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).

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

September 26, 2016








Monday, September 26, 2016

7:00 PM



PRESENT: Neal Speer, Village President; Adam Paxman, Trustee; Eugene LaBombard, Trustee; Chris Leach, Trustee; Reginald Beliveau, Village Manager; Dianne Day, Village Clerk; Don Collins; Andrew Judge, Tom Benton, St. Albans Messenger and Ch. 16.


Unless otherwise noted, all motions carried unanimously.


1.      Call to Order:


Neal Speer, Village President, welcomed all to the Regular Board of Trustees meeting and called the meeting to order at 7:02 p.m.


2.      Agenda Review:




3.      Approve and Accept Minutes from Monday, September 12, 2016:


Chris Leach made the motion to approve and accept the Minutes from Monday, September 12, 2016 as presented. Eugene LaBombard seconded. Discussion: None. Motion carried.


4.      Approve and Accept Village Warrants through Friday, September 23, 2016:


Adam Paxman made the motion to approve and accept Village Warrants (#104-#110) through Friday, September 23, 2016 as presented. Eugene LaBombard seconded. Discussion: Chris Leach asked about the $100,582.35 payment made to US Bank Operations Center. Reg Beliveau stated that was for a bond payment. He also asked about the $40,268.00 payment made to Fire Tech & Safety of New England. Reg stated that was for purchasing air packs in the Fire Department.  Motion carried.


5.      Don Collins, Legislative Update:


Don Collins stated he was running for the House of Representatives and asked if the Board of Trustees had any issues facing them. He said candidates for the legislature should listen and see what the issues are. He said there are a number of challenges right now such as the Hydro Plant and the Substance Abuse issue. He said people are living in fear that someone will break into their home while they are gone. He said there are no easy answers to this epidemic but we need to keep doing what we are doing, get them help, get them jobs and get them working. He said Montpelier has lost its direction and we need to get it back. Chris Leach mentioned the energy problem and said towns need to have more say in energy projects. He said a lot of this energy produced doesn’t even stay in Vermont. He said they have free use of our transmission and distribution lines and said the energy credits are nothing more than a game. He said existing Hydro plants are not considered renewable when 80% of the power comes from the river and dam. Don said that he has worked with Karen Horn at VLCT and she says communities need to band together and work with VLCT on these issues. Chris said it’s just not right that municipalities are forced to buy renewable projects at above wholesale costs. He said the Village of Swanton then needs to pass this cost onto the ratepayers. He said the Village asked for a 4.5% rate increase but only got a 2% increase. Chris said the Village can’t raise the rates to meet the expense and are forced to buy. Don said he heard the Public Service Board was coming under more scrutiny. He said they need to think of the best things to do and work together on these issues. He said there will be new administration and leadership in Montpelier and he is hoping it’s a respectful one. He said he would stay in touch with the Board and thanked them for their time.


Andrew Judge was also present so Village President Neal Speer asked him if he would like to add anything. Andrew stated he is also running with Don Collins for the House. He said he agreed with a lot of the points made tonight. He said he has a lot of strong views on wind power and also feels there needs to be more local control. He said these are power generation plants and communities need to have more say and needs to take back control. He thanked the Board for their time as well.


6.      Discussion on Coin Drops:


Adam Paxman said that he asked for this to be put on the agenda for further discussion. He said he would like to see coin drops gone altogether. He said there is one a month for eight months and feels where they are located is dangerous. He said there is way too much traffic and a lot of the organizations don’t have the proper signage, etc. Adam Paxman stated he is making the motion to eliminate coin drops altogether. Chris Leach stated he would not second this motion but would counter claim that he understood where Adam was coming from and respects that but feels the money these organizations earn benefits groups in Swanton. He said MVU and the Fire Department as well as others benefit from these coin drops. He said maybe they could limit them more or scrutinize them more. Eugene LaBombard stated he sees both sides of this issue and said personally he doesn’t care for them either but said they do help the organizations. He suggested they ask the voters how they feel because it’s also their Village. Eugene LaBombard made the motion to put whether or not the Village taxpayers want to allow Coin Drops or not on the Village ballot in March. Chris Leach seconded. Discussion: Adam Paxman stated that was a fair way to find out their feelings and was happy with that decision. He said he could accept that. Motion carried.


7.      Employee Handbook Changes:


Reg Beliveau, Village Manager, stated there were a few issues with the Employee Handbook where the Board needed to decide a couple of options. He said in Section 3.4 Overtime the Village now pays overtime after 40 hours have been worked. The attorney pointed out that the Village could compensate overtime with comp time instead of cash overtime pay if they so choose. Adam Paxman stated he would like to keep the Overtime section like it is now where Swanton Village pays overtime cash pay after 40 hours have been worked. Chris Leach stated he liked the comp time option. Reg Beliveau stated he agreed with Adam and Eugene LaBombard said he did too. Reg said the Board would revisit the Employee Handbook on a yearly basis now so if it isn’t working they can always look at it next year. Reg stated the other issue is whether or not the Village continues to pay employee benefits while an employee is out on FMLA (Family Leave). Reg said right now the Village continues to pay health insurance and dental insurance premiums for the employee. Eugene LaBombard and Chris Leach stated they wanted to have the Village keep paying their premiums like they are doing now. Reg said the last issue is regarding Personal Wireless Devices such as IPhones. He said right now all department heads have Village owned cell phones so that’s not an issue but occasionally a customer will text or message employees in the front office regarding their account. He said they will ask how much their bill is or state that they will be in on a certain date to pay. Reg said notes are put on the customer’s account so this really isn’t an issue for them. Chris Leach stated use of personal devices is the exception not the rule and suggested the Village continue as is and just monitor these occurrences. Eugene LaBombard agreed with this as well.


Adam Paxman made the motion to approve the Village of Swanton Employee Handbook with the above decisions made. Eugene LaBombard seconded. Motion carried.


8.      Discussion on Replacing or Repairing Rubber Bag at Hydro Plant:


Reg Beliveau stated that FERC would be here on Thursday, September 29th for their Part 12 inspection. He said they plan on going inside the rubber bag at the Hydro Plant. He said they inspect this about every five years. He said when the rubber bag was installed they gave it a 30 year life span, that changed to a 25 year life span then most recently was given a 20 year life span. He said the rubber bag at the plant is now 23 years old. Chris Leach said they have explored concrete as an alternative and that is too expensive. He said he wished they had a good feeling about being relicensed and said the State of Vermont shouldn’t be involved in this but they are. Chris stated they should plan on replacing the rubber bag in 2018. He said the cost to replace is approximately $1.5 million dollars and the cost to replace is approximately $985,000. Reg stated the Village may need voter approval for the bond to replace it and said he would look into that. He said he agrees with the decision to replace the rubber bag rather than repairing it. He said he appreciates the fact that Orman Croft and Harlan Titemore knew what they were doing back in the 1990’s. He also said FERC respects Swanton Village and realizes that we run a quality plant.


Chris Leach made the motion to go with a tentative plan to replace the rubber bag at the Hydro Plant in 2018. Adam Paxman seconded. Motion carried.


9.      Any Other Necessary Business:


Chris Leach stated the State is doing a good job on the repaving project and said it will be nice when it’s done.


Any Other Business: Eugene LaBombard said the Town and Village plan on installing an electronic sign downtown and he fully supports that. He said Highgate’s new electronic sign looks nice.


Any Other Business: Reg Beliveau stated that there will be a Community Forum on September 28th at 6 p.m. at the Complex to discuss the issue of vandalism. He also informed the Board that the Village received another Hydro Grant for $20,896 for Unit #5 generation. He said VPPSA keeps reapplying for the Village and this is the third year the Village has received grant money for this.


Reg Beliveau stated he would need an Executive Session to discuss Real Estate and Legal Matters.


10.  Public Comment:




11.  Executive Session (If Necessary):


Adam Paxman made the motion to enter into Executive Session to discuss Real Estate and Legal Matters at 8:05 p.m. Eugene LaBombard seconded. Motion carried.


Chris Leach made the motion to exit Executive Session at 8:40 p.m. Adam Paxman seconded. Motion carried.




12.  Adjournment:


Chris Leach made the motion to adjourn the Regular Board of the Trustees meeting at 8:40 p.m. Eugene LaBombard seconded. There being no further business at hand, Neal Speer, Village President, adjourned the meeting at 8:40p.m. Motion carried.



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Neal Speer, Village President                           Date





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Dianne Day, Village Clerk                               Date