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Please also check our Event Calendar for training, workshops, and other events.
Do you ever worry that you won’t have what you really need to respond to a water or wastewater emergency? Maybe you’ll need trained water or wastewater operators, engineers, water quality specialists, or supplies such as specific valves, chemicals, testing devices and equipment.Read more >>
The 2016-2017 Clean Water Initiative Brown Bag Lecture Series begins on Thursday, September 8, from 11 a.m. to noon, with Updated Accepted Management Practices (AMPs) for Maintaining Water Quality on Logging Jobs in Vermont by Gary Sabourin of the Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation. All lectures will be held in the Winooski Room at the Department of Environmental Conservation, 1 National Life Drive, Main 2, in Montpelier. A full schedule and links to the live-stream and recordings of past presentations are posted online. For more information and to RSVP (if attending in person), call Bethany at 802-490-6131 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.Read more >>
UMass Amherst has completed its RiverSmart policy recommendation report, Supporting New England Communities to Become River-Smart: Policies and Programs That Can Help New England Towns Thrive Despite River Floods. The electronic version of the report is posted at https://extension.umass.edu/riversmart/policy-report. Print copies and a recommendations-release event are forthcoming.Read more >>
Thanks to generous sponsorship from the High Meadows Fund, Renewable Energy Vermont (REV) is able to offer energy enthusiasts throughout Vermont subsidized attendance to the 2016 REV Conference for only $30 for the entire two-day event (October 13-14). Any individual not employed full-time in the renewable energy field (including regional planning commission members, town energy committee members, citizen advocacy groups) is welcome to apply. The converence will take place at the Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center in Burlington, Vt. To learn more about what our clean energy future will look like and what it will take to get there, don't miss this opportunity to get discounted entrance into Northern New England's premier comprehensive clean energy conference! To apply, visit http://www.revconference.org/high-meadows-fund and email your completed application to email@example.com by Tuesday, September 20.Read more >>
On Thursday, September 29, from noon to 1 p.m., Antioch University New England will present a free webinar titled A Roadmap for Transforming Energy to 100% Wind, Water, and Solar. This webinar will describe actions that communities and cities can take to help transform the United States' energy infrastructure to 100% wind, water, and solar power. Also discussed will be methods to accomplish this goal such as community-scale underground heat storage and large scale offshore wind turbines, as well as the cost, reliability, and feasibility factors of these methods. The webinar will be hosted by Mark Jacobson, director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program and professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, and moderated by Irene Boland Nielson, climate change coordinator for EPA Region 2.Read more >>
The Vermont Highway Safety Alliance will host a Vermont Road User Safety Fair on the state house lawn in Montpelier on Tuesday, September 13, from 3:30-6:00 p.m. The fair will show how Vermonters are working together to make using the state’s roads safer for all. From cars to pedestrians to bicyclists to horse riders and farm vehicles, Vermonters all share the same roads but have different vulnerabilities. Visit the fair to learn about highway safety in Vermont, the resources that can help make the next generation of drivers safer, and see some high-tech tools that are changing driver education in the state. The fair is family-friendly and educational for all ages.Read more >>
The Energy Action Network’s Community Energy Dashboard is now live! Designed to help translate Vermont’s goal of meeting 90% of the state’s energy needs from renewable sources and increased efficiency by the year 2050 into achievable local action, the Dashboard tailors critical energy information – such as efficiency, heat, electricity, and transportation – to every community in Vermont.Read more >>
Municipal Planning Grant (MPG) applications are due on October 31, 2016. Access to the online application is delayed to mid-September. The Agency of Commerce and Community Development is updating its website. To avoid problems with linked documents, the online application will be unavailable until the new website is launched. In the meantime, you should begin to prepare your application using the following resources:Read more >>
FEMA will host a training on floodplain management and National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) basics on Thursday, September 15, from 9 a.m. till noon at the Northeastern Vermont Development Association (NVDA) offices in St. Johnsbury. The NVDA offices are located at 36 Eastern Avenue, #1, in St. Johnsbury. The training will be presented by Julie Grauer, FEMA Region 1 Natural Hazards Specialist, and Sacha Pealer, Vermont DEC Floodplain Manager.Read more >>
Since Tropical Storm Irene devastated Vermont five years ago, the High Meadows Fund has been connecting with key community partners to assess lessons we have learned and to compile accessible resources. Though only a starting place, it will hopefully provide easy access to people who are reflecting on this five-year anniversary. Several organizations contributed to building this resource list and crafting this document.Read more >>
On Wednesday, September 21, the Vermont Department of Health will offer a free training in Burlington for town health officers on emergency preparedness. Topics will include point of distribution, mass prophylaxis, and maintaining a healthy home environment after a disaster. More information is here.Read more >>
Members of the Northeastern Economic Developers Association (NEDA) understand the value of economic development and the impact it has on each of their respective regions. NEDA can help your organization create an environment that is conducive to job creation, job retention, and capital investment. Its website (http://www.nedaonline.org/), webinars, and workshops are some of the benefits of NEDA membership. NEDA also offers professional development opportunities that play a large role in helping its members succeed. The annual NEDA Conference will be held in New Haven, Connecticut, from September 11-13, 2016. More information is on the NEDA website.Read more >>
The Lake Champlain Sea Grant Program is offering a new course entitled Sustainable Landscape Stewards: Natural Aquatic Systems for community leaders, municipal employees, watershed organizations, and concerned citizens. Students will gain an understanding of watershed science and how land use and increased storm events impact our water resources. Topic experts will provide in-depth coverage of lake, river, and wetland processes and conditions. State and federal water quality regulations will be addressed with a focus on municipal planning and optimal property management. Participants will learn how to access online resources and tools related to hazard resiliency, state guidelines, and other valuable information.Read more >>
The State of Vermont is seeking comments on a draft implementation plan for the restoration of Lake Champlain. The Vermont Lake Champlain Phosphorus TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) Phase 1 Implementation Plan outlines actions the State must take to reduce phosphorus pollution sources that currently compromise State waters. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a set of phosphorus pollution targets in June that the State must meet in its phase 1 plan.
The greatest threat to Lake Champlain’s water quality is excess phosphorous carried into waters by runoff and erosion from rainfall and snowmelt. Excess phosphorus causes algae blooms, which can hinder swimming, fishing and other recreational uses, decrease property values, and threaten human health. The EPA’s new TMDL pollution targets ensure a long-term path towards restored water quality in the lake.
The State will host three public informational meetings to solicit feedback on the final draft of the Phase 1 Implementation Plan:
Efficiency Vermont's Energy Efficiency Guidelines for Vermont Wastewater Treatment Facility Upgrades explains the operational efficiency, life cycle cost analysis, and best design practices during major facility upgrades and refurbishments of wastewater treatment facilities (WWTFs). Significant energy efficiency opportunities exist in the wastewater treatment sector. Most Vermont municipalities will need to undergo major facility upgrades at their WWTFs to comply with new clean water standards, particularly concerning phosphorous TMDL in Lake Champlain and nitrogen loading in the Connecticut River. Choosing efficient designs will result in significant energy savings. Energy can commonly represent between 25-45% of the operating costs of a wastewater treatment facility.
Under the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), energy efficiency and water conservation efforts (also known as Cost and Effectiveness, or C&E) for Clean Water SRF projects must be evaluated and implemented where the project involves repair, replacement, or expansion to the maximum extent practicable. This means that a project maximizes the potential for efficient water use, reuse, recapture, and conservation, and energy conservation taking into account the construction cost of the activity, the operation and maintenance cost over the life of the project, and the cost of replacing the project or activity.
The Vermont Clean Water SRF intends to comply with C&E requirements by partnering with Efficiency Vermont to provide technical assistance to all applicants. This coordination will happen early in the planning stages of the project. In addition to this offer of assistance, all applicants will be required to submit a C&E Certification Form as an attachment to the Preliminary Engineering Report.
The Clean Water Fund Board held a 30-day public comment period on staff’s proposed budget for next year’s Clean Water Fund using an online survey. The comment period is now closed. The Clean Water Fund webpage has more information and links to the questionnaire and supporting documents.Read more >>
There were numerous changes to Vermont’s motor vehicle laws this past legislative session that law enforcement officers should be aware of. These changes are contained in Acts 147, 158 and 169. This attachment highlights the sections of the Acts that are of most interest to law enforcement officers. These sections became law on July 1, 2016, unless otherwise noted. The complete texts of the Acts are posted on the legislative website.Read more >>
During the 2016 legislative session, the Vermont General Assembly enacted a number of laws and amendments that affect local planning and regulation, and they are summarized here.Read more >>
The State Office of Purchasing and Contracting has extended its existing contracts for highway salt with the same providers as last year under the same contract provisions. American Rock Salt did not bid on municipal provision of sale but did reduce its pricing for the state by 3%. Cargill’s prices remain the same. Cargill is the only company that agreed to a contract price for towns through the state’s bid. The table below shows the results of the 2015-2016 contract that has been extended through July 31, 2017:Read more >>
The final Lake Champlain Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) and supporting documents, including a “Response to Comments,” are now posted on EPA’s Lake Champlain TMDL web page.Read more >>
The first Agengy of Transportation Report on the Bike-Pedestrian Program includes endeavors underway by program staff, projects awarded during the time frame, and a summary of the projects completed in 2015, both scoping and construction projects.Read more >>
The Vermont Legislature recently passed H.674, a bill that requires public notification by operators of wastewater treatment facilities (WWTFs) of releases of sewage to Vermont’s surface waters. These new requirements will become effective immediately upon the Governor’s signature. These new requirements require WWTF operators to:Read more >>
The 2016 VTrans mileage summaries are now online. Prompted by the 2016 Certificates of Highway Mileage, these reports are now posted on the Vermont Agency of Transportation's Mapping Unit Publications page:Read more >>
Attorney General William Sorrell wants businesses to be on the alert for a scam that has begun to emerge in Vermont and nationally has cost thousands of businesses millions of dollars and resulted in security breaches. It involves an email “spoofing” or pretending to be from the business’s CEO to an employee, requesting the employee to wire funds, supply sensitive information, or attach employee W-2 forms.Read more >>
Can statewide parcel mapping support your community? For the past few years, VLCT has been a participant in discussions on how best to develop a statewide parcel mapping program. The program is intended to serve as a steward for consistent, up-to-date statewide parcel data that are available to the state, towns, and the public. Parcel data, when combined with other information, can identify areas suitable for locating a business, improve emergency response, and even find land that is not being taxed. For example, the Town of Waterford found several properties last year that were not on the tax rolls! VLCT is working with the State Department of Housing and Community Development (http://vcgi.vermont.gov/) to create the statewide data set and then develop a process for ongoing maintenance, without creating an added financial burden to Vermont’s cities and towns. More information is on the Statewide Digital Parcel Data Proposal summary and the Statewide Parcel Mapping Program flyer.Read more >>
The purpose of DHCD's Planning Manual is to provide a guide for municipal planning commissions in fulfilling their role and responsibilities as set forth in 24 V.S.A. Chapter 117, the Municipal and Regional Planning and Development Act. A major role of the municipal planning commission is to develop the municipal plan. The 2016 Planning Manual provides information that will help the planning commission with this complex task, from designing the planning program to adopting the plan.Read more >>
The Property Valuation and Review Team at the Vermont Department of Taxes has listed its 2016 Lister Education Courses here, where you can also register and view all of the 2016 PVR-sponsored courses and descriptions.Read more >>
Act 99 of the 2014 Vermont legislative session directed the Public Service Department to complete an evaluation of net metering in Vermont and file the resulting report with the Public Service Board. Act 99 further required that the Board convene one or more workshops to solicit the input of potentially affected parties and the public on the design of a revised net metering program. The Public Service Board has posted the text of a proposed net metering rule on its website.Read more >>
The final Class I Town Highway White Paper, which explores issues for Vermont towns that are considering reclassifying state highways, is now posted on the VTrans website.Read more >>
This flyer from the Agency of Transportation summarizes upcoming water quality grants for municipalities. And this one explains how Act 64, the 2015 law to improve water quality, will affect municipal roadways.Read more >>
On January 12, 2016, FEMA presented a Debris Management Course. Among helpful resources for municipalities concerned about debris activities are this Debris Alternative Procedures slideshow, sample contract documents, and a link to the State Emergency Operations Plan Debris Management Annex (Support Annex IV of the SEOP).Read more >>
Towns can now use FEMA’S new Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide to apply for and receive federal disaster funding following a declared event. The guide, which replaces the 9500 series policy documents as well as the PA Policy guide book, is only available online at http://www.fema.gov/public-assistance-policy-and-guidance. In addition, this table of clarifications of policy language and topics added during development of the guide addresses consistent policy application.
If you have any questions, please contact Kimberly Canarecci, Dept. of Public Safety Public Assistance Officer, at 802-585-4209 or Kim.Canarecci@vermont.gov.
In an era of forest fragmentation, declining species, and rising global temperatures, it can sometimes be difficult to remain hopeful about the future of the environment. But the Association of Vermont Conservation Commissions (AVCC) is showing that Vermont’s grassroots conservation efforts are great examples of conservation successes. AVCC is compiling Conservation Success Stories on its website, http://vtconservation.com/success/, to demonstrate what works in conservation. The stories include everything from streambank restoration projects to education programs that connect kids with nature. Vermont conservation groups seeking information about past successes or that want to add to the nearly 100 posted success stories can do so through the AVCC website.Read more >>
On Thursday, January 21, 2016, the Resilient Vermont Network will present Communicating and Collaborating to Protect Vermont’s River Corridors at the Vermont League of Cities and Towns offices. This free workshop will take place from noon until 3:30 and include lunch. More information is here; register here.
River corridor protection is critical to the health and safety of our communities and landscapes, but it’s not so simple to put policies and actions into place. Many changes to rules and regulations, incentives, and even language around river corridors have occurred in recent years. Attend this workshop to learn the importance of protecting our river corridors and collaborating to make it happen.
On Thursday, January 21, 2016, Communicating and Collaborating to Protect Vermont’s River Corridors, a free workshop, will be held at the Vermont League of Cities and Towns office in Montpelier from noon until 3:30 and include lunch. The workshop is for individuals and organizations working with municipalities and landowners on river corridor protection, land use, community preparedness, and resilience. The workshop is organized by the Resilient Vermont Network in partnership with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and the Vermont League of Cities and Towns. More information and a registration link are here.Read more >>
The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) announces its 19th year of funding to support municipal road projects that improve water quality and result in maintenance cost savings. The grant funds are provided by VTrans and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. The Vermont Better Roads Program’s goal is to promote the use of erosion control and maintenance techniques that save money while protecting and enhancing Vermont’s lakes and streams. Funds, subject to availability, will be distributed as grants to municipalities to address town erosion problems.Read more >>
This training will introduce the use of Shoreland Best Management Practices from bio-engineering for stabilizing shores, green infrastructure, native plantings, stormwater management, to habitat protection techniques. These practices are essential for developing shores that safeguard water quality and aquatic habitat. These trainings offer a forum to bring together and learn from collective ex-periences with participants gaining a common (level field) understanding of what shoreland BMPs are and what lake friendly development involves, including knowing when and how to apply the standards of the new Shoreland Protection Act.
The $20.00 fee includes a morning snack.
The training will take place on five days in January and February. Details are here.
NEW Public Assistance Policy Guide. FEMA has released the new Public Assistance program and policy guide that will go into effect January 1, 2016 for all disasters declared after that date. The new guide:Read more >>
The South Burlington School Board and City Council recently hosted a public forum on the legalization of marijuana as it relates to city and school governance and operations. A panel of officials from South Burlington and Colorado led the discussion. A link to the two-hour video as recorded by 17-Town Meeting Television is here.Read more >>
The Vermont Department Buildings and General Services is once again publishing a quarterly newsletter titled Buyers Buzz. You can read the December issue – which contains contract information, an article about the universal recycling law, useful links, and more – at this link and also sign up to receive the newsletter electronically.Read more >>
The Local Investment Advisory Committee (LIAC), chaired by the State Treasurer, is accepting proposals for local investment financing from interested parties. The Solicitation for Local Investment Financing Proposals contains specifications and eligibility information. The LIAC report, which was submitted to the General Assembly last January, contains details pertaining to the work of the Committee is linked here.
Proposals for financing will be considered in the following areas:
On December 1, Commissioner of Taxes Mary Peterson sent this letter recommending adjustments to the education tax rates to the legislature.Read more >>
The Vermont Clean Cities Workplace Charging Incentive helps Vermont workplaces, both public and private, offset the cost of purchasing and installing an electric vehicle (EV) charging station. The incentive is offered in tiers based on the type of incentive level the business is interested in: $525 for non-networked single-port stations, $1,050 for networked single-port stations, and $1,575 for any dual-port station. Each business can utilize incentive funding for one new station and must coordinate with Vermont Clean Cities before purchasing the electric vehicle supply equipment. More information is posted here.Read more >>
The Vermont State Surplus Property Program is offering free office furniture and equipment to State agencies and departments, municipalities, and schools. The merchandise – desks, chairs, file cabinets, tables, computer monitors (500+ available), stands, bookcases, server cabinets, and notice boards – will be available only from Monday, December 7, to Friday December 18, 2015, at the State Surplus Property Warehouse, 434 U.S. Route 2 in Waterbury. (From I-89, take Exit 10. Drive south on Route 100 for one-half mile to Waterbury Village. Turn right onto North Main Street and continue .6 miles west on U.S. Route 2. Turn right into driveway.)
Everyone will have 48 hours to remove the items from warehouse. For more information, contact Teresa Lamos at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-241-3384.
DR 4207 (severe winter storm of Dec. 9-12, 2014). All project worksheets have been written for DR 4207. If your town is still waiting for a payment, please make sure you have completed and returned all subgrant paperwork to Karen Smith (KarenMae.Smith@vermont.gov). Subgrant paperwork includes the signature page and Request for Payment (form 502). We also need a Project Completion and Certification Report form (PCCR), signed by the town and by your Agency of Transportation District Technician, to document that all work has been completed in accordance with the scope(s) of work of your project worksheets before we can release final payment to your town.
DR 4232 (severe storm and flooding of June 9, 2015). FEMA has written all 24 project worksheets for the nine Applicants (in Addison and Chittenden counties only) for this disaster, and all but three have been obligated.
DRs 4022, 4066, 4120, 4140, 4163, and 4178. A total of 141 open Large Projects remain to be closed out from Tropical Storm Irene, and a total of 23 open Large Projects from the various smaller disasters since Irene. Roughly a third of these have already been submitted to FEMA for review.
If you have questions about the status of an open Project Worksheet, please contact Public Assistance Officer Kimberly Canarecci (email@example.com or 802-585-4209). For more information about the Public Assistance Program and to find all referenced documents, visit http://vem.vermont.gov/publicassistance.
Steps necessary to receive payment.
It is critical to maintain documentation of FEMA-reimbursable work, including pre-disaster inspection and maintenance records, site photos, and daily activity logs for town personnel and equipment used during disaster repairs. You should also review the new Applicant’s Guide and Checklist published at http://vem.vermont.gov/publicassistance as useful tools to guide your town through the FEMA Public Assistance process. The Applicant’s Guide lists the documents required when FEMA writes a Project Worksheet. The Applicant Checklist lists the 11 steps of the disaster recovery process.
For small projects (currently defined as projects with total eligible value of less than $121,800 but greater than $3,050), the Department of Public Safety (DPS) pays out 100% of the federal share (which is typically 75% of the project’s total eligible value) immediately upon notification of obligation, provided that the town has executed its subgrant agreement and submitted the GMU 502F Financial Report form, which is provided by the DPS Business Office as part of the original subgrant agreement packet). Towns do not receive the state share on small projects until they have completed the scope of work for every small project for that disaster and we have received the PCCR signed by your local VTrans District Technician to verify that all scopes of work were completed.
For large projects (greater than $121,800), payments are on a “reimbursement basis.” This means that payment is sent out only after the applicant (you!) requests payment from the Business Office by submitting a 502F Financial Report requesting partial payment, along with documentation of actual expenses incurred. They can only pay out up to 75% of the federal share prior to close-out. Partial payment drawdowns can occur at any time, whenever a town submits documentation of expenses incurred on its large project(s). The remaining balance of federal share and the state share is not paid out on a large project until the project is closed out.
For Large projects that are still “open” (i.e. not yet closed out by FEMA), you are federally required to report quarterly progress. The report form is simple and can be found on http://vem.vermont.gov/publicassistance. Email quarterly reports to firstname.lastname@example.org by the 15th day of April, July, October and January for the preceding quarter.
It sounds confusing and it is! Again, if you are not clear on what is expected of your town or are not sure of how to receive funding for FEMA-eligible work already accomplished, contact Kim Canarecci.
ERAF: An update on how your town’s State Share is determined. The State of Vermont portion of the non-federal share for federally-eligible disaster assistance comes from the Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund (“ERAF”). The ERAF percentage paid to each town is based on whether or not the town has taken various measures. In the year since the new ERAF criteria took effect, the percentage of Vermont communities:
The Vermont Planners Association will present Water Works, a summary of current water quality issues, innovation in planning, and best practices on Friday, December 11, 2015, at the St. Albans Historical Society in St. Albans, Vermont. The day-long conference will focus on big-picture water quality planning in the morning and best practices in the afternoon. Big picture planning will include presentations on more rural watershed-based clean water initiatives as well as a more urban holistic water quality plan. An update will be provided on current watershed planning efforts the state has initiated with regional planning commissions. The VPA annual meeting will occur prior to lunch to facilitate the election of officers to update membership on the implementation of the Strategic Plan. A briefing on Act 64 and the state’s efforts to date will follow lunch (provided). The remainder of the afternoon will focus on best practices for improving water quality and will include low impact development standards, green infrastructure, and stormwater utilities. Lessons learned from different implementation techniques will be shared and a walking tour of green infrastructure will be provided.Read more >>
The Department of Environmental Conservation's Rivers Program is planning training opportunities for municipal officials involved in floodplain management and river corridor protection. If you're a floodplain administrator, zoning administrator, town manager, planner, or a member of a local review board, please take a few minutes and complete this brief survey by Friday, November 13.Read more >>
USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Programs serve non-profits and public bodies located in rural areas of up to 20,000 in population. Use our loans and grants to renovate, repair, purchase or construct buildings which house community services. Read more.
In FY15, RD’s Water Environmental Program (WEP) invested $15.5 million in 14 Vermont communities and $12.1 million in five New Hampshire communities. FY16 WEP applications are being accepted now. Read more.
If you sign up for Rural Development's GOVDELIVERY service, you can select the type of information you want to receive. Sign up here.
For more information on the Public Assistance Program, visit http://vem.vermont.gov/publicassistance.Read more >>
A disease called the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) affected a number of farms in the Midwest last year. While no human case of HPAI virus has been detected and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the risk to people from HPAI infection to be low, domestic poultry are veryy susceptible to HPAI H5 virus, which can spread rapidly from bird to bird and typically results in high mortality rates. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets (VAAFM) encourages poultry owners, producers, and enthusiasts to prepare for HPAI, which is expected to impact the East Coast by the spring of 2016.Read more >>
A webcast on October 15 focused on the recently released draft report, “Case Studies on Implementing Low-Cost Modifications to Improve Nutrient Reduction at Wastewater Treatment Plants.”
As many studies have shown, nutrient pollution is one of America’s costliest and most challenging water quality problems. However, many of the nation’s wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) were not designed for nutrient removal and major retrofits may be a significant hurdle. The recent EPA draft report showcases a number of communities that were able to achieve better nutrient treatment at WWTPs through relatively low-cost modifications without requiring costly infrastructure upgrades. Nitrogen discharge levels in 12 case study plants were reduced by 20% to 70%. Two case studies also documented low-cost phosphorus reduction of 40% to 58%. In many cases, these facilities also reduced energy consumption and lowered operational costs. The webcast will summarize the report and highlight two of the case studies in Crewe, Virginia, and Victor Valley, California.
EPA is also interested in learning of additional communities’ successes and intends to update this document to help more of the nation’s WWTPs make progress towards additional nutrient reductions. You can submit comments and additional case studies by December 15, 2015 to POTWOptiNP@epa.gov. The draft report is posted here.
The Public Service Department is hosting five hearings around the state in October on its draft Comprehensive Energy Plan to solicit Vermonters’ thoughts on the state’s energy future. The goal of the Comprehensive Energy Plan, set for release the week of September 21, is to meet 90% of the state’s energy needs by renewable energy in 2050. Vermonters have an opportunity to shape how their state achieves this goal.
To find information about the CEP update and the five October public hearings or to comment on the plan, visit http://www.energyplan.vt.gov.
Under state law, unless the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issues the final Lake Champlain Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) by October 1, 2015, all projects requiring an operational stormwater permit for discharges within the Lake Champlain watershed will be required to show no increase in phosphorus. This requirement will apply to all applications for coverage under GP 3-9010, 3-9015, or individual stormwater permits, which are received after October 1st. This requirement is in addition to existing requirements to meet “net zero” in stormwater-impaired waters as described in Environmental Protection Rules Ch. 22 (Stormwater Management Rule for Stormwater Impaired Waters).
Section 31 of Act 64 of 2015 amends our stormwater statute (10 V.S.A. § 1264). Among the changes to statue is a new section (1264(h)(2)) that covers requirements for issuing permits. It effectively requires that projects within the Lake Champlain watershed not increase phosphorus load if there is no TMDL for the lake. This applies to both new projects and to the renewal of existing permits. To renew an existing permit, a feasibility-based upgrade to meet the WQv, Rev, and CPv standards of the Vermont Stormwater Management Manual will also be necessary. Per section 54(2) of the act, these requirements will take effect on October 1, 2015.
EPA’s comment period on their proposed TMDL ends Thursday, October 15, a 30-day extension over the initial deadline. Based on this timeline, it is very unlikely there will be a TMDL in place by October 1st. Please note that the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) does not control the timeline for issuing the TMDL, but we remain optimistic it will be issued relatively soon. Information on the TMDL is available here.
We anticipate that we will issue a procedure in the coming weeks to guide applicants who need to meet these requirements. You may direct any questions you have in the interim to the Stormwater Program staff person covering the district of the project in question.
DEC’s longer term plan for managing stormwater once the TMDL is issued is contained with our draft Lake Champlain TMDL Phase I Implementation Plan. DEC will commence a public process to finalize this plan once the EPA adopts the TMDL.
As a VLCT member, your organization has access to the wide range of training and application support services provided by KnowledgeWave, a Microsoft Learning Partner located in South Burlington. VLCT is making the KnowledgeWave Learning Site available to all members at a special yearly rate. The membership includes access to the online learning site so that you can learn at your own pace, monthly webinars, access to live classes, and much more.Read more >>
The Security and Sustainability Forum has scheduled five webinars for August and September. Topics include Peace, Conflict, and the Scale of the Climate Risk Landscape; Rethinking Our Land: Growing Sustainable and Resilient Communities; and Why Investing in Nature Makes Economic Sense. More information is at http://securityandsustainabilityforum.org/.Read more >>
The Vermont Clean Diesel Grant Program was developed with funding from the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act to reduce air pollution associated with diesel-powered engines, vehicles, and equipment. The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is seeking information from potential applicants for projects that achieve significant reductions in diesel emissions from diesel-powered engines, vehicles, and equipment operating in Vermont. DEC will be posting a Request for Proposals for this grant opportunity in the near future.
Who will be eligible to apply? All interested local, State and regional agencies or departments as well as businesses, institutions, and nonprofit organizations operating in Vermont.
What vehicles and equipment are eligible? Diesel-powered engines, vehicles, and equipment currently operating in Vermont, including buses, locomotives, medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks, marine engines, nonroad engines, equipment or vehicles used in construction, handling of cargo, agriculture, mining or energy production (stationary generators and pumps).
What projects are eligible? Eligible diesel emission reduction projects include:
$1.1 million of Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) funding is reserved for applications addressing environmental mitigation efforts relating to stormwater and highways. Also, the former $50,000 cap on federal funding for salt/sand shed construction projects has been omitted. Potential project ideas include:Read more >>
The Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC) is launching a program to provide Vermont organizations with the technical assistance and financing they need to convert their fleets to electric vehicles or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. VEIC is seeking participants for a pilot of this program, which will run through the end of the summer. More information is here.Read more >>
Updates are now available for two Vermont Labor Relations Board publications: the Evolving Vermont Labor Relations Law, 3rd edition (updated through the end of April 2015, and the revised Guide to Vermont Labor Relations Statutes (updated through the end of May 2015). Please complete and send in this order form to order these publications.Read more >>
The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is implementing ECO AmeriCorps, a new program, as part of its effort to protect Vermont’s lakes and streams. DEC is looking for host sites and AmeriCorps members for the 2015-2016 service year. There are a limited number of host sites and member slots (15), which will be filled before the program start date of September 14.
Through this program, towns, watershed groups, and conservation districts will work with motivated college graduates to help plan and implement projects related to improving water quality and flood resilience. In order to participate, each host site will need to provide a cash match of $5,500 in exchange for one full-time ECO AmeriCorps member who will serve for one year (a total of 1,700 hours). Vermont DEC will provide training and mentoring. Host sites are asked to provide a meaningful service opportunity and regular supervision for their AmeriCorps member. Water quality-related work that AmeriCorps members could perform includes outreach and education, technical assistance, and project selection, design, and implementation.
Please contact Linnea Myers (email@example.com or 802-272-1462) or Carey Hengstenberg (firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-595-1632) if you have questions or for help in identifying projects for members. More information is available at http://ecoamericorps.vermont.gov.
Over the past year, staff from the State Revolving Loan (SRF) programs and the Vermont Municipal Bond Bank have been working to complete a combined "smart" application for all municipal funding applicants. This new application allows municipalities to apply for any loan or grant that is funded by the Water Infrastructure Financing Programs and the Vermont Municipal Bond Bank in one document. Here is a link to the new application.Read more >>
In 2012, the Vermont Agency of Transportation underwent a Crash Data Improvement Program review and a Traffic Records assessment, both conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The final reports for both reviews recommended that Vermont improve upon the data quality measurement of "accessibility." As a result, the Public Crash Data Query Tool was built to provide the public with access to non-personal motor vehicle crash data. Local officials, highway safety advocates, and the general public can use this user-friendly, interactive online data query tool, which is posted at http://apps.vtrans.vermont.gov/CrashPublicQueryTool/.Read more >>
The Public Service Department is updating the Comprehensive Energy and Electric Plan for Vermont. The plan will chart the course for Vermont's energy future and affects every Vermonter. Local officials' voices are vital to developing a workable plan for addressing patterns of use, efficiency, renewable energy, climate change, siting, and our landscape in the future. Now is your opportunity to be involved in the conversation. Plan to attend this summer's meetings!Read more >>
Beginning with Vermont municipalities’ fiscal years ending on June 30, 2015 – and which will continue for future fiscal years – a new government accounting requirement will affect the audited financial statements of those municipalities participating in the Vermont Municipal Employee Retirement System (VMERS). A portion of any VMERS “net pension liability” will need to appear as a liability on the balance sheets of participating municipalities. Even though VMERS is 98.32% of being “fully-funded,” the requirement will mean that the 450 municipal and school entities participating in VMERS will have to show a share of $9.127 million in net pension liabilities for their fiscal years ending in 2015.
The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) is the independent organization that establishes and improves standards of accounting and financial reporting for U.S. state and local governments. Established in 1984 by agreement of the Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF) and 10 national associations of state and local government officials, the GASB is recognized by governments, the accounting industry, and the capital markets as the official source of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) for state and local governments. Its standards are not federal laws or regulations and the organization does not have enforcement authority. Compliance with GASB’s standards, however, is enforced through the laws of some individual states and through the audit process, when auditors render opinions on the fairness of financial statement presentations in conformity with GAAP.
GASB 68’s official title is “Statement 68 – Accounting and Financial Reporting for Pensions. The full text of the Statement can be found here.
On March 1, 2015, Vermont updated its residential and commercial building energy codes. The final versions of these codes – the Residential Building Energy Standards (RBES) and Commercial Building Energy Standards (CBES) – are posted on the Public Service Department website. Although they are listed as “drafts,” they are the final energy code requirements. These draft versions represent the final code language as adopted by Vermont. The PSD is currently working with the International Code Council to complete the official formatted versions of RBES and CBES. The only changes that will be made will be formatting, correction of typos and numerical errors, and internal references. The final drafts for publishing are being reviewed now and should be available soon.Read more >>
As the spring thaw gives way to potential flooding of Vermont rivers and streams, heating fuel providers throughout the state are participating in a tank safety education campaign. Propane and fuel oil tanks can shift during floods, breaking fuel lines and even dislodging tanks. The outreach effort reminds Vermonters that there are a number of things homeowners should do before, during and after a flooding event to protect their family and home.
Each year, all jurisdictions must submit updated Local Emergency Operations Plans to their regional planning commission following Town Meeting Day but before May 1st. Additional information, including the template for your Local Emergency Operations Plan, is at http://vem.vermont.gov/local_state_plans/local. Please contact your planner at the regional commission with any questions.Read more >>
On February 3, 2015, public assistance disaster DR-4207 was declared for a December 9-12, 2014 severe winter storm in Addison, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Lamoille, Orange, Orleans, Rutland, Washington, and Windsor counties.
Last week, applicant briefings were held to update towns and utility companies on new FEMA program information and explain how to seek reimbursement. If you missed the briefings and want to see one on-line, you can view an unedited taping of the February 13 applicant briefing on the DEMHS YouTube channel.
To be included in DR-4207, an applicant must submit a Request for Public Assistance (RPA) to email@example.com by Thursday, March 5, 2015. Applicants will be eligible to receive up to 75% federal funding, as well as a 7.5%, 12.5%, or 17.5% state match. In order to continue to qualify for a 12.5% state match , towns must have in place four elements: up-to-date Local Emergency Operations Plan; adopted Hazard Mitigation Plan; up-to-date Transportation Codes and Standards which meet or exceed the 2013 VTrans template (as shown in the 2014-2016 Orange Book); and participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (if applicable). Communities also can qualify for a 17.5% state share by having all of those items and also taking steps to protect river corridors from new encroachment. To find out your town’s Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund (ERAF) state share, visit http://floodready.vermont.gov/. Towns have until March 5 to submit documentation to influence the ERAF percentage for this disaster. Here is a summary of how the State of Vermont evaluates and tracks ERAF criteria.
DR-4163 and DR-4178 update
The Connecticut River Watershed Council has produced six videos to help communities prepare for flooding:Read more >>
The purpose of the Vermont Agency of Transportation's Guidelines for Pedestrian Crossing Treatments, newly updated for 2015, is to ensure that pedestrian crossings are treated consistently throughout the state, on both state highways and local roads, by providing guidance on the location of marked and unmarked crossings and the associated pavement markings and signs. It supplements the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).Read more >>
Lake Wise standards apply to the land surrounding a lake that is within 250 feet of the lake's mean water level. Managing Vermont lakeshores according to consistent standards will maintain property values, good water quality, good aquatic habitat, good fishing, swimming, boating, bird-watching, and more favorite activities around and benefits of Vermont lakes. Using Best Management Practices ensures lakeshore standards are met.Read more >>
Marijuana legalization is a controversial and multifaceted issue and the subject of serious debate. Last May, the governor signed Act 155, which required the Secretary of Administration to produce this report about various consequences of legalizing marijuana, whose aim is to inform the debate in Vermont but not to make any recommendation about whether Vermont should change its marijuana laws.Read more >>
On January 16, the Joint Fiscal Office released this one-page Education Fund Outlook.Read more >>
On December 30, Governor Shumlin released Green Mountain Care: A Comprehensive Model for Building Vermont’s Universal Health Care System, which formed the basis for his decision to not pursue single-payer health care.Read more >>
Vermont law gives municipalities the authority to approve in-stream work to address imminent threats of significant damage to life and property. However, the 2012 Rivers Bill requires that in-stream work be authorized by a municipal legislative body to address imminent threats and to meet specific reporting requirements and implementation standards established by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR). In accordance with the Rivers Bill, ANR adopted new rules that create a process for local authorization of Emergency Protective Measures. This video provides information on this new process.Read more >>
The Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) is in the process of preparing the 2015-2020 HUD Consolidated Plan. This is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the federal agency that governs the funds that the department receives. Vermont’s Consolidated Plan guides the investment of more than $10 million annually from HUD for three formula grants: Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnership funds (HOME) and Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG).
The Agency of Natural Resources recently posted a Base Map of river corridors on its Flood Ready Atlas. A river corridor is delineated to provide for the least erosive form toward which a river will evolve during floods over time. River corridor maps guide state actions to protect, restore, and maintain naturally stable meanders and riparian areas to minimize erosion hazards. Land within and immediately abutting a river corridor may be at higher risk to fluvial erosion during floods.Read more >>
There are a few recent changes within FEMA’s Public Assistance program. Effective October 1, 2014, the small project threshold minimum amount increased from $3,000 to $3,040 and the small project threshold maximum increased from $120,000 to $121,600. In other words, damage to a site must total at least $3,040 to be considered eligible, and damages over $121,600 will be written up as “large projects” which eventually require a close-out version based on actual documented costs. Other changes include the countywide per capita indicator raising 1.7 percent to $3.56, and the statewide indicator to $1.41 per capita. The State and counties must meet these thresholds in eligible damages prior to the Governor submitting a federal disaster declaration request. These changes apply to all disasters declared on or after October 1, 2014. Another big change is ERAF implementation. The Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund (ERAF) rules which will go into effect for any future disaster declared after October 23, 2014.Read more >>
In 2012, the Vermont Legislature passed Act 138 requiring the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) to adopt a procedure to:Read more >>
On September 30, VLCT Advocacy submitted these comments to the Department of Public Service's public comment draft Vermont Telecommunications Plan.Read more >>
On September 25, VLCT Advocacy sent this letter to Vermont's congressional delegation regarding proposed legislation that would increase the size of tractor trailer trucks allowed on Vermont thoroughfares.Read more >>
The National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC) will competitively award nearly $1 billion in HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) Disaster Recovery funds to eligible communities to help them recover from prior disasters and improve their ability to withstand and recover more quickly from future disasters. To complement these funds, the Rockefeller Foundation will provide technical assistance and training workshops to every eligible state and local government. More information is here.
Eligibility. All states with counties that experienced a Presidentially Declared Major Disaster in 2011, 2012, or 2013 are eligible to submit applications. In addition, 17 local governments that received funding under PL 113-2 are also eligible. A full list of eligible grantees can be found in the attachment “NDRC Eligible Applicants.”
Program Format and Timeline. The National Disaster Resilience Competition is a year-long competition structured in two phases: (1) the framing phase and (2) the implementation phase. The competition is structured to guide applicants in the framing phase through broad consideration of their disaster recovery needs, vulnerabilities, stakeholder interests, resilience and other community development investment alternatives. Then they can refine those needs and design potential solutions in the implementation phase.
It has been another busy year for Vermont disasters. The Department of Public Safety (DPS) encourages towns to plan ahead. How will you respond to and recover from future flooding events? A good resource is the new Flood Ready Vermont website, http://floodready.vermont.gov/. This site can help you:Read more >>
Gov. Peter Shumlin and Joe Flynn, Director of Vermont Emergency Management and Homeland Security, recently urged communities to prepare for new criteria related to state disaster relief funding that will go into effect in October.
Flooding is the most common and costly hazard faced by Vermont communities. After a federally-declared disaster, 75 percent of qualified public losses may be reimbursed by FEMA’s federal Public Assistance program. In Vermont, the Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund (ERAF) also contributes to help cover repair costs. Municipalities that take the following four specific actions to prepare for and mitigate flood damage will qualify for higher percentages of state support (12.5 percent state share) after declared disasters:
On July 25, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy Karen Horn submitted these comments to the Public Service Board in response to the PSB's July 10 memo regarding "good cause" and "substantial deference."Read more >>
Vermont local officials have a new online tool to help their municipalities become more flood resilient. Flood Ready Vermont (www.floodready.vermont.gov) compiles maps and information from around the state to help community leaders work to avoid damage from flooding and help their towns become more flood resilient. The website contains information on post-disaster funding and how well communities are prepared. Is your town prepared to avoid flood damage? Visit www.floodready.vermont.gov to find out. And be sure to attend the “Is Your Town Ready for the Next Flood?” workshop at Town Fair, where the website will be described in detail.Read more >>
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.
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 >>
Act 172, Vermont's shoreland protection legislation, took 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 >>
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 >>
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 >>
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 >>
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 >>
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 >>
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 >>
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 >>
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 >>
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 >>