Vermont League of Cities and Towns
Board of Directors Meeting
Thursday, February 1, 2018
Members Present: President Cloud, Vice President Weinberger and Members Cadwell, Elwell, Goulette, Pinsonault, Safford, Simmons, White, Whittaker and Wonsor.
Others Present: VLCT staff members Karen Horn, Gwynn Zakov, Jessica Hill, Dean Mudgett and Maura Carroll. Abigail Friedman attended via telephone.
Agenda Item #1: Call to order by the President. President Cloud called the meeting to order at 12:25 p.m. and welcomed all to the meeting.
Agenda Item #2: Additions and Deletions to the Agenda. Member Whittaker asked if he could bring two items to the Board, one regarding current use issues and the other a report from the Joint Investment Committee meeting. On motion duly made by Member White and seconded by Member Safford, the Board unanimously voted to approve the agenda as amended.
Agenda Item #3: Consent Agenda Items. On motion duly made by Member Simmons and seconded by Member Elwell, the Board unanimously voted to approve the consent agenda items with the December minutes amended as follows: correcting the spelling of Diane Bothfeld in the list of individuals present and, also on that list, specifying that Michael Tetreault is the Chair of the Board of Listers in Brunswick.
Agenda Item #3.5: Current Use. Member Whittaker addressed this additional agenda item as a follow-up to the discussion at the December Board meeting about agricultural land in current use. The Board discussed the definition of agriculture and the oversight of land in that current use category. Member Whittaker serves on the Current Use Advisory Board and explained that each landowner must file an annual statement with the Tax Department certifying that the landowner has met the minimum statutory requirements of receiving 50% of annual income from farming to remain in the program. Based on discussions at the Current Use Advisory Board meeting, the Department will be reviewing the list closely for compliance, since listers are not considered to be enforcement officials relative to current use status. As a result of 2015 legislation, the Department has done audits of six municipalities to date to determine whether the listers have assigned appropriate values to properties in current use. Ludlow, Isle LaMotte, Salisbury, Shelburne, Fletcher and Landgrove have all been audited and the Department has not found overinflated values.
Member Whittaker then indicated that he thought the Board should move on to a discussion about the forestry parcels in current use and asked staff to invite Forestry Commissioner Mike Snyder to the March 8 Board meeting.
Agenda Item #4: Organizational Update. Maura Carroll reminded Board members about Local Government Day on February 15 and urged their attendance, and stated that staff is working on spring workshops and having ongoing conversations about good customer service habits. She also offered updates about responses received from the league directors’ listserve regarding use of auditing firms and safety changes that have been made and continue to be implemented in the office for the safety of staff and all who visit the VLCT offices.
Agenda Item #5: Nominating Committee Report. Member Cadwell, chair of the VLCT Nominating Committee, reported on the meeting held earlier in the day to determine an appropriate recommendation to fill the vacancy on the Board, created by the election of Vice President Weinberger to an officer position. On motion duly made by Member Goulette and seconded by Member Pinsonault, the Board unanimously voted to appoint Montpelier City Manager William Fraser to the VLCT Board to fill the remainder of the term, which expires in October.
Agenda Item #6: Listening Sessions. Maura Carroll reported on progress in scheduling listening sessions around the state, distributed a map that identified locations in Board member regions, roughly based on regional planning commission districts. She provided more detail about the agenda for the sessions and the plan to gather information from the sessions in a report to be presented at Town Fair. She indicated that the role of Board members is to welcome the audience and introduce staff and once information is gathered, to provide guidance on any programmatic changes, addition of services and next steps.
Agenda Item #8: Legislative Session Update. Karen Horn and Gwynn Zakov provided the Board with updates on education funding proposals, clean water and municipal road permit issues, transportation funding, open meeting and public records legislation and regional dispatch and law enforcement items. They responded to inquiries from the Board and there followed considerable lively discussion.
Agenda Item #12: Other. [b.] Member Initiatives: Member Whittaker also reported to the Board about the recent meeting of the Joint Investment Committee and responded to questions, including one about opportunities to invest in Vermont. Staff will further investigate that possibility with the intent to bring it to the Boards of the two risk pools.
On motion duly made by Member Cadwell and seconded by Member Whittaker, the Board unanimously voted to adjourn the meeting at 2:40 p.m.