The Right To Know is Law, Freedom of Information, Public Records Act

In February there was a meeting for the selectmen to vote in a proposal presented by Aldridge & Elliot Water Engineer. Wayne Elliot was present to answer questions and discuss,
He brought 4 sets documents which he distributed to the Select board and town Clerk. He did not bring copies for the water committee or the residents who were at the meeting.

Normally in business documents are sent in advance to the clients to view in advance of the meeting. A week is the usual sometimes even more time depending of the complexity of the proposal. I wrote Wayne …

Wayne,

To be quite frank, Not impressed with your presentation and noted this on website page along with video of the event.

Meeting Jan 18th

It is now public….

Barry Sahagian

Becky Q & A on bottom of page

After this meeting I was thinking there must be more information on a 745,000 proposal that we have not seen. In particular I wanted to see how the 745,000 was going to be spent. The docs presented at the meeting included a total summary of the expenses with no details whatsoever. I went to the clerks office and asked if there were any documents that included the expense details. Ironically while I was there, Wayne Elliot called, Denise Daigle (town Clerk) asked Wayne “Barry wants the expense details for the proposal”. After she got off the phone, I was told there were not any at this time and after the bond gets voted in there would be more information.

Still not not satisfied I decided to do a little research. I emailed Ken Yelsey ( State Hydrologist associated with this project).

He wrote back:

Hello Barry,
“I am not quite certain what information you have seen so far, but typically there is a Preliminary Engineering Report prepared by the consultant that goes over in detail project tasks and costs including future expenditures. It sounds like you haven’t seen this document, so it might be something you would want to ask the town about given your comments. The person on our end that has been involved in this project from a funding perspective (i.e., planning monies) is Ashley Lucht ashley.lucht@vermont.gov. Feel free to contact her with any funding questions. I also understand that the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Rural Development (828-6000) may become involved in funding this project. They have an office in Montpelier so you could contact them about construction contracts as well. Hope this info. helps. Thanks.”

Ken Yelsey
Hydrogeologist

The next day (around Feb 22) I returned to the clerks office and asked Denise if she had the Preliminary Engineering Report. She said she did have this document and proceeded to get the document for me. She said she did not show me this document when I initially asked for it because it has 50 pages and thought it was more than I needed.

I looked over the docs and decided I would email Ashley Lucht. Ashley was very helpful and sent all the relative documents of the water crisis dating back to 2011. WOW ! all the secrets..
the Preliminary Engineering Report was included, the original document complete on A & E letter head. A lot of very important information that should have been made available to he slect board, water Committee and the people. Ken Yelsey on a phone conversation said “You Need the Documents so you vote” at the meeting there were only 13 pages provided by Wayne Elliot all the while the clerk had the 50 page Preliminary Engineering report on file in the office..

here are two sets of files The first is the 13 page set of docs presented at the meeting and the second is the full 50 page Preliminary Engineering Report provided by Ashley Lucht

13 page Partial report presented at Jan 18 Meeting

Complete 50 page Preliminary Engineering Report Provided by Ashley Lucht

Coming next

1.)The documents and emails from Pollaidh Major USDA representative handling Newport Center application.

2.) Conversation March 14,
Robert Fillioe, SRF Case Manager & Support, Vermont Municipal Bond Bank
Winooski, Vermont.

Documents withheld from public bond vote

It has been confirmed that documents have been withheld by the town clerk and the engineer that contain crucial information despite numerous requests to the town clerk to provide these.
After many phone calls to Officials in Montpelier, the documents were provided by these officials willingly. These documents were submitted to the officials by the Engineer (Wayne Elliot A&E) and The town Clerk (Denise Daigle). By law, per The Freedom of Information ACT and the Public Records act the documents have to be provided to anyone who asks for them. I personally asked for these docs and was put off and given partial pieces of the document sets with much of the crucial information left out. Cont below image

The officials who finally provided these all agree that it is mandatory for the people to have these documents to make informed decisions on voting.

There are over 50 pages on latest document (Preliminary Engineering Report) concerning the work that will increase our water bill to an estimated $500 per quarter. The town clerk and the Engineer showed us only 12 documents out of the 50 pages on the February select board meeting in which the engineer was present. When I asked for these documents at the meeting, I was simple ignored……

The included document projects the loan for this project will not be paid for 15 – 20 years. Do not look for a water bill reduction any time soon. To make matters worse the life expectancy of the treatment plant is only 30 year! So I guess your children’s children will possible get a water bill reduction for a short period and then they will have start all over. Wayne Elliot A&E will be right there to help us get further in debt once again.

Included is one of the documents that I feel is very important piece of info that all water users should know and perhaps considering voting NO on the April 4th for the bond vote (all day 7am -7pm via paper ballot) We need a better plan and more transparency of the documents. We have to start over with all the people informed with all the documents to create a better plan.

Q & A Becky Therrien Water Committee Chair

Hi Becky,

I received the water committee letter and as you suggested have some questions/concerns. I will tell you in advance I will be publishing your response or lack thereof on Wednesday.

As usual the town clerk has arranged the info meeting only days before the vote leaving us little time to think things over. This is certainly to their advantage to help get the bond voted in which is their objective as we know.

My questions:

The Bond/Note Summary

Q 1.) Community National Bank – What was the money used for specifically?

A To reclaim existing wells and build the current arsenic removal plant on Vance Hill.

Q 2.)Passumpsic Savings Bank – The loan amount is listed as a dollar sign ($) with no amount.

A What was the amount of the loan? What was the loan used for specifically.

The original loan was for $90,000 dated in 1995 and was for Improvements to the Water System. That loan was then refinanced in 2013 at a lower interest rate for remaining balance of $30,000. Please see attached loan documents.

Q 3.) USA Bond – Once again, loan amount was not listed. There was just a dollar sign ($) no amount.

Q What was the amount of the loan?

A
$150,000
Q What was the loan used for?

A Infrastructure, water lines, etc

Q I am not clear on what you are trying to tell the people with this News letter. What I have gotten from this is that the town has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars dating back to 1988 with little positive results and still paying the loans back. Now the town wants to borrow 745,000 for an arsenic system for the 105 water users. According to the Preliminary Engineering Report these loans will take approx 15 – 20 years to repay.

A We wanted to show what the current debt load is in the Water Fund and that in 2018 almost all of that debt will be paid. The amount remaining from those loans at the end of 2018 will be $87,052. If the bond passes and that loan is in place then the Water Fund would pick up that new debt. Also, to take from Ernest Choquette’s quote in the newsletter “If the village qualify for the lowest rate of 60% the village will only owe a balance of $298,000.00″ we wanted people to understand that we would not be paying back 100% of the principal amount.

Barry statement – Traditionally in advertising/campaigns the most important point is the benefit that the party will receive you are trying to reach out to. I am not seeing any type of benefit aside from the note on the bottom of the letter that states ” there are no plans at this time to change the rates” Not very encouraging. You can guess what my vote is.