This page is maintained by Swanton Village, Inc and is intended to be the official online posting of public meetings and minutes in accordance with Vermont’s Open Meeting law (Amended July 1st, 2014).

Friday, December 12, 2014

November 24, 2014









Monday, November 24, 2014

7 PM



PRESENT: Neal Speer, Village President; Chris Leach, Trustee; Eugene LaBombard, Trustee; Adam Paxman, Trustee; Reginald Beliveau, Village Manager; Lynn Paradis, Assistant Village Manager; Joey Stell, Police Chief and Ch. 16.


Unless otherwise noted, all motions carried unanimously.


Neal Speer, Village President, welcomed all to the Regular Board of Trustees meeting and called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.


1. Approve and Accept Minutes from Monday, November 10, 2014:


Chris Leach made the motion to approve and accept the Minutes from Monday, November 10, 2014 as presented. Adam Paxman seconded. Discussion: None. Motion carried.


2. Approve and Accept Village Warrants through Friday, November 21, 2014:


Chris Leach made the motion to approve and accept Village Warrants #116-#120 through November 21, 2014 as presented. Eugene LaBombard seconded. Discussion: Chris Leach asked about First Niagra Bank for $4,564.25. Lynn Paradis stated that was the lease payments for the police cruiser and the vactor in the Sewer Department. Chris stated he thought the Village leased locally. Lynn stated it was through Municipal Banking and they then sell the lease. Chris also asked about the Iron Brook payment for $26,672. Reg Beliveau stated that was the last payment for the UV system at the Wastewater Plant. Eugene LaBombard asked about the payment to Swanton Village for $160. Lynn stated that was reimbursing the Village for petty cash taken from the soda fund. Chris Leach asked about the payment made to Superior Court of VT for $78.75. Lynn stated that was for a small claims court case, she said the Village has some outstanding miscellaneous accounts receivables such as car/pole accidents and the Village is taking those individuals to small claims because they haven’t paid the invoices. Chris Leach also asked about Lincoln Financial Group for $905.97. Lynn stated that is the Village’s life insurance and disability company. He also asked about Kansas State Bank for $3022.92. Lynn advised that was for the other police cruiser on the Town of Swanton contract. Chris Leach thanked Lynn and Reg for their explanations. Motion carried.


3. Electric Cost of Service Update:


Lynn Paradis, Assistant Village Manager, advised the Board that the Village received approval on their notice that has to go to the Village customers so that ad will run in the St. Albans Messenger Tuesday, Nov. 25 and Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. She said the ad notifies the customers that the Village has done this Cost of Service and telling the proposed rates vs. the current rates. She said the Public Service Board (PSB) has also requested all residential demand customers receive a notice mailed directly to them because the Village dramatically changed that rate class. She said all those customers will receive a notice in the mail. Chris Leach asked how far the Village is from getting this approved. Lynn said she hasn’t heard yet but the 30 days is just about up and the PSB will make a decision or recommendation to either approve it or to investigate it. She feels they will investigate it but she hasn’t received that notice yet. She is hoping for an implementation date of January 1, 2015. The new rates would be billed in February 2015. Lynn stated that if the PSB investigates this there will be a public comment hearing. She said it may be implemented in February 2015 instead of January but she just doesn’t know yet. Chris asked if the Village suggested these changes or if the PSB asked us to do these changes. Lynn stated the Village recommended these changes and the PSB will look at it and determine if this is reasonable or not. Lynn advised approximately 140 residential customers will come off demand billing and more than likely farmers and sugar makers will remain on it. Chris stated he thought GMP has off peak rates for their customers and said there must be a fair amount of customers who take advantage of that. He asked why the Village didn’t. Lynn stated they have smart metering where a meter reader does not go out and read their meters anymore. She said they can disconnect a customer directly from their office remotely. Adam Paxman asked once this cost of service update was complete, how long would it be before the Village had to do this again. Lynn stated it would happen again in five years or less as well as her depreciation study. She feels there will be some load changes within the next five years so the Village may do this hopefully sooner than five years. She said the last study was done in 2003 and this was way overdue. The Board thanked Lynn for her information.


4. Preliminary 2015 Budget Discussions:


Lynn Paradis, Assistant Village Manager, advised the Board she gave them an updated budget because she tweaked it some. She asked the Board if they had any questions for her regarding the budgets. Adam Paxman stated it looked like she adjusted the budgets based on the new rates. Lynn advised she broke out the different customer classes and said she needs to track that information. She said she can figure out what rate class is lagging and this is a double check for her. Chris Leach asked about the solar credits. Lynn stated there are more customers going with solar and the Village needs to give them a credit which is about 8.8 cents for everything they generate according to the net metering law. She said there is about 7 or 8 customers right now and that is very minimal. She said every couple of months another customer is going with solar so $3,300 could double next year. She said it is a moving target and something she doesn’t know for certain.  She said the net metering law states the Village has to pay them for each kilowatt they generate. Reg Beliveau stated there is a movement in which a customer doesn’t have to pay for poles and wires. He said even though they have solar you’re still connected to the grid so when the sun’s not shining they’re not producing and they need power, they need to help pay for the transmission to get that power. He said there are basic service charges that would be added to their bill. He said utilities still need to maintain the poles and wires and there is a certain charge for that. Chris asked if a customer goes south for the winter and shuts their power off and is using minimal power they still pay customer charges so why wouldn’t the solar customer pay that. Lynn stated they are still charged that but they also receive a solar credit and that can go against all those charges. Lynn advised this is what the Vermont Legislature put in place and she’s not aware of what other states do.


Adam Paxman asked Lynn about the Hydro Power generation number. Lynn stated that is for salaries at the Hydro Plant and it is being increased in part to more overtime up there right now because of the plant shut down maintenance. She said that will be over budget this year due to overtime there. She said there used to be five operators there but now there is only four, when someone takes a day off they are back filling which means someone is doing a double shift. She feels that what is driving some of the increase. Chris Leach stated they should look at those numbers to see if they make sense or not. Lynn stated the overtime per week is equivalent to a half time person. She said if they added another person there that number would go up. Chris stated to keep an eye on that. They discussed working 12 hour shifts vs. 8 hour shifts and what that cost the Village. She said Reg would be touching base on that later on. Adam stated that his only other gripe would be purchase power. Lynn stated she doesn’t have this year’s number yet and is using last year’s number. She won’t have it until December. She stated that the generation at the power plant is what is hurting the Village. The hydro plant produces more than what they really should have and it’s too volatile. She said it’s like 70% and they are not generating. She said the hydro plant should produce 50% generation and that would help those numbers, even 25% would be good. Lynn said the Village would need to file another rate increase in February to make this up. More discussion took place regarding purchase power. Lynn stated that five or so years ago the Village received good money for generating power and that is no longer the case. She said once the recession hit, it hurt the Village.


Adam Paxman also asked about customer service expense for outside services employed. Lynn stated that $31,000 of that is our normal outside services such as our software maintenance. She said $12,000 of that is because Unit #5 needs a software modification so that’s in there, $4000 is for IT services and $18,000 is for the accounting software upgrade.


Lynn asked if there were any questions on the Water Budget. She stated that first bond payment on the new transmission line would be in August 2015. She said they are looking at another rate increase in the water rates because when they pushed off the payment that added more to the debt. She said they are going to fund all depreciation expense and the debt service. Adam asked if there would be another rate increase next year and Lynn stated that once they bring the rates to where to they need to be it will remain stable. She said the only thing that would drive any change to this would be the bond payments that will be coming due. Chris Leach stated he was pleased that the Board controlled this and said their rates are still very cheap. Eugene said neighboring communities pay a lot more than the Village does. Chris stated he wanted to be more than competitive with our neighbors.


Lynn asked if there were questions on the Sewer Fund. She said page 12 shows a projection of where the rates need to go. She said there are a few issues at the plant that need to be addressed. She said one bond will be paid off in 2016 and another one will be paid a year after. She said there’s going to be repairs there needed as well.


She mentioned that in the Highway Fund that budget is going down. She said they cut paving because there is a Class I project coming through in 2016 so they were able to cut that budget. They are going to need to invest in a sidewalk plow very soon because it is used year around. She said Mike Menard is getting prices on that piece of equipment which cost around $140,000. She said his budget is going down but the bad news is they have to do something about this sidewalk plow which will probably increase this budget. Eugene asked about putting this on the ballot as a separate line item and Lynn agreed to this. If the voters approve this it would put his budget about where it was last year she said. She said the other issue with his equipment is the Kubota tractor which they use to mow the parks with. She said it’s like 17-18 years old and Mike got pricing on that as well. She said it cost approximately $25,000. He said he needs the sidewalk plow more than the Kubota so will push this out to the 2016-2017 budget but that will also be needed. Lynn stated that piece of equipment is used almost every day in the summer amongst all the plants.


Lynn went on to the General Fund. She said one thing not in the budget is the furnace for the Complex. She said the one there is 25 years old and a new is about $7,500. She said it’s not in this budget but she is considering whether she should or not. Chris Leach suggested she put it in and see what it does to the numbers.  She said Reg has asked to put $1,500 in the budget for the Swanton Enhancement Committee and said the Town would put in the same amount. Reg stated they are trying to get some grants for this Committee.


Lynn stated in the Fire Department they increased the salary budget a little bit. She said they will be over budget in this line item this year due to call volume. She said under equipment they wanted $30,000 for rescue tools and they decided to put that as a separate line item on the ballot if the Board agreed to this. Eugene asked if this was absolutely necessary or just nice to have. Reg stated the price was questionable but this equipment was necessary to have. Reg stated the Fire Department does have some cutter equipment but new equipment is necessary. He said the Fire Chief suggested they have this as a separate line item so the entire budget doesn’t get shot down. Chris Leach said he would agree to this and Eugene agreed as well. Reg stated the last time there was an increase in the salaries it was about five years ago. Lynn thought that was due to call volume. Adam asked for clarification on that issue.


Lynn asked if there were any questions in the Police Department. Chris Leach stated he supports our Police Department but said that is a lot of money. Adam asked if 2015 was the last year of the Town Police Contract and Lynn stated yes, it would go three months into 2016. The voters would need to vote on that and approve it once again. Eugene LaBombard stated he was surprised in the increase in salaries. He said he understood someone was in police training and they needed to cover that. He asked how much that cost. Chief Stell stated that they had an officer out twice due to injuries, non work related so they needed to cover those shifts. He said they are trying to train part time officers so that full time officers didn’t need to cover those shifts. He also mentioned the overtime necessary to investigate the bank robbery that took place. He said that resulted in a lot of extra man hours. He said the other driving factors are increased training requirements. He said they needed to send all officers to mandatory training classes. He said every time a law changes in the State they need to train their officers. Chief Stell said they are still covering the number of actual hours on. He said actual call in hours isn’t that high. Chris said he was trying to get the point out that they are at the optimum hours of coverage, and it is not cost effective to increase that. Chief Stell stated there is no fluff in this budget. Adam stated there is an increase in property insurance to life and disability and that is across the board. Chris asked about tractor trailer checks to bring in extra funds. Chief Stell said they have written tickets but the funds are not coming in and that has to do with how the individual pays their fines. Chief Stell said they’ve issued at least $25,000 to $30,000 in fines but have only received approximately $1800 paid. He said they have no control over how it is collected. He said since they’ve had their truck out there the average weight of the chipper trucks has gone from 104,000 pounds to 89,000 pounds so that will help the Village streets overall. Chief Stell said they have cut everything out of their budget that is not grant funded. He said everything else is a necessity. Chris Leach asked if they were still doing fingerprinting. Lynn stated yes they are and it generated about $11,000 so far this year.


Adam Paxman asked about the transportation expense. Lynn stated that consists of fuel, oil changes and maintenance on the cars. She said there are four cars in the fleet. Chris Leach asked about the crimes that get reported and asked if there is a percentage of those solved. Chief Stell said their major crime solve rate is around 84 to 87% and the misdemeanor solve rate is about 51%.


Lynn showed the Board the estimated tax rate. She said General is staying pretty close to the same as last year. She said the Fire Department is going up about a half a penny, the Police Department is going up just under a penny and a half, and Highway is going down about a penny and three quarters but if the sidewalk plow gets approved that would make them about even. She said in total the tax rate is going up a very small percentage, 1.4% without the tractor and furnace. She said this is the first run through number. She said she’s not sure what the Police Department would do to the budget yet. She said that may increase the budget by about 3%.


Lynn mentioned the Memorial Building downtown and said she increased the property insurance just a little bit and reduced the maintenance budget so total expenditures would be the same.


Lynn stated the personnel numbers included a blanket 2% increase in wages and she also ran it with the employees contributing 4% toward their health insurance premium. Eugene stated he felt comfortable with a 2% blanket wage increase. Chris asked if there were any employees that were grossly underpaid. Lynn stated no she didn’t feel that. She said utilities that have a union are getting about a 3% wage increase. She said they need to be careful that they don’t lose employees to neighboring utilities. Chris asked when this budget needed to be finalized and Lynn said next month. Reg stated the Town of Swanton has also asked for the Fire Department budget for their early December meeting. They discussed the amount the Town of Swanton pays to the Village for Fire coverage. Lynn stated it’s based on a five year rolling average and it’s about 75%. She said if you look at call volume it’s about the same. The Board thanked her for all her hard work and information regarding the budgets.


5. MVUHS Substance Free Committee Request for a Coin Drop for April 2015:


Reg Beliveau stated that Joel Clark was the point of contact for this Coin Drop request. Adam Paxman asked if this would be the only one approved for this class. Reg stated yes as far as he knew. Adam Paxman made the motion to approve MVUHS’s request to hold a coin drop for their Substance Free Committee on April 11, 2015 with a rain date of April 18, 2015. Eugene LaBombard seconded. Motion carried.


6. Any Other Necessary Business:


Reg Beliveau advised the Board that he had a meeting with the Swanton Enhancement Committee and said that Hank Lambert is going to help him apply for grants regarding buildings.


Any Other Business: Adam Paxman stated the Chamber of Commerce will host Christmas in the Park on Saturday, November 29th. He also stated he has stepped down as Chamber President this coming season. He thanked everyone for their support.


7. Executive Session to Discuss Personnel:


Chris Leach made the motion to enter into Executive Session to Discuss Personnel at 8:42 p.m. Adam Paxman seconded. Motion carried.


Adam Paxman made the motion to exit Executive Session at 9:02 p.m. Eugene LaBombard seconded. Motion carried.




ADJOURN: Adam Paxman made the motion to adjourn the Regular Board of the Trustees meeting at 9:02 p.m. Eugene LaBombard seconded. There being no further business at hand, Neal Speer, Village President, adjourned the meeting at 9:02 p.m. Motion carried.



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Neal Speer, Village President                           Date




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Dianne Day, Village Clerk                               Date