selectboard. Jim noted that he is not necessarily a proponent of the DRB system. Matt Krasnow stated that altering the process of planning and zoning would have to go in front of the voters.
In the area of ongoing implementation, the Selectboard heard from Jim Donovan, representative to the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission. Jim stated that the CCRPC has resources to assist Charlotte in the development of improvements such as parking lots, stop signs and sidewalks. There is also funding available for training emergency management responders. There had been a list of proposed projects developed by Charlotte 15 years ago, but there have been no requests from the town to the CCRPC recently. Matt asked Dean Bloch to retrieve the list and provide it to the Selectboard for review.
The board then heard from Chris Davis about the Local Emergency Response Plan and the Charlotte Rail and Highway Hazmat Emergency Response Plan. Both were discussed and approved. Chris Davis was appointed to be the Charlotte Emergency Management Director.
Administrative and operational decisions included the interviewing of three proposed appointees to the Zoning Board and six others to town committees. At a follow-up session, Karina Warshaw was appointed to the Zoning Board. The Charlotte Fire and Rescue budget was approved as well as license agreements for the Spear’s Corner Store and Philo Ridge Farm.
At a later Special Meeting of the Select Board on May 3, the following candidates were selected to be members of the Zoning Board: Ronda Moore, Charles Russell, and J.D, Herlihy. They join new member Karina Warshaw and Lane Morrison as regular members of the five-member board. At the meeting on May 3rd, Lane Morrison, a member of the Zoning Board in attendance, suggested that Andrew Swayze, current alternate, be moved to a regular membership slot, so that he might participate in the approval of a town project in which he had been involved. This discussion diverted the nominating process while the members discussed the various ways an alternate might participate in voting on a specific project. In the meantime it was noted that Swayze had asked to step off of the Zoning Board because he is moving. A decision was made to keep Swayze on as an alternate for now and replace him in late August. William Stuono had entered his name to take Swayze’s place as an alternate.