Vermont League of Cities and Towns
Virtual Board of Directors Meeting
Thursday, April 15, 2021
Members Present (by GoToMeeting): President Miro Weinberger, Vice President Peter Elwell, and Members Jessie Baker, Dominic Cloud, Mary Ann Goulette, Lucas Herring, Delsie Hoyt, Ken Linsley, George Putnam, Charles Safford, and Lucrecia Wonsor.
Members Absent: Bill Fraser
Others Present (by GoToMeeting): Sarah Thayer (Delta Dental); Kelly Avery (VERB), Abby Friedman, Jessi Hill, Karen Horn, Gwynn Zakov, and Ted Brady
Agenda Item #1: Call to order by the President. In the absence of President Weinberger, Vice President Elwell called the meeting to order at 12:21 p.m.
Agenda Item #2: Additions and Deletions to the Agenda. Member Sanford requested that the Board discuss the Vermont State Police 30x30 hiring initiative to increase women police cadets. Member Safford then moved to accept the agenda as amended, and Member Baker seconded. The amended agenda was adopted unanimously.
Agenda Item #3: Consent Agenda Items. On motion duly made by Member Safford, and seconded by Member Putnam, the Board unanimously voted to approve the consent agenda including the Minutes of the March 18, 2021, meeting and the Personnel Report.
Agenda Item #4: Northeast Delta Dental Renewal Proposal. President Weinberger arrived and became the presiding officer. Kelley Avery, Sr. VERB Program Administrator, and Sarah Thayer of Northeast Delta Dental presented a proposed renewal of the Delta Dental insurance plan available to VLCT members. The renewal would result in a 3.25 percent decrease in annual premiums for the next two years. It also includes a cap on the maximum rate increase of 4 percent in year three. At the request of Member Goulette, Ms. Thayer calculated that VLCT would receive approximately $48,000 in commissions per year, a slight decrease from previous years due to the decreased premiums. Multiple members inquired about how many VLCT members take advantage of the Delta Dental program and why some members choose not to. Ms. Avery explained that some members simply choose not to offer the benefit, while other larger members go directly to Delta on their own. Ms. Thayer also hypothesized that many members choose not to offer the benefit because VLCT and Delta Dental require employers to contribute to the premium.
On motion duly made by Member Safford, and seconded by Member Cloud, the Board unanimously approved the renewal proposal.
Agenda Item #5: Organization Update. Executive Director Brady shared that he is wrapping up his one-on-one meetings with all staff and still assessing the needs of the organization. HR Director Jessi Hill reported a deep candidate pool for the open CFO position. ED Brady shared that VLCT had received numerous good candidates for the advertised American Rescue Plan Act Outreach and Finance Assistance Coordinator position. He also shared that the Municipal Assistance Center continued to be extremely busy. After a question about the ED’s plan for the organization from Member Baker, ED Brady stated he planned to bring an 18-month plan and a five year strategic plan to the board in the coming months after engaging in a member listening tour.
Agenda Item #6: Equity and Inclusion Issues. Equity Committee Cochair Cloud briefed the Board on the status of the Equity Committee’s work. He encouraged the board to direct the ED to enter into a contract with Nikki Fuller and Wanda Heading-Grant. The Board was informed that the Vermont Community Foundation had awarded a $50,000 grant to help VLCT start this work. Board discussion focused on the scope and cost of the contract, and how much direction the Board should give the ED versus allowing the ED more flexibility. The Board discussed whether the contract should have specific deliverables, such as creating an action plan or providing certain training metrics, or if it should be structured to allow more flexibility acknowledging that the consultants are the experts in racial equity and may take the organization in a direction the Equity Committee or ED didn’t contemplate.
Member Safford moved to authorize the Executive Director and the Equity Committee CoChair to engage the consultants in a contract not to exceed the VCF grant to develop a plan and bring focus on equity work. Vice President Elwell seconded the motion. The Board unanimously voted to adopt the motion.
Member Cloud highlighted Member Baker’s statement that VLCT should be “leading equitable communities.”
Agenda Item #7: Legislative Update. Director of Public Policy and Advocacy Karen Horn, and Municipal Policy Advocate Gwynn Zakov, updated the Board about activities during the on-going 2021 legislative session. They reported on the Legislature’s deliberations on how to spend more than $1 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funding, the Governor’s proposal for the funding, and how VLCT will play a role in helping municipalities spend the $197 million in ARPA money they will receive. Karen told the board that members should expect to see half the local funding in their bank accounts by mid-June.
Horn and Zakov updated the Board on project-based tax increment financing legislation passed by the Senate and currently on hold in the House; a newly formed public safety wellness committee that VLCT will have a representative on; a $3 million increase in local transportation funding that seems set to pass the Legislature; an apparent deal on the implementation of a rental housing registry, and Act 250, housing and capital construction bills. Horn advised that the Legislature would likely adjourn in four weeks or so, schedule a veto session in June, and reconvene in October to consider ARPA funding once Treasury issues that final ARPA guidance.
Agenda Item #8: Nominating Committee. Vice President Elwell became the presiding officer when President Weinberger departed the meeting.
Member Baker updated the Board on the process to fill the board seat previously held by Elaine Haney (Board seat term expires October 22). After a public nominating process and interview process, the committee believed both candidates were well-qualified and hopes to keep both involved going forward. It recommended the Board appoint Chester Town Manager Julie Hance to the seat.
On motion duly made by Member Goulette, and seconded by Member Wonsor, the Board voted unanimously to appoint Town Manager Hance to the Board.
Agenda Item #9: Other Business. Member Initiatives: Member Safford asked whether municipalities should consider joining the Vermont State Police 30x30 initiative aimed at increasing the number of women police cadets (https://30x30initiative.org/). The Board discussed the difficulties municipalities are having recruiting police officers, the bottle neck of the police academy, and the need for diversity in policing. Several Members asked the ED to invite the State Police and Public Safety Commissioner to come to a future Board meeting to discuss the initiative.
Member Cloud recognized Vice President Elwell’s announced retirement from his position of Brattleboro Town Manager.
Without objection, Vice President Elwell declared the meeting adjourned at 2:49 p.m.