Brandon SB discusses Town Hall roof and town solar


BRANDON—The Brandon Selectboard convened for its regular meeting on Monday evening.  After approving the agenda and the minutes from the previous meeting, Town Manager Seth Hopkins presented his report, the full text of which is available in the Selectboard packet for 11/27 on the town website.  Highlights from the report included:

  • The sidewalk and all street parking between Crosby’s Sales & Service and the traffic light in front of the Walgreen’s will be closed all day on Wednesday 11/29 and Thursday 11/30 to facilitate the removal of cell-tower equipment from the steeple of the Congregational Church.
  • Residents should remember that overnight parking (12 to 6 a.m.) on streets is prohibited until April 1 in order to keep roadways clear for snow removal.
  • The town received $82,837.12 from the 1% Local Option Tax, the largest quarterly payment since the tax was implemented in 2016.  The program has yielded the town over $1.5 million since its inception and there is currently more than $190K in the 1% fund.
  • There will be another pause in the wastewater project while waiting for parts.  The shutdown will not incur additional expense for the town.  The project is scheduled for completion in June.
  • Doug Farnham, Vermont’s Chief Recovery Officer, and Kim Greenwood of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources have been in discussions with the town as to how the state might allocate additional ARPA monies for infrastructure projects, specifically the Union Street sidewalk project.  The additional money would be used to expand the project to include water and sewer lines.

Board member Brian Coolidge asked Mr. Hopkins for a status report regarding the scoping study for the North Street Bridge.  Mr. Hopkins replied that Dubois & King is handling it and not much has changed.  $25K had been allocated from the 1% fund to pay for the study.

Mr. Coolidge also asked Mr. Hopkins for a comparison of the Brandon Highway Department with those of neighboring towns, particularly Middlebury.  Mr. Hopkins agreed to bring the information to the budget meeting on 12/5.

Mr. Hopkins also stated that about $100K has been spent so far on the repair of Newton Road and that the road is now open to traffic.

Recreation Department

Rec Director Bill Moore was not present at the meeting but had submitted a written report ahead of time.  The full text of the rec report is available on the town website.  Highlights included:

  • Swing classes will be offered at the Brandon Inn on Thursdays from 5 to 6, beginning in January.  The instructor will be Karen Graham.
  • Sign-up is open for spring dance classes with Miss Michaela.
  • Aikido will be held at the Brandon Area Rescue Squad beginning in January.
  • The Mary Force Committee will be donating 2 recycled-plastic picnic tables to replace the two wooden ones currently in use on Park Street.

Public Comment

During the Public Comment portion of the meeting, Board member Cecil Reniche-Smith reminded the town that there will be a public hearing on the new Town Plan on Wednesday, December 20.  Copies of the plan can be found on the town website, at the town office, and at the Brandon Free Public Library.

Jan Coolidge of the Friends of Town Hall announced Moonlight Madness holiday sale at Town Hall on December 6 and 8.

Otter Creek Watershed Insect Control

Both the outgoing and incoming presidents of the Otter Creek Watershed Insect Control District (the District) were present to inform the Selectboard of the District’s activities over the previous year and let them know what is on the District’s agenda for the coming season.

Proctor joined the District as a full member, bringing to 6 the total number of participating towns (Brandon, Leicester, Salisbury, Pittsford, Goshen, and Proctor).  The District thanked Brandon for being the only participating town to pay its obligations quarterly rather than annually.

Because of the extremely wet weather this summer, mosquito control was difficult, but the District did manage to spray Brandon 42 times.  Over 170 Brandon residents called for service.  Calls were up 200% throughout the District.

The District noted that the regulatory agencies in Montpelier are making mosquito control more difficult through their preference for larvicide rather than adulticide, requiring that spraying occur during a limited window while the insects are still larvae.

The District has also created a new position—auditor—which will be filled by Jeff Whiting.  The District is also continuing its investigation of the allegations by the state that resulted in the imposition of more than $9,000 in fines.

Personnel Policy

The Board approved “modest changes” to the town’s written personnel policy.  The changes involved limiting paid vacation time to full-time employees and prohibiting transfer of paid sick leave from one employee to another.  The full text of the changes is available in the Selectboard packet for 11/27 on the town website.

Town Hall Roof

Mr. Hopkins presented proposals from 3 different roofing companies for repair/replacement of the roof of the Town Hall.  

Titan Roofing of Springfield, Mass presented three options:

  • New slate roof for $486,400.
  • New asphalt shingle roof for $314,000.
  • New standing-seam metal roof for $508,000.

McElwain Contracting LLC of Ferrisburgh, VT proposed to replace the slate roof at a cost of $336,000.

Sbardella Slate of Fair Haven, VT offered two options:

  • New slate roof for $269,300.
  • New standing-seam metal roof for $228,600.

The ensuing discussion among the Board members and attendees touched upon whether there needed to be a competitive bid process, given the large expense of the project, and whether remaining ARPA funds should be set aside to pay for it.  Board members also discussed whether sign-off from Historic Preservation would be needed.

Former Brandon Town Manager David Atherton, a Brandon resident, was in attendance and suggested that the town’s procurement policy required bids rather than proposals.  Board Chair Tracy Wyman agreed with Mr. Atherton.

Mr. Coolidge also suggested that no money be allocated for the roof until after budget season, in order for the town to more accurately assess where money may need to be allocated.  Mr. Wyman agreed with Mr. Coolidge.

The Board also discussed placing the remaining ARPA funds (approximately $240K) in a capital reserve fund in order to prevent any potential clawback by the federal government, though some concern remaining about whether the fund needed to be a reserve fund rather than one dedicated to capital projects.

Several attendees, including Jan Coolidge, who is a member of the Friends of the Town Hall, urged the Board to take action.  Another attendee suggested that the roof needed to be fixed before the replacement of the floor, which is scheduled to begin in December.

Ultimately, in a 3-2 vote, the Board approved a motion to go out to bid for whatever roofing material was approved by Historic Preservation.  Mr. Wyman and Mr. Coolidge voted nay.

Town Solar Array

The Brandon Energy Committee presented quotes from three solar vendors for a town-owned solar array to be erected at the Brandon Industrial Park off of Arnold District Road.  The full proposal is available in the Selectboard packet for 11/27 on the town website.

The three quotes were $604,800 from Aegis Solar, $458,700 from High Peaks Solar, and $425,685 from Green Earth Energy.  After rebates, allocations of ARPA funds, the respective prices would be $363,360, $281,090, and $237,980.

The Energy Committee recommended that the Board agree to partner with Green Earth Energy and that it put before the town a request for a bond not to exceed $400K.  Jim Emerson of the Energy Committee stated that the bond would be paid off in 10 years and that the overall energy savings to the town would exceed $800K.  

A sticking point arose regarding the lease for the land, which has not yet been formally discussed.  Mr. Emerson suggested that the Brandon Industrial Corporation (BIC), which owns the land, would lease the site to the town for $1 per year.  

The Board, in a 3-2 vote, authorized Town Manager Seth Hopkins to enter into lease negotiations with BIC and to begin preparations to present a bond vote at Town Meeting in March.


The Board’s last piece of business for the evening was the approval of a warrant for $1,215,777.74 to cover expenses and obligations.

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