VERMONT LEAGUE OF CITIES AND TOWNS
BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETING
Thursday, September 15, 2022
VLCT Board Members Present (in person): President Jessie Baker, David Allaire, Mary Ann Goulette, Julie Hance, Ken Linsley, Lucrecia Wonsor, (via zoom) Delsie Hoyt, Ann Lawless, George Putnam, Georgette Wolf-Ludwig and Miro Weinberger.
VLCT Staff Present (in person): Executive Director Ted Brady, Seth Abbene, Abby Friedman, Jessi Hill, Karen Horn, Linda Mahns, Gwynn Zakov (via zoom) Katie Buckley and Joe Damiata.
Others Present (via zoom): Katarina Lisaius, Department of Children and Families
Agenda Item #1: Call to order by the President
President Jessie Baker called the meeting to order at 12:34 p.m.
Agenda Item #2: Additions and Deletions to the Agenda
Jessie Baker asked if there were additions or deletions and if not, offered to entertain a motion to adopt the agenda as is. David Allaire made a motion to accept the agenda as amended. George Putnam seconded the motion. The agenda was adopted unanimously.
Agenda Item #3: Consent Agenda
The consent agenda, including the minutes from July 21, 2022, and the Personnel Report for August-September, was motioned to approve by Lucrecia Wonsor and seconded by Mary Ann Goulette. Approved unanimously.
Agenda Item #4: Municipal Impacts of Expiring Vermont Emergency Rental Assistance Program and General Assistance Housing Program
Ted Brady introduced Katarina Lisaius from the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and Board members went around the room with introductions. Ms. Lisaius provided an update on the status of the various emergency housing and transitional programs. 1500 households are in the transitional program and 60 in the emergency housing program. The General Assistance (GA) Program in 2020 was open without many restrictions during the pandemic. The GA Program will continue. With federal funds, transitional housing was created to assist those who had suffered homelessness during the pandemic.
As of 10/1/22, changes in funding will affect the Vermont Emergency Rental Assistance Program and is expected to close down on 3/31/23. Utility Assistance is expected to show a reduction in benefits to 70% on 10/1/22 with benefits ending at the end of this year. Transitional Housing is expected to stop taking new applications on 10/1/22. An informational sheet is attached to these minutes (see below.)
Katarina Lisaius entertained questions from the Board. VLCT Board Members and Ted Brady expressed interest in continuing the dialogue with DCF to see about coming up with solutions for housing needs in Vermont.
Agenda Item #5: Organizational Update
Ted Brady provided updates and began with some highlights from the Personnel report including the retirement of David Gunn and a new hire. Katie Buckley announced that Bonnie Waninger has accepted the position of the Federal Funding Assistance Program Coordinator. Bonnie comes from the Central VT Regional Planning Commission and is expected to begin employment at VLCT on October 24th. Ted then gave summaries and highlights on the new AMS that is underway, general counsel that is being sought out, recruitment consultants to assist towns who are seeking to hire new managers/administrators, the Welcoming and Engaging Communities Cohort, NLC membership opportunities, and a webinar opportunity from Gun Sense Vermont. The Board had a short discussion on this and felt the resources link that was offered was useful to share: https://unitedonguns.org/protocol/
Ted closed out his update with some Save the Date items including Town Fair (10/6-10/7 in Killington, NLC City Conference (11/17-11/19 in Kansas City Missouri), Senator Leahy’s celebration (10/10 in Waterbury), ANR’s Municipal Day (10/28 in Montpelier), and Sarah Macy’s webinar on Municipal Budgeting and Capital Planning (10/14 and 12/9 at 11 am online.)
Agenda Item #6: Q2 2022 Financial Report
Seth Abbene went through a detailed report of financial statements and analysis for the period that ended 6/30/22 including VLCT’s statements of net position, revenues and expenses, and other expense notes for the quarter. Action item: The details were missing from the packet and will be included in next month’s Consent Agenda for acceptance.
Agenda Item #7: Nominating Committee Report
Ted Brady gave a summary of the Nominating Committee meeting that occurred on 9/9/22 and provided recommendations for five director positions with expiring terms in 10/22. These recommendations were as follows:
- David Allaire, Mayor, City of Rutland
- Julie Hance, Town Manager, Town of Chester
- Ann Lawless, Selectboard Chair, Town of Wheelock
- Ken Linsley, Selectboard Member, Town of Danville
- Joe Major, Treasurer, Town of Hartford
The Nominating Committee also recommended for the office of President and Vice President:
- President: Jessie Baker, City Manager, City of South Burlington
- Vice President: Bill Fraser: City Manager, City of Montpelier
Jessie Baker provided her thanks to George Putnam who decided to leave the Board at the end of his term. She then asked for a motion to adopt the nominating committee report. Georgette Wolf-Ludwig made the motion. Lucrecia Wonsor accepted. Approved unanimously.
Agenda Item #8: Break
A break occurred from 1:40 – 1:50 pm.
Agenda Item #9: Review 2023/2024 Municipal Policy
Karen Horn and various Board members provided a summary of the five Policy Committee meetings that occurred over the summer. Board members and Karen took turns speaking about the various revisions and additions that occurred for the Finance, Administration, and Intergovernmental Relations (FAIR) Policy, Public Safety Policy, Quality of Life and Housing Policy, Transportation Policy and the Environment Policy. Jessie Baker asked for a motion recommending the membership adopt the Municipal Policy for the 2023/2024 legislative session as presented. Ken Linsley made the motion and Mary Ann Goulette seconded. Approved unanimously.
Agenda Item #10: Turning Municipal Policy into Legislative Action
Ted Brady gave a summary of seven key points the Board charged the Policy Committees with at the beginning of the summer and suggested that VLCT may wish to build a legislative proposal focused on some or all of those charges. After some discussion, the Board offered the following as aspects of focus: legislative changes related to municipal zoning and permitting to encourage construction of missing middle housing, making pandemic-related authorizations of fully remote meetings under Vermont’s Open Meeting Law permanent, proposing policy changes that aid in law enforcement recruitment and retention, and crafting a local revenue sharing proposal that integrates expansion of the local option tax statewide. The Board recommended working with stakeholders to further develop these proposals.
Agenda Item #11: Reschedule October Board Meeting
Ted Brady stated the 10/7 date required a change to 10/6 at 10:30 am for the VLCT Board meeting to occur in Killington during Town Fair. Ken Linsley made the motion to reschedule the date of the next Board meeting to be 10/6/22 at 10:30 a.m. at the Killington Grand Hotel and Resort in Killington, Vermont. David Allaire seconded. Approved unanimously.
Agenda Item #12: Other Business
Ted Brady asked the Board to consider attending the round table discussions that begin at 8 a.m. at Town Fair.
Agenda Item #13: Adjourn
Jessie Baker entertained a motion to adjourn. Ken Linsley made the motion and Julie Hance seconded. The meeting adjourned at 3:16 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for October 6, 2022, at 10:30 a.m. in the Northstar Room at the Killington Grand Resort and Hotel in Killington.
Executive Administrative Assistant
Attachment from the Vermont Agency of Human Services, Department of Housing & Community Development
Vermont Emergency Rental Assistance Program Ramp Down
Media Briefing – 8/31/22
In conjunction with the Agency of Human Services and the Department of Housing and Community Development, the Vermont State Housing Authority has alerted participants enrolled in the Vermont Emergency Rental Assistance Program (VERAP) of changes to the program in the coming months that
will impact assistance levels moving forward and target remaining federal funds to those most in need.
This emergency program was created by the federal government to provide rent and utility assistance to those facing reduced hours, job losses and businesses closures during the height of the pandemic in order avoid eviction or loss of utility service. It was an important and effective tool during the emergency.
VERAP provided 12,613 households with rental assistance during an unprecedented public health emergency, with an average monthly rent benefit of $964 per household. Combined with $25,000,000 in assistance through funding from the federal CARES Act, Vermont has been able to provide
$163,890,820 to Vermonters in need during the public health emergency.
Why is VERAP ending?
This program was implemented in response to the COVID-19 emergency, to help those who were economically impacted. With all mitigation measures lifted since July 2021 and the state of emergency ended, alongside changes in Treasury guidance and the Federal allocation given to Vermont running out, the State has made a plan to ramp down the program in a way that provides remaining available federal funds to the most vulnerable Vermonters for as long as possible.
The shifts in the program reflect that COVID-19 federal funding is a finite resource as we move into endemic management of COVID, and rather than have renters face a financial cliff, a more gradual ramp down will help the federal funds continue to support those most in need for longer. Many other states
have already concluded their emergency rental programs.
Based upon initial U.S. Treasury Guidance, VERAP was budgeted to last through 2023. In late March 2022, US Treasury issued guidance that dramatically upended our plan for spending this money. We had no choice but to quickly pivot the program, which changed our timeline and original goals -- and
required us to ramp up our spending to preserve the remaining emergency rental assistance funds earmarked for Vermont. This we achieved, and as a result more Vermonters received rental assistance and remained stably housed.
The changes to the program will extend the availability of funds from 12/31/21 to 3/31/23 when the program will shut down.
Changes as of October 1st include:
- No new rental applications will be accepted for rental assistance, transitional housing, or utility payment supports.
- Applicants at 30% of AMI (Approximately $28,000/yr for family of three):
- Reduce benefit to 70% through 3/31/23
- Applicants 30-80% (Approximately $43,000/yr for family of three) of AMI ramp down:
- Reduce benefit to 70% on 10/1/22
- Reduce benefit to 50% on 11/1/22
- Benefits end 11/30/22
- Reduce benefit to 70% on 10/1/22
- Benefits end ~12/31/22
- Stop taking new applications 10/1/22
- State run GA housing program will continue.
How are the emergency assistance amounts being determined for this ramp down?
Emergency assistance reductions are being determined based on verified income brackets. The ramp down will allow those in lower income brackets to receive assistance for a longer period. To achieve this, the program will act more like a subsidy by providing a partial rent payment that will vary
depending on the months of assistance and the household income. Households already receiving a rental subsidy (like Section 8) will not be eligible beginning October 1, 2022. The objective is to provide assistance to Vermont’s most vulnerable renters through the winter heating months.
How are participants being notified?
VERAP is working closely with State agencies and local partners to inform the tenants and landlords who will be most affected by these changes, and to provide access to housing services. Additional information and resources will be posted to the VERAP webpage at https://erap.vsha.org/and
landlords and tenants should continue to work with our program by reaching out to the Call Center: 833-488-3727.