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Current Issue of the Newsletter:

 

 VLCT News - July 2014 

See also: Reprints of recent newsletter articles.

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Please also check our Event Calendar for training, workshops and other events.


News Briefs

  • Rural Communities High Energy Cost Grant
  • 07/15/2014
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is soliciting proposals for projects that assist communities with extremely high energy costs. Funds may be used to acquire, construct, or improve energy generation, transmission, or distribution facilities serving communities with average annual residential expenditure for home energy exceeding 275 percent of the national average. Eligible project also include on-grid and off-grid renewable projects, implementation of energy efficiency, and energy conservation projects. Eligible entities include state governments, federally recognized tribes, city or township governments, county governments, private institutions of higher education, independent school districts, nonprofits, public and state-controlled institutions of higher education, individuals, small businesses, special district governments, public housing authorities/Indian housing authorities, and for-profit organizations. The deadline to submit a Letter of Interest is Friday, August 1, 2014. More information is here.

    Read more >>
  • Order Revision Pursuant to Act 199 (S.220)
  • 07/11/2014
  • The Public Service Board is required to define the terms "good cause" and "substantial deference" as they are used in Section 248a proceedings for granting permits for telecommunication facilities.  Following is the section of statute in which these terms are used.

    Read more >>
  • Investigating Animal Cruelty Workshops
  • 07/11/2014
  • In September, the Humane Society of the United States will present four Investigating Animal Cruelty workshops in Vermont:

    Read more >>
  • The Shoreland Protection Act
  • 07/10/2014
  • Vermont’s Shoreland Protection Act, passed by the legislature last session, went into effect on July 1. The shoreland protection legislation applies to activities within 250 feet of a lake or pond’s mean water level for all lakes and ponds greater than 10 acres in surface area. The Act establishes a new state regulation for guiding shoreland development. The intent of the Shoreland Protection Act is to prevent degradation of water quality in lakes, preserve habitat and natural stability of shorelines, and maintain the economic benefits of lakes and their shorelands by defining standards in creation of buildings, driveways, and cleared areas in shorelands.
    The Act recognizes that many shoreland properties in Vermont are already developed or are small parcels that cannot meet the new standards. Developed properties are “grandfathered” until the owner proposes redevelopment. On existing small parcels, the Shoreland Permit Program staff will work with homeowners so that the standards are met to the extent possible in cases of development and redevelopment.
          
    The Shorelands Protection Act requires the use of Vegetation Management Practices to protect vegetation within 100 feet of the mean water level of lakes and ponds. Within the first 100 feet the Act requires that new development be setback at least 100 feet. On existing small parcels the specification is setback as far as the parcel allows. Additionally, the Act requires the permit applicant to demonstrate building on a slope greater than 20% will not compromise slope stability. It also creates a maximum 20% impervious surface and 40% cleared area coverage; unless best management practices are utilized to mitigate the effects of additional impervious surface and cleared area.

    Read more >>
  • Vermont Health Care Uniform Reporting and Evaluation System
  • 07/07/2014
  • Vermont State Auditor Doug Hoffer recently released the findings of an investigation into a state database that sheds light on prices, trends, and variation across Vermont’s health care system. The Vermont Health Care Uniform Reporting and Evaluation System (VHCURES) is a digital catalogue of all fees for medical services and products that insurers paid over the last seven years for Vermont residents. Hoffer’s inquiry found that while the State has made great progress in developing this resource, its entities have yet to fulfill the statutory duty of using the database to better inform consumers about health care. The report, called “VHCURES: Past, Present, and Future – Opportunities for Health Care Price Transparency and Greater Consumer Information,” is broken into three main sections based on the inquiry’s chief objectives, which were to:

    Read more >>
  • FEMA - Continuing Training Grant
  • 07/02/2014
  • Continue with Disaster Training

    All communities around the U.S. have an obligation to be as disaster-ready as possible, and citizens of these communities work every day to achieve this goal. This year, FEMA has released a funding opportunity announcement for the Continuing Training Grant totaling $11 million!

    The Continuing Training Grant (CTG) is focused on state and local (including rural) communities, tribes, and non-profit higher education institutions. The 2014 CTG program is going to be specialized into six areas:

    Read more >>
  • Handbook for Shoreland Development
  • 06/30/2014
  • Act 172, Vermont's shoreland protection legislation, takes effect on Tuesday, July 1. The Lakes and Ponds Program of the Watershed Management Division recently published this Handbook for Shoreland Development to guide activities in protected shoreland areas.

    Read more >>
  • Vermont Municipalities and New Energy Efficient Construction
  • 06/24/2014
  • To encourage Vermont residents to build more energy efficient homes, Efficiency Vermont prepared a Municipal Guide to Vermont Energy Codes and Above-Code Programs that provides information on energy code requirements, explains the energy code process from application through documented compliance, and outlines the support available from Efficiency Vermont for builders and homeowners. Zoning and planning officials can influence the long-term affordability and environmental impacts of the building that occurs within their town by advising builders and home or business owners how they can build to meet or exceed Vermont’s energy codes. This document provides clear and relevant information so that zoning and planning officials can easily respond to permit applicants.

    Read more >>
  • Shoreland Trainings
  • 06/18/2014
  • The Shoreland Protection Act (Chapter 49A of Title 10 §1441 et seq.) establishes a new state regulation for guiding shoreland development. The intent of the Act is to prevent degradation of water quality in lakes, preserve habitat and natural stability of shorelines, and maintain the economic benefits of lakes and their shorelands by defining standards for the creation of buildings, driveways, and cleared areas in shorelands. The Watershed Management Division of the Department of Environmental Conservation is holding trainings at state parks around the state that is relevant to existing developed properties, new development, and undeveloped shores. Topics will include:

    Read more >>
  • Wastewater Systsem/Potable Water Supply Designer and Installer Fact Sheet
  • 06/17/2014
  • Recently, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation Shoreland Permit Program issued this Fact Sheet for wastewater system and potable water supply designers and installers. The document summarizes the requirements of the Shoreland Protection Act, which regulates clearing and construction of impervious surfaces on lake shoreland parcels, and describes how those requirements interact with the requirements of the Wastewater System and Potable Water Supply Rules.

    Read more >>
  • Local Foods, Local Places
  • 06/12/2014
  • Municipalities are invited to apply for assistance from Local Foods, Local Places, a new program supported by EPA, the U.S. departments of Agriculture and Transportation, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the Delta Regional Authority to help create more livable places by promoting local foods.

    Read more >>
  • Gov. Shumlin's Letter to EPA
  • 05/30/2014
  • Governor Peter Shumlin responded to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's critique of Vermont's plan to reduce phosphorus in Lake Champlain with this May 29 letter.

    Read more >>
  • GMWEA Response Letter to DEC
  • 05/28/2014
  • This letter from the Green Mountain Water Environment Association to the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation is in response to the Environmental Protection Agency's comments on the DEC's draft Phase I Lake Champlain Cleanup Plan.

    Read more >>
  • Norwich University Online Degree
  • 05/28/2014
  • Norwich University's partnership with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns provides a ten percent tuition discount, as well as an application fee waiver for the student and his or her immediate family members (spouse or child) for any of the online master's degree programs. Learn more here or telephone 800-460-5597

    Read more >>
  • Vermont Idle Free
  • 05/15/2014
  • The American Lung Association has teamed with the University of Vermont Certification for Sustainable Transportation to launch Vermont Idle Free, a free online certification for Vermont diesel truck drivers and fleet managers about the benefits of idling reduction.

    Read more >>
  • Design and Resilience Team Application
  • 05/01/2014
  • Applications are currently being invited for a new pilot program of the American Institute for Architects: the AIA Design and Resiliency Team (DART). A DART can assist a local government to address resiliency issues through a charrette with a multi-discipline team of experts. Teams will be custom selected to meet the needs of each selected community, with roughly half the team drawn from around New England.

    Planning for community resiliency, ranging from adapting to climate to other resiliency issues, is increasingly critical for most municipalities. Applications are open to any local government in New England. There is no direct cost to local governments or their partners, but communities must show that they are ready to address resiliency issues and that the time is right for the charrette effort.

    Applications will be considered starting on Tuesday, May 27, and will be accepted until two projects are selected for 2014. You can download the application and learn more relevant information here.


    Read more >>
  • FY14 Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grants
  • 04/18/2014
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced $112 million in funding available through two Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant programs: Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) and Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM). The HMA grant programs provide states, tribes, territories, and local governments funding for eligible mitigation activities to strengthen our nation’s ability to reduce disaster losses and protect life and property from future disaster damages.

    Read more >>
  • DOE Offers $15 Million to Help Communities Boost Solar Deployment
  • 04/18/2014
  • To help reach the goal of doubling renewable energy generation for a second time by 2020, the U.S. Energy Department (DOE) announced $15 million to help communities develop multi-year solar plans to install affordable solar electricity for homes and businesses. As part of DOE’s SunShot Initiative, the Solar Market Pathways funding opportunity aims to help communities develop solar deployment plans that focus on building strong public-private partnerships to deploy commercial-scale solar. Communities will establish innovative financing mechanisms and launch creative community-based initiatives, such as shared solar programs. Find more information on the Solar Market Pathways funding opportunity, including application requirements, here.

    Read more >>
  • Reporting the IRC of Municipally-owned and Other Tax Exempt Property
  • 04/17/2014
  • A new law requires owners of certain tax exempt properties — including municipalities, we believe — to report each property's Insurance Replacement Cost (IRC) to their local assessing officials by April 1 of every year starting this year. Municipalities must both collect completed forms for non-municipal properties in their jurisdiction and provide their local assessing officials with a completed form for each municipal facility that is listed in their property insurance coverage document. If you haven't reported yet, there is a helpful form with a list of the property categories that are subject to this reporting requirement at www.state.vt.us/tax/pdf.word.excel/forms/pvr/CR-001.pdf. Call 800-649-7915 for more information or if you are a PACIF member seeking your IRCs.

    Read more >>
  • Unit-based Pricing for Waste Disposal
  • 04/02/2014
  • Vermont’s Universal Recycling law (Act 148) requires all Vermont municipalities to “implement a variable rate pricing system [also known as unit-based pricing] that charges for the collection of municipal solid waste from a residential customer for disposal based on the volume or weight of the waste collected” by July 1, 2015. The Waste Management and Prevention Division of the Department of Environmental Conservation has published this guide to unit-based pricing for waste disposal and recyclables. Additionally, the division has created this sample variable rate pricing ordinance by volume or weight for municipal solid waste collection (not reviewed by VLCT).

    Read more >>
  • DEC's Draft Phase One Plan
  • 04/02/2014
  • On Monday, March 31, the Department of Environmental Conservation sent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency its Draft Phase One Plan to clean up Lake Champlain. The plan attempts to engage all contributing sectors in reducing phosphorus to the lake and ensuring that scarce money is spent to achieve the most significant reductions possible in phosphorus and sediment loadings.

    Read more >>
  • March 13 Letter from GMWEA to Gov. Shumlin
  • 03/19/2014
  • On March 13, the Green Mountain Water Environment Association urged the Governor to ensure that Vermont addresses the largest contributors to phosphorus loading in Lake Champlain, which are non-point sources and from which the most significant reductions in loading will be realized. Read more.

    Read more >>
  • 2014 Elevator Safety Rules
  • 02/26/2014
  • The purpose of the proposed 2014 Elevator Safety Rules is to ensure that elevators are correctly installed and operated in Vermont by authorizing and enforcing rules for the design, installation, operation, and maintenance of conveyances, and by licensing mechanics and inspectors who work on them. Further information is available from the Department of Public Safety, Division of Fire Safety, 1311 U.S. Route 302, Suite 600, Barre, Vt. (802-479-7561), or www.firesafety.vermont.gov

    Read more >>
  • UVM MPA Program
  • 02/25/2014
  • The University of Vermont offers courses towards a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree. Here are its listings for the Summer 2014 and Fall 2014 semesters. For more information, contact Leslie Barchard, Community Development and Applied Economics MS/MPA Student Services Coordinator, at 802-656-0009 or Leslie.Barchard@uvm.edu.

    Read more >>
  • Available USDA Rural Development Low Fixed Rate Loans
  • 02/06/2014
  • If you are looking at funding options for a new facility, facility upgrade, or equipment, long-term, low fixed rate loans are available from USDA Rural Development. Direct loan money is plentiful and Rural Development is dedicated to assisting Vermont public bodies. Projects may include public safety equipment, town vehicles, town halls, fire stations, libraries, police stations, schools, water treatment, and just about anything to do with improving or sustaining the economic vitality and livability of a community. To learn how Rural Development funding can provide the low rate and fixed term to ensure an affordable project, visit www.rurdev.usda.gov/NHVTCommunity.html.

    Read more >>
  • VHFA Blog
  • 02/04/2014
  • The Vermont Housing Finance Agency maintains a housing matters blog www.vhfa.org/about/news/blog that's worth the occasional read.

    Read more >>
  • New Floodplain Manager Regions
  • 01/16/2014
  • The Floodplain Manager regions have changed for 2014. You can see the new regions on the Flood Hazard Management website. Municipal permit applications for flood hazard area development can be sent to the Floodplain Manager for your region.

    Read more >>
  • Local Emergency Operations Plan
  • 01/08/2014
  • The Vermont Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS) has just released a new local emergency operations plan template, which is posted at http://vem.vermont.gov/local_state_plans/local.

    Read more >>
  • Draft Materials Management Plan
  • 12/30/2013
  • The draft MMP amends the previous solid waste management plan that was readopted in 2006 and includes significant changes to the structure and layout of the previous plan. The draft MMP is based on five material specific chapters and a chapter addressing general planning needs. Each chapter contains tools of action, state goals, and performance standards. The state goals and performance standards establish deliverables for the planning period that include reporting, outreach and education, and convenience requirements. The draft MMP includes revisions that incorporate recommendations from an ANR solid waste stakeholder group that convened in 2008. The public comment period ended February 21, 2014. A link to the Draft Materials Management Plan is here. Additional information relating to the Universal Recycling law (Act 148) is here.

    Read more >>
  • Mitigating Impacts of Climate Change on Vermont
  • 12/20/2013
  • State and Federal Reports Focus on Mitigating Impacts of Climate Change on Vermont. Recent reports from the Institute for Sustainable Communities and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) detail recommendations to mitigate the effects of climate change on Vermont. For more information, red the ISC report, “Vermont’s Roadmap to Resilience, Preparing for Natural Disasters and the Effects of Climate Change in the Green Mountain State,” and the EPA’s “Disaster Recovery and Long-Term Resilience Planning in Vermont.”

    Read more >>
  • Front Porch Forum
  • 11/22/2013
  • Do you wish there was an easy and timely way to let everyone in town know about planned special events, upcoming meeting agendas, or other town announcements? Front Porch Forum (FPF) offers just that—and at no cost. In times of need, such as during and following natural disasters, your FPF becomes even more powerful.

    Read more >>
  • Flood Resilience Planning Website
  • 10/01/2013
  • A Sharepoint website has been set up to support planners working on flood resilience. Anyone working on a first generation resilience plan can use this site to find data and share ideas. And as you develop draft plans, please use this site to share your work with others. A separate website is in development to support the Flood Resilient Communities program. When released next summer, it will supplant this temporary site. Your feedback on the Sharepoint will inform the design of the final site.

    Read more >>
  • Municipal Flood Recovery Projects Assistance
  • 09/26/2013
  • The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) will receive an additional $17,932,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds. This second allocation of HUD CDBG-Disaster Recovery funding was secured through the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Appropriation Act and is in addition to the $21.6 million received last year. The rules governing the use of the allocation are essentially the same as the first with the major exception being, funds must be spent within two years. As was also the case under the first allocation, the Federal Notice requires the state to target at least 80 percent of this funding ($14,345,600) to Washington, Windham, and Windsor Counties.
     
    DHCD has developed an Action Plan that is presently under review by HUD which identifies the method of distribution and the unmet and long-term recovery needs of areas most impacted as the result of declared major disasters in Vermont in 2011 and 2012. These disasters include FEMA Disaster Declaration 1995 (April 23-May 9, 2011 flood), 4001 (May 26-27, 2011 flood), 4022 (August 27-September 2, 2011: Tropical Storm Irene), 4043 (May 20, 2011 flooding) and 4066 (June 29, 2012, tornado and flooding). Funds will be available to help communities with the necessary expenses related to disaster relief, long-term recovery, restoration of infrastructure and housing, and economic revitalization in the most impacted and distressed areas receiving major disaster declarations. Of the funding available, DHCD has proposed that $4.8 million be made available for Community Infrastructure projects.
     
    Regional Planning Commission Assistance with Municipal CDBG-DR Community Infrastructure Applications

    Read more >>
  • Community Strategies for Vermont's Forests and Wildlife
  • 09/26/2013
  • The newest publication of the Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC), Community Strategies for Vermont's Forests and Wildlife: A Guide for Local Action, is now available on its website. Over the years, VNRC has supported Vermont communities by offering proactive solutions to reduce forest fragmentation and parcelization in Vermont to maintain the rural character of our state. There are many different ways that communities can help sustain forests and wildlife at the local and regional levels, and the Guide provides town officials and interested citizens with the tools—both regulatory and non-regulatory—to do just that. You can download a copy from www.vnrc.org/programs/forests-wildlife/guide/.

    Read more >>
  • Irene Recovery Office Final Report
  • 09/04/2013
  • This Irene Recovery Status Report serves as the final written testimony from the Irene Recovery Office and builds on previous reports submitted by the Irene Recovery Officers.

    Read more >>
  • New Resource Guide to Federal Financing Programs
  • 09/04/2013
  • Federal Finance Facilities Available for Energy Efficiency Upgrades and Clean Energy Deployment is a resource guide to federal financing programs that lists 31 different programs to which local governments and others can apply. A link to the document is here.

    Read more >>
  • Building Communities Grants Programs
  • 08/14/2013
  • The Building Communities Grants Programs consist of five grant programs established and funded by the Vermont Legislature to “help communities preserve important historic buildings and enhance community facilities”.   All of these grant programs, with the exception of the Barn Grants, require that the applicant be a non-profit organization or municipality.  The deadlines for all five occur in the fall, and selections are made by individual boards through an established selection process.  All grants require matching funding. Funds raised from local fundraising efforts are encouraged. You may not apply to more than one of the grant programs for the same project in one calendar year. More information and the grant applications are here.

    Read more >>
  • Top Ten HMA Program Guidance Changes
  • 07/25/2013
  • In July, FEMA issued the 2013 Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program guidance for the HMGP, PDM and FMA grant programs. Here is a summary of the top ten changes from earlier FEMA policies:

    Read more >>
  • FY 2014 Town Highway Aid and Available Funds
  • 07/23/2013
  • The Vermont Agency of Transportation has made available this spreadsheet of FY 2014 Town Highway aid/funds by town. You can also look up grant information for individual towns on this VTrans' webpage.

    Read more >>
  • Active Living and Healthy Eating
  • 07/23/2013
  • The Vermont Healthy Community Design Resource, Active Living and Healthy Eating, is now posted on the Vermont Department of Health’s website. In addition to the full document, each subsection is posted as a stand-alone file here: http://healthvermont.gov/family/fit/target.aspx#community.

    Read more >>
  • Substantial Damage Information
  • 07/18/2013
  • If you are a community employee or volunteer, your community participates in FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and some of the homes that are located in the FEMA mapped floodplain (called the Special Flood Hazard Area, or SFHA) have flooded in the past two months, please be aware of Substantial Damage determinations. Part of the flood hazard area regulations that your community has adopted includes language about Substantial Improvements in the development standards. Language in Substantial Improvements includes the term Substantial Damage. It is the community's responsibility to determine if a building has been substantially damaged, and there are a few different ways to go about this process.
     
    In the aftermath of the Lake Champlain flooding and Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, VTDEC created a website that provides information about Substantial Damage determinations and flood recovery. The site contains links to documents that may be helpful as you and your community try to figure out what work be needed after the flood waters recede. As always, your regional floodplain manager can help with substantial damage issues, reviewing repairs and applications, etc. You can find out your regional floodplain on this Floodplain Manager Regions map. Others who may be helpful include Certified Floodplain Managers (CFM) in your area, or another Zoning Administrator who may have had to deal with damaged buildings following the 2011 Lake Champlain flooding or Tropical Storm Irene.

    Read more >>
  • Pet Merchant License
  • 07/09/2013
  • During the 2013 legislative session, state lawmakers implemented changes to the pet merchant licensing program that had historically been managed by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. For details, please read this letter from the agency. You may use the agency's pet dealer permit form to issue permits to qualified individuals. Town clerks are required to keep a copy of the completed form in their office; the permittee is required to post a copy of the same. If you use this form, you should print out and complete two copies.

    Read more >>
  • New Mitigation Planning Publications
  • 05/14/2013
  • FEMA announces three new mitigation planning publications:

    Read more >>
  • Free Roads and Rivers Training Program
  • 05/08/2013
  • Tropical Storm Irene’s damage to the state’s infrastructure and river stability created the need for increased awareness of how Vermont's highway infrastructure and river systems interact, and why our river system is so important when repairing or constructing highways.

    Read more >>
  • Sustaining Our Progress
  • 04/10/2013
  • On Monday, April 8, Governor Shumlin issued the third Irene recovery report. Titled “Sustaining our Progress,” the report charts the accomplishments since the June 2012 Recovering Stronger Report, sets goals for the second anniversary of the storm, and outlines recovery efforts that will continue into the recovery’s third year and beyond. The complete report is at http://vtstrong.vermont.gov.

    Read more >>
  • Small Scale Renewable Energy Incentive Program
  • 03/14/2013
  • The Clean Energy Development Fund’s Small Scale Renewable Energy Incentive Program (SSREIP) is now accepting new incentive reservations for photovoltaic, solar hot water, and small wind systems. New revised forms as well as the SSREIP Terms, Conditions and Requirements are at http://www.rerc-vt.org/incentives/forms.htm. For more information, call the SSREIP program administrator at 877-888-7372.

    Read more >>
  • Extreme Events Workshop Planning Tool
  • 02/27/2013
  • EPA's Climate Ready Water Utilities Initiative Announces Extreme Events Workshop Planning Tool. 2012 was the second most expensive year on record for extreme events in the United States, and events like these are expected to occur more frequently and with greater intensity in the years ahead. Extreme events, such as the current prolonged period of drought, can have devastating impacts on drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater utilities. It is important that water utilities identify actions that can be taken today to better prepare for these events.

    Read more >>
  • Northeast Regional Energy Efficiency Database
  • 02/27/2013
  • Northeast Regional Energy Efficiency Database Goes Live. The Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnership (NEEP) has launched its Regional Energy Efficiency Database (REED), a public resource that currently includes 2011 electric and gas energy efficiency program data for Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. Energy efficiency data for the year 2012 from these eight states, along with data for Delaware and the District of Columbia, will be added to REED this autumn.

    Read more >>
  • SolarOPs
  • 02/27/2013
  • New Website Helps Local Governments Advance Solar Energy Initiatives. The SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership (SolarOPs), funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, has created a new website to help local governments adopt solar energy. The site includes a resource database, a calendar of events and trainings, a blog, and access to “Ask the Expert” services and technical assistance offerings. State and local officials interested in additional information about developing and implementing cost-effective climate and energy strategies that help further environmental goals and achieve public health and economic benefits may visit EPA’s State and Local Climate and Energy Program site.

    Read more >>
  • Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund
  • 02/26/2013
  • The Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund (ERAF) provides Public Assistance grants through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to Vermont cities and towns to repair damaged infrastructure after a presidentially declared disaster. The state typically contributes half of the required 25 percent non-federal match for approved projects. Under the new ERAF rule, which went into effect on October 23, 2012, municipalities have 24 months to adopt additional flood hazard mitigation measures to maintain the state cost share for FEMA Public Assistance grants. Municipalities that adopt higher standards can achieve a higher percentage of state funding for post-disaster repair projects – from 12.5 percent to 17.5 percent. Municipalities that adopt the standard set of hazard mitigation measures will continue to receive state funds to cover half of the required non-federal match, or 12.5 percent. Municipalities that have not adopted the basic set of measures will see a decrease in the state match, from 12.5 percent to 7.5 percent. Thus, the state contribution toward the local match requirement will vary from 7.5 percent to 17.5 percent of the total project costs, depending upon the level of adoption of recommended mitigation measures.

    Read more >>
  • Community Facilities Loans and Grants
  • 11/29/2012
  • Applications are encouraged for USDA Rural Development Community Facilities loans and grants. Now you can finance your planned capital projects. Low interest rate loans (rates are currently 3.5%). Some loan terms can be as long as 30 years. No pre-payment penalties. Community Facilities serves non-profits and public bodies. Detailed program and contact information as well as an application are here.

    Read more >>
  • New Resources for Community Broadband
  • 11/19/2012
  • The Vermont Council on Rural Development is sharing toolkits and lessons learned from the e-Vermont Community Broadband Project. These resources will help rural communities in Vermont and throughout the United States make better use of online tools for community and economic development.

    Read more >>
  • Complete Streets: A Guide for Vermont Communities
  • 11/07/2012
  • Vermont's goal is for its streets to safely accommodate all transportation system users, regardless of age, ability, or their preferred mode of transportation, including walking, biking, driving, or the use of transit. The Complete Streets law, which became effective July 1, 2011, supports the Fit and Healthy Vermonters' goal of increasing the number of Vermonters who engage in regular physical activity by creating communities where all modes of transportation, including walking and bicycling, are made safe and accessible. Municipalities are partners in this goal.

    Read more >>
  • VLCT Policing Options Brochure
  • 11/07/2012
  • How does a municipality ensure the safety of its residents and businesses? What options are available to it? What combination of state, county, or local law enforcement services will meet a town’s needs? These and other questions have led to VLCT’s updated Policing Options brochure for local officials, which summarizes the alternatives that municipal officials can consider if ensuring the public’s safety is a topic of discussion in their community.

    Read more >>
  • Strong Communities
  • 11/07/2012
  • Strong Communities is a free quarterly newsletter published by the Department of Economic, Housing and Community Development at the Agency of Commerce and Community Development that highlights news, trends and best practices to strengthen your community. Each issue will spotlight planning and revitalization successes throughout Vermont, outline upcoming grant and training opportunities, and provide tools you can use in your community. Here's the current newsletter. You can subscribe to it here.

    Read more >>
  • Federal-aid Essentials for Local Public Agencies
  • 08/29/2012
  • A new Federal Highway Administration transportation resource called Federal-aid Essentials for Local Public Agencies puts key information about federal aid requirements online at www.fhwa.dot.gov/federal-aidessentials. The website is a centralized hub for guidance, policies, procedures, and best practices for administering federal aid projects. Its main feature is a library of videos covering key aspects of the project development and delivery process.

    Read more >>
  • Motor Vehicle Lemon Law
  • 08/29/2012
  • A motor vehicle covered under the Lemon Law is defined as new if it is under the manufacturer’s express (written) warranty, which begins when the vehicle is delivered to the first owner or lessee. This means in addition to a motor vehicle purchased new by a first owner or initially leased, some vehicles designated as used on the purchase contract are new under the Lemon Law.

    Read more >>
  • Municipal Streetlight Guide
  • 08/23/2012
  • Efficiency Vermont has updated its step-by-step guide, “Improving Efficiency in Municipal Street and Public Space Lighting.” Street lighting is an important part of a municipality’s nighttime landscape. Lighting can enhance public safety and security and improve the aesthetic appeal of the surrounding properties. However, street lighting represents a large electrical load and can be one of the highest costs for a municipality. By eliminating unnecessary street lighting and converting older lighting technologies to LEDs, municipalities can reduce the cost of outdoor lighting while enhancing the nighttime environment. The guide is part of a larger effort by Efficiency Vermont, in partnership with the state’s utilities, to help municipalities improve the efficiency of their street lighting and upgrade to LED technology.

    Read more >>
  • VLCT Municipal Internal Controls Checklist
  • 01/20/2012
  • VLCT and the VLCT Board of Directors’ Financial Responsibility Committee are pleased to announce the availability of the new Municipal Internal Controls Checklist and accompanying guidelines. The checklist, which complies with current professional standards, can help municipalities improve their financial controls, and the guidelines describes the checklist in detail.

    Read more >>
  • Financing Program Decision Tool and Financial Program Decision Guide
  • 01/17/2012
  • Communities are increasingly investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy to achieve their air quality, economic, and energy goals. In doing so, they have found that the up-front costs of improving energy efficiency and increasing renewable energy generation can be a barrier for many homeowners, building owners, and businesses. One way to address these barriers is by adopting clean energy financing programs that can make efficiency and renewable energy more affordable for these sectors. EPA's State and Local Climate and Clean Energy Program is supporting these efforts with an online Financing Program Decision Tool and Financing Program Decision Guide.

    Read more >>
  • Model Abatement Forms
  • 01/05/2012
  • As a result of Tropical Storm Irene, many towns received an unprecedented number of requests for abatement, the quasi-judicial process for relieving taxpayers from the burden of property taxes, penalty, and interest. To assist VLCT members, the Municipal Assistance Center has produced a set of model abatement request forms, hearing schedules, rules of procedure, and decision forms. The forms are in Word format and you can download them here.

    Read more >>