Water Committee Grievance

In January of 2016 a water committee was created in Newport Center Vermont to address the problems the town has been having for decades which recently resulted in 200% increase on the water bill. After a few months one member of the water committee claimed that the reduction of the water bill was “never going to happen”. He also claimed that reducing the water bill and installing the meters was never discussed. Despite several videos right here on this website you can see and hear his discussion on water meters. Go to Video 3 on Dec 3rd and see Ernest speak on water meters Why would someone turn around and contradict himself on an issue like this? What is he up to. No good perhaps..

Water Committee Member Meltdown

I had thought of commenting on this but I feel Dwight’s performance speaks for itself. I will say only that this is a violation of the Brown Act “Right To Know” and the Open Meeting Laws.

Water Committee Progress 4/28/16

We just received our water committee progress report and there still are questions at least in my mind.
I will be attending presenting them to the water committee at the next meeting.

If any of you have any questions I will be glad to preset them on your behalf to the water committee if you cannot attend. I will present them anonymously if you prefer. I realize this is an effort of the committee in transparency and I applaud this, but needs further discussion in my opinion.

They might tell you to attend the meeting but most residents do not want to go and I understand this.

But even if you do not want to attend the meeting you are still entitled to answers should you have questions.

Post then here or on face book and comments always welcome

Thank you

Barry Sahagian

Water Bill Reduction Proposal

Bill Reduction

Proposal 2nd draft

Dec 18th 2015…
At the Newport Town Vt SelectBoard Meeting Dec 3rd, 2015, there was discussion on recent water bill increase by 100%. The Select Board Chair, Steve Barrup told me (Barry Sahagian) to submit a proposal they would consider. After dealing with Steve Barrup on other occasions, I have found him to be less that reliable on his word. I am expecting to not be so illusive on this responding to the proposal that he quested as it is of importance to many of the town residents.

He promised to schedule an emergency SelectBoard meeting to respond to the proposal ASAP.
I will post his response or a lack of before Christmas.

You can view this by clicking the image above for a PDF or read text below. Would greatly appreciate any support in way the of comments… thank you

Proposal and Details

To Select Board and Town Manager of Newport Town
December 18th 2015
On Dec 3rd at the Newport Town Selectboard meeting, the subject of reducing the water bill was brought up in discussion by myself Barry Sahagian. Steve Barrup (Select board Chair) responded (video taped) that I should submit a proposal for a reduction of the water bill that the Select board would consider.
I, along with 140 other town water users, feel that the 100% water increase was unfair. The decision to employ this water increase, in my opinion, was done in haste with very little thought by the select board. This was made evident by a statement given by Steve Barrup when asked to justify the 100 percent increase at the Nov 7th Select board meeting. He said “we either raise the water bill or Shut the water off”.
So far, the town residents and myself have received no clear explanation on the justification of this increase, no clear plans to the fix the water problem of 18 years and gaining. It is time to investigate why this Select Board and Town manager have failed to solve these problems.
The town residents sought answers to these questions at the last two Select board meetings, Nov and Dec 2015
The response we got from the Select board and Town manager were long winded, confusing and complicated. This has ultimately left the residents more confused as to what the problem actually is, than before they asked the questions.
So now I ask only one question.. Are they doing the job?
This has prompted me to get answers… How? Look at the disbursements on the towns bank statements. Right on the bank statements, the disbursements will tell the whole story. Figures do not deceive, give excuses or procrastinate.
Per the the Public Records act (Federal and State Law) any documents of the town can be freely inspected and copied by the residents upon their request from the town manager.
This whole mess can be avoided by a couple of simple actions by our town officials.
PROPOSAL
Immedaitely reduce the Water/Sewer bill to 200 per Quarter, get to work and implement a solid working plan to fix this. Balance your budget and reduce excess non essentail expenditures to cover the deficiet that has been created from the almost two decades of the unsuccessful attempts to solve the water issue.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
The result of this action would restore the confidence of the towns people as well end the witchhunt of going through 6 years of your records to discover the real problems behind this.
Please consider this carefully…. In this season of giving, if you could plan an emergency meeting to vote on this as Steve Barrup promised to do, maybe we could provide a video press release to the residents before Christmas.
This would help to heal the wound the Select Board Inflicted on residents in the way of the extra 120.00 charged on the water bill in November which reduced residents Christmas budgets.
Let’s not forget the unhappy new year for the residents on fixed income and Social Security. If action is not taken I will make this my personal mission to remind the residents to carry these thoughts when they go to vote on the next Town Meeting voting/elections.

Please do the right thing..
Barry Sahagian
I will publish this on Monday evening, Website and Face Book, but would postpone should you plan the emergency meeting to happen before Christmas.

Also my apologies to Steve Barrup on my misinformation on the Public Records Act on “free photo copies” we argued
at the Nov 7th Select Board Meeting…. See attached email copy from Deputy Sec of State VT Chris Winters.

Water Bill Increase

 

The Water Bill Increase

 

So I begin with an update of the Select-Board meeting of November 12, 2015 5:30 PM at Newport Town hall…This is the first Select Board  meeting I have ever attended.. Recently as most reading know that out water bill was doubled… included on the bill increase notice was this explanation:

“This letter to inform you that beginning with November 2015 water bills the quarterly charge for water will be now $240 per unit.
This is due to the expenses related to the water system.”

So, we just got an increase a year ago and now,  we have another increase, doubling the 140.00 to 240 per quarter.   WHAT’S GOING ON? .. I would expect a detailed explanation as most would for this type of increase…I spoke to the clerk, Denise Daigle on this issue. She had little in the way of explaining this increase and suggested I attend the town Select-Board meeting to get more information on this…

I put this on my calendar.

Before I attended the meeting I browsed around the internet to find any relevant laws and statues that might help me should I need to quote on any issues using legal statues… I found a law called “Open Meeting” that includes a lot of State and Federal regulation on Town/Select Board meetings.

I arrived at the meeting at 5:30 sharp. There were the 3 selectmen, Denise Daigle (town manager) and 4 others at the meeting.  I recognized two of them as residents.  One of them was there for an issue of a drain ditch the town put on his property that he was unhappy with.  He discussed his issue with the board, it seemed to resolved and he left the meeting.

Left were myself, my wife and Ernest Choquette who owns several housing units. He whispered to me his water bill is excessive taking into consideration of his many housing units and property tax bill he pays to the Town.  At one point he tried to get a word in to the selectmen in the Water Bill issue and was told to SHUT UP in a loud angry tone by one of the selectmen, which led me to believe that they had words previously.

So, the Board then turned their attention to the last unidentified person in the room… He was right in front of us facing the 3 selectmen and Denise.  He was speaking in low tone almost inaudible.  It was clear Ernest my wife and I were not included in this conversation….I interjected, pointed a finger at the man and asked the Board “who is this?” I thought this was an Open Meeting but clearly we were not included… The man identified himself as an engineer consultant on the water issue. But clearly he was not there just as a consultant but also a liaison to close some contract deals on the issues because several times the Board confronted each other seemed to agree and sign off on something mentioned by the engineer in his subtle whispers to the Board out of hearing range of the attendees…. when I asked for more information, I was told since they were paying this man 250. per hour they could not take take the time to explain anything about the water issue to us that was being discussed.  The  Board promised to go into more detail about the issue after the engineer was though with his very expensive hourly rate of 250,00 per hour.

This Engineer was on the agenda to speak at the (Open Meeting) which resembled a small group talking amongst themselves out of the way from the attendees.

The proper way to do this is for the engineer to face the audience and either he or the selectman introduce the name of the speaker. The speaker should speak directly to the entire audience in a clear articulate manner. He is being paid 250.00 per hour and you would expect a more professional attitude..I hope his work is not as shoddy.

After the consultant had finished I was asked to take the floor was told that they would explain some of the details of this water issue.
I told them I was building this website so the town could have better transparencies on issues and would be video taping all of the meetings from here on and publishing them on this website.  At this point I asked the selectmen if they would not mind if one of them could take me out to the site of the water reservoir to videotape a segment to explain the difficulties and remedies of the water …. one of the the town workers exclaimed when asked to do this “NO I do not want to get in the middle this”…Middle of what? What going on?

At this point selectman Steve Barrup volunteered to do this.  He told me to just call him in the morning and he would find a time we could get together to do this.  I called him on the following day, Nov 13th, 2015 and left a message, I have not heard back from him as of yet…

Also at these meetings required by law (Open Meeting State and local statues VSA #313 – 315), minutes must be recorded of events at the meeting.  Minutes are brief descriptions on written log filed by the clerk within 5 days for the public viewing… I will obtain this and post it here to compare my version to theirs.

SO,, from here on out I will be at every meeting with video recording the meeting exercising my rights VSA 313 to record and publish these meetings .. if you can not attend the monthly SelectBoard meetings please come back here check out the video recording.  Keep informed.. in the least.
They will appear on this blog the following day.