Vermont League of Cities and Towns
Virtual Board of Directors Meeting
Virtual Meeting via GoToMeeting and Telephone
Thursday, March 18, 2021
Members Present: President Miro Weinberger, Vice President Peter Elwell and Members Jessie Baker, Dominic Cloud, Bill Fraser, Mary Anne Goulette, Elaine Haney, Lucas Herring, Delsie Hoyt, Ken Linsley, George Putnam, Charles Safford and Lucrecia Wonsor.
Others Present: Sally McKenzie, Steve May, Barry Blixt and Teri Martineau of Hickok & Boardman HR Intelligence, Mark Williams from National Insurance Services, incoming Executive Director, Ted Brady, and VLCT staff members Mike Gilbar, Karen Horn, Abigail Friedman, Jessica Hill, Kelley Avery, Gwynn Zakov and Maura Carroll.
All attended via GoToMeeting.
Agenda Item #1: Call to order by the President. President Weinberger called the meeting to order at 12:20 p.m. and welcomed all to the meeting.
Agenda Item #2: Additions and Deletions to the Agenda. Member Cloud asked that the Board add an item under Other Business to discuss access to the Vermont Police Academy for incoming local police officers. Member Baker asked that an item be added to acknowledge that this is Maura Carroll’s last Board meeting before retirement. On motion duly made by Member Baker and seconded by Member Goulette, the Board unanimously voted to approve the agenda as amended.
Agenda Item #3: Consent Agenda Items. On motion duly made by Member Elwell and seconded by Member Safford, the Board unanimously voted to approve the consent agenda..
Agenda Item #4: Hickok and Boardman HR Intelligence Proposal. Kelley Avery, Senior VERB Programs Administrator, oversees all of the benefit programs offered to VLCT members. She introduced Sally McKenzie, Steve May, Barry Blixt and Teri Martineau from Hickok & Boardman HR Intelligence, who were present to discuss the approval of a carrier change of VLCT’s Life and Disability Program, from Lincoln Financial to Madison National Life. Ms. McKenzie introduced Mark Williams from National Insurance Services (representing Madison National Life) to explain the proposal to the Board, including the 10 percent savings on the VLCT Life and Disability Program. On motion duly made by Member Cloud and seconded by Member Safford, the Board unanimously voted to approve the carrier change as presented.
Agenda Item #5: Organizational Update. Maura Carroll offered an update to the Board about organizational activities, including: the recruitment for Chief Financial Officer’s position; the Equity Committee work, to be discussed in a later agenda item; the Memorandum of Understanding and operational parameters of the State Energy Management Program; an uptick in requests for manager and administrator recruitments; the Delta Dental review that will be brought before the Board at the April meeting; the American Rescue Plan which will also be discussed in a later agenda item; the ongoing technology survey and studies for both VLCT members and PACIF; the ongoing transition with Ted Brady; and that Kathleen Ramsay has replaced Maura Carroll as a management representative on the VMERS Board of Trustees.
Agenda Item #6: 2020 Financial Overview. Deputy Director and Chief Financial Officer, Mike Gilbar, presented an overview of the unaudited financials and 2020 budget experience and a forecast of activity with the 2021 budget.
On motion duly made by Member Safford and seconded by Member Cloud, the Board unanimously voted to make appropriate adjustments to the budget, redo the Trust Agreements, and approve a 2% salary increase for staff beginning April 15, pending approval of the VLCT PACIF and VERB Boards.
Agenda Item #7: Equity and Inclusion Issues. Committee Chair Elaine Haney reported on the activities to date, including the initial meeting of the VLCT Equity Committee, where committee members introduced themselves and got to know each other a bit. Rachel Edens, Selectboard member in Hartford, was elected co-chair of the committee. At the next committee meeting, the members will focus on the role of the committee, the expectations of committee members and the next steps on which to focus. Member Haney also informed the Board that she and the executive director were talking with Wanda Heading-Grant, the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, who has a consulting business named To The Point, LLC, and Nikki Fuller, with a business entitled Workplace Matters, both consultants doing equity and inclusion facilitation work. They are willing to work with VLCT and seem to be a good fit with the organization and its goals. VLCT is still awaiting word on a grant from The Vermont Community Foundation. Member Haney will be stepping down from the committee and the VLCT Board due to a re-election bid loss. The Board expressed thanks to her for her service and agreed that she would be greatly missed. The Board discussed having another member serve as co-chair of the Equity Committee. On motion duly made by Member Safford and seconded by Member Elwell, the Board voted unanimously to appoint Dominic Cloud to that position.
Agenda Item #8: Legislative Update. Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, Karen Horn, and Municipal Policy Advocate, Gwynn Zakov, updated the Board about activities during the ongoing 2021 legislative session. They reported on broadband, housing and the extension of downtown and village tax credits, rental housing issues, economic development, transportation, project-based tax increment financing, firearms in hospitals, and the American Rescue Plan.
The legislature is considering including $650,000 for VLCT and $300,000 for the regional planning commissions in legislation addressing the American Rescue Plan. VLCT staff sought approval to move forward with hiring staff and putting a program together to assist members in understanding, spending, and accounting for the federal revenue. On motion duly made by Member Cloud and seconded by Member Goulette, the Board unanimously approved having staff implement a program as described if the money is provided by the state. The Board also stated that VLCT should coordinate with the regional planning commissions to avoid redundancies and provide member support effectively and efficiently.
Agenda Item #9: Nominating Committee. While lamenting the loss of Elaine Haney from the Board, the Nominating Committee will need to send a request for applications to the membership for the vacant Board seat. The executive director will prepare the materials and distribute them. On motion duly made by Member Cloud and seconded by Member Baker, the Board voted unanimously to move forward with the process.
Agenda Item #10: Other Business. c. Member Initiatives. Member Cloud raised the issue of the difficulty municipalities have in getting police officer candidates into the police academy, due to the limited number of slots available. He suggested that a work group be formed to explore an alternate path for officers to be trained, such as a pilot program with colleges, to decentralize training and include diversity equity and inclusion and de-escalation techniques. It was agreed that Member Cloud would circulate an email message and work collaboratively to determine who would like to participate in the initiative.
President Weinberger read a resolution thanking executive director Maura Carroll for her service to VLCT and wishing her well in her retirement. There was unanimous consent to adopt the resolution. Member Baker then described a gift the Board wished to convey, a beautiful photograph of the Vermont Green Mountains. She offered kind words and well-wishes from the Board. Maura Carroll expressed her profound thanks to the Board for the gift and for such a wonderful opportunity to be a part of VLCT and local government in Vermont.
Without objection, President Weinberger declared the meeting adjourned at 2:28 p.m.