Minutes of the Special Selectboard Meeting of Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 6:30 PM
Members present: Christopher Ashley, Chair; Ed Childs; Linda Cook; Steve Flanders; Keith
Moran; Neil Fulton, Town Manager; Nancy Kramer, Assistant to the Town Manager.
There were about 46 people in the audience.
Also participating: Roberta Alexander, Watt Alexander, Ames Byrd, Carey Callaghan, Georgina
Forbes, Mary Fowler, Joe Helble, Nancy Hoggson, Rebecca Holcombe, Dennis Kaufman, Bonnie
Munday, Rick Otto, Sarah Poston, Sharon Racusin, Demo Sofronas, Warren Thayer, Irv Thomae,
Ashley opened the meeting at 6:30 pm.
1. Possible Bond Article for Tower and Communications System Improvements for Town Meeting
Warning (Discussion/Possible Action Item). Fulton said VTel has retained a Project Coordinator
and a legal firm to coordinate the 248a process. The site survey, soil borings, environmental
analysis and wetlands delineation are completed. Site and access design and tower design are
almost completed. Fulton then reviewed the grants received. There is a HSGP grant for $92,370
which expires in June, 2013 that cannot be extended due to it being FY 2010 federal monies. The
AFG grant has a performance period ending February 23, 2013 which extensions will be asked
for. The next VMBB bond sale is scheduled for the end of July. The money would be available in
late August. Fulton estimates that this would cause a 6 to 12 month delay in building the tower
with the possible loss of some grant funds. Fulton then reviewed the costs. Under the
lease/purchase arrangement with VTel, the Town would need to borrow $115,000 and pay it back
over a 5-year period. Fulton then reviewed the costs of doing a $325,000 or $420,000, if grant
monies are lost, bond over a 10, 15 or 20-year period. Questions were asked regarding
maintenance expenses, why a $275,000 bond no longer applies and cost per taxpayer. People
present pointed out the importance of the community having a chance to vote and dissatisfaction
with the VTel choice. Fulton responded that he has had a number of conversations with VTel and
they were very responsive and positive. Moran pointed out that the Selectboard does not want to
nix the VTel deal without an alternative route. Afterwards, Ashley moved (2nd Cook) to warn a
bond article for the tower stating: “Shall general obligation bonds or notes of the Town of Norwich
in an mount not to exceed $325,000, subject to reduction from available state and federal grants-
in-aid and other financial assistance, be issued for the purpose of financing the construction of a
radio communications system including a communications tower on terms acceptable to the
Selectboard?” Motion failed 2 to 3 (yes – Cook and Ashley; no – Flanders, Childs and Moran).
Board members then spoke about the risk involved due to the need for the tower, the delays that a
bond vote would create, possible grant losses and added expenses and Town support for the
tower. Further questions were asked by townspeople regarding buying out VTel’s costs to date,
visual and health impacts of the tower and the number of signatures needed on the petition.
2. FY14 Budget (Discussion/Action Item). Fulton said he was contacted by three Selectboard
members with suggested changes to the FY14 budget. After review, he is proposing a budget
with a FY13 to FY14 increase of $687 or 0.02%. The tax rate increase would be approximately
2.64%. After consulting with Jim Barlow of VLCT, Fulton is proposing that the Windsor County tax
be removed from the budget and shown as a separate item on the tax bill. After some discussion
of process, the Board asked for a page by page discussion of the proposed budget.
Page 1 - Town Manager’s salary has changed to $97,894, Admin. Assist. Wages and Strategic
Planning have dropped to zero. Public comments were that they hoped the Town will stick with
the original compensation plan as employees need to make a living wage.
Page 2 – Record Restoration changed to $5,000 to fund a study. Assistant Clerk Wage changed
to $18,218, 20 hours, with an article to increase the hours to 40. There was discussion regarding:
adding more money to restoration, the cost of the study, Assistant Town Clerk hours and Town
Page 3 – Finance Director wage changed to $57,422. There was discussion regarding: Finance
Director salary and Finance Assistant wages.
Page 4 – Planning Director wage changed to $57,422. Assistant wage was questioned.
Page 5 – Recreation Director wage changed to $57,422. There was discussion regarding:
Recreation Assistant and revenues.
Page 8 – Cruiser Designated Fund was changed to $10,000.
Public Works Department – Tree Warden budget has been moved to Buildings & Grounds. At this
point, Sofronas spoke about and showed pictures of trees on Town property near his house that
he believes need to be removed. Changed Class 3 Winter Purchased Services to $5,000.
Changed Designated Fund – Equipment to $135,000. Changed Designated Fund – Sidewalk to
$0. Moran initiated a discussion of cutting $47,000 from the Public Works budget that included
reducing special projects, dust control, roadside mowing and purchased services. The majority of
the Selectboard did not support those cuts.
After discussion, a majority of the Board supported the top 3 salary increases and the increases
proposed in assistants’ wages. The Board also agreed to increase the Town Clerk’s salary to
Grade 20, Step B on the Schedule C plus 2.04% chart.
Flanders moved (2nd Childs) to recommend that Town Meeting approve a gross spending General
Town Budget of $3,996,441. Motion passed 3 to 2 (yes – Ashley, Childs and Flanders; no -
Cook and Moran).
a) Review of Next Agenda (Discussion/Possible Action Item). Approval of the Town portion
of the Town Meeting Warning will be on the agenda for January 23rd.
Cook moved (2nd Childs) to adjourn. Motion passed. Meeting adjourned at 9:04 pm.
Approved by the Selectboard on February 27, 2013.
By Nancy Kramer
Assistant to the Town Manager
Next Regular Meeting – January 23, 2013 at 6:30 PM
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