Selectboard Minutes, 11.13.2023

Monday, November 13, 2023, 6:30 p.m., 236 School Road, Guilford, VT

Draft Minutes

SELECTBOARD MEMBERS PRESENT: Verandah Porche, Tara Cheney, Michael Becker, Rusty Marine

STAFF/OFFICIALS PRESENT: Erika Elder (Town Administrator) Elly Majonen (Treasurer)

PRESENT IN PERSON: Peter Kelliher (BCTV), Steve Lembke, Rick Zamore, Greg Stein, Kyle Parker, 

PRESENT via ZOOM: Barry Aleshnick, Deborah Albright, Don McLean, Linda Hecker, Sheila Adams, Jason Herron

  1. Call to Order by Verandah at 6:31 pm.
  1. Rules of Procedure 
  1. Welcoming of Public     Community Comment Period
    1. Barry Aleshnick:  Regarding the speed mitigating measures being considered by the Selectboard. Believes the radar speed signs to be effective. Also supports lowering the seed limits throughout town. Brattleboro has lowered limits, neighborhoods will be improved. Supports overall goal of energy efficiency, lowered emissions, improved air quality and health.
  1. Changes to Agenda Order (2 minutes)
    1. 2 postponements – Conservation Fund and VT 250th Resolution will be postponed to a later date.
  1. Approval of Minutes
    1. Minutes of the regular meeting of 10.23.23
      MOTION:  Rusty moved and Tara seconded to approve the Minutes of the regular meeting of 10.23.23. Vote was by voice, all were in favor, none opposed, none abstained. Motion passed.
    2. Minutes of the special meeting of 11.06.23
      MOTION: Michael  moved and Rusty seconded to approve theMinutes of the special meeting of 11.06.23. Vote was by voice, all were in favor, none opposed, no one abstained. Motion passed.
  1. Updates and Reports
    1. Town Administrator
      Second Budget Workshop was last week, next is 11.30 at 6:30pm. New Highway crew member hired – Ryan Snow. Worked on Tara’s changes on Conflict of Interest policy changes. This week’s payables contain voted appropriations. Regional Policing meeting at Windham County Sheriff’s office. Tax exemptions for local nonprofits
    2. Highway Commissioner (not present)
    3. Conservation Commission
      Linda Lembke: Natural Resources Inventory is complete. Thanks to the Selectboard. Eight years ago, Conservation Commission got permission to have pages on Town’s website. Thanks to Patti Smith, Lesley Malouin, and Erika Elder. Printed five copies of the report. Two at Library for loan and one for reference, one copy at Town Office. Website – many updates. Maps, invasives information, walks in town. Upcoming events – Patti Smith will do a presentation at BBCC in early December. The Commission will start hosting walks in spring. Archives and Maps soon to be on site. Commission prints Guilford Road Maps. Working with Historical Society to document landmark cellar holes.
  1. Old Business
    1. 180-day Staff Reviews
      Michael: Reviews done and were productive. Staff has need for additional support. Gratitude for good work taking place.
    2. Next Budget Workshops  
    3. Erika: Third of four scheduled workshops will be November 30 at 6:30pm. Videos of completed workshops on Town website.
    4. Conflict of Interest Policy
      Tara: Attachment A is the questionnaire, B is the chart. Changes are in Article 3. Does not include municipal employees, who have conflict of interest in personnel policy.  Adding signing of policy and questionnaire. Adding filing documents. MOTION: Tara moved and Verandah seconded to adopt the amendments to the Town’s COI policy. Discussion: Verandah, Thanks Tara for effort. Staff burden is already great. Administering this is a burden that outweighs any feeling of security that may be added. It comes down to trust. Commission Members don’t have financial potential for conflict in their roles.  Tara: Documents are easy to keep and file. Non-adoption will sow distrust. Rusty: Conflict of Interest is covered by statute and town policy. Michael: This is an undue burden on volunteers and staff. Rick Zamore: Doesn’t seem too onerous. Steve Lembke: Is in favor of the idea. Doesn’t want Selectboard to be bullied, but as Floodplain Admin, with his wife on the Conservation Commission, he thinks he should sign it. Town needs to decide what the consequences will be. Doesn’t think it’s a huge burden. Erika: Lots of chasing people down approximately 65 volunteers for signatures. State may be heading toward mandating a similar policy soon. Verandah: At least one commissioner has said they wouldn’t sign. What should the consequence be?  Some of the groups are already hard-pressed to find new members. Doesn’t want to create a barrier.
      Michael: Has felt bullied all along. Prior accusations of conflict were bogus. Is ready to stand up for good people. 
      Vote was by voice. Tara aye, all others nay, motion defeated.
      Verandah  invited people to attend meetings and join commissions and committees to get a sense of their work and volunteer for the good of the town.
  1. New Business
    1. Conservation Fund (postponed)
    2. Tax Sales
      Elly Majonen: Delinquent Taxes owed currently amount to $400,000. Late taxes are coming in. 75 property owners are delinquent currently. Last Tax Sale was 2017 or 2018. Criteria for tax sale: years delinquent and amount owed. Is there a payment agreement? Is the taxpayer following the agreement? Four to five Tax sales per year until delinquencies are reduced. Town will need to engage a tax attorney. Requests Selectboard’s approval to do that and start the process. Verandah: What is the impact on the rest of Guilford’s taxpayers? Elly: Delinquent taxes affect the budget. Town has to notify the taxpayer that a tax sale will be happening. Tara: What about extenuating circumstances? Elly: following a payment plan is in the taxpayer’s favor. There is a penalty, and 1% interest each month, whether you have a payment plan or not. Taxpayers have opportunities to redeem, even one year after property sells in a tax sale. Detailed process. It is the taxpayer’s responsibility to contact Elly. Elly is also Delinquent Tax Collector.
      MOTION: Verandah moved to authorize staff to engage a tax attorney and start the Tax Sale process. Rusty seconded. DISCUSSION: Steve Lembke: Delinquent taxpayers are in the Town Report. Some properties are complex. Michael: Is this in the budget? Elly: Costs are recovered during the process. 8% penalty goes into the budget. Verandah: Addressed in last budget workshop.  Rick Zamore: In a tax sale, does the property go to the highest bidder, even if it’s less than the value? Elly: The full amount owed needs to be met.
      Vote was by voice. All in favor. None opposed, none abstained. Motion passed.
    3. Tax Exempt Organizations – Broad Brook Community Center
      Greg Stein: Reads the draft article for Town Meeting 2024. Verandah: Do they have to  petition? Erika: These exemptions can be Selectboard-promoted articles to Town Meeting. All 6 organizations will be voted on in 2024. Suggests the organizations be staggered after next year, with BBCC being 5 years. Greg: BBCC fulfills a need of the Town. Can be used for dances, meetings. Also an emergency shelter.  
    4. VT 250th Resolution (postponed)
    5. Staff reconfigurations
      Elly is no longer Assistant Town Clerk, Danielle no longer Assistant Treasurer. Danielle has the authority to appoint her Assistant Town Clerk. Looking for Office Assistant to help Treasurer and Town Administrator. These are all necessary positions. Town Clerk lunch hour is 1:00-2:00 Mon. – Thurs. No official business will be conducted then,
    6. 12.27.23 Meeting Cancellation
      MOTION: Verandah moved and Michael seconded to cancel the meeting of 12.27.23. Vote was by voice. All were in favor, motion passed
  1.  Finance  
    1. Warrants    
Payroll – WE 10.29.23$7,200.96
Payroll – WE 11.05.23$7,122.94
Payroll – WE 11.12.23$12,454.13
Expense Warrant #2409$746,626.58
Expense Warrant #2409F$26.50
Expense Warrant #2409V$1.353.62
Expense Warrant #2409R$13,041.39

Tara moved to pay the warrants. Rusty seconded. Discussion: Lots of appropriations approved at Town Meeting 2023. Paving Weatherhead Hollow. Project worksheet. County Tax payment. Elly: #2409R is refunds for tax overpayment.

Vote was by voice. All in favor. None opposed. Michael abstained due to GPI invoice. Motion passed.

  1. Other Business (none)
  1. Correspondence
    DV Fiber Annual Report

  2. Actions from Previous Meeting
    1. Approved minutes
    2. Tabled finance committee discussion
    3. Appointed Tammy to Finance Advisory Committee
    4. Authorized Erika to get traffic study by Windham Regional Commission
    5. Approved MOU for Library
    6. Stony Hill Road Public Hearing
    7. Tabled Conflict of interest
    8. Approved Historical Society ARPA request
    9. Approved purchase of 4 radar speed signs
    10. Approved warrants
  1. Action Taken
    1. Approved minutes of 10.26.23 and 11.6.23 meetings
    2. Defeated Conflict of Interest Policy changes
    3. Approved Tax Sales
    4. Canceled 12.27.23 meeting
    5. Approved warrants
  1. Actions to be Taken
  1. Adjournment
    MOTION: Michael moved and Tara seconded to adjourn.  
    Vote was by voice.  All were in favor, none opposed, none abstained. Meeting adjourned at 8:13 pm.

Meeting video:

Next meeting 11.27.23 at 6:30 pm.