Minutes of the Special Selectboard Meeting of Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 6:30 PM
Members present: Ed Childs, Chair; Roger Blake; Christopher Ashley; Linda Cook; Steve
Flanders; Neil Fulton, Interim Town Manager; Nancy Kramer, Assistant to the Town Manager.
There were about 25 people in the audience.
Also participating: Len Brown, Van Chesnut, Michael Cryans, Stephen Geller, Elaine Guenet, Jim
Harlow, Russell Hirschler, Nancy Hoggson, Linda Husband, Cheryl Lindberg, Chris Lord, Peter
Milliken, Keith Moran, Peggy O’Neil, Ed Piper, Jan Stryker, Wendy Teller-Elsberg, Jay Van
Arman, Lucinda Walker, Amanda White.
Childs opened the meeting at 6:30 pm.
1. Town Manager’s Report (Discussion). The public forum on the Norwich Pool Dam hosted by
the Recreation Council went very well and was well attended. The RFP for consulting services
related to the repair or replacement of the Norwich Pool Dam and Recreation Area associated
with the swimming area should come before the Selectboard in January. A Communications
Project public forum is scheduled for December 12th at 7:00 pm in Tracy Hall. The Management
Discussion and Analysis is complete and should be coming before the Board to discuss at their
first meeting in January. The December revisions to the Town Plan are up on the Town website
and will come before the Selectboard for their approval December 14th. The FEMA paperwork on
Irene damages is about 60% completed. The Town has met the criteria for 90% reimbursement.
If everything remains on schedule, the Town should start to receive reimbursements in March,
2012. The repair work on Blood Brook is finished. The guardrail work related to Irene is not yet
complete. Bridge #41 on Turnpike Road up from Tilden Hill has been recently looked at by AOT
and has been assessed as in serious condition. Fulton showed the Board a picture he had taken
that morning showing erosion of the footing. Fulton said the Town needs to take immediate steps
to repair the bridge. This bridge is Hodgdon’s #1 project on his bridge list of pending projects.
Estimated total cost to replace the structure is $245,000. FEMA has looked at the bridge damage
and may reimburse some of the money. Cook asked if any other bridges on Hodgdon’s list
needing repairs received further damage from Irene and Fulton said no.
2. Finance – Board to Sign Accounts Payable/Warrants (Action Item). Flanders moved (2nd
Blake) to approve Check Warrant Report #12-20 for General Fund for the period from 11/24/11 to
12/7/11 in the amount of $74,049.21. Motion passed. Cook moved (2nd Flanders) to approve
Check Warrant Report #12-20 for Police Special Equipment Fund for the period from 11/24/11 to
12/7/11 in the amount of $483.52. Motion passed.
3. Committee to Review Real Property Assessment Functions Final Report (Discussion/Possible
Action Item). Milliken said the Committee conducted 25 interviews, including the Director and
District Advisor of Property Valuation & Review as well as current and former Listers and
Assessor of Norwich and others around the State of Vermont, to gain a better understanding of
how Norwich maintains its Grand List and organizes its Listers Office and how other towns do the
same. The Committee recommends a periodic Town-wide reappraisal every four years
accomplished by dividing the Town into four quadrants and doing one quadrant each year. Listers
are to develop policy and perform statutory duties only and be paid an annual stipend. The Town
should hire a contract Assessor or a part-time Assessor. The Clerk’s hours should be at least 20
hours per week up to full time. Data in Section 4 of the Report shows that Norwich spends more
on its Lister budget than any other towns interviewed. The Committee chose Charlotte as a town
that is similar to Norwich in size and socio-economic makeup. The Committee recommends
implementation of their recommendations for FY13 using it as a transition period so as not to
negatively impact the Town-wide reappraisal that is currently underway. The benefits of the
Committee’s recommendations include predictability and stability, keeping the parcel data current
and lowering costs. Ashley asked if the Committee had any recommendations on office space or
dollar figures for pay. Milliken answered that the Committee did not reach a consensus on pay but
would recommend a pay range using Charlotte as a basis. Office space currently used by the
Listers seems adequate to the Committee. Flanders thanked the Committee for their work and
Committee member present (Lauren Girard Adams, Adele Fulton, Dennis Kaufman and Peter
Milliken) were recognized. Fulton and the Listers are working on budget numbers for FY13 that
will be provided to the Selectboard in their Friday packets.
Flanders moved (2nd Ashley) to receive the Committee to Review Real Property Assessment
Functions Final Report with our thanks to Peter Milliken and the Committee. Motion passed.
4. Selectboard 3rd Budget Work Session – Outside Agencies (Discussion/Possible Action Item).
Representatives from Advance Transit, American Legion Lyman F. Pell Post #8, Cemetery
Commission, Child Care Center in Norwich, The Family Place, Green Mountain RSVP, HCRS,
Headrest, Norwich Historical Society (NHS), Norwich Public Library (NPL), SEVCA, Upper Valley
Trails Alliance (UVTA), VNA & Hospice of VT and NH, White River Council on Aging, Windsor
County Partners, WISE and Youth-in-Action (YIA) attended the meeting, explained what they do
and in particular what they do for Norwich residents and answered questions. Other items
discussed were: the NPL being the de facto community center, Gile Mountain trail grants, real-
time bus tracking, flags at half mast in observance of National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
and more land being needed for cemetery plots. All were thanked for coming by the Board.
Ashley recused himself from all discussions of The Family Place. Afterwards, Flanders voiced his
reservations on whether RSVP, YIA, UVTA and NHS met the requirements of paragraph 2.2 of
the Selectboard Appropriation Policy particularly in regard to benefiting Norwich residents. Fulton
requested guidance on whether he should proceed with the proposed expenditure requests in
preparing the final budget for Board approval. The Selectboard agreed by consensus that he
should do so. Fulton said there may be an additional appropriation request coming in by petition
from the Norwich Lions Club for $3,000 for fireworks. Fulton will keep the Selectboard informed
on all petitions received. Final decision on including petitions received on the Town Warning
resides with the Board.
5. FY13 Budget Follow-Up (Discussion/Possible Action Item). Fulton went over the budget
modifications from the November 22nd meeting, the tax rate changes and paving budget and
article impacts addressed in his revised budget follow up memo. The Lister budget will be
addressed at the December 14th Selectboard meeting. Maintaining the status quo as well as
using a stipend for the Listers will be considered. Fulton would like to finalize the FY13 budget to
be presented for the January public hearing December 14th. After some further discussion, the
Board then took up Town Manager compensation for the FY13 budget. Flanders had prepared
spreadsheets showing salary against budget in towns with a population bracketing Norwich.
Flanders had also brought an updated electronic version to provide the Selectboard with updates
depending on the salary chosen. Childs said that he believes Norwich needs to be at the upper
end of the salary range in order to lay ground work for negotiation. Thus, Childs would like to
increase the salary line item in the FY13 budget. Ashley concurred that a range of $85-90,000
seemed right in order to compete with other towns for candidates. The Board then discussed
Town Manager search expenses. Fulton, when asked, said he preferred using an assessment
center and suggested $7,500 be budgeted for the search. The Selectboard agreed by consensus
to have Fulton use the trial numbers of $90,000 for salary and $7,500 for the search in the next
budget draft. Cook asked if the monies for the Town Pool had been included in the budget
numbers. Fulton said he has used a figure of $85,000 as an appropriation for FEMA matching
funds which included repairing the pool dam.
At this point, Moran asked that the Selectboard take into account that the first draft of the School
budget is showing a 9.74% increase. Fulton reminded the Board that costs for Irene have driven
the tax rate up for this budget.
6. Review of Next Agenda (Discussion/Possible Action Item). The Norwich Women’s Club
request for a waiver of the Alcohol Ordinance, adopting the new Town Plan, adopting the Norwich
Hazard Mitigation Plan, Act 250 permit for communications tower and process for approval of
accounts payable will be agenda items for the December 14th meeting.
Flanders moved (2nd Ashley) to adjourn. Motion passed. Meeting adjourned at 9:59 pm.
Approved by the Selectboard on January 11, 2012.
By Nancy Kramer
Assistant to the Town Manager
Next Regular Meeting – December 14, 2011 at 6:30 PM
1) Update Finance Committee Statement of Purpose
2) Strategic Planning
3) Town Boundaries
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