Town of Pittsfield
Tuesday March 5, 2019
Moderator, George Deblon, called the Pittsfield Annual Town Meeting to order at 10:05 am. Approximately 72 people were in attendance the Pittsfield Federated Church. George led the attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Article 1. To elect a moderator for the ensuing year. George Deblon nominated by Charles Piso. Seconded by Clairetta Corron. Voice vote. George Deblon elected moderator for the ensuing year.
Article 2. Pittsfield School District Warning will be acted upon at this time. With no objections, the Town Meeting recessed at 10:08 and the School District warning was acted upon. (See separate minutes). The Town Meeting reconvened at 10:19 and the articles warned by the Select Board were acted upon at this time.
Article 3. To receive the reports of the town officers for the year of 2018. Sandy Begin made a motion to receive the reports of the Town Officers. Seconded by Suana Rubin. Voice vote. Motion carried.
Article 4. To elect the following officers for the terms indicated and to fill any other office vacant:
a. Select Person for three years. Herb Kuendig nominated Matt Corron, seconded by Clairetta Corron. Caleb Hawley nominated Marsha Hopkins, Marsha declined. Patty Haskins made a motion for clerk to cast a single ballot for Matt Corron. Seconded by Herb Kuendig. Motion carried, Clerk cast one ballot. Matt Corron elected as Select Person for three year term.
b. Lister for three years. Sandy Begin nominated Martha Beyersdorf, seconded by Erica Hurd. Patty Haskins made a motion for the clerk to cast a single ballot for Martha Beyersdorf. Seconded by Herb Kuendig. Motion carried, Clerk cast one ballot. Martha Beyersdorf elected as Lister for three years.
c. Auditor for three years. Herb Kuendig nominated Sue Wuerthele, seconded by Matt Corron. Dave Colton made a motion to close nominations and for the clerk to cast one ballot. Seconded by Mark Begin. Clerk cast one ballot, Sue Wuerthele elected Auditor for three years.
Auditor for one year. Charles Piso nominated Rebecca Steward, seconded by Erica Hurd. Patty Haskins moved that nominations close and the clerk cast one ballot, seconded by Clairetta Corron. Clerk cast one ballot, Rebecca Steward elected as Auditor for one year.
d. Trustee of Public Funds. Sandy Begin nominated Kelly Ziegler, seconded by Henry Hotchkiss. Voice vote. Kelly Ziegler elected Trustee of Public Funds for three years.
e. Trustee of Roger Clark Memorial Library. Sandy Begin nominated Elizabeth Warner, seconded by Erica Hurd. Voice vote. Elizabeth Warner elected Trustee Roger Clark Memorial Library for three years.
f. Trustee Roger Clark Memorial Library. Erica Hurd nominated Amanda Barrett, seconded by Matt Corron. Voice vote. Amanda Barrett elected Trustee Roger Clark Memorial Library for three years.
g. First Constable. Sandy Begin nominated Tim Hunt, seconded by Erica Hurd. Voice vote. Tim Hunt elected First Constable for two years.
h. Grand Juror. Erica Hurd nominated Sandy Begin, seconded by Mark Begin. Voice Vote. Sandy Begin elected Grand Juror for one year.
i. Town Agent. Erica Hurd nominated Sarah Gray for Town Agent, seconded by Mark Begin. Voice vote. Sarah Gray elected Town Agent for one year.
j. Cemetery Commissioner. Chuck Colton nominated Connie Martin, seconded by Charles Piso. Voice Vote. Connie Martin elected Cemetery commissioner for three years.
k. Collector of Delinquent Taxes. Dot Williamson nominated Janice Stumpf, seconded by Clairetta Corron. Voice vote. Janice Stumpf elected Delinquent Tax Collector for one year.
l. Town Clerk. Charles Piso made a point of order regarding changing the term to one year as required by the Secretary of State Office for both Town Clerk and Treasurer. This is because of Patty Haskins’ retirement during her term and there being one year remaining in such term. Next year the election will be for a three year term. Charles Piso nominated Trish Fryer, seconded by Suana Ruben. Voice vote. Tricia Fryer elected Town Clerk for one year.
m. Town Treasurer Herb Kuendig nominated Trish Fryer, seconded by Clairetta Corron. Voice vote. Tricia Fryer elected Town Treasurer for one year.
Article 5. Will the voters of Pittsfield authorize all current taxes to be paid to the Treasurer unless otherwise noted? Micheline Bissell moved the voters of Pittsfield authorize all current taxes be paid to the treasurer. Seconded by Sandy Begin. Voice vote. Motion carried.
Article 6. Will the voters of Pittsfield authorize the Treasurer to collect taxes on real property in two installments, on or before the third Thursday of August and the third Thursday of November by physical delivery to the tax collector before 5pm? Don Bass made a motion to authorize the Treasurer to collect taxes on real property in two installments, on or before the third Thursday of August and the third Thursday of November, by physical delivery to the tax collector before 5pm. Seconded by Ann Kuendig. Voice vote. Motion carried.
Article 7. Will the voters of Pittsfield authorize the all of the towns’ constituent departments follow established uniform best practices for municipal accounting and budgeting as directed by the 2018 audit conducted by the firm of Jeffrey R Bradley? Erica made a motion to accept this article, seconded by Sandy Begin. Charles Piso spoke to the audit that was requested by Patty Haskins upon her retirement. Charles explained that as a finding of the audit there are town departments that do not currently report to the Town Treasurer. Uniform best practices state a constituent department, Any town department that gets money from the town, should report on that money through the Treasurer; how it is spent, the dispensing of that money through the physical writing of the checks, Charles spoke about the process of the “weekly orders” and how they are signed off by a Select Board member and processed through the Town Treasurer. This allows for clarity and transparency. Jeremy Rayner questioned on which departments were not following this practice; Fire Department, Library, and Historical Society. Caleb Hawley spoke to the Fire Department being approached a few years back by Select Board regarding this issue. They feel they manage their monies well and are frugal, as well as being very transparent. Although they are not necessarily against this they have not had the time to discuss as a department. Caleb stated that he believed the VLCT handbook says one of the major exceptions to this rule is the Fire Departments. There was a question brought forth regarding the Fire Departments fund raising monies. Charles Piso explained that fund raising money did not fall under the same category that it was just the money that was given to the departments by the town, line item money. He also explained that existing funds will remain where they are. Dave Colton asked when the audit was conducted. Trish Fryer responded that is was done just before Patty left, last summer. He questioned why the Fire Department wasn’t notified that the Select Board was looking to change policy before today. This matter had been on Select Board agendas and in minutes and also was on this warning. Caleb followed up stating that he feels we should have invited them to a discussion. The process on purchasing was spoken about by Charles Piso, and a point on automatic bill paying was brought up by Amanda Barrett and discussed. Andrew Hawley suggested that things stay the way they are for now. Amanda Barrett made a motion to vote by paper ballot. Kris Sperber explained how beneficial following best practices have been to the School Board. Charles asked for a point of information and was declined by the Moderator. Patty moved to keep discussions open and explained that change is hard, feeling that in the long run it would be easier for the departments with the town overseeing their books. Charles Piso again asked for a point of information and explained that as the School Board spoke about, departments do not need to spend all of the monies given them. The remainder of funds should be returned to the town as this enables the town to put that money forward to lower or stabilize the tax rate. Charles Piso seconded the motion to vote by paper ballot. A valid vote showed 69 ballots, 49 yes, 20 no, article approved. .
With no objections the Town Meeting was recessed at 11:12 am for Representative Sandy Haas to address the voters. Town Meeting reconvened at 11:24 am.
Article 8. Will the voters of Pittsfield authorize the formation of an exploratory committee to research any and all future options for the Pittsfield Town Hall and have those options presented prior to the next Town meeting? Erica Hurd made a motion to accept this article and Herb Kuendig seconded. Sandy Begin asked what was going on with the Town Hall. Charles Piso began an informational discussion explaining that funds have been used for weatherization and also about a concern that was brought forth regarding the chimney and the thought that it was separating from the building. Some of the funds were used to have two masons come and inspect the chimney to find that the chimney was not the problem and it was level and not shifting. One of the masons suggested we get a contractor to look at the wall. A suggestion was put forth that we had a building inspection done upon doing that it was advised we have a structural engineer look at the building. We were informed that from what they could see the walls are coming in and it would have to be watched over time to see by how much. A Load Test was performed on the 1st floor to see if the floor was able to hold a large group of people. The building failed the Load test. As a liability and protection factor for the town the Select Board opted to not use the building for the Town meeting. The Select Board feels it is not their job to make the decision of what should be done with an asset of the town. There is still the Town office bond issue. The SB felt having a committee would be best to show different views and objectives on how far we as tax payers are willing to go. Margaret Conboy spoke about her husband’s background and willingness to sit on the committee. Jeremy Rayner asked where the reports were, Trish answered: that they are on the website. Elizabeth Warner asked if there were funds available for the committee and Trish answered there is $5,000.00 in the Town Hall account. Planning grants were discussed by Ann Kuendig. Elizabeth Warner concluded the discussion saying we should “think big” and not look to this as a problem to solve but a wonderful opportunity. Caleb moved to accept the article, seconded by Chuck Colton. Voice vote. Motion carried.
Joyce Stevens brought forth a question regarding the closure of the building. Charles explained the building is not condemned. We need committee to make recommendations as to how to move forward with the building. The town is currently keeping the building heated, not in use so we do not have any interior deterioration.
Article 9. Will the voters of Pittsfield authorize $45,000.00 to be placed in the reserve fund for Highway Equipment? Patty Haskins made a motion to accept this article, seconded by Herb Kuendig Joyce Stevens asked what the plans were for this money. George explained that the monies would be used for future replacement of vehicles. Voice vote. Motion carried.
Article 10. Will the voters of Pittsfield authorize $15,000.00 to be placed in the reserve fund for the future repaving of the north end of the Village Green? Sandy Begin motioned to accept this article, seconded by Charles Piso. Sandy asked about the amount currently in this fund. There is $15,000.00. She suggested we put $5,000.00 away. Charles explained that we could lower the amount and also went on to explain the estimate that we received 2 years ago. He suggested if we were going to knock down the amount we put away we shouldn’t do it by too much. A motion was made by Don Bass, seconded by Charles Piso to amend the article to show $10,000.00 be placed in a reserve fund for the future paving of the north end of Village Green. Voice vote. Article amended. Motion carried.
Article 11. Will the voters of Pittsfield authorize $8,000.00 to be placed in a reserve fund for SCBA Equipment? Don Bass made a motion to accept the article, seconded by Charles Piso. Micheline Bissell asked where the equipment is housed. It is located in the Fire house. An explanation of what the SCBA equipment is and how many are needed was given. It was explained how the Select Board asked for capitol plans from the departments and that this will better prepare the town for the future. Voice vote. Motioned carried.
Article 12. Will the voters of Pittsfield authorize $15,600.00 to be used for the salary of a town librarian? Colleen Wilcox made a motion to accept the article, seconded by Clairetta Corron. Erica Hurd asked to come forward. She introduced herself and the rest of the Library Board. She invited questions to help approve their article. There were 520 visitors to the library last year being open two days a week. Erica explained why having a paid librarian would be different. The librarian would manage the materials, as of now each time a Board member changes they are “reinventing the wheel”. Having a librarian would allow the library to be open more for the children, expand programs. The position is PT, no benefits. The wage was come to by consideration of the wage of the Assistant Town Clerk. There was a comparison discussion about other libraries in towns similar to our size. The function of the librarian is to care for the materials, compile statistics, run the day to day operations of the library. The function of the Board is to write policies, search out grant monies, outreach community and support the librarian. A voice vote was held and after consideration the Moderator choose a vote by paper ballot. A valid vote showed 66 total votes, 44 yes and 22 no. Article approved.
Article 13. Will the voters of Pittsfield authorize $15,000.00 to be placed in a reserve fund for Extrication Equipment? A motion was made by Sandy Begin to accept this article, seconded by Mark. A discussion led by Caleb Hawley explaining Extrication Equipment and it uses, also explaining that it is a minimum of 25 minutes before another town can get to us with similar equipment. Grants were discussed, how they were not specific to Extrication Equipment. Training for use of equipment was discussed. Motion to close discussion made by Joyce Stevens, seconded by Suana Ruben. Motion carried, Voice vote. Article passed.
Article 14. Will the voters of Pittsfield authorize $5,000.00 to be placed in a reserve fund for a Fire Truck? Joyce Stevens made a motion to accept the article, seconded by Suana Ruben. There was a question raised if this was carried over from last year. Charles Piso spoke informing us that this is part of their capital plan, for a vehicle needing to be replaced 5, 10 years down the road. Caleb Hawley spoke about how the Select Board encouraged them to start a capitol plan for the next truck that needs to be replaced. Voice vote. Article passed.
Article 15. Will the voters of Pittsfield approve the proposed budget to meet the expenses and liabilities of the town? Sandy Begin made a motion to accept this article, seconded by Erica Hurd. Voice vote. Article passed.
Article 16. Shall the voters of Pittsfield prohibit the town constable from exercising any law enforcement authority in accordance with 24 V.S.A. § 1936(a)(1) ? A motion to accept this article was made by Joyce Stevens, seconded by Kris Sperber. Amanda Barrett began a discussion regarding other towns and monies raised by tickets. Charles Piso spoke informing us that our constables are not certified for these powers and if we want to change that we have to vote to do so. The town would be responsible for putting someone through academy to get certified, indemnifying them with insurance, buying them a vehicle and maintaining the level of training. Voice vote. Article passed.
Article 17. Will the voters of Pittsfield authorize the Select Board to buy and sell real estate? Joyce Stevens made motion to accept article, seconded by Sandy Begin. Voice vote. Motion carried
Article 18. To discuss any other non-binding business which may properly come before the meeting? Joyce Stevens made a motion to accept this article, seconded by Marion Abrams. Joyce brought up the petition surrounding changing Town Meeting to the evening. Charles Piso responded that it would come under consideration at the first Select Board meeting.
With no further business to be discussed, Patty Haskins made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Seconded by Charles Piso. Voice vote. Motion carried. The 2019 Annual Town Meeting was adjourned at 12:41pm.
Recorded by: s/Tricia L. Fryer, Town Clerk
Approved by: s/Charles Piso, Select Board Chair
s/George Deblon, Moderator