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2020 Annual Town Meeting Results and Informational Hearing Minutes

2021 Leicester Town Informational Meeting 03-01-21
The Selectboard for the Town of Leicester held a public informational meeting to precede Town Meeting by electronic means on March 1, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. to discuss Australian ballot articles on the 2021 Town Meeting Warning.
The Chair called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
Article I was read and reviewed:  The election of Town Officers for the ensuing year:
  • A Moderator
  • A Selectboard Member for a three (3) year term
  • A Selectboard Member for a two (2) year term
  • An Auditor for the remaining two (2) years of a three (3) year term
  • An Auditor for a three (3) year term
  • A Delinquent Tax Collector for a one (1) year term
Doug Perkins asked if anyone had stepped up for the open Auditor position.  Julie stated that no one had stepped up at this point.
Carol Reed made a housekeeping suggestion for the virtual onscreen participation so everyone’s name appears on the screen.
No further discussion.
Article II was read and reviewed:  Shall the voters of the Town of Leicester vote to approve a sum of $746,435.68 to defray the necessary expenses and liabilities of the town for the ensuing year, divided as follows:

General Town Expenses

$ 310,845.68

Amount to be raised by taxes: $ 289,275.26

Highway Expenses

$ 435,590.00

Amount to be raised by taxes: $ 296,946.70

Note:  Selectboard will set the tax rate at a later date.
Diane (Chair) explained that the Selectboard worked really hard to keep the costs the same or lower than they had been for the general town expenses and keeping a close eye on the highway expenses.  In the Town Report, they tried to be as complete and transparent as possible.  Diane explained that in the past for the highway, they have usually budgeted a certain amount and then asked for additional money to be voted on the floor.  So, rather than doing that, they went for the straight amount for paving purposes.  They will try to apply for a grant again; as well.
Julie (Town Clerk) mentioned that on page 7, it shows the budget comparison.  The net difference is .16%.  Almost level funded.
Doug Perkins gave kudos to Arlan Pidgeon and Brad Lawes for their fabulous job of keeping the roads clear.
Doug Perkins mentioned the extra $50,000 for paving.  He doesn’t want to see the Town get behind with the paving by not utilizing the $50,000.  The Town put it to good use the past couple years.
Julie (Town Clerk) explained to Doug that the $50,000 they usually separate out with $50,000 in the budget and $50,000 as a separate line item, the $50,000 is still there.  It is just all in the budget at $100,000.  They are still getting the extra $50,000, they just put it into the budget instead of a separate line item.
No further discussion.
Chris Bray, State Senator signed in and joined the meeting.  Chris lives in Bristol.  He serves on two committees.  Natural Resources and Energy.  Most of their work relates to clean air and water and Energy – Efficiency VT.  He explained the problems with the water supplies and how to test and how they are looking at how Vermonters can have affordable heating and clean air.
Carol Reed explained they had put up solar panels last year and she was worried about the downing of the tax benefits and she asked about future federal tax credits. 
Chris Bray explained that Vermont has about 15,000 residents who have signed up for some level of net metering solar and in Carol’s case the deal you get is the deal you get and terms shouldn’t change for Carol.  The federal tax credits have been declined.  The new administration may look at how to make it more affordable.
Carol Reed asked if there was anything coming down from the State towards improving the efficiency of getting some natural energy generated.
Chris stated, yes, they are looking at a program right now for solar arrays.  They are trying to do six large arrays throughout the State.  The State is looking on ways to subsidize the cost of purchasing energy.
Carol Reed suggests that the State promote Vermont’s local businesses; such as Bristol Electronics who they used and were very happy with them.
Julie (Town Clerk) asked Chris if he could give an update on extending broadband service to rural communities.
Chris stated all over the state is a challenge; especially in rural areas.  Addison County is forming a Communication Union District; operating like a Co-op.  The State is investing money to help everyone get started.  Providing money to underwrite costs, equipment, rules, tax codes, etc.
Julie (Town Clerk) asked Chris if there was any increased funding for aquatic and invasive species and mosquito control grants. 
Chris stated that each year the State gives funding and asked if the funding from the State was acceptable and has it been effective.
Brad Lawes (SB) stated that they have been getting $70,000 for several years.  Brad stated that if there was a serious outbreak, it’s a fraction of the money that would be needed.  A big chunk of the money goes to testing and there is not much larvicide work being done.
Chris Bray will reach out to the Agriculture Committee and find out what the plans are for the coming year.
Julie (Town Clerk) commented that any information on the aquatic and invasive species and mosquito control grant money would be appreciated.  
Chris Bray mentioned the boat washing.
Don Brush commented that the weed problem has increased expedientially over the past few years for Lake Dunmore and Fern Lake.  The efforts mitigate it slightly but are not repelling it.  The Dunmore Association as put in many, many dollars and continues to try and raise money to do it, on top of the tax burden to two towns; Leicester and Salisbury.  He commented that the State over time has actually decreased their contribution to these efforts.  He feels the problem was introduced through the State fishing access, which continues to be a huge risk to bringing in invasive species of milfoil.  The greeter system helps some, but is not controlling it.
He stated that it affects property values.  He doesn’t feel the State is doing enough.
Chris Bray appreciated the comments and will bring this feedback back to the Agency of Agriculture.
Doug Perkins recommended talking with Jeff Shulman, President of the LDFLA.  One problem they are looking into right now is the increased amount of phosphorous in the lake.  The Association is studying that.
Carol Reed mentioned she was shocked at the expense of aerial spraying. 
Brad Lawes (SB) stated that it was too expensive for Cornwall to maintain the aerial services.
Diane (Chair) thanked all for participating in the virtual Informational Meeting.  They are looking forward to in-person meetings.
Motion by Ron, second by Tom, to adjourn at 7:45 p.m.  All in favor.  So, approved.
Motion by John, second by Tom, to return to recessed Selectboard Meeting at 7:48 p.m.  All in favor.  So, approved.